Google makes a bold move to interact with local small and medium businesses; in person. Not through the help forum or a mailed ad campaign, but actually in person, shake hands, let’s sit and talk. This shows that Google is getting it. People need to put a face with a service; we still need a certain level of human interaction.
Anyone who uses Google (or used to use Google) knows how hard it is to get help from a live person. Google’s head of local consumer marketing has admitted its exciting and a bit of a challenge. Interacting with the multitude of businesses and the diverse personalities of the owners has been an experience.
We are trying an experiment of different approaches, and we want to evaluate those and see what is working and what isn’t. Google is reaching out to small and medium (local) businesses through consumer advertising campaigns, local representatives meeting with business owners, and in some places community managers. Their job is to meet with the consumers and get them excited about what Google can do for their business.
For as much as we’re trying to learn, we are also trying to educate the businesses. A Google representative did some investigating and revealed that out of 50 million Google Place Pages, only six million had actually been confirmed. It’s true that the 50 million accounts for all Places; international and landmarks. So the actual number of verified is uncertain.
However, it was enough to show us that we needed to work on educating our consumers regarding Google Places and local search, methods of claiming their page place and maintaining it and familiarizing them with NFC technology.
One area that Google isn’t going after is the local consultant’s and agencies. This could be a mistake considering the consultant’s are who the business owners go to for help. They should be focusing on making things easier for the consultants.
It’s good that Google is being proactive and reaching out to businesses. The technology explosion is giving consumers more choices than ever. Google isn’t the only game in town anymore.