Monday, June 25, 2007

Updating Your Google Business Listing

Love it or hate it, any small business that ignores Google is definitely in the "get real" category. The whole, "I don't have time for Web marketing" excuse doesn't cut it. That said, you don't have to be an Internet guru or devote 24/7 to having an effective Web presence.

Search Engine Guide editor Jennifer Laycock has two "real marketing" articles for local businesses that are well worth the time: Updating Your Google Maps Business Listing and Are You Using Google Coupons?

Both articles send you to the Google Local Business Center, where you can create, edit, or suspend your Google Local business listing. But Jennifer's articles go step-by-step through the process so you can be certain your business gets the max from Google Maps.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ikea - Small Businesses, Big Dreams

Sent to us from Sharon Hill, (, author and guru of all things telecommuting. Note that tho the contest is for retail locations, Ikea also offers home-based workers the chance for promotion by posting their creative solutions to common business problems:

An entire street of businesses can win a makeover in Ikea's, "Small Businesses, Big Dreams: Furnished by IKEA.” This online video contest will give a group of neighboring small businesses a dream IKEA design makeover. The contest supports camaraderie between business owners and revitalization of small town business districts by asking business owners to enter the contest on behalf of their entire business community. The contest started May 31, 2007 and will run through July 26, 2007 and site visitors are encouraged to vote for their favorite entries.

This rates as a double "real marketing" win in my book: the businesses get something they want, Ikea gets what it wants.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Greg Sterling Talks About How and Why

The always-articulate Greg Sterling has a link to his webcast called "Local Search Advertising: Challenges and Opportunities," in his post on Search Engine Land.

He also discusses some of the real-world issues facing small businesses when it comes to the complex array of online strategies, and the cottage industry that has emerged to help small business get real about local search marketing.

If you are at the execution-end of marketing for a local business you can't go wrong reading his ideas on both strategy and practical "how to."

Clicks & Bricks is Important Local Strategy

Retailers that have started a hybrid of online/in-store marketing, like Sears and REI, have found that customers who use this strategy are more likely to buy additional products when they pick up their items, according to Patti Freeman Evans, an analyst at Jupiter Research, in an interview with Practical eCommerce.

Freeman Evans believes smaller, local merchants should learn from industry giants, and says that within the next three years, "nearly half of all retail sales will be influenced or transacted online."

She explains that, "The 'influenced-by' number comes from the people who will go online maybe to just find a store or maybe to do days and days of research on a product. Then they go offline and make the purchase."

If you are involved in local marketing, and trying to make sense of what to do now to prepare for the next few years, this is a must read..

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Growth for Local Advertising

MediaPost's Tameka Kee reports on the state of local online yellow pages, Internet 1Q Yellow Page Searches Surpass 800 Million: comScore. The upshot is what local merchants already know: the market is still immature.

With 800 million internet yellow page (IYP) search queries in the first three months of the year, consumers haven't settled on one clear leader. Yahoo currently holds a slight lead over Idearc Media ( and Yellowpages Network. Google, Yellow Book, and a score of others continue to make this a pitched battle for both the advertiser dollars and the consumer usefulness.

"There is no true leader in local search," said Stuart McKelvey, CEO of TMP Directional Marketing. "Consumers are making the transition from print to Internet, and the big media properties haven't figured out how to really deliver it yet."

Meanwhile, in other local advertising news, Media General saw a decline of 11% in online classifieds, partly offset by their recent partnership with Yahoo HotJobs. They also saw a 43% rise in local ad sales.

My word to local marketers trying to wend their way? Some of the hype you hear from ad sales people is "get real" because they put their need for growth above your need for results. Others want to learn what works as much as you do, and can be great partners for "real marketing."

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Paris + Prison = Great Lease Rates?

Check out the TMZ story to see and hear the local auto ads for a sales promotion based on the Paris Hilton headlines. Quick-wit or half-wit marketing? You decide:

Paris Hilton's incarceration is causing unexpected benefit for the residents of Toms River, N.J. -- a fantastic deal on cars! Lester Glenn is offering a "Paris in Jail Sale" during the celebutante's stay in the pokey. "As long as Paris stays in jail," their radio commercial boasts, "You can get a Hyundai Santa Fe for just $159 a month with no money down and no security deposit." Get 'em while you can!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Community Involvement

When I saw that Deloitte & Touche had created a 24-page report titled "Beyond Numbers" which was described as its "Community Involvement Annual Report" I wondered if it was a "get real" moment. 24 pages to tout what they should be doing anyway? Sounded like puffery to me.

I explain: I am a huge advocate of community involvement - I've volunteered with local non-profit organizations for the past two decades of my working career and firmly believe that absolutely every business should be fostering involvement in the local community among its employees.

As I read the report, I realized this was REAL marketing...and the fact that Deloitte & Touche is putting themselves out there, committing the company as a 'best example', is very impressive.

A recent survey from job board TheLadders showed that 89.2% of execs believe that if a company has the ability to make a positive impact then it is that company’s duty to strive for it. The majority of respondents – 87.3% – also said that they would not work for a company that had a reputation of negative social responsibility.

Almost half of those surveyed – 45.1% – said that, not only do their companies participate in numerous events and organizations, but they promote employee participation as well. However, 29.6% of execs say they are unaware of any social programs initiated by their companies. Another 25.3% said that while their companies do promote social responsibility, employees are not encouraged to participate.

Given the fact that less than half of companies are doing what they believe is the right thing, the Deloitte & Touche commitment is even more impressive.

Barry Salzberg, D&T's CEO, said, “Successful businesses thrive in healthy communities. That’s why we’re committed to helping build strong and vibrant nonprofits. We bring our passion for business excellence into our community involvement efforts, helping nonprofits achieve their critical social missions. "

Evan Hochberg, national director of community involvement, Deloitte Services LP, noted that “this report is a story of our efforts to make a greater impact in our communities by strengthening the effectiveness of nonprofits. It is a strategy to which we are truly committed.”

Thumbs up! Great job! My hope is that "Beyond Numbers" gives the good folks at Deloitte & Touche a platform to speak at every business conference and to every business magazine.

Building a Business - One Customer at a Time

John Sumser of Electronic Recruiting News, (a newsletter for the recruiting industry) wrote a great blog post about his hunt for "Caramel Balsamic Gelato," in which he ended up finding the product he wanted as well as discovering a great example of a small local company that knows how to treat loyal customers.

John's point -- after a pleasurable email exchange with the president of Gelato Massimo -- was that, "When the talk turns to building intimate relations based on attraction rather than promotion, this is a good model of how to do it. A good product and a willingness to build your brand are the required ante."

Small business owners are always time-crunched. Over-extended. But in business, as in life, small things make a difference.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Survey Snafu

And did you hear about the marketing-turned-creepy at Target...?

Since Target is a local retailer, even though it's a national chain, I decided this wasn't too far off base ... and the lessons are universal.

Anyway, last week Target emailed a survey to customers with questions such as whether people feared their lovers might leave them and, if they disappeared from the face of the earth, would anybody notice. News reports said it was designed to help compare the psyches of their customers to Wal-Mart customers.

The survey was stopped within 24 hours.

The Target folks aren't idiots and they're not insensitive. They were just a bit myopic about how people would react. It can happen to can happen to you.

So here are two lessons: 1) Remember that an email doesn't always "read" the way it was intended when it was written and 2) Never get so caught up in what you want from the customer that you forget it is your job to serve them...not the other way around.

Oh, and stay true to your word: Though I'm sure Target framed that survey within a context, on the Target Web site it says, "By providing your e-mail address, you will receive updates on special offers and promotions from Target."

What Local Media Sites Earn

Local media depends on local advertisers for their bread and butter, and gauging by the growth shown in the latest report from Borrell Associates, WHAT LOCAL WEB SITES EARN: 2007 SURVEY, the local media is doing something right:

"We gauge this year's U.S. local online advertising at $7.5 billion,
growing at a clip of 31.6 percent over 2006. Newspapers continue to
hold the dominant share. They control 35.9 percent of all locally spent
online advertising, but pure-play internet companies (Google, Yahoo!,
Monster et al.) are hot on their heels, with 33.2 percent. Yellow pages
operators control 11.7 percent; Other Print (e.g., Homes & Land and
other local magazines) 9.2 percent; TV stations 7.7 percent and radio
stations 2.2 percent."

Here's the problem:

When you talk $7 billion, every company wants a piece of the action.

When you talk about $400 or even $1400, which is how small local businesses buy advertising, no company wants the action unless it's free of human (translate=expensive) interaction.

What do most small businesses want? The kind of service they are prepared to provide their customers for a $400, or $1400, sale. In some cases, the kind of service they provide for a $20 sale.

The missing piece in the local online advertising market continues to be the dissonance between the companies that want that ad dollar, and the companies that shell out that ad dollar.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Marketing by Parable - He Made His Point

I love folks in the publishing industry for their intelligence and wit. And to that point, did you hear about the CEO of a major house who stole two laptops?

Richard Charkin, Chief Executive of Macmillan Publishers Ltd, went to BookExpo America and stole two computers from Google's booth. What's more, he bragged about it on his blog (

As he pointed out, "...there is no sign saying 'please do not steal the computers'. I confess that a colleague and I simply picked up two computers from the Google stand and waited in close proximity until someone noticed. This took more than an hour.

"Our justification for this appalling piece of criminal behaviour? The owner of the computer had not specifically told us not to steal it. If s/he had, we would not have done so. When s/he asked for its return, we did so. It is exactly what Google expects publishers to expect and accept in respect to intellectual property."

I hear the sounds of cheering from newspaper and book publishers around the world!

The lesson for local businesses? Humor, creativity, and the willingness to react to the moment can provide you a great platform.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Wanna Get Real? Look at Online Retailers

Online retailers know that what really matters is sales...not "what's easiest to build," not "what brand will pay us to promote them," and not "what spin to put on our PR." Ringing up sales means thinking about consumers first.

(The real marketing element of this = think about your users first, a lesson that countless "local search sites" and "pay per call" providers still haven't figured out...they keep trying to build a base of paying advertisers without really meeting consumers' needs.)

Anyway, like any good marketing maven, I keep an eye on internet retailing. These are companies working to make the online experience truly useful. In the SJ Mercury News coverage (June 9) of the recent Internet Retailing Conference., one paragraph had me yelling, "Hooray - yes!"

Streamlining the checkout process to a single page should be a priority, said Gene Alvarez, analyst at the Gartner. "Anyone here ever complete all your information, get something wrong, hit the back button and it's all gone?," Alvarez asked conference goers. "Imagine the checkout being a sidebar on the Web page, so no matter where I go on your Web store, there it is."

This isa real-world, practical application...good marketing as well as good sense.

I'm happy to link to the entire Mercury News article - though I have a bad feeling that after a short period of time the MN sticks their posts behind a paid archive service, so if that's what you get, complain to the Merc, not me. Full Story

Friday, June 8, 2007

Corporate Campaigns - Sunk by Morons

The best corporate campaigns are often sunk by morons in management.

Take Home Depot. When Frank Blake took over as CEO earlier this year, he promised that he'd work to change the chain's rep for lousy customer service. On a recent trip to the Home Depot in Sunnyvale I assumed that was why employees throughout the store were wearing big "I'm empowered" buttons.

I was there to purchase an item advertised on sale...a 10' x 10' canopy, which I hoped would eliminate the problem I had of sun on my deck reflecting into my bedroom and turning it into an oven every afternoon. I was there the first day of the sale, but there were no canopies in stock and a nice "I'm empowered" employee checked the computer and said they hadn't received their shipment. He kindly offered me a rain check, called the assistant manager for authorization, got said approval, and with a smile and an apology that their sale item wasn't in stock handed me my rain check.

Three days later I called to see if the item was in stock, was told the canopies were in, but...the store manager was refusing to honor rain checks because the ad had stated "Limited Supply." Fortunately I had kept the ad and it said no such thing.

I went to the store, asked to see the manager. She wouldn't come out. A man who wouldn't tell me his name or title came instead. He argued with me! He was surly, argumentative, and rude. I showed him the rain check, showed him the ad. Explained that if nothing else, he should honor his employees' word and the fact they didn't have sale merchandise in stock. My actual thoughts were, "Idiot, you should not be arguing with a customer over this."

He disappeared into the back with my ad and my rain check. It took 20 minutes before he returned with my canopy. Altogether it took me almost an hour before I got my canopy. A friendly sales associate nearby told me I was lucky: other customers who weren't so persistent had been turned away.

Considering it took me two trips, combined time of an hour-and-a-half, and an extremely unpleasant experience, I didn't consider myself lucky. I considered myself ill-treated.

So you tell me. Is this what the "I'm empowered" campaign is all about? Giving managers the freedom to be rude to customers, and allowing them to sink both the corporate campaign and the confidence of their own employees?

Even good marketing can be sunk by morons in management.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Idiot Marketers in Boston

Stupid Marketing Watch: Inside the Boston Bomb-Threat Flyer

Here's a pick up directly from Ken Magill's Magilla Marketing, a newsletter that's mostly about email but occasionally incorporates something else, as in this case.

"What is it about marketers in Boston and their uncanny ability to concoct promotions that make people think they're in danger of imminent death? On the heels of a Cartoon Network bomb scare that paralyzed the city in January, police evacuated a strip mall last week because of a botched fax promotion that some Bank of America employees mistook .. ."

Ken then links to an article at Direct, and I have done the same: