ZdNet's Donna Bogatin writes;
"The typical small business account is high-touch, but not high ticket. Local merchants expect Yellow Pages and local newspaper reps to march their feet on the street” over to their front doors to solicit, and earn, their ad budgets. Local advertising accounts are not easily booked; Regular hand-holding and substantial negotiation are the norm......
Google'’s hands-off, bid up your own ad rates, blind online auctions are not compatible with the traditional SME'’s conservative, grounded mindset. Google'’s high-profit margin AdWords business is not profitably scalable in a one-off, in-the-field, direct sales effort across millions of dispersed merchants."
Google will have to get feet on the ground or team with people who have foot troops at the ready. I predicted 2007 will be the year print directories turn their sales forces inwards towards the .com. They won't abandon print, not when they can still convince small restaurants to pony up 6k for a year in the book with a 1/4 page graphic ad, but they will push the net with equal vigor. Google will have to strike some deals.
Her point about AdWords is true. From my view only a very small percentage of small to medium enterprises understand PPC and those that have heard of it don't know where to look or how to become involved. To assume local merchants will eventually manage their own AdWord accounts to scale is inconceivable.
- They don't have time.
- They don't understand it.
- They don't want to be bothered with it.
- They don't know where to start.
As Donna's article points out they expect the Yellow Pages and newspaper reps. to explain their options and then DO IT for them. Under no circumstance will we see Y.P reps. managing PPC accounts for local merchants.
I see a huge opportunity for independent marketing reps. and boutique online marketing agencies. The Y.P reps. will whet the appetite for online involvement and the merchant will be stunned with the prices they are quoted. Independent marketers will be in a position to enter the vacuum presented by the Yellow Pages sales people. The marketing agency can offer everything the Y.P. people can plus PPC management and the requisite hand holding Ms. Bogatin describes.
The message to local business is this, before signing with the IYP rep. do a simple search on Google or Yahoo and look for a marketing agency in your area that understands PPC and is familiar with local search.