Sunday, August 19, 2007

Replicating the army of yellow page sales people

Google is making a smart move launching their Business Referral Representative program. The program is quite simple, you get paid as a independent contractor if you help input and verify local business listing information.

The implications of this are tremendous because as Google gathers hours of operations and category of business from which they can literally create custom trial packages of advertising for these businesses. They could even offer websites for them with templates for barbers or plumbers for example.

Imagine you're the owner of a plumbing company. You might get a letter or email from Google offering a geo-targeted package of keywords along with a hosted website that can gather all the information you need for you to help convert a new customer.

In my past exposures to the local business advertising market I noticed there is a fundamental challenge of access issue to the local businesses owner. Yellow page companies have an advantage of feet-on-the-street and a product they sell that works for many of their customers. The local YP sales representative has a personal relationship with their customer. There is a level of trust. This relationship makes up-selling additional offerings easy compared to trying to reach these customers some other way.

The local sales person knows the business, they know the hours, the geographical coverage.

With this strategy Google collects all the information in a structured format that will allow them to market in a one to one fashion to each local business in their fold. This could lead to unprecedented scale in accessing the small-medium business market.

The SMB market is hard to target and expensive. This could be a game changer.

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