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January 17, 2011
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Edward Niu Presents to Hayward Business Network

Today, I gave a presentation to the Hayward Business Network about how they could get a free website from Google to promote their businesses.  It was well-received, and I'm glad that a lot of the information was useful for the business owners there.

Ironically, I forgot to put the press release link here on the company website.  So, here is one version from WebWire of many that have been posted to the internet: http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=129977

Back to the content of the presentation…

We first discussed Google Places and the changeover that was made in Oct 2010 whereby the Google Local map was moved from the search results area over to the right side, and the local businesses on the map became more prominent as full search engine result listings.

This move by Google may have seemed slight to the average observer, but for Google it represented a huge shift to promote local business.  First, by moving the map to the right side, the map displaces at least a couple of paid advertising spots for its multi-billion dollar Adwords platform.  Secondly, with the business listings receiving full listings rather than short one-line listings, the organic search results were also pushed down.  Suddenly those businesses that focused on SEO found themselves back down the first page or worse…on page 2!

Google had observed that an increasing number of searches are for local products and services.  Also, more searches are happening on mobile devices.  People are searching to find businesses and what they sell.  Consumers are on the move and want what they are looking for nearby and Now.

After explaining the concept, I walked through how to sign up for a free Google Places website and what was important to put onto the page.

One often overlooked item is the QR Code that Google provides for its Places page.  Businesses can use that QR Code or build their own codes to direct visitors to their websites, to specific products, to promotional videos, to anything found online.

The QR Code takes what's offline and puts it online.

It was a natural segue into mobile marketing since people need to have a QR Code reader in order to see what a QR Code leads to.  QR Reader apps can be found for all the major smartphones.  I use a QR reader called QuickMarks on my Android-based smartphone.

But mobile marketing is much more than just QR code readers.  Last year, Google spent $750 million for the mobile platform company AdMob.  Also, more companies, like ILN Enterprises, are coming out with text messaging solutions for businesses.  Text messages are gaining traction because of the immediacy of message delivery and of open rates that have open rates as high as 97% according to some publications.

Once a business has customers coming, then the business needs to focus some attention to online reputation management.  I provided four keys:

  1. Get your Google Places website, fill in all the information that you can
  2. Provide ways for your customers to give you raving reviews
  3. Get your business listed on as many business websites as possible
    Website du jour: www.merchantcircle.com
  4. If you have any negative comments about your company, respond in a professional manner.  Don't add fuel to the fire and always publicly offer the person who wrote the comment to contact your business to resolve an issue.

I also provided our Map-Mobile Action Plan on what could be done immediately to improve the number of customers visiting their local businesses and buying!  But, I have to keep this under wraps publicly so that there's a reason for people to come to our next presentation.

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