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Forget global! Think local and act local

For years and years we have touted the Internet as the great equalizer for the SMBs (small and medium business) of the world. We have talked about the greater reach and the ability to be bigger than you are. There is a problem, though, with beating that drum too hard and for too long. The problem is now being discovered by a few, but it afflicts just about everybody. Want to know what it is?

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You see, unless you sell a product that can be purchased by anyone and shipped anywhere, the idea of the global reach of the Internet is useless. Think about it. The little local store that sells those neat pieces of jewelry can sell those anywhere on the planet through the Internet. Good for them.
What about the two or three coffee places in each small town? What about the auto repair businesses? What about the HVAC install and repair shop? If they exist in my town in North Carolina, it makes no difference if someone in Wichita, Kansas can find them online. That Wichita local can’t use their service because of geography (unless of course they happen to be in my town on a trip which is a local Internet marketing idea I discuss briefly over at my blog as well), so what value is the Internet at this point?
It is more invaluable for the local player than ever before. Trouble is that we (the Internet industry types) have created this monster in the mind of the SMB which tells them that they can be as big as the big guy and more. The reality, as we sit here in the second half of 2010, is that the real power of the Internet for the true local SMB is how it impacts them LOCALLY.
Forget the global reach. Forget expanding your business beyond the limitations of your geography. Many SMBs simply cannot deliver their product or service unless it actually happens on a local level. As a result they have been confused and pretty much left on the Internet highway’s roadside with a dazed look on their faces wondering why the Internet is so hard to understand. No wonder 40% of SMBs still don’t even have a Web site!
So what changes this? The industry message to the SMB, that’s what. You don’t have to feel bad anymore that you can only do your job locally. That’s actually a huge benefit in the world of cheaper and cheaper “relationships.” There is nothing better than doing business with a local guy and gal, shaking their hands, talking with them and even laughing while business takes place.
We now need to help the SMB adjust their view of the Internet. They need to know that the proliferation of smart phones and mobile search will be a catalyst for their business in the very near future, but only if they embrace it now. If they don’t, they will need to play catch up at best or be completely left behind at the worst.
Google Place Pages and other local Internet exposure and advertising plays are going to be the cornerstone of their future marketing. Why? Because while they might not compete directly with the big boys on a global basis, they can reap the exact same rewards of the Internet that those bigger players do. They can measure the success or failure of campaigns and make decisions quickly that will help them get to the right success formula like never before (where have I heard of the idea of “Do It Wrong Quickly” before? Hmm…)
They can offer coupons and savings on the fly. They can entice the local market to come visit them and try them out. They can inject new life into their business because God only knows that no one else will.
If you are an SMB or you work with them stop trying to be what you are not. If your business is a local business stop apologizing and start optimizing. There are more Internet options for the SMB than ever before, if only they would see that being local is a very good thing.
Thanks for listening. I am now going to get a great cup of coffee at my local coffee shop because I won’t be in Wichita any time soon to sample their local brew. I’m good with that. Are you?

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