Often times, people are appalled at the parts of their city that I spend my time in. For instance, in San Francisco, I spend my time in and around Market Street and Union Square. Great, if you’re a tourist, but San Francisco types don’t really want that to represent all that they offer. When I visit New York, it’s Times Square. I love it there. I go there every time I visit New York.
But places, your places, are best defined by experiences and people and familiar elements that you want to share with people, should they choose to visit. When I went to New Orleans, Tom Martin showed me the typical Cafe Du Monde beignet experience, but he showed me some of the other neighborhoods that he loved. What makes me love Pittsburgh has everything to do with Justin Kownacki, including our visits to Bellevue to Affogato, the coffee shop that was the set of his wildly successful web series. Being there felt like being on the SET of a big show (it was-and is- a big show to me).
What does it mean to think about “your places” in the real world, and then what does that mean to reimagine “your places” on the web.
Your Places are a Recipe
When I take people to my small town, I take them by the “yellow place,” my coffee (and ice cream) shop, run by a sweet woman from Italy, who makes great coffee, and who treats my guests very well. If you come to lunch at the Barking Dog or the Ale House, you’ll get a level of service that will leave you impressed and will make me proud for taking you there. And it’s a recipe or a formula:
Ambiance + (Unique) Touch + Personal Service = Memorable (Place). A + T + P = M
Right? That’s why you take me to the places you take me when I visit. Sometimes, it’s one element more than another. When I visited Birmingham, Alabama, I fell in love with the place, but that’s because Merrill Stewart took me around and connected me to amazing people. The “personal service” part was what really hooked me more than the rest of the equation. When I go to somewhere like Cafe Du Monde, it’s more about the unique touch, I guess.
Your Places on the Web
When we try to show someone around Twitter, invariably, the crowd we want to show off is somewhere else. We’ll see a stream of comments about Justin Bieber and sushi when we’re trying to show off all this serendipitous business value. When I want to show off my own website, sometimes it’s on a day when I’ve pitched some product or service, so it’s not like you’re all excited to read about my brilliant insights, because it’s me selling something.
But go beyond that. How does your place on the web (and your other places) stack up with the recipe?
Ambiance + (Unique) Touch + Personal (Service) = Memorable (Place).
Your site design might contribute to ambiance, but then, so does the sense of whether people comment, the sense of whether you’re beating them over the head with things to buy versus sharing information and ideas, and much more. Your uniqueness matters. Are you “yet another product review blog” or are you “A Cowboy’s Wife?” Are you responding to your commenters and other contacts, or are you a quiet monolith?
What Will You Do To Make Your Places More Wonderful?
When I stop by Small Biz Survival, I’m stopping by a place that has a warm feeling, a great voice, and information that matters to me. It’s as personable as a little airport breakfast diner by an airport near Norman, Oklahoma. When I read 300 Words a Day, it’s my opportunity to read a far more accessible version of religion, and it’s one of my places I like to show off. I love when people visit my places.
What will you do to make your places more memorable, online and off? What do you think adds to your places? Why will people choose your online and offline favorites as their places?