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August 17, 2022

Peer-to-peer digital connection has changed local marketing. Avoid being left behind // Local Marketing Insider #040

Customers are looking for your business through digital channels. Will you show up? We look at local marketing over the past 20 years and how the evolution from analog-first to digital-first has completely turned it on its head.

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In the early 2000s, local marketing was analog. 

The goal was to push out key brand messages through the available channels: newspaper, TV, radio, direct mail. 

Social media was in its early days. Reviews were primarily siloed to specific seller sites, like eBay. 

There was no peer-to-peer digital connection at scale. No Google Maps to find businesses in your area. Buyers either had local knowledge, were able to get a second opinion via word-of-mouth, or they would just wing it and hope for the best. 

Nobody wings it today. 

The mass adoption of digital channels, social networks and peer review content has flipped the whole process on its head. 

Research is done digitally. Businesses are found on search engines and the information each business puts out is independently verifiable with reviews.

Radio isn’t what it used to be either; there are podcasts to keep drivers entertained now. 

Newspapers are increasingly digital and those with the means to design a great digital experience are national in reach. 

People stream what they want rather than flipping through cable channels.

Direct mail can likely still get the attention of buyers, but it’s expensive and surely wasteful.

These trends moving away from analog information sharing show that consumers today rely upon digital means to gather information. They prefer to have more direct control over their buying experience.

When shopping locally, this means using search engines to find local businesses.

When buyers go to search engines they have a problem to solve. A desire. A need to be met. 

Prioritizing local search is marketing 201 in 2022 – you want your business to rank highest in the local search pack. Fish where the fish are looking for solutions. And the foundation behind ranking higher in local search is reviews.

Reviews are how consumers decide if you are the best choice. But, debatably more important, it’s how search engines come to the same conclusion. Algorithms are designed by humans after all.

Google uses the version of your business curated online to assess its fitness. Asking, will this business satisfy my searcher? If yes, show it first. 

If local search isn’t a priority for your business, that is, if analog channels dominate your budget, consider that the impact of local search rank and reputation is cumulative. 

Same as in the non-digital world, seniority exists. 

You get bonus points for showing up day-in and day-out (in technical terms, this is known as “domain authority”). 

If you’re not generating reviews and engaging with reviews now, you’re falling massively behind. 

We have customers generating and responding to tens of thousands of reviews a year. 

In some industries, the early-mover advantage is largely gone (auto). In others, it’s still a wide-open market (basically every other industry). 

Falling behind now means your business may never fully be able to catch up.

We built a (free) tool so you can see how your reputation stacks up today. Try it out.

See you in 2 weeks - Jake, Marketing @Widewail

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4 Lessons Learned from a First-Time Founder

Widewail had its four-year anniversary last month. In the early days, Matt Murray and the rest of the team were focused 100% on developing a high-quality, sustainable, scalable and affordable review response managed service. In other words, when Widewail responds to local business reviews customers can quickly tell a real person was involved. Over the years Widewail's expanded how it can help local businesses build trust with reviews, building technology to get more reviews and video reviews. Reflecting on the experience, Matt provides insights that are valuable to any founder or "maybe-someday" founder.

Jake Hughes

I’m the Director of Marketing here at Widewail, as well as a husband and new dad outside the office. I'm in Vermont by way of Boston, where I grew the CarGurus YouTube channel from 0 to 100k subscribers. I love the outdoors and hate to be hot, so I’m doing just fine in the arctic Vermont we call home. Fun fact: I met my wife on the shuttle bus at Baltimore airport. Thanks for reading Widewail’s content!

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