When you talk to people around the Silicon Valley area, you ‘get the vision’. The world is connecting.
I’ve spent almost three months interviewing people in this area I was surprised at what I found.
There is a distinct gap between the vision of a connected world, and the reality for most small to medium sized businesses.
What could local business be like in 2020?
The future may well be much more mobile, Local, more based around community, and hyper-personalized.
In five years time, the role of Artificial Intelligence will be more firmly embedded in our day to day lives. But we probably won’t even know it. Things will just seem to ‘flow’ better.
Companies like HTC can feel it. They are marketing to the ‘we are all one’ audience here:
We want information, and we get it – and I mean the right ‘stuff’, almost every time.
Think Google Now, but with suggestions that a personal assistant would make to you – thinking ahead.
Business will be far more automated, well, for those who have connected the dots. Others will lose out to those who’ve done the work.
Real World Business will have connected to the community around them, through Social as well as conversation.
We should be able to click a button, or move a slider, to increase the marketing budget based on the most recent optimization.
Google Adwords brought measurable marketing to the masses. And is still the most sophisticated way to connect the intent to purchase with the place that can deliver, and this will keep on developing.
As a business owner, you’ll know the people who will walk through your door. You will have a relationship with them already. You will have connected.
Here are the five areas of local business we are working on right now:
1. Building online relationships, and automating the admin
We already have the ability to personalize the customer (or potential customer) experience, but we are not connecting the dots in most businesses. We are not allowing our analytics to be driving decisions enough.
I use Infusionsoft for business automation.
And right now I can ‘score’ contacts based on their interactions with e.g. an email newsletter:
- did they open it?
- did they click a link?
- what value should be placed on these types of activities
In 2020 I can see that we log into Infusionsoft like systems only to see the actions we need for that day. Nothing else.
No menus to distract, to tempt attention away, just ‘calls to make’, and things to do.
When these systems are fully integrated with Gmail, all replies will inform the sequence of events from inbox to sale.
And you’ve had this experience already as a customer. Think Amazon, but for your business.
Part 2 – Measuring success
Do you remember the dark days of marketing prior to Google Adwords? And what I say ‘dark’ I mean ‘we were in the dark’, throwing ads at the wall and hoping they stuck.
Some people still think of Google as ‘just a Search engine’, but everything from Google Adwords through to Google Drive can transform how we communicate with customers and colleagues alike.
The eco-system is now increasingly connected, and with the world going mobile and local we will see this serve ads to people in a hyper personalized way.
You don’t grow $50 billion revenue from an ad business in less than 15 years without it working for the customers.
And the level of sophistication people like PYBer Jim Banks have in this territory enables you to alter the ads on so many variables, including (even) the weather! You may serve different ads on a sunny day, to one when its raining, based on their location, their device, and their history of interaction with you (through re-marketing).
This is now. Not even 2020, we have a lot of the future tech now, but we have a lot of catching up to do with applying it.
3. Create a culture of feedback
Imagine a world of positive online feedback e.g. through Google Reviews, Yelp, Tripadvisor etc, and critical feedback only given offline, direct to the people in the business.
This would give them a chance to resolve your issue directly, and allow them to improve, without it hitting their business hard with negative online reviews for a temporary situation.
This is a culture ‘thing’ and needs people speak their mind about the business, and then the business has a choice whether to step up (or not).
Reviews are the next big thing, happening now.
4. Optimizing reality
Which waiters/waitresses perform the best? Which ones make customers happiest?
Reviews are going to lead the way. And Review systems, including Google, will be far more prominent as part of this feedback mechanism.
But that is once their is a sale. For people who are still deciding to take a next step, they will need nurturing along too…
5. Build your Local community
You know what businesses really like in their community? Recognition.
Look at the amount of places that quote ‘awards’ from days gone by. One Vietname restaurant in San Francisco still has a huge sign up for an award from 20 years ago!
So why don’t we bring this back? Why don’t we have the businesses who are doing great work to rise even more.The story of most reviewed businesses is there to be told – we have access to the data now through our partners.
And I don’t mean we create a new website and only have people download our app; I mean we display the information in the real world:
- Top servers
- Top reviewers
- Top businesses
- Top towns and villages
Social, real world games help build communities, give them a focus and something to work toward together.
You, reading this right now, are almost certainly years ahead of the man on the street, including those with a small Local business.
People ‘out there in the world’ care about getting customers, and if you can draw a line directly between your actions and delivering customers to their door then you will win.
The key is turning customers into friends, and friends into extended family – one relationship at a time, on and offline.