ReachLocal has built what amounts to an SMB CRM platform, undoubtedly based on its ClouldProfile/SMBLive acquisition last year. The new site, Bizzy, performs a range of functions for SMBs and explicitly links local businesses and consumers who want to receive offers and updates:
Local businesses of any kind, such as restaurants, boutiques, stores, service providers, and spas, can use Bizzy’s easy-to-use tools to drive better communication with their customers. As a local business, Bizzy enables you to:
— Exercise broad control over your profile’s content so you can easily display your business information and fresh content about your latest offers and events. If a customer posts an inappropriate comment, you may remove it from the public eye and address it in private — just like you would in person.
— Engage with your customers when they are in the right frame of mind, ready to see what you have to offer, away from the noise of other messages.
— Create the one customer list you will ever need by importing your existing customer database into Bizzy with a simple one-step upload tool, or by adding a customer on the fly by simply entering their email address.
— Create marketing messages in a snap.
Great concept, though not unique (think: “fan,” “follow”). It’s also a direction that many tools and companies are moving (see “reputation management” generally and also Perry Evans’ Closely). Now we come to the familiar “poulet et œufs” problem — usage/adoption.
AT&T is struggling with Buzz.com, which is intended to be an alternative consumer tool and distribution platform for its content and advertisers. Facebook and Twitter are both “critical mass” sites where SMBs can do some of what Bizzy offers — although there’s more structure and guidance at Bizzy. Bizzy appears to use Facebook and Twitter to distribute its messages and offers as well.
As you can see in the above profile and press release bullets there are reputation management and SEO angles here. And perhaps SEO is the front door and primary user acquisition strategy for Reach.
I’ll be going through this later today with them to gain more insight into the strategy and answers to some of these questions (as well as my personal existential questions).
Why did ReachLocal build this? Potential answers include:
- They saw a hole in the market and are fulfilling a perceived need for simpler SMB CRM tools
- They are adding services to their portfolio to better serve and retain businesses
- They need more “free” traffic to sustain or grow margins and this is one potential source
- All of the above