September 20, 2013
I live 75 miles from the nearest Apple store but we do have an ATT store in town. I got there at 11:30 and managed to snag their last iPhone 5s. They serve a small, rural market with a total regional population of about 50,000 and received only 15 of the 5ses (?). And were sold out at 11:31. Given that I assume that every store will be sold out if they are not already.
I traded in my 2 year old iPhone 4s for $205 so the net (with a 2 year contract) was $118 after taxes. I recognize that I could have sold my 4s on eBay but this was a convenient and trouble free option that took all of 5 minutes.
In talking to my rep and several other ATT and Verizon reps over the past few weeks, they apparently make somewhere on the order of $5 when they sell an iPhone compared to the nearly $20 they make when they sell a Samsung. You can imagine how that changes the showroom floor dynamics with undecided customers. The moral: if you buying an iPhone from an ATT store, be polite and think about leaving a tip.
As soon as I started to restore from backup Apple notified me that iOS 7.01 had been released. I have been playing with it on my 4s for a few days and was likeing it and while the speed was great the battery life was really sucking and acting very weird. So maybe this will fix that. Not sure.
Siri on the other hand has become quite the capable transcriber. Not only has her understanding taken a huge leap she can now read AND send emails. That is very cool. I dictated several fairly complicated emails WHILE RIDING MY BIKE and she sent them flawlessly.
September 18, 2013
When a new social network takes off I inevitably read about how one should abandon (your pick) blogging/website/other social platforms and solely write via the incredible new platform (again you pick) G+, Tumblr, Medium.
I also recently received this comment from am attendee at the last LocalU Advanced after having a correspondence about the importance of a website in local search:
Despite what you say, IF the website is still considered to be important, you my friend do not write about it!
Perhaps I don’t speak of the importance of your website frequently enough or loudly enough. I sometimes get tired of hearing myself talk.
But to both of these commentators I say: Make your website and your blog the center of your marketing strategy and don’t give it up. Be on any and every social platform but use them to build the long term equity of properties that you control. Then you will realize the full potential of online marketing in the local space.
In that vein I have updated my Web Equity Graphic to reflect my view of how a small business should focus their online marketing efforts. Feel free to share this graphic with your colleagues and clients. The embed codes can be found here.
Web Equity by Mike Blumenthal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.blumenthals.com.
Here is my thinking on why I included what I did. I would love your feedback on both the graphic and copy with suggestions for missing pieces and possible improvements.
August 26, 2013
Greg Sterling wrote last week about the on-going resentment that SMBs display towards Yelp. It seems to me that the intrinsic contradiction of selling low value, high priced ads against reviews that many businesses dislike, creates an inevitable conflict and distrust. But when you add high pressure, hard sell techniques to the mix it becomes a scenario for explosive disaster.
This comment appeared on my Yelp: Real People. Real Reviews. Deceptive Sales Tactics post last Friday. And while I can not independently verify the facts, it has a ring of truth about what happens when you sell aggressively to SMBs that don’t really understand what they are buying.
Just what is Yelp thinking? Is this a cancer that will poison Yelp for ever in the space?
Glad to have found this blog. I was contacted by a very smooth talking charming Yelp salesman this summer and he was everything you described but much much more.
This guy was good, I got to hand it to him. He got me. He pretended we were friends and sold me. And I’m not an easy person to sell to either. After calling me day and night for about a week, I finally started to believe that what he knew was best and my opinion didn’t matter anymore. So I signed up for a year at $425 a month to be effective Sept 1, 2013. I signed up beginning of August.
2 days after I signed his contract I realized I had made a horrible mistake, so I contacted him to cancel.
I argued with him that Sept 1st start date didn’t happen yet, so why couldnt I cancel? He said “your already in the system”. I didn’t want the $850 cancelation charge so I agreed to leaving it on.
The next two weeks I beat myself up. I was devistated. Even my kids noticed my mood change. I couldnt’ believe what I signed for. and I’m just AN ARTIST, I’M A 1 WOMAN ARTIST that works occasionally, but I don’t even consider my art – a business. It’s just something that I do FOR FUN, that pays, when I have TIME.
Anyway, after the 2 week emotional breakdown (I actually signed up for therapy session because of it). I get contacted by another woman from Yelp. Her job was to make sure my yelp page “looked good”. I avoided her at all costs! I didn’t reply to her messages, hung up on her calls and didnt’ return anything. I was in YELP TRAUMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
She was upset with me as to why I was avoiding her (after all, she wasnt trying to sell me anything, I was already “in the system”. So finally I decided to reply to an email and I said “YES OR NO… CAN I STILL CANCEL?”.
She replied “I’m so sorry you feel this way and your campain has not even started yet, I really need to speak to you about this, but to answer your questions, YES, you can”.
Immediatly I called her and told her my whole story. Almost broke down to her. She sounded like she was not at all suprised. She cancelled me.
Although I don’t have the cancellation papers yet like she promised she would email me, I have in writting saying she would, so I’m cool with that. I know I can put a stop payment with that alone.
Just so you know, since then, my “free ad” is no place to be found on YELP. Technically it’s still there, because I can link to it. But its not coming up at all on any searches like it was BEFORE THE PHONE CALL FROM HIM.
wow. that’s all I can say. No worries, I will open a new yelp page and he wont know it’s me. that’s all….
August 20, 2013
Even though it seems like summer will never end, September is rapidly approaching and with it the next Local U Advanced. It is being held September 30th in conjunction with SMX in NYC. Ticket sales have been brisk and only 14 remain, so if you are thinking of joining us, you might want to buy your ticket before the end of the early bird pricing on August 24th.
With the LocalU discount code, WS-LUA10, the price is $895 until end of business Saturday at which point it will rise to $985 ($1095 without the code) after that.
Hope to see you there.
May 17, 2013
At the Philadelphia Local U last week I had a chance to touch Matt McGee’s Glass. It was exhilarating, disturbing, interesting, disorienting and a number of other adjectives. Everyone at the table was anxious to try it and see what it did and how it works.
I was struck by its awkwardness and obtrusiveness as a wearable device and it is clear why it has already engendered a new noun: Glasshole. But I was also amazed at the power that an always on, always present, always connected device has and its obvious impact on local. Despite my inability to bond with the device it raised the question for me: Is this the future of computing?
My personal answer as to whether the Glass was THE PRODUCT was “not this product, not this form factor” as it didn’t go far enough for me to define a compelling experience. I wasn’t sure what I was hiring it to do (as Horace Diedu always says).
That though raised the question: Was it me or was it the Glass that was the problem? Was I being myopic and it was really the future?
To try to get out of my own way I asked all of the folks at Local U (whose opinions I value very highly) to give me some perspective by answering the following questions:
Macintosh was a metaphor for desktop computing. The iPhone became the metaphor for smart phones. The early products defined what other products needed to be like.
1) Do you think that the Google Glass is a metaphor for the next generation of small, wearable computers?
2) Is it a winner?
3) Do you think that Google will make Glass the market leader in the category?
Read their answers at the Local U Blog: Thoughts About Google Glass – Is It a New Metaphor for Mobile Computing and Local Search? and let me know what you think,
April 2, 2013
Starting today at ~1 pm PST, Google Local is rolling out an upgraded interface for Places for Business that will replace the current dashboard*. The rollout is staged and will be initially made available to a small number of US businesses and businesses newly claimed via the G+ Local page.
Over the near future the rollout will accelerate to include all U.S. dashboards. The international rollout will then continue across the 136 countries that currently have the Places dashboard. The exact timing of the rollout is not being made explicit.
The rollout is one more step towards the integration of local with Plus. While the feature set is neither expansive nor comprehensive, the product release does account for service area businesses (SAB) who can now get a Plus page for the first time. The product is currently targeted for single location businesses with bricks and mortar storefronts and SABs but still has limited provisions for multi location businesses and does not support Bulk uploads.
Once an account is transitioned the dashboard account will be automatically redirected to the new interface. If that account has a Plus account the option to edit the Google+ page will appear in the interface. But a G+ profile is not required to interact with the business profile. All that is needed is the existing Google ID/email. The business will be required to obtain a G+ personal profile if they want to add the additional features (social stream, videos) of a full G+ Local page.
When this rollout is complete there will be only two types of local pages: verified and unverified. Each business can decide whether they need the social and video features or not.
Google has noted that the purpose of this rollout is to address usability issues for the SMB in terms of UI, data push speeds, better notifications, reduced data integrity issues and improved integration with other Google products.
The product will retain the current Places for Business name although it really is more of a Google Plus lite than a Places Dashboard equivalent.
For more information see these related posts:
Visual Guide to the new Places for Business Dashboard
Categories in the new Places for Business Dashboard
Analysis: Google Places for Business or G+ Pages Lite?
* Unlike yesterday’s post this is actually true. And I must admit I much prefer my vision.
March 27, 2013
Every year about this time I get my new Superpages print edition and every year I count fewer pages. This year is no exception. And every year there seems to be more filler than the year before. And every year, there is a new YP print company coming out of bankruptcy. It’s an old story but one that continues to fascinate me.
In many categories the ads are for national players. In florists for example there are 2.5 pages and only 1/8 of one page covers truly local florists. Lawyers, a category where there is still some interest in the use of print yellow pages by consumers, has 7 pages but most are virtual offices or lawyers from over 50 miles away. Forty percent of those ads are for PI lawyers, another 40% for disability lawyers and only about 20% are for actual local lawyers.
The print YP are no longer a local advertising medium catering to local business. It is clear that what is left of the print yellow pages has been taken over by regional and national advertisers. One has to wonder though if they ever bother to calculate their returns or they are doing this out of habit.
February 2, 2013
Mia Culpa: Due to carelessness and haste I originally published this article indicating that Google was promoting authorship.. My thanks to A. J. Kohn for highlighting my error.
With the developing Google+ Local management interface Google is now actively supporting and encouraging Publisher Rich Snippet Tags for Local listings. Last week we saw that Google was using the new interface to promote Adwords Express Plus, now they have added a feature to encourage businesses claiming their listing to implement the publisher feature. It leaves open the question of whether Google thinks it is spammy to include authorship on a local website but makes clear that Google thinks every local site should implement the publisher tag.
The interface provided is slick, simple and avoids all discussion of technicalities that could be involved in establishing a publisher relationship. It gently instructs the business as to how proceed and if they are flummoxed by the task of inserting the single line of html onto their site, they are given the option of emailing their webmaster with instructions. A single button test of the install completes the circle of simplicity.
Clearly Google is not just highlighting rel=publisher for local but is making it incredibly easy. It is apparently an effort to get as many business to use it as possible. The interface is refreshingly clean and functional. A nice change from the interface kluge that is the current dashboard and a refreshing alternative to the historically complex ways of implementing this feature
It has been a long and tedious struggle living with Google local over the past several years. It reminds me of the maturing of a petulant teenager as he/she seeks their own path in life. Google’s rapidly developing G+ Local Interface may just grow up to be a fully functional adult in the local space. There seems to be more than a glimmer of hope.
Here are screen shots & feedback from the process:
January 23, 2013
Justin is the Founder and CEO of SupportLocal. He is recognized as a long-time innovator and leader in local search and social. In 2003, he founded LocalLaunch, a leading search engine marketing platform and products company. LocalLaunch was acquired by RH Donnelley/Dex One in 2006. Speaking around the world on the topics of local search and social, Justin has over 15 years of local search marketing leadership experience.
Justin is one of the smartest guys around and he thinks a lot about the big picture in local. His ideas are worth listening to.
TOP TRENDS IN LOCAL SEARCH 2012
GOOGLE AUTHORSHIP AS A STANDARD
Authorship must be part of the social search convergence dialogue as validated authoritative content mixes with our friend’s preferences in a dual for the best answer to user queries.
THE CONVERGENCE OF SEARCH AND SOCIAL
Today, the marketing funnel opens right back up post transaction (an hour glass) as the business has an opportunity to move the customer into a connection and potentially into an advocate – in turn, informing discovery.
SOCIAL SIGNALS BECOME CRITICAL COMPONENTS TO RANK AND PERSUASION
Increasingly social signals will affect discoverability and buying decisions, as one’s social network will provide us with a necessary qualitative checks and balances on the best answer. What was a sufficient product approach to local search discovery over the last decade is no longer sufficient.
THE BIRTH OF G+ LOCAL
As G+ Local converges with G Places pages, we are witnessing a new publishing format that seeks to solve both directional intent and social engagement functions. Combining discovery (pre-transactional activity) with engagement (post-transactional) activity, we have given birth to new forms of business profile structures and responsibilities for businesses and vendors alike.
SELF-PROVISIONING BECOMES A REALITY FOR SMBS WITH FACEBOOK PAGES
Hockey stick adoption of Facebook business pages amongst SMBs demonstrates willingness to self-provision but yields a non-qualitative data by-product and an “okay now what” demand for social marketing services.
SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT IS NOT TREATED EQUAL
We have come to understand that for businesses “social engagement” is a highly variant and for most, a discretionary condition. Tremendous use case differences lie in customer transaction types amongst verticals (ex. Repeat vs. recurring) that has a profound impact on the form and nature of social engagement strategies.
AND THEN THERE WERE THREE: GOOGLE, FACEBOOK, and APPLE
The rise of mobile usage in local search, the introduction of Apple maps and the meteoric rise of social for SMBs sets the battleground for years to come in local search.
THE DEATH OF DAILY DEALS
Need I say more.
THE RISE OF CONSUMER PREFERENCE FRAGMENTATION
Consumer preference as expressed by Likes, +1s, Check-ins, Reviews, Recommendations and more continue to splinter by type, medium, and site. Products of tomorrow will attempt to consolidate local preference of consumers and in turn will give the majors what they seek – a scalable local social layer to search.
2012 – ONE WORD – TRUST
Local search is no longer just about answers – it is about trusted answers.
January 17, 2013
Adam Dorfman is an interactive marketing professional with over 15 years experience in all facets of online marketing including local & organic search, pay per click, paid inclusion, email, XML driven advertising, mobile advertising, social networking, content creation, analytics, usability and offline integration as well as web development, hosting, networking and project management.
He currently oversees the Velocity platform at SIM Partners – a SaaS solution that empowers national brands to maximize Social, Local Search, and Mobile at the location level through automation and scalability.
Clearly, the biggest news in local search for 2012 was Google’s shift to Google+ Local. While Google Places was still a mess when they made the switch, it feels like the issues we had managing listings for local businesses there paled in comparison to Google+ Local. Google has made some very recent efforts into amending some of the problems, but Google+ Local is still much more difficult to get right than Google Places ever was.
As huge as that news was, there was so much more that happened with Google in 2012. From the still under-reported Venice Update to their integration and pull back of Zagat review formatting to removing AdWords Express from Places prior to the Google+ Local release, it seems that Google+ Local is receiving more attention and resources than ever before.
Apple’s foray into local search was also big news in 2012. When Apple dropped Google Maps as the native iOS mapping application and replaced it with their own, they received a lot of attention from both inside and outside the industry. The move highlighted the importance of map software and local information to people outside of the industry (plenty of my colleagues friends and family were asking about it).
When Apple rolled out their own mapping application, there was a lot of public criticism of Apple’s software, many suggesting it was subpar to Google’s . Not only did Apple end up highlighting the importance of this market to the general public, but also showed their vulnerability with the (perceived) failure of Apple Maps, to the extent that Tim Cook released a public apology for the application. In the end, Apple ended up making Google look like the better software developer and trusted source for local and map based information.
Outside of Google & Apple, here are some news and trends that caught my attention as something that will have a noticeable impact on our space moving forward.
- Marissa Mayer becoming the new CEO of Yahoo.
- National brands seeing the importance of having a hyperlocal strategy.
- The continued shift of local being driven by mobile usage.
- This is larger than local but the increasing complexities when it comes to creating, optimizing and managing paid, earned and owned media has made competing with national brands harder than ever for SMBs.
- David Mihm joining the SEOmoz team. Speaking of David, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a link to David’s yearly Local Search Ranking Factors survey or the Local Search Ecosystem. While not “news” at this point, they are still the two pieces of content I visit most frequently for reference purposes.
- The focus on bolstering international offerings by Yelp as well as them working to increase the amount of places their data is being syndicated to.
Thanks to Mike for keeping us in the space up to speed on the endless changes going on with Google+ Local. It’s been a whirlwind of a year and I suspect that 2013 will be no different.