I find that fascinating because the reality of the market place is that no matter how big or small your business is, purchasing decisions have a decidedly local bend to them. In other words, everyone should be concentrating on local as it applies to their business whether you are big or small.
By 2015 almost 25% of local marketing spend will be in the online space. That is certainly impressive but there still seems to be confusion as to just where this local money will be spent or where the other soft resources (people, time etc) will be concentrated.
As with any research it depends on who does it and what they are trying to say. For instance, I find any data regarding the acceptance and full optimization / utilization of Google Place Pages as important. Google has placed such an emphasis on these entities but depending on who you are getting your information from you can get conflicting reports about has done work with this online marketing tool or who even plans to. Look at this data from MerchantCircle, which we have talked about in a past post.
The claim here is that 51% of the businesses surveyed are using Google Place Pages.
Now look at data that we also examined in another post from American Express’ OPEN Forum. The number of small businesses using the very same Google Place pages is significantly smaller at only 10%.
So which is right? 51% vs. 10% is a pretty big gap. Do you split the difference and just say about 25% of businesses are using Google Places? That’s not a very smart way to determine this but it would be nice to know a real number.
So why is this even important? It’s important because we all have to realize that this talk of local Internet marketing, the potential market it represents and the use of the techniques available may just be another case of the Internet industry talking out of various parts of its anatomy and not really having a clue of how many are using what technique. More importantly, the industry has done such a pathetic job of educating SMB’s about their options that it can be almost impossible to predict anything about how far the local market will go.
So how does this change? It changes from the top with search engines like Google and Bing getting down from their ivory engineering towers and actually mingling with the commoners. Now, since that is about as likely to happen as lightning striking me twice in the same day in two different places how will this effort grow?
It’s going to take an Internet marketing village to raise the SMB into real understanding of what is available to them online. Consultants and industry evangelists who actually talk to real business people will need to work beyond the research and the data to help local businesses truly see the opportunity.
Imagine if those in power in this space (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Bing etc) actually stopped the train for long enough to educate the masses rather than steamroll them with ‘innovation’? There’s no telling where this could all go but until then we’ll just have to wonder how many people really get the whole local online marketing space.
What would you propose as a way to educate the larger audience about the opportunity that exists in the online space? Do we just ‘let them eat cake’ and see if they figure something out on their own?