A Marketing Plan I Can Get Behind

....and one I cannot
Turner's marketing prank


Google Maps (Local) Adding Reviews

Google is including reviews within their local listings. This was expected and something every small business should understand and embrace.

Barry Schwartz posts the news on Search Engine Land .

On a search for pizza near my location I found one restaurant with six reviews attached including three from Chefmoz, two from Citysearch and one from Dine.com.

Google has included reviews from Chowhound, InsiderPages and Yelp within organic results for some time now.


G.E.s Journalistic Integrity On The Line?

A public relations nightmare scenario is taking form for General Electric's financial news division. What do you do if one of your star personalities crosses a journalistic line? Bloomberg reports on popular C.N.B.C financial news anchor Maria Bartiromo and her cozy relationship with a CitiGroup executive. How will the G.E. public relations and marketing people handle this? Citigroup already axed the executive for his part.
I have thoughts on how I would advise, I'm anxious to see how the heavyweights handle it.


The Model Local Search Marketing Firm?

Paul Jahn's LocalMN Interactive Marketing could act as the model for local search marketing firms. Unlike ReachLocal and other "local" search marketing firms LocalMN.com is really local. Online marketing options for local business are numerous and confusing, the personal attention a local marketer can offer should ultimately trump the offerings of "outside" local search marketers.


YouTube And SEO/SEM Marketing

I am surprised video is not more widely used to market the marketers. Here are some examples of current efforts ranging in quality.





Confusing, Costly Choices Ahead For Local Business

While reading Krasilovsky's piece on The Kelsey Group Blog today about Gannet's new search marketing initiative I imagined being in the place of the local merchant. The typical local business by my definition is a landscaper or a restaurateur serving a city the size of Tucson Arizona.

The merchant already has a presence in the print Yellow Pages, maybe more than one, and likely has sunk one to four thousand dollars in each. He or she also maintains an ad in the local newspaper, runs coupons in ValuePack and maybe has some direct mail deals going. Local merchant is doing all he can offline and is paying a pretty price.

Now comes the Internet marketing peddlers.

Our representative local merchant likely has a website and assumes he's already "on" Google and Yahoo! but really doesn't know. The guy who set up the website told him he'd be in Google and he thinks he is. The website is live and it looks slick.

The Yellow Pages rep hits up our local merchant with a flashy proposal full of cool stats and promises of traffic. There is a sense of trust with the YP rep because an ad does exist in the book, that trust earns the rep a pitch.
The cost for representative keyword searches in Tucson may run $400.00 per month for a featured spot. That's a lot but the rep shows how the competition is already there or better yet points out the competition is NOT there yet. You have to be there in any case right?

Next is a call from Gannet's people from Planet Discover and their package is pretty slick too. The salesperson does his/her best to convince our merchant friend listing on Tucson.com
is vital. Soon after he gets a call from the CitySearch sales force.

After the big sell by these local directory people one might assume all the bases are covered but not one of them told our merchant he won't be seen within Google or Yahoo! local listings (to any meaningful extent).

Google, Yahoo, Local.com, MSN's local.live and SuperPages.com, local search most powerful directories still await. The ancillary or supporting sites like InsiderPages, Yelp, Judy's Book, Angie's List, Chowhound and the rest still wait as well.

So what is local business to do? Currently there are few search marketing agencies that specialize exclusively in local search marketing.
Take a look at the these results for local search marketing. It's populated with articles about local search but the merchant will have to dig deeper to find someone to help him sort out available online marketing options.
At the present time most local search marketing specialists use a cookie cutter approach to serving clients. Local search marketing performed correctly requires development of a personal relationship with the client's particular needs. There is little cookie cutter about it.

My advice to local businesses when approached by various directory sales folks is to put them off and list in their directories for free. See where you end up on their results pages. If you wantb an enhanced position take a trial run for a month or two.

Most importantly research Yahoo! Local and dig into Google Maps (local). Acquaint yourself with Google AdWords (PPC). Their local targeted AdWords product is the single most effective marketing tool bar none for a quick start local marketing campaign.

Feel free to call me for a free consultation. My number is on the front page of my home site.

Practical Advice; SEO vs Web Design

Lee Odden blogs on this highly relevant but rarely discussed topic.

"Today’s SEO is not just about the technical side or about “textbook” SEO. As an example, most web developers and/or designers are not often trained, tasked or interested in doing the kind of competitive marketplace,.........

........A specialist in search engine optimization is going to have tools for analyzing a keyword marketplace, competitor web sites as well as content recommendations. Keywords are mined from the current client site, competitor sites, mining data from web analytics and the on-site search engine, tools like Keyword Discovery and WordTracker, Google trends and possibly interviews with client front line staff that interact with the target market such as sales people and customer support teams."


How Is MyBlogLog Indexing?

I was curious if MyBlogLog profiles and other member information was being indexed by Yahoo!, Google, MSN and ASK. There is no science connected with this search but I thought the results were interesting.
I used the query www.mybloglog/buzz/members

Google Results 1 - 10 of about 729,000 for www.mybloglog.com/buzz/members.
(6,530,000 for the query Mybloglog)

Yahoo 1 - 10 of about 491 for www.mybloglog.com/buzz/members
(2,180,000 for the query Mybloglog)

Ask www.mybloglog.com/buzz/members Showing results 11-20 of 2,240
(165,000 for the query Mybloglog)

MSN www.mybloglog.com/buzz/members Page 1 of 8 results
(195,707 for the query Mybloglog)

Local Search Marketing For Local Business

Darell Zahorsky, the small business information guide for About.com posts a nice primer on local search marketing;

"Just how many consumers search locally? A recent comScore Networks study found over 849 million searches were performed in the U.S. during one month in the summer. The Kelsey Group estimates over 30 billion local searches annually will be conducted by 2009. Even more significant is almost 50% of local searchers visited a local business as a result of a search....

How much can a local search be worth? In Dallas, local search in one month revealed by Overture resulted in 1250 local searches for the keyword Dallas flowers. With over half of local searchers visiting stores, the Dallas market for flowers (at an average sale of $50) would be worth over $30,000 per month in business....."

Nice read.

"Panlocal" "Hyperlocal" Pegasus Defines It for Us

Greg Sterling's Screenwerks pointed me to Pegasus News Mike Orren's piece on Online Journalism Review. Mike hits it on the head here:

"Local retailers, many of whom may not even have websites, are a huge class of business that is not flocking to pay-per-click ad services. And while that presents a huge opportunity, it means the hard work of picking up phones, knocking on doors and feet on the street – just like with traditional local media. However, once you get them on board, local advertisers are amazed at the precision, flexibility and business intelligence provided by online advertising. Restaurants used to paying a flat fee for ad space in a weekly are shocked that their bill is lower if you deliver fewer pageviews. Stores are aghast that you can change their sale ads every day..."

Pegasus News


My Blog Log

Earlier this month Yahoo! confirmed they had purchased My Blog Log. This may be the best acquisition (next to Flickr) Yahoo! has made in the social web space. It's very addictive, super viral and highly useful for networking and information gathering. Right now it seems populated by early adopters but once it gets beyond the E.A. phase and Yahoo! begins to push it I see it exploding.

Update; As I spend more time on it the potential seems even more clear. It reminds me of Myspace, a MySpace for grown up bloggers really the first generation social media platform for bloggers.

Is there an acronym for this yet?

Social Blogging Media, S.B.M.
Blog Networking Media, B.N.M

CitySearch Adds Sales Call Center

They are calling it "consultative sales" but it is a call center and good on them. Peter Krasilovsky posting on Kelsey Group's Local Media Blog has more.

This is in line with my prediction that 2007 is the year I.Y.P sales forces begin building steam. They will find success. Mom and pop business will believe the Yellow Pages people. They are skeptical about the web but understand they need to be online whether they want to or not. My expectation is there will be a sticker shock associated with what the various call center "consultants" are selling. Some will sign on straight out and others will shop around for better deals. This is where the independent local search marketers :-) will find new appreciation.


Top Rank Blog Ranks Top Blogs

Lee Odden has compiled a master list of the most pertinent search related blogs. He is up to 300 blogs now. It's a great list and a treasure trove for research.
(I'm hoping I make it somewhere in the top 2,000?)


Local Search Talk, I Love It

Some interesting facts about local search from Mike Stewert of Dallas Blog.

".....In 2006, 77% of those who used an Internet Yellow Pages for at least one product/service category also used a print Yellow Pages for at least one product/service category. The point is: To reach ready to purchase consumers a business owner, as they say, does not need to put all thier eggs in one basket. Some people use print, some people use online local search (Google, Yahoo, Superpages.com, YellowPages.com, MSN, etc etc.), but most use both.

Local online marketing firm conducted an online survey this past August regarding Internet usage to find a local service business. The survey used Nielsen//NetRatings’ online panel and asked about behavior within the past 90 days. Among more than 2,800 consumer responses:

  • 70% had used the Internet to search for a local service business at any point, and 46% had used the Internet to search one or more times for a local service in the last 90 days
  • 89% found search to be “somewhat effective” or “very effective” in finding local services in their area.
  • 68% said they would most likely use the phone number on the website to contact a vendor..."

He goes on to say;

"If you want your business to be found by ready to buy consumers, you need advise from someone that understands the in's and out's of LOCAL SEARCH. This includes organic search, SEM, link popularity, online directory advertising, and print advertising designs and concepts."

My thoughts on those points;
  • Organic search; Important but shop carefully for SEO help, vultures lurk.
  • Link popularity; Not so important for local as for businesses with a national intent.
  • SEM; All important, trumps all other means of advertising for a local business.
  • Online directory advertising; Imperative
  • Print advertising designs; Still important but don't waste more than 20% of your budget on it.

Eater.com Gobbling Territory

Yahoo! News pointed me to Eater.com a brilliant blogging idea that is poised to grow according to the AP via Yahoo! release.

"..Thanks to an army of hungry tipsters, Leventhal and Steele are irking restaurateurs, chefs and reporters alike with their timely scoops. They have broken stories about restaurant closings and the comings-and-goings of chefs, and their success has led to a new venture in Los Angeles.

There is also talk of stalking San Francisco's eateries and possibly delving into one or two other major cities.

The ascendancy of Eater.com is yet another example of the transformation in how news is disseminated in a blog-driven world. With sites like Eater.com, Chowhound.com and Thestrongbuzz.com, no longer do restaurant-obsessed New Yorkers have to wait for a weekly food and dining section in a newspaper or magazine to get the lowdown.

"I don't see Eater as a lone crusader," Steele, 32, said. "I see it as more of a larger trend toward the democratization of dining information..."

If Eater or any similar incarnation appear in your community trump them by buying an ad on the site even if it carries a premium!


Jingle's 1-800-Free411

Jingle's 1-800-Free411 is an ad supported directory assistance service. I gave the service a try and tasked it to find a Pizza Hut location in my city.

The computer voice was a gentle semi-sexy female incarnation that greeted me with precise and simple instructions. Unfortunately I was not helped by the computer because Pizza Hut has so many locations in my town and I did not provide exact enough geographic info.

I was prompted to a live operator and I asked her for help finding the closest Pizza Hut. Once I gave her a known location she sent me back to the computer system but before giving me the number of the store the computer hit me with a 30 second ad for a time share outfit pitching "free" vacations to Orlando and Las Vegas.
I already knew the Pizza Hut location so I pressed 2 and connected with the sponsor. I was offered a 4 day 3 night stay......... you know the pitch. I did not buy a package but I gave the salesman feedback on where I heard the ad. Not that he cared but maybe he will mention it to the marketing person.

Ad sponsored 411 is here and I see it as a winner for everyone. I'm anxious to see how I can get clients involved. One thought, I was asking for pizza and ended up with a vacation type ad. Not too targeted. A boost in ad inventory will cure this. Surely a pizza store would love to be in that spot. This is going to be a fantastic option for local business looking for highly targeted leads.

Yahoo! Local Reviews Close To Gold

Search Engine Watch highlights data reported by a Harris poll that confirms what seems obvious, people like to read what others have to say about a business. Polished advertising can make anything look good. They want to read what real people are saying.

"...asked users about the effect ratings and reviews might have on their decision to patronize a particular business. Overall, 79 percent of respondents said they'd be likely to be influenced by a rating or review on Yahoo Local, with 9 percent of respondents more likely to be influenced by a review that was negative, 23 percent more likely to be influenced by a review that was positive, and 47 percent likely to be influenced by both positive and negative reviews.

For merchants, the data highlights the necessity of getting out ahead of issues by proactively seeking out positive reviews from satisfied clients. It also underscores the importance of handling problems quickly and effectively, since the likelihood that an unsatisfied customer will post an online review is growing, and the effect those reviews have on potential customers is substantial...

Like it or not, UGC is here to stay"


ZDNet; Google Local Dilema

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.


Yahoo! Local News, Easier Editing of Listings

News from Yahoo Local blog.

"It’s time to announce a new feature on Yahoo! Local which empowers you to add your favorite new local business, alert others when an old favorite has closed, and add or change business info quickly. Now you can truly be our eyes and ears in your community!.."

It's a nice feature but it's not too different from the "old" version. Maybe I am missing something or maybe they just wanted some pr for the local directory, a directory some feel is the best local platform on the web.

One of the things I like about Yelp is how easy it is to add, edit, or add photos of businesses by anyone. Two different local products and business models but Yahoo! trying the wiki route here is interesting.

Loren Baker at Search Engine Journal offers his thoughts and opinions on the new Yahoo! Local feature.


Dash Navigation and Yahoo! Team For Local Ads

Kevin Newcomb of Search Engine Watch reports Dash Navigation will use Yahoo! Local ads in it's onboard device when it debuts in the Fall of 2007.

"When a user enters their search term into their Dash Express, the device conducts a Yahoo Local search on the Web over a wireless connection. In many cases, Yahoo Local ratings and reviews are also presented with the listings. Results are formatted into address cards and presented to the user as a listing of nearby businesses, which can be mapped at the touch of a button..."

This should be noted by all local business for obvious reasons. If you are not in the system you will not be seen. Your competition will get the call or visit and his or her business will get the mobile customer.