Loci 2012 Important Trends in Local – Ted Paff

Ted Paff is the owner of CustomerLobby.com, a solution to help local businesses to get, manage and publish customer reviews. He is more familiar than most with all of the realities of SMBs and reviews as he lives and breathes them every day of his business life and most of the rest of his day as well. I know for a fact that he loses sleep pondering the many issues that affect him and his clients in the local space.

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Here are a few articles that influenced my thinking in 2012 with respect to Google, local search and some of the emerging trends in local:

Google
The main story line in 2012 for local was that Google+Local is a train wreck. In addition to countless bugs, the complexity of managing the page makes most time-starved local business owners stick their head in the sand. Mike, your review solicitation guide is an instant classic and joins David’s annual magnum opus as a must-read.

Nyagoslav got me thinking with this article about the impact of privacy on review solicitation in various different industries. However, not asking for reviews reduces both quantity of reviews and the average ratings.

You presented data that pointed to the importance of a local business’ total web presence (in question 2) and broad review distribution (in question 3). It is still a little surprising to me how poorly understood the buying cycle is for most local businesses.

I don’t think Google+ will replace Facebook as my social destination of choice and that leaves me unclear what role Google+ fills in the ecosystem.

Hope springs eternal for a local search alternative
Based on how embedded Google products are in my life, this article got me to think about the risk of relying too much on any one service provider. In addition, Google’s move to prioritize profit over completeness/quality of search results with merchants, makes me wonder about Google’s future monetization strategies in local.

As a result, I am hopeful for the creation and evolution of local search alternatives. Facebook is an obvious possibility with lots of cool ways to build a local search business. Go Facebook go!! Apple’s Passbook along with their new-found interest in maps has real possibility to jumpstart their local offerings. Go Apple go!!

Emerging trends in offering digital products/services to local SMBs
Building a business serving local small/medium businesses (SMBs) is hard. There is so much truth in here, it hurts. However, businesses are being built in local.  But stories like this and this lead me to wonder if local SMBs understand the ROI of their marketing spend.

Speaking of ROI on marketing spend, Groupon has issues. The stock market knows it and its employees know it. However, there are some very smart people working at Groupon and they have a lot of cash. They are busy reshaping Groupon by buying/building/integrating a POS systemscheduling systempayments system and yield management system.

Viewed as an arc, Groupon’s acquisitions point toward a different type of digital marketing business emerging to serve local businesses. Digital marketers that integrate marketing services into the operational workflow of local businesses solve a lot of problems for local businesses and clarify the ROI of marketing dollars. Intuit/DemandForceConstant Contact and Avvo are good examples of this trend. Even Google is at the edge of this trend.

Mike, thanks for lovingly tending to the best forum for all things Google and local. Many of us would be much worse off without you. To your many readers, thanks for leaving amazing comments to Mike’s posts.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Loci 2012 Important Trends in Local – Ted Paff by

6 thoughts on “Loci 2012 Important Trends in Local – Ted Paff”

  1. The articles about a ‘local search alternative’ show why I wouldn’t want to attempt to develop the next Yelp. But they’re actually a pretty convincing argument for getting into the local search consulting business. SMBs need people who do understand their ROI to help them market in local online search.

  2. After having waded through about 350 clients in 5 years, starting off with a low, low monthly, and slowly moving my prices up, I finally have a stable client base of 20+ that pays the bills, allows for a few associates to do the grunt work, and results in a 2% income. But it took over 4 years. I think for those who are ok to make $60,000, there are plenty of very small businesses willing to pay $500 a month. Or if you are willing to work with the $10,000,000 sales and up crowd, you can charge for it. I chose the $500,000-$2,000,000 set, and was surprised how difficult it was to break six figures in net.

  3. Ted:

    Very thoughtful piece with terrific references to insightful other articles. As you said that there is “so much truth referenced to the following article “it hurts”: http://www.crashdev.com/2012/01/top-three-reasons-not-to-do-local.html

    How true, that is an incredibly insightful article.

    I saw a thread from redditt in the DC subsection. It was started by a laid off LS (livingsocial) employee. A part of the thread describes the processes and pressures on the inside about sales: http://www.reddit.com/r/washingtondc/comments/140hoq/laid_off_from_livingsocial_ama/

    Holy crow its expensive and daunting to try and create revenues…and with all those expenses its no wonder LS hit the cash crunch wall.

    I tend to think of “Local” as almost too big a description covering so many topics. That in its own right suggests opportunities to branch into specialties within this huge world or to focus on verticals, especially one’s that are big money. Additionally while they are both “local” the buying process for deciding where to dine out versus choosing medical or legal professional services is dramatically different.

    So I met with a rep of a business that represents “smbs” in one of the largest verticals around. One little thing that stunned me….more than 75% of their leads were coming from google.

    Ooof that leaves 25% for every other entity, specialty, affiliate. Not a big chunk.

    Google is big. Everyone else is small.

    thanks for your insights, perspectives and article references.

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