Out of the Jungle and Onto the Web

Consumers today want the best deal, but they want to shop locally.

Three major events have taken place over the last two years that will affect your business moving forward. The first is the rise of the smart phone and the introduction of local search marketing. Google recognizes this, and now the results of Google Places often will control more than half the search results of page one for a local search.

The second factor is the migration online of the traditional print directories. Yellow Pages is now YellowPages.com. There’s Superpages.com, YP.com, CitySearch.com, MerchantCircle.com, Manta.com, Hotfrog.com, and on and on. In markets where local companies have done a poor job of search-engine optimization (SEO), the entire results of a local search for the first page of Google will be made up of Google Places results and directory results.

The third factor—and this is huge—is the consumer trend to search online but buy locally. Here are some of the recent (December 2010) results of several prominent online surveys. According to Yahoo Local, as of the end of last year, 97% of consumers start their search for a local purchase online. For all small businesses, according to Discover, 45% still don’t have a Website. The same survey reveals that these businesses feel it is a myth that it’s necessary to have a site because their market is local and they know the people locally.

Finally Gartner, Inc reports that in 2010 70% of social-media programs failed because businesses but had no idea of how to incorporate it into their marketing or how to measure the results. The same report goes on to say that within five years 70% of collaboration and communication applications will be on smart phones (can you say App Store?) and will be designed specifically to communicate user experience.

When you consider all three of these major factors, a clear picture should be developing for you. Consumers today want the best deal, but they want to shop locally. Past motivation to buy on the Internet came from local companies doing a poor job of being findable in their own market. Between Google and the directories, local companies are being pushed off the first page search results.

This was an excerpt from Mark Coudray's column, The Prepress Wire, slated for publication in the August/September 2011 edition of Screen Printing. Don't miss it!

View more from this Screen Printing issue