Archive for the ‘2010 eBusiness News’ Category

Three Things Small Businesses Really Need

Sep 27, 2010 at 7:00am ET by Matthew Berk

orginally posted on Search Engine Land

For nearly a decade, we have watched small businesses steadily shift their marketing spend from offline to online, but it is only now that we are coming to a key realization: unlocking the local opportunity is not just about capturing transitions in small business spending; rather, it is about understanding the unique pain points of the local business, and how we can address those through a newly-conceived, and well-defined product set.

One only has to consider the sophistication of how consumers are using the Internet in 2010 to discover and make decisions about local businesses to understand how challenging it has become for the small business owner to keep pace with this brave new world. Consumers find local businesses through rich mobile search and mapping applications; share their recommendations and experiences on blogs, Twitter and Facebook; upload and exchange pictures and videos of local businesses; and actively—and easily—leverage the network to find discounts, offers and coupons for locally-offered services and products.

From a handheld device, a teenager can find the nearest Japanese izakaya restaurant; confirm through reviews that it’ll sate their yen; make a reservation and earn points toward future meals; find a coupon for a free dessert; get directions to it by foot or public transportation; see its storefront and interior in pictures and video; and then Tweet about, rate and review it before even paying the check. That’s a serious information advantage.

Given the disparity of information advantage, the pain points we need to solve for local businesses—through a newly defined product set—are simple, but of extraordinarily high consequence:

  • Small businesses have scant control over their digital footprint
  • Consumers make key spending decisions based on that footprint
  • Marketing to consumers is less effective than having a dialogue with them

It is our view that we need to go back to the drawing board and take the small business product set, which in the past half decade has advanced from the obvious to the slightly less obvious (the bucket of clicks, performance click packages, performance leads, website creation, business profiles, etc.), to help local businesses maximize the basic realities of the digital and mobile age, in ways that far exceed acquisition marketing alone.

The digital marketing product set of the future will address three primary local business needs:

1. Lead Generation

Selling performance search marketing packages to small businesses has helped define a market in which the measurability of results is critical. In that definition, any product that does not supply leads, on a measurable, performance-oriented basis will not serve the local business as it should. The new local business product set must deliver leads in the forms most useful to local businesses, and while driving traffic to websites and profile pages is of solid value, only providing a broader set of performance-based leads (phone calls, form fills, emails, coupons, etc.) can truly help local businesses get the most out of their online marketing spend. Of all the lead types in this set, we believe phone calls are the real performance leader—and the lead source small businesses care about most.

2. Online Presence Management

Technology has helped consumers gain a significant information advantage, but it has not yet done the same for small businesses, for whom an online footprint, and the reputation it conveys, can make the difference between success and failure. Managing online presence has three distinct aspects:

Data: we have to help local businesses understand where and how they are represented online, to determine and correct the accuracy of their listings, and to maximize the ubiquity of those listings.

Content: local businesses need to understand how they are perceived in the minds of customers, the better to market and operate.

Competition: The above two views of the online footprint are best leveraged in a comparative fashion, to let small businesses understand how they stand with respect to their own competition.

3. Relationship Management

In a world where the value of dialogue is becoming key to high-strength relationship building with customers, and in which consumers are now more vocal than ever about their interactions with local businesses, it’s essential to help the 85% of businesses who today leverage email to connect with consumers. Cultivating relationships with customers is all about leveraging the heterogeneity of online communications today: Facebook updates, tweets, email itself, coupons, blog updates, and other forms of proactive and bi-directional communication with customers.

Finally, our experience—both direct and gained through our reseller partners—has revealed an essential attribute of the winning product set. Given the time constraints facing the average small business, tolerance for complexity is low, and the willingness to leverage multiple toolsets, each with their own credentials, interfaces and vocabularies is practically nil. This is why a product set that unifies the many tasks required to manage small business marketing, in an easy-to-use, simplified presentation, will ultimately capture the greatest share of small business adoption. What we need provide to local businesses are time-saving, simple toolsets that return to them a modicum of information advantage that translates to new and better business.

Dell has just introduced its Android based smartphone to the U.S. The Dell Aero was previously released in China and Brazil late last year. The Aero weighs less than 4 ounces, making it the lightest of all Android smartphones.  It has a 3.5 inch screen with 640 x 360 resolution pixels and a 5-megapixel camera with 8x zoom. The Dell’s first Android is currently only available online and sells for 100 dollars with a 2 year plan from AT&T or 300 without. This phone runs on a custom version of the operating system Android 1.5, not the newer Android 2.1. It is pre-installed with Flickr, Picasa, YouTube, and Facebook. Other features provided include Wi-Fi access and Bluetooth. A headset for making calls and listening to music comes with the phone along with a 2GB MicroSD memory card.


It is not surprising that Dell would want to get into the U.S. Android market: 33% of all smartphones purchased in this country run off of Android. And that number will continue to rise over the next few years.

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While the TV show JERSEY SHORE may not be watched by everyone, their FOURSQUARE CAMPAIGN should be paid some attention. MTV has seamlessly made the Jersey Shore show an experience by having cast members post short blog entries on the MTV FOURSQUARE SITE about bars and restaurants they frequent in the Jersey and Miami area. Here are a few examples:

Ocean’s 10: My fav spot because of the drinks (bull dog!) and the house music! Always a good time at Oceans! – Snooki, Jersey Shore

Nikki Beach: Go on a Sunday – it’s a nonstop party all day and make sure you get a pitcher of Mojitos all for yourself. – Vinny, Jersey Shore

SUSHISAMBA 7: You’ve got to try the delicious sushi! The place had a very cool and relaxing atmosphere. – Sammi (Sweetheart), Jersey Shore

QR codes are popping everywhere: Billboards, Television Commercials, Store fronts, Soda bottles, Prime-time Network Television and the Hottest New FilmsWhat are QR codes? QR Codes are two-dimensional bar codes that were invented in 1994 by the Japanese firm Denso-Wave. The “QR” stands for Quick Response or Recognition, which is what happens when you use a Smart phone App to scan the code; you instantly get the information embedded in the code, such as a link to a website, contact information or information about an Special event or product promotions just to name a few.

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Gary Vaynerchuk is a real inspiration and truly knows what Social Media is and how to use it.  Every Marketing Professional could learn something from this man and his message.

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Next month the IPhone will be able to be used in the worlds most populated nation for the very first time.  The Chinese super giant Unicom, the largest telecom company in China, has signed a 3 year exclusive deal with Apple for the rights. Could this be the spark for QR in the United States?

While QR is growing in the United States, It has yet to pop into domestic mainstream usage. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing QR in the United States is the absence of a simple universal QR app. But one has to wonder if the entrance of the IPhone into China might change all of that. Unicom has 141 million subscribers, many of whom have been waiting to get their hands on an IPhone for YEARS. It is not an incredible idea to think that a universal QR app would be in development for the IPhone 4 in China. It is also not a far reach to think that a successful universal QR application in China would eventually reach IPhones in the U.S. and perhaps other smartphone platforms such as Droid.

QR Potential

While this is all speculation at the present time, the potential of QR codes in the U.S. market is undeniable. Here are some recent examples of how QR codes have been used in the US:

  • Those in the education industry have found that using QR flashcards is a high-tech way of keeping students interested in their college studies

  • Instead of printing as many business cards, companies have begun to encourage their employees to have QR codes on there business cards so interested parties can scan the information to there smart phones

  • QR Billboards, like the one above, have been surfacing more and more all throughout the country.

  • QR code are even appearing on TOMBSTONES in the U.S. so that onlookers can read more about those who have passed.

Do QR Codes have what it takes to go mainstream in the US?

In a word: YES! It is only a matter of time. The bigger question should be: Is my small business ready for the QR revolution?

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In 2010 we all go 100 miles per hour at all times. Many of us cannot find the time to drive to a video store and rent movies so they turn to either Pay per view Cable or DirectTV or the newest power player Netflix. The combination of PPV  and Netflix is driving video rental stores out of business.
Hollywood video­­­­­– which serves the more urban areas around the nation, and Movie Gallery— which serves the rural areas, are filing chapter 11 bankruptcy and are closing an estimate of 1,900 stores. Hollywood Video and its subsidiaries simply cannot compete with Netflix and Redbox. With their “Watch as many movies as you want! For only $8.99 a month.” Plan Netflix is cheaper than the popular video chains…and is therefore a significant competitor.

Blockbuster Video is also suffering due to Netflix. In an effort to improve business, they have established their presence on TiVo. Now, customers can download movies to their TiVo from Blockbuster (only on certain models of TiVo). This effort has failed to provide the boost that Blockbuster hoped for namely because of Netflix’s presence on TiVo. Customers with the Netflix unlimited plan ($8.99 per month) can download movies and TV shows to their TiVo. In addition to this, Netflix also offers streaming movies to the Sony PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii

In April of 2006, Netflix filed a suit against Blockbuster alleging that Blockbuster infringed on two patents that Netflix owned. One of which covered Netflix’s queue system and the ability to rank and reorder the list. The second covered the mailing and communication with the customer. In June of the next year, the issue was closed and both parties refused to disclose the results. Was this an action undertaken by Netflix to protect their rights, or was Netflix trying to crush one of its top competitors.

When you drive to a Local Video store (if you can find one) and what do you find? Well, the more recent movies in the popular genres. However these Conventional Video stores simply do not have the space required to maintain a stock of movies that can even come close to that which Netflix offers. Try searching for a movie that you don’t think you’ll find, well chances are that you will find them with Netflix. This is a big problem for video stores.  For an old-time movie buff who enjoys watching movies from the 70’s and 80’s it is simply a deal breaker to not have want we want.

When you want the Gremlins....Your Going to Netflix

Some say that there is a distinct possibility that most video stores might not survive. The fast turn-around with Netflix’s mail coupled with the even faster Online Streaming to PC’s, Wii, Playstations and HDTV’s. These factors are forcing these chains to take a hard look at their business models.
The point is that Digital Media Marketing was the avenue that Netflix used to create the domination that occurs in Home Movie Rental business in the summer of 2010!  This whole company was the Right Idea at the Right Time using the Right Marketing Tools to succeedCentral Penn SEO is here to help your Pennsylvania Business grow!  Online presence and Creative Search Marketing is the key to making your company into a household name.

Netflix did it Can you?