We live in a global economy, but the truth is, that most consumer spending happens locally. Think about how you spend your own money, at grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, etc. Even big global/national companies that have local storefronts are part of the local economy.
As an aside according to the 3/50 project for every $100 spent in locally owned and independent stores $68 returns to the community, through taxes payroll and other expenditures, spent on a National Chain only $43 stays local.
I believe that there is huge benefit for local business to embrace the web, especially now. The new Social Revolution can become a big part of the way that a local business can promote themselves to their community. I wanted to test this belief.
Opportunity & Frustration
I sat down with my friend and owner of two of the successful restaurants in my community. We talked about how to locally targeted social programs/marketing to make his businesses even more successful. We sat for a few hours the result was somewhat frustrating for him, he saw great possibility, but implementing a local social web strategy required a lot more effort, understanding, and work then he thought he should/could invest.
Chris Dixon’s, blog post “The problem with online “local” businesses” summarizes my reality:
The problem is that, for the most part, these local business either don’t think of the web as an important medium or don’t understand how to use it. Ask you nearest restaurant owner or dry cleaner about online advertising. They don’t see it as critical and/or are confused about it. Even Google has barely monetized local.
I saw this first hand, but with the right amount of explanation counsel and guidance, my friend was able to embrace the value of participating in the web on a Social Basis.
Another very timely post from Fred Wilson caught my attention, “Local Media’s Hidden Asset: Their Salesforces” in which he discusses that for a local media company:
“there is one asset that is still quite significant and the value of it is growing, not shrinking. It is their large, well trained, and well connected salesforces.”
I saw the power of a local presence this morning…as I took the time to explain to my friend the power of the web, how it can be used in a local and targeted fashion…he understood. A whole new channel for marketing and communicating with his patrons had been exposed to him, and he will never look at (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) the same way again. (although he still is confronted with the ease of use vs. return on investment dilemma)
In the history of the digital revolution, there have been few services successfully took advantage of the local aspects of the web, and it’s infinite trailing long tail. In my opinion, the social media revolution changes the game. It is my belief that Local web services, that can provide easy solutions for small business owners to use and master will be winners in the upcoming years. According to the IRS, there were almost 25 million businesses in the US in 2004…that is a big universe of potential customers for an easy to use local web service/marketing product.
Do you agree or disagree? Let me know.
If you know of any good local services that are easy to use, and have provided some real value to local business please feel free to add them into the comments sections.