Where Will SMB Marketing Be in Five Years?

I had the pleasure of attending BIA/Kelsey‘s 2014 Leading in Local SMB Digital Marketing Conference in New Orleans a few weeks ago. This was my first SMB related BIA/Kelsey conference in five years, after going for several years. I also had the pleasure of sitting on the Thought Leaders & Decision Makers panel. My co-panelists were Annette Tonti, SVP at The Search Agency and Eric Owen, CEO at Mono Solutions. The panel was co-moderated by Michael Boland, Chief Analyst and VP Content at BIA/Kelsey, and Charles Laughlin, SVP and Managing Director at BIA/Kelsey. The panel was free-form, vibrant and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

There were a few questions posed, all positioned in a “looking five years ahead” context. What struck me most was how aligned the panelists were on our forecasts and no doubt it’ll be interesting to look back at our answers five years from now – especially about the affiliate programmes getting so popular in every niche, from food to insurance (visit their website to see the conditions).

The video (30 min) from the panel is below and here’s Mike Boland’s blog post on the panel on the BIA/Kelsey blog. I’d love to get your thoughts, especially if you feel differently about these topics or our perspectives.

Local Search News Launches

logo-transAlong with Aaron Irizarry, Andrew Shotland, Greg Sterling, Michael Boland, Mike Belasco, and Will Scott I was asked by Steve Espinosa to be a contributor to a new industry blog called Local Search News. I posted my first entry there, just in time for the site’s launch today. So if you’re interested in local search please subscribe to it and be sure to post your comments. Below is an excerpt from my first entry.

… there’s no shortage of predictions and opinions, that’s for sure. But as it pertains user intent, nothing is changing. Consumers still have a need – they’re still searching for local business information. They still use Google, Yahoo!, MSN, etc. They still go to the IYPs, the city guides, the local directories. But now we’re seeing them turn to different devices and different sites than ever before. Consumers are using their mobile devices to call free 411 services, or use free text messaging services. They’re using their mobile browser, or mobile application. Consumers are starting to find local business information from stranger places too, like Facebook, YouTube, even twitter. How about that! As if this local search thing wasn’t fragmented enough, it seems to be fragmenting even more. Yet the consumer isn’t really looking for anything different, are they?

Videos may be more prevalent, more available, more accessible. But are consumers specifically searching for local business videos? Unlikely. Local business profiles, and the websites they’re on, may be optimized for a mobile device, but the user doesn’t necessarily care about clever bells and whistles. Local search apps may have really fancy user interfaces that take advantage of the wow-factor on say, the iPhone, but the user’s intention is still very much the same. They’re looking for the same information as always and they’re still performing recovery or discovery searches.

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