Viewpoints – Making Sense of the Local Marketplace
On September 29th, BIA/Kelsey hosted the SMB 2015 Conference in Denver, Colorado – an annual gathering where local commerce, media, and advertising industry leaders exchange ideas on how to best serve the evolving needs of small and medium sized business (SMB’s, for short) across the local commerce marketplace. The conference included keynotes and presentations by industry leaders YP, Microsoft, HomeAdvisor, and BIA/Kelsey’s own team of analysts (to name a few).
One major highlight was the kickoff interview I conducted with YP’s Senior Vice President of Ad Products, Harpreet Marwaha. I’m excited to share some points of the conversation here. Watching YP throughout its evolution – growing into the local marketing solutions powerhouse we all know it as today – we were eager to learn about how the company has repositioned itself to tackle the complexity of the SMB marketplace.
Marwaha talked about how the local marketing industry has become increasingly fragmented, with features being sold as products and multiple business models clouding the value of digital local marketing. “Fragmentation has led to a lack of consistent education and definitions for SMB’s to understand how their advertising and marketing works for them,” he explained. Inconsistent solutions as well as inefficient spending by solutions providers have made SMB’s increasingly unhappy with their local marketing programs, ultimately leading to an increase in product churn.
YP has successfully addressed this challenge through a combined product and service effort. The secret recipe for success? YP believes solutions providers should focus on the following:
Take the Time to Communicate and Educate.
SMB’s deal with conflicting messages about the value of local marketing as well as why it’s important for them to invest in it. This is leading to all sorts of confusion. As an industry, we must educate SMB’s on local marketing standards and use that as a lens through which we uniformly identify the metrics and solutions that equate to long-term “value.”
Step Into an SMB’s Shoes.
To understand what SMB’s want and need, it’s critical that solutions providers take the time to learn about how SMB’s operate their business, both online and offline – from how they merchandise their products to how they answer the phone to how they use social media, and everything in between.
Don’t Sell. Consult.
The days of “hard selling” are long gone. SMB’s want a trusted partner that understands their business and can provide solutions that help them achieve their goals or overcome their challenges. Unfortunately, SMB’s are oftentimes sold products they don’t need or understand. We need to do a better job of listening so that we can better deliver on their needs and expectations.
To help drive the success and growth of the local marketplace, BIA/Kelsey has launched the Local Commerce Universe (LCU). What began as a review of over 3,200 companies has transformed into a segmented view of 500 companies – ranging from startups to established local commerce-related businesses – that provide local marketing services across 30 business categories. The LCU will be a solid reference tool for understanding and mapping opportunity to the local commerce industry, helping to navigate and better define its unique role within the context of other social, advertising, and commerce platforms.
BIA/Kelsey will be hosting NEXT 2015, our annual year-end gathering on December 9-10 in Los Angeles, California. Register before space runs out!
Abid Chaudhry is Senior Director of Industry Strategy and Insight at BIA/Kelsey, driving thought leadership and research within the emerging local commerce ecosystem. Abid is based in Los Angeles.