Bing Rolls Out Integrated Marketing Approach to Their Local Business Portal

Bing, in an effort to gain small business mindshare has rolled out a number of upgrades to their Business Portal. In addition to their mixed model approach to deals, they have added very interesting collateral generation capabilities, a loyalty program and a school fund raising program to help promote the effort.

The deals product offers a simple interface that allows a merchant to easily create their own deal from withn the portal in one of their 12 supported cities(currently Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Honoluly, LA, NYC, San Diego, SF, Seattle & Medford, OR).  Within 72 hours a local community manager will get in touch with the merchant to refine the deal to the market. The deals program currently offers that standard 50/50 merchant split (a mold waiting to be broken for sure). The flow allows for scalability AND individual counseling on deal creation in an effort to achieve both efficiencies and quality. It is an interesting mixed approach in an already crowded landscape.

In an effort to try to increase the % of folks that return to an establishment after the deal (reportedly a lowly 19%), they have implemented  digital loyalty card program. Bing sees this feature as a significant differentiator and is included free as part of the deal creation. The consumer opts into the loyalty program at the time of the deal purchase. At the establishment the end user can scan a QR Code or visit their own deals page to initiate the loyalty card. The merchant enters a previously established PIN (or multiple PINS if it is desired to track by salesperson) on the customer’s smartphone at the time of purchase as verification. Obviously this feature raises visions of future marketing possibilities that Bing is considering.

Apparently Medford OR was included because there Bing tested using the school PTA to promote the deals program as a school fundraiser. The school can either recruit new businesses into the program or just promote existing deals and will receive a percentage cut of both types of transactions. The specifics of the actual percentages are still being worked on but the idea of using local school fund raising efforts to promote deals is an interesting twist in the marketing of deals that leverages the very real and active social networks of the school fund raising environment to both create more deals and have a motivation to spread them.

Historically local business dashboards have been used to capture data from the merchant in the form of basic listing information, events, promotions etc. But Bing has taken that one step further in attempting to attract the small business to not just come to the portal but to come back frequently. Bing has added a very slick collateral creation process that leverages each of the specific data types to create related collateral materials with minimal effort.

For example Bing has added the ability to create a business card from your listing data and uploaded logo, a post card that can be used to promote your event, ceiling danglers for promotions and tents and posters for the loyalty program. The software automatically suggests complimentary colors based on your logo colors or allows you more manual control. It creates both a file that you can print or take to a service bureau or facilitates your interaction with the local Office Depot for printing of all materials except the business card. More printing partners are apparently in the works. As Bing noted they are “Creating a value proposition around allowing the merchant to not just verify accuracy, they can now use the data to do the things a business already doing but doing it easier”.

The interface was very slick and the ability to create related collateral materials is incredibly useful. I think we are seeing the future of what the business portal needs to become to attract and retain small businesses – a one stop shop for a complete range of offline AND online marketing and advertising options.

To view a slide show of screen shots of the new features click the image:

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9 thoughts on “Bing Rolls Out Integrated Marketing Approach to Their Local Business Portal”

  1. It’s nice to see Bing putting a little more effort into Local and small businesses. They can really improve their reach by addressing, and standardizing, cost and delivery. Small businesses want to be recognized and provided a solutions they can count on. If Bing/adCenter can start doing that, then they can capitalize in a way that Google has yet to do consistently.

  2. @James

    Yes this portal says to the local business- “your data is important, we want it but we also are truly interested in helping you make use of across a number of platforms and technologies”. It really demonstrates what a business portal can and should look like.

  3. I have to think this is where Google is also headed shortly, some believe as soon as Oct 1. Both Google + and revenue share deals will be integrated into places although the timing may not be concurrent. If this is the case, then Google will have an enormous advantage because search traffic volume is the key critical mass for driving any “loyalty” program.

  4. @Jim

    The quid pro quo for Google has always been “give me your data and we might show your business”… this model says “give me your data and come back for ongoing benefits”…. It is an approach to working with SMBs that Google has never really understood.

    So while Google’s ability to send business is tops, they need to treat smbs as more than a data point if G wants them to come back to the Places (G+) dashboard more than once.

    This product models an environment that could not just gather business data but engender loyalty from the SMB and ultimately lead to greater sales for Bing. I don’t know whether Bing will make the breakthrough to driving more traffic online or not, but this product is what ALL data portals will look like in two years.

  5. @Jim

    The ability to print business cards, posters or ceiling danglers can either be free or paid. The business has the choice as to how to generate.

  6. I’m sorry, what is “Bing”? I’m not sure I’m familiar with that.

    It feels like a little bit quiet before the storm over at Google. Can’t you just feel the update they are brewing?

  7. @Jeffrey

    Certainly changes are on the way and certainly Google delivers customers.

    But what is amazing to me about the Bing Portal is that it tries to create a win-win between Bing and the business, attempts to create value in coming back to the portal beyond just checking to make sure that someone (ie Google) hasn’t hosed their record.

    It is a model for what Business Portals will be looking like in a few years… where it isn’t just “give us your data and come back because we want you to” or “give us your data and come back for some lame analytics” but “give us your data and come back because there is value to you”. That is something totally new in the business portal world.

  8. It seems as though, since the changes, the “publish” button has disappeared… am I the only one? I keep getting hung up at the “create” tab/step. On my dashboard, it shows some listings as being ‘unpublished’ (and yes, verification is complete) – yet there is no way to publish. I think Bing has the best of intentions, but let’s not forget about the importance of functionality. 🙂

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