The importance of Google Place Pages in the B2B space

In recent months, there’s been no shortage of attention heaped upon the importance of local advertising online. Mobile marketing is starting to blossom, allowing people to look for services in ways they never could before. Perhaps even more importantly, they can search for information in situations they never could before, such as research at the point of sale. Powerful stuff. But this powerful new local marketing wave is yet to wash over a huge segment of marketers—B2B marketers.

Google Places Example on iPhone: Chain Reactio...

Image by Steve Wilhelm via Flickr

One of the most underutilized tools in this new local Internet marketing game is the Google Place Page. According to a Google rep, there are 50 million place page listings in Google’s database but only four million have been claimed or verified. As a result, many businesses haven’t optimized these increasingly important local online marketing tools to their best advantage.
Most local business talk has been reserved for the B2C space, but I don’t know why. We seem to equate local with retail (for which it is a great tool), but many local businesses are B2B companies, for whom online local marketing is rarely talked about. Why is that?
1. B2B is slower to adapt. Historically, the B2B space has been slower to catch on to the current trends. To apply new Internet marketing opportunities, the B2B space requires more thinking and strategy because buyers come to B2B companies from many different angles. It’s good to see that in recent years B2B companies have begun to adopt innovative marketing techniques more quickly than in the past.
2. People say that B2B isn’t local. I’m not sure how we got to this point but for some reason B2B players, especially those who do business outside of a 50-mile radius of their physical location, seem to think that there is no need to have a Google Place Page at the ready because people search for products and not locations. This is a dangerous assumption that I submit is dead wrong.
Try a search in Google for a company in another city and use the city name in the search. An example would be “IBM San Francisco”. I did that very search from Raleigh, NC, as if I were a Raleigh-based company with a location in San Francisco and want to have an IBM local office to talk to. Here’s the result I got.
IBM San Francisco Local Search Result.jpg
Notice the Place Page prominently placed in a pretty one-box result. When you click on the Place Page link, however, you get an unverified and unoptimized place page that misses the opportunity to answer specific questions about what that IBM office in SF does.
This search has nothing to do with retail but it has everything to do with providing the right information at the right time through the right venue. If you are not there, you lose points in the searcher’s eyes. Why not fill that gap?
So I ask, can B2B be local? The answer is an unequivocal and resounding yes!
3. B2B marketers focus on the big issues . While it’s critical to have great SEO practices, strong paid search campaigns, and dynamite social media campaigns, it’s bad to do this at the expense of details that could be important supporting elements of those bigger marketing efforts. Google Place Pages are just that. B2B marketers often miss the nuances of their marketing efforts because in the online space the devil is truly in the details. In the end, if you are not making sure that every location of your business (sales, service, customer support) is represented properly on the Internet, you are missing a big opportunity.
We need to start understanding just what local Internet marketing actually means, especially in the B2B space. If you are a B2B marketer you are ultimately a local business, whether it’s at your headquarters or at another location. If you ignore this fact, you do so at your own risk, leaveing the door wide open for a competitor to steal your business.
Now why would you want to do that?

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