Monday, January 19, 2009

Your Target Audience Still Doesn’t Know Squat, So Teach Them

Posted on 08. Jan, 2009 by Andrew Shotland in Local Search

I just spent an hour with a local contractor who has started to feel the pain of the economic meltdown. Guess what? After years of avoiding it, he’s finally ready to put up a website and start figuring out how to market himself online. Good for him. Now he’s really screwed.

The guy barely knows how to click on a link let alone buy a domain, build a website, learn SEO, figure out what people are searching for, set up a paid search campaign, troll for customers on Twitter, etc.

As I was listening to him discuss his ambitions, it occurred to me that even after all of these years of investment in the local search industry, a huge number of the potential advertisers still don’t understand the options available to them in local online marketing.

Consumers may be a bit ahead of Joe the Plumber, but not by much. How many IYPs are there? Why did that list of businesses show up for one Google search and not the other?

All I’m trying to say here is that until there is a service that makes it dirt simple for SMBs to understand how to get online and how to choose between the options, and until there is a service that makes it dirt simple for people to find reliable service pros, no one is going to “win” this game and every company will be ripe for having their clients and users poached by a better mousetrap.

There are a number of companies out there taking stabs at both sides of the equation, but I have yet to see a model that is not just an incremental improvement on what is already out there.

Andrew Shotland - Local SEO Guide

My Take

You don't mince words, Andrew. Small business owners are screwed by the amount of time and money required to build a Web marketing program.

In my opinion a new approach to the problem is needed. Perhaps one that mimics the success of organic word-of-mouth to facilitate and capture sales leads.

Why not simply "webinize" the WOM process that has consistently delivered the most qualified leads? Why can't businesses increase their sales by connecting to their network of satisfied customers, neighbors and friends in a Web-based social network like Facebook?

If they could do this then they'd be able to know exactly where their best new customers were coming from. (They could even voluntarily reward them to show their appreciation.) Such a system would eliminate the time and expense of creating and updating a Web page. It would be as easy as having a Facebook page.
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