The holy grail of Internet Marketing is to find a scalable way to manage the online advertising efforts of the millions of small businesses around the world. There are many reasons why this has yet to be achieved, but with some of the new technologies on the horizon this appears to be something that will be achievable at some point in the near future.
Whoever solves this problem will make billions. We believe we have that solution, but we’re not making any announcements just yet of course. However, we want to go over some of the challenges inherent in this new business model and touch on some of the reasons why “Local” really is going to dwarf everything that has come before it.
Why Small Businesses Suck at Internet Marketing
The biggest problem we’ve seen is that a large number of small business owners will tell you’ve they’ve tried internet marketing for their business but it didn’t work for them. That generally turns them off to the idea, so the battle to bring them back online is complicated as a result. Once you pry for more information however, the truth comes out. Invariably most small business owners will tell you they set-up a Google AdWords account and put in some keywords but they didn’t get enough business from their efforts to justify the cost.
Where do we start? First of all, a restaurant owner is good at running a restaurant; A spa owner is good at running a spa; An Internet Marketer is good at internet marketing. I would never expect to be successful running a restaurant or a spa or whatever, so why do so many business owners think they’ll have success with Internet Marketing? If a small business owner is going to try their hand at advertising online – or worse yet, hand off the responsibilities to their nephew who took a computer class at the community college – of course they’re going to fail. Making sure small business owners understand this is a foundational first step, because there will be no long-term success without it.
Internet Marketing Does Not Mean Setting up an AdWords Account
The other thing a vast majority of these small business owners fail to understand is that there is so much more to running an online ad campaign than setting up an AdWords account. In fact, many times Google is the last place a small business owner should advertise because of the inflated bid prices they’ll find. All of these free AdWords vouchers over the years have served to inflate the price of traffic on AdWords, much the way counterfeiting money would be expected to do. Take advantage of the free traffic, but only if there is a long term plan. It’s really easy to burn through your $100 voucher and learn nothing about what keywords and placements will work long-term, so if you continue your campaign after that you’re not going to be pleased with the results.
Local businesses need to rely an a single point of contact to manage their entire internet presence, and as of now there are no agencies that do this (or at least none that do it well, and can scale). The AdWords interface alone is enough to confuse most people, particularly with the new features they seem to roll out every month. Adding to that – Marissa Mayer, Google’s VP of Search has gone on record acknowledging that with Google Maps, Google Places, Google Earth, Google Hotpot, Google Latitude, Google Street View, etc. that Google needs to do a better job of decluttering the local options for small business owners.
Now when you add in trying to manage campaigns in AdCenter and all of the other tier 2 and tier 3 PPC options, display buys, PPV, email marketing and a social presence – there is a dizzying array of options for local businesses and they will be looking for one company to handle it for them once they come to the realization that it’s too much for them to deal with, and that they can increase their bottom-line by doing so.
Mobile Advertising for Local Businesses
This is a no-brainer, and although the puzzle hasn’t been put together yet, it’s beginning to take shape. More and more local shoppers are using their phones to research products, and find local options to make their purchases. One of the features big box retailers have already started supporting, and small businesses will begin to do as it becomes financially viable, is to have real-time inventory updates so that shoppers can know exactly where to go to get what they want. Google is already adding local product data into their Place Pages so we’re going to see more and more of this as time goes on. A few 3rd party sites are starting to track this such as Shopatron and LocalLocal so expect this technology to take off in the next 18 months.
One really cool feature from them is their Google Business Photos that allows small businesses to have interior pictures of their store shown for their store listings. The possibilities for this are endless, particularly from an Internet Marketing prospective. Here’s a cheesy video to at least get you thinking about it:
As mobile payment develops and consumers find themselves with a portable digital identity thanks to expanded smartphone usage, we will be seeing nothing short of an advertising revolution take place. Within 2-3 years, over half of all online advertising will be mobile – Internet Marketers don’t seem to be ready for this so the opportunities are really exciting. Everyone that seems to think Groupon’s business model is the future are missing one very important fact – Groupon and LivingSocial both have a fatal flaw in their business model. They have not shown the ability to retain customers and relationships. Whoever solves that problem will be the new king of The Internet.