The Biggest Opportunity in Local Advertising

Ok.  A bit of a think piece for you.  I have a ‘hypothesis’ on where a lot of local advertising dollars are going to be spent.

The big missing link in local advertising is that a large number of local businesses still don’t have a properly designed and optimized website.  By ‘proper’ I mean one that has decent design, follows basic (local) search engine optimization principles and has at least some level of monitoring and optimization happening on it.  For bonus points, they might have dynamic content like blogs or twitter feeds and do some online (search engine marketing) as well (again, with proper optimization principles in place).

Right now, many people are trying to sell SMB’s lots of other products (clicks from a Google Adwords campaign for example) that are usually pretty useless to them because they don’t have a website that can ‘receive’ them.  And the problem just gets further confounded when you take in to account that these SMB’s really need to be thinking about how these websites appear on mobile devices as well.

This market is ‘sort of’ being served today, but very poorly.  The various services (graphic design, web design, seo, sem, etc.) tend to be purchased a la carte or they are too complicated and expensive for smaller businesses.  Most small business owners don’t know what SEO means or they are intimidated by it.  They fear (rightly so in some cases) being ‘ripped off’.  At the other end of the market are various ‘packaged’ websites that are too ‘toy’ and don’t go far enough in offering a real ‘digital presence’.

So, eventually, some people are going to make a boatload of money by getting the right ‘recipe’ for creating, managing and optimizing the ‘digital presence’ of small and medium businesses.  I like to call this Digital Presence Optimization.  And this management will extend in to things like ‘reputation management’ where you monitor and respond to reviews at various sites — this will become increasingly critical.  SMB’s will need help and guidance on how to participate in the social conversations.

This could be a service offering provided by existing market players like Yellow Page publishers.  It could be done by one of the many new entrants — though I believe most of the current ones are too narrowly focused.  In the absence of a catalyst, it’s likely that this market will be served by lots of boutique, regional providers – existing providers of web services, SEO and SEM who figure out how to package and deliver their offerings in more ‘SMB’ friendly packages.

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