By Jason Cohen
In an effort to keep up with big box stores and online distributors, in April, Verona Township joined Vidoovy, an online service that creates an informative video map for municipalities to interact with people looking for information. Other towns that use this are Montclair, Bloomfield and West Orange.
On the left side of its website there is a link “Visit the Verona Vidoovy Map.” This takes people to a page that features 10 locations throughout Verona, each with its own introductory video.
“Our goal overall that we have set for ourselves is to divert five percent of the big box store and online purchases back to local businesses,” said Patrick Sutherland, the creator of Vidoovy. “With the spending in a typical big box store reaching into nine figures, five percent of those revenues would have a big impact for Verona and our other local business communities. Reaching this goal will take some time but we get a little closer with every community we sign up and every video we create.”
According to its website, Vidoovy was created to keep shopping local. It launched in 2012 in West Orange and then expanded to Montclair and Bloomfield.
Steven Neale, a member of the Department of Community Services in the Township of Verona, spoke to the “Verona News” about the new program. Neale explained that the idea originated with the township’s Sustainable Verona team and one of its goals this year is to focus on the community and how it can better engage residents and businesses.
He said the team was approached by Vidoovy and after a couple meetings it was brought to the township because they thought it would be an asset to helping Verona grow and showcase everything it has to offer.
“We believe that the key to a successful and sustainable community lies within the business community as well,” Neale remarked. “We want successful businesses that can keep people coming through town and keep our own residents shopping and living local. It’s better for the environment and its better for our local economy which is a win for everyone. The Vidoovy platform is in line with the township’s goals of trying to find new and innovative tools to better engage the community.”
Sutherland reflected on the success of the invention. He noted that between their video maps and YouTube channel, they are getting several thousand views per month.
He said he has had numerus anecdotes from small business clients who have had new customers learn about them from the videos.
“The craziest story has to be a mechanic we did a video for getting a satellite phone call from a soldier in Iraq who saw his video while searching for New Jersey mechanics online because his wife back here in New Jersey was having car trouble,” Sutherland recalled. “She came by with her car for repairs soon after the call. Now that’s an extreme example of online video converting a prospect into a customer!”