Patch is launching a new program, Patch Partners, which provides exclusive interviews with high-level executives and other content to small businesses that advertise on Patch. The beta newsletter featured an interview with AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, and the one debuting today includes thoughts from Vineyard Vines co-founder and CEO Ian Murray detailing how he grew his apparel company. Patch will also launch a Patch Partners website, available to all small businesses, in the near future.
The goal of the program is to provide value for small business owners. Remarkably, more than 10% of Patch’s registered users are self-identified small businesses.
“One of the unique competitive advantages that we have is that we’re not just an advertising medium, we’re connecting with the community. We wanted to point that at our community in unique ways,” Andrew Margie, the company’s VP of revenue and engagement told Street Fight. “Our thought was that we could package the insight from all of the small businesses and point them at each other, as well as providing the editorial insight.”
Margie — a self-proclaimed lover of small businesses who started a window-washing business when he was growing up in Summit, N.J. — and his team tested the newsletter idea in the health and fitness vertical. They recruited Jake Steinfeld (better known as “Body By Jake“) to answer questions. The small business owners responded positively, and Patch Partners was a go. “We are proactively reaching out to small businesses as a unique user group with a unique set of needs,” said Margie.
As the plan progresses, the Patch team will work to perfect the newsletters with a combination of universally relevant ideas for small businesses and information that’s vertical-specific. They also plan to build out the site for all small businesses. It will include local content from inside and outside the Patch network. Finally, there’s a local event element. Patch Partners will eventually include seminars and other types of events so local Patch sales people and other staffers can talk directly to small businesses
Patch Partners isn’t a direct sales play for Patch. The goal is to strengthen the relationships with existing small business advertisers, to help the companies that are often overlooked but make “the fabric of our community,” according to Margie. Of course, if it works, it will be beneficial to the business side as well.
“I think we’ll be successful with serving local communities. As a function of serving local communities effectively and engaging them, the whole business moves forward,” Margie says. “Patch Partners is the next step in that evolution.”
Patch Partners will not directly lead toward monetization. But the more the company focuses on small businesses, the more goodwill (and, eventually, cash) they will generate. Patch Partners won’t satisfy Starboard and I.S.S. immediately, but it could help somewhere down the road.
Noah Davis is a senior editor at Street Fight.