If you’re a publisher with a local sales channel or an independent local sales channel, you need to have an answer to the following scenario. (Let me start by saying this is just my speculation informed by no specific conversations with anyone.)
Here goes . . . Yelp had 200 mostly telephone sales people. Google tried to buy the company. It appears not to have worked.
Google now steps back and says . . . “Hey, we’re Google; we’ve got a pretty strong brand and we think this local thing is pretty important. What if we hired our own telephone sales force and tried to sell our local listing ads that way? And what if we combined it with a traditional media campaign to broadly expose the SMBs of the world to the existence of these ads?”
Yodle and before them Leads.com told me that local advertisers can be sold over the phone. Others have shown this too.
In my view Google could become very very effective in acquiring SMB advertisers with the approach I’ve described . . . and you get 30 days free to try it out.
If you’re a local publisher or sales channel how do you compete with this? Again this is pure conjecture on my part (no wink, wink; I’ve heard nothing).
Here’s how you’d have to compete if this were to happen:
- More and better customer service/true consultative selling
- “We don’t just give you placement in Google results, we put you on Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook . . . ” (as well as traditional media)
- Cultivate real trust with the local advertiser
From what I know this approach would represent a cultural shift for many YP publishers, even though they’re saying things like this publicly.
In another way, this is the same question as: “how does the local retailer or SMB product seller compete with the big box?” In most cases the answer is: they can’t. But those that do successfully compete do so with great service.