Growing up, going into Downtown Petoskey was a big deal. We would go to the pharmacy, the JCPenny on the corner for our clothes, Ben Franklin’s for craft supplies, visit Jespersen’s for Pie and walk the streets window shopping. Sometimes, I could convince my parents to let me go in and peek at the toys. For our 13th birthday, we were given money and allowed to explore downtown with our friends. As teens, we visited Billy D’s for pop and bread sticks with friends, went to the ice cream shop, and then hung out in the park.

Walking the streets of Downtown Petoskey and other downtowns across America has always been a favorite of mine. That’s why one of my favorite Christmas songs is City Sidewalks; it reminds me of Downtown Petoskey. I just visited Brighton, Michigan, and loved its restaurants and cute shops. Downtowns are unique and quaint; they’re essential to American history. They are places where people can spend money, see their friends, get medicine, have a cup of coffee, and catch up on the latest town gossip. With urban and economic development, people have many more choices on where to get medicine, gift shop, and dine. This means downtowns have to market themselves, something they didn’t have to do back in the day. Mom-and-pop gift shops are competing with online retail and big box stores.  

One way cities and downtowns can better market themselves, besides having a website, using social media, sending out email marketing campaigns, and using billboards and radio ads, would be blogging. Blogging is a great way to tell a downtown’s story and improve search engine optimization. A blog can then be shared on social media, shared in an email, and pinned on Pinterest. A blog is a great way to attract and retain visitors locally and afar and boost your search engine ranking. Visit our Downtown Petoskey case study for more downtown marketing ideas.

If your downtown is trying to attract new visitors, increase event attendance, or share with locals what’s new or old, try starting a blog. These ten ideas will inspire you to get started. And a pro tip: Pair your blog post with local photos! (Visit our Downtown Petoskey case study for more downtown marketing ideas.)

  1. Historic Landmarks and Stories
    • Explore the history and significance of key landmarks in your downtown area. Share interesting stories and facts that highlight your town’s unique heritage.
  2. Local Business Spotlights
    • Feature individual businesses, including interviews with the owners, behind-the-scenes looks, and details about their products or services. This personal touch can attract both locals and tourists.
  3. Upcoming Events and Festivals
    • Write about upcoming events, festivals, and activities happening downtown. Include event details, schedules, and tips for attendees to maximize their experience.
  4. Hidden Gems and Must-Visit Spots
    • Highlight lesser-known places in your downtown area that visitors should explore. These include parks, cafes, boutiques, art installations, and historical sites.
  5. Food and Drink Guide
    • Create a comprehensive guide to the best restaurants, cafes, and bars in your downtown area. Include reviews, signature dishes, and insider tips on the best times to visit.
  6. Seasonal Activities and Attractions
    • Write about seasonal attractions and activities, such as holiday markets, summer festivals, autumn foliage spots, or spring flower displays. Offer recommendations for visitors to enjoy these seasonal highlights.
  7. Local Artist and Musician Features
    • Showcase local artists, musicians, and performers. Include interviews, event schedules, and information on where visitors can experience their work.
  8. Walking Tours and Itineraries
    • Provide self-guided walking tours or day-trip itineraries that visitors can follow to explore downtown. Include maps, points of interest, and suggested stops for dining and shopping.
  9. Sustainability and Community Initiatives
    • Highlight sustainability efforts, green spaces, and community initiatives that make your downtown a better place. Share stories of volunteer projects, eco-friendly businesses, and local environmental efforts.
  10. Visitor Testimonials and Stories
    • Share testimonials and stories from visitors who have had memorable experiences in your downtown. Personal stories can create a sense of connection and inspire others to visit.

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