Battle of the SMB Profiles

Do SMBs really want websites or just need rich landing or profile pages — or both? I suppose it depends entirely on the business, their maturity or sophistication and their position in the market.

I was struck yesterday by two related announcements, one involving the Universal Business Listing initiative and one involving the Hostway Local Business Profile, which is a competitor of the Local Launch/RHD RegisterLocal Profile. There’s also MyLocalProfile, among several others.

The impulse behind all these products is the same: simple paid inclusion that pushes business details out to multiple consumer entry points and helps overcome market fragmentation. These products are cheap — some very cheap — but their ultimate effectiveness as marketing tools is unclear. As these products are more widely marketed and become known, they’ll become “no-brainers” for most local businesses. But most local businesses will also eventually be involved with more active marketing online, where they’re buying position, calls, clicks or all of the above.

The hallmark of the media market and local in particular now is fragmentation and all these efforts, from simplified search marketing (by ReachLocal, WebVisible, Yodle, Weblistic, etc.) or these profiles are intended to overcome that fragmentation and aggregate traffic. In effect they’re trying to put back together the Humpty Dumpty of the traditional media world, where everyone looked in the newspaper or the yellow pages for local information.

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One Response to “Battle of the SMB Profiles”

  1. Chris Travers Says:

    There will always be audience shifts between Online Yellow Pages, Search Engines, Mobile tools and many other media outlets yet to come. But having accurate universally-distributed business listings will only become pointless when these popular destinations stop using structured databases as a method of delivering useful facts about companies to consumers. Given that the newer entrants like the Search Engines and Mobile Search still make heavy use these listings, UniversalBusinessListing.Org suggests the argument is less about the listings vanishing than evolving with the medium. This includes enhanced data, better descriptions, imagery, videos, coupons, keyword classification and social networking. UBL addresses the fragmentation of the media outlets with a simple inexpensive tool, as well as addressing many of these future aspects of listings.

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