The Two-Degree Blessing of Being Local and Online

Have you ever heard of “Bacon’s Law” or “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”?

This popular trivia game is based on the idea of six degrees of separation, or in other words, that “any two people on Earth are six or fewer acquaintance links apart.”

After 30+ years in business, six degrees of separation for me has become more like two degrees of separation, where friends (or contacts of friends) have become clients, and customers have become friends.

This two-degree network has never been as noticeable to me as it is now in my local area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Even though the population of Pittsburgh and the surrounding metro area reaches over 2.3 million people, every day I get to foster the connections that earn me the label “local printer.”

The Mixing of Business and Personal

After many years of building these relationships, I’ve begun to notice personal and business getting closer together and harder to differentiate.

But, in my opinion, that is a good thing!

It makes our professional lives as printers more enjoyable when our customers become our friends, and the people from our lives outside of work begin to ask us to help with their printing needs.

Here’s an example:

One of my largest customers was a company owned by three sisters. Over the years, A-Link Printing and Marketing did their printing and mailing for them. As a business owner and mother myself, I looked up to these sisters and their ability to run a large company and be working mothers as well. I sought out and got advice both personally and professionally from there that helped me with my printing business, and I even received hand-me-down maternity wear and exercise tapes! 

There are more stories like this one, like how we worked to help another local business, a shoe store, gain more response than a franchised department store. Or, how we worked to help support a non-profit who also happens to be my neighbor. Even just this week, I ran into a client from our historic hotel that I have also seen on the soccer field as our sons have played against each other.

In all of this, we have more to discuss than forms and brochures, printing or marketing. We have the connection of sharing in each other’s lives because of the blessings of being local, and that connection helps create trust in our business relationship.

The Benefits of Local

The personal, local connection you can offer to your print buyers is priceless.

You’re the one who understands the neighborhoods your customers want to mail to, who understands the personality of the people in your city, who is invested in your clients’ success and your community’s success and future.

Your local small businesses:

  • Help keep two-thirds of your revenue in the community.
  • Provide more product diversity catering to the local market.
  • Can be more responsive than large corporations.
  • Are responsible for most of the job growth in your local areas.
  • Care about the local community and get involved and support local charitable organizations.

Why Online Ordering? So You Have Time to Embrace Local

So, here’s the rub.

While online ordering is an essential component of running your business, (especially in this new world of convenience over all else), it’s important that you don’t forget to stay grounded, continuing to develop your local roots and flair.

In fact, the whole purpose of implementing online ordering and technology solutions is so you can streamline the process and have the time necessary to give that personal touch. For us, this looks like setting up our customers with Private Label Websites but still having a local contact. It’s the best of both worlds. 

How to Get Involved

Take a look at your two degrees of separation.

Can you help your neighbor or best customer with an organization they are passionate about? Can your business help them get the word out?

Whether it be online socially or at a networking event where you can connect on a real level, make the time to learn about a person and their business. Then, start to connect the dots between your social media connections and face-to-face meetings and turn that six degrees of separation into two degrees of separation.

When you find a personal connection with a prospect or, at the very least, a passion about your community, you help to make today’s digital marketplace a more personal and connected place.

Written by

Jacqueline Maher

Owner, A-Link Printing & Marketing Solutions

Jaci owns and operates A-Link Printing & Marketing Solutions in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, after taking it over from her father in the mid-eighties. A-Link Printing & Marketing Solutions works with everything from small businesses to large corporations to everything in between providing graphic design, direct mail, and every other type of printed marketing materials. This article was polished up by Aubrey McKee, a student at THE Ohio State and A-Link's social media intern. To learn more about Aubrey, visit