A few nights ago I laid in bed thinking about all the different ways I’ve seen unethical local search marketing companies take advantage of uninformed business owners; I even wrote a very passionate article about it the very next day. While laying there, the thought occurred to me that as a professional local search marketing researcher and speaker, I was teaching business owners how to do the exact same thing; take advantage of their uninformed competitors. Was that the right thing to do?
Marketing Is Not Selling
Local Search Marketing is not selling. Salespeople actively promote their products and services to people who may not be in the process of considering a purchase. They often times generate the sale of a product or service that would not have happened without their involvement. A good example would be that of a siding salesman who persuades a homeowner to improve the value of his or her home by installing siding on their house.
On the other hand, local search marketing targets people who are ready to buy. They don’t need to be persuaded or encouraged to make a buying decision, they’ve already made it. This is where I have a moral dilemma with local search marketing.
Who’s Getting The Business Now And Why?
As things are now, Google and the rest of the search engines show certain businesses on the first page of results for different products and services in each community. They generally show a map along with up to seven business listings. The businesses that are on those maps, and especially the businesses that are at the top of those maps with multiple reviews are getting the lions share of the sales.
These companies base their compensation, employment and future goals in part based on the business they receive from their placement on those sites. Most are generating business from local search and they have no idea how or why it’s happening. And then we come along with our fancy local search marketing techniques and we show their competitors how to take the top spots (at their expense) and bam! we screw everything up. Let me explain.
I recently helped a rental car company in Southwest Florida improve their ranking for a highly searched keyword on multiple sites where people look to rent cars. In a matter of days, this company went from “just getting by,” to renting two additional cars/day or an additional 700 cars/year, and we’re just getting started with their marketing. For a small rental car company, 700 additional car rentals/year is the difference between making payrole and earning a sweat living.
Wellness Center – 3 New Customers/Month
We have another customer here on Maui who runs a wellness center. She’s picking up an average of one new customer every week based on the placement of her local business listing on just Google. Again, the people who contact her don’t need to be sold on their wellness, they’re ready to buy. It just so happens that now they’re purchasing this service from her instead of her competition due to her placement on Google Maps.
Bed And Breakfast – Zero Advertising Costs
One of the most amazing success stories is the Eva Villa Bed and Breakfast on Maui that uses local search to book their rooms without spending a dime on advertising. This is probably the only Bed and Breakfast in the world that generates 100% of their business on the Internet using Local Search Marketing. They went from struggling to generate business to a full house after their bed and breakfast showed up on Google Maps for the term “Villa Rental Maui” and “Bed and Breakfast Maui.” This new business came at the expense of the bed and breakfast that used to show up in that spot.
So What’s The Problem?
Here’s the moral issue. Every single car that is rented and every new wellness customer came to these businesses at the expense of one or more of their competitors. This new business is just being redistributed to the new king of the hill; to the company that gets their business listed at the top of the local search sites in their community. Is this right? Is this fair?
And The Winner Is
The prize does not go the the biggest or the oldest or to the company that stands at the front of the alphabet line, but rather to the company that understands and takes advantage of local search marketing.
The issue really has to do with scarcity. There are only so many spots where your customers are going to look to find the products and services you offer. If you’re in one or more of those spot, you win the prize. If you’re not in one of those spots, someone else is going to make the sale.
With 97% of all customers looking on the Internet to find a product or service that they intend to purchase locally, you can’t afford to avoid this medium any longer. Problem is, you’re doing it at the expense of your competition.
And here’s the real kicker, if you just happen to be in one or more of those prime spots today, there’s a very good chance that you won’t be tomorrow. Business owners are getting smarter and smarter when it comes to local search marketing and if you don’t secure your position as the dominant competitor in your community, someone else is going to take that spot from you. You are not the only person reading this article.
Here’s what you need to do. Search for the products and services you offer and see who is providing those services in your community. Note that the company in the top spot is getting an unproportional share of the business and that company could be your company very soon.
Then, take the time to learn how local search marketing works and get crackin’. Success does not happen overnight and with a little consistent effort you will see results that you can only imagine.
Local search marketing is not really a moral issue, it’s more of a knowledge and effort issue. Once you acquire the knowledge and make the effort to optimize and publicize your business listing, you will see results that far exceed your expectations and you will see those results for a long time to come.