“Local” will be the biggest of the three…

“Social Mobile Local” (a.k.a. SoMoLo) is a buzzword that is attracting lots of attention.  Bill Gurley from Above the Crowd has a succinct piece out today on why “Lo” as in Local will be the biggest of the three.

Social-Mobile-LOCAL: “Local” Will Be The Biggest Of The Three

“Much less attention has been paid to the third concept, local, which is ironic since it may be a much larger real business opportunity than either social media or Smartphone application revenue. Over the next five years, this massive opportunity will come into focus as local businesses embrace the Internet and adopt new interactive technologies that increasingly automate the connections between their customers and themselves.”

To paraphrase Bill’s explanation, in 2007 local businesses were spending $100+ billion annually to promote themselves through local advertising.  “Local advertising” used to mean yellowpages and newspapers but both have seen their share of consumer usage plummet with the adoption of the Internet.  Overall Internet usage has been accelerated by mobile Internet and social (Facebook).  This shifting has created a vacuum and now local businesses are scrambling to find a local marketing solution.  Or as Bill puts it, “[t]oday, the small business owner’s attitude has shifted from denial to anxiety [about Internet marketing], and, as a result, these local business owners are rushing to the Internet in droves.”

No Silver Bullet!
I have observed a lot of skepticism by business owners about Internet marketing.  It is very justifiable on their part because most have not been able to wrap their arms around the fragmented Internet product offerings.  There is no “silver bullet” Internet marketing solution available to local businesses.  By silver bullet, I mean a “one-size-fits-all”, “does-it-all” solution.  There isn’t even a “one-two-punch” available which just a few years ago was yellowpages + newspaper advertising.  One local business may find that Yelp helps grow their business while another may swear by Google AdWords, Google Places (now Google+) or Facebook.

What does this all mean for local businesses?  Start with the end in mind.  Spend some time getting to know what Internet marketing options are available and be willing to experiment to figure out what actually produces measurable results for their business.  This means getting employees to be diligent about “sourcing” new customers…asking them questions like, “how did you find us” or “how did you hear about us?”  Also consider using an intelligent phone tracking system such as IfByPhone which tracks the source of calls to a business.