The national directories are creeping in and sucking out all your business and not-so-local franchisees are constantly increasing their footprint in local search and local business categories (with national-sized marketing budgets). Small and locally owned and operated businesses need to fight harder and longer for positioning and search engine traffic and leads. Sounds dramatic right? Well it can have a serious effect on businesses on a year-to-year review of where leads are coming from. New assets can help keep your business growing but let's get the facts straight.
First, so who can afford to consistently advertise in "National" directories and business guides? Well, yes of course, its the National Franchisers who are always looking to open up a Pop-up shop and compete on price not expertise! It's happening in lots of business categories in small and large markets. Let's explore the Carpet Cleaning category as an example briefly.
A quick search of Local Carpet Cleaners and there are the usual National Directories in the first page of results. While these are not completely paid channels, they do rely on advertising as a big part of their businesses:
- http://www.homeadvisor.com (Home Advisor)
- http://www.yelp.com (Yelp)
- http://www.angieslist.com (Angie's List)
Okay so now you know these companies offer you additional advertising on their sites. Sometimes effective but always expensive no matter the quality of the leads.
So when a typical visitor does a Google search for local "carpet and upholstery cleaners" they tend to ALSO see a bunch of businesses that are paying for positioning. These are the national brands doing business locally. In our example you would see these types of businesses, right?
- http://www.modernistic.com (Modernistic)
- http://ww.stanleysteemer.com (Stanley Steamer)
- http://www.searsclean.com (Sears)
So there are still lots of people searching (total volume) but a higher and higher % of clicks are going to ads and national directories and paid advertising sites. There is also one additional third-party player in the results we have not covered yet. That is newer and highly aggressive category service marketplaces. These are usually Venture backed startups with millions to spend on Advertising! The main problem is those true, local professional carpet cleaners are not professional marketers who are not aware of the latest channel to be sucking up traffic and pushing their positioning down. Now it appears they are being taken to the cleaners themselves with middleman directories and new marketplaces for services like Thumbtack type of businesses.
It basically comes down to a Stanley Steamer budget vs. a Local company's marketing budget. You know the Local Professional Carpet cleaner with 20 years of service under their belt. That's the person most consumers would prefer actually want cleaning your carpets. But in terms of marketing budget there is no comparison with who has the upper hand.
You can do this same analysis for pest control control. You can do it for glass and auto-glass repair and countless other business categories. These national franchises come in with a lot of marketing muscle. A local guy signs on with a franchise (2 years ago the same guy was selling cars or insurance), he's probably not an expert in their field but he can sure look like it with the fancy equipment and trucks. However, they might not know the nuances of say deodorizing upholstery or mitigating some minor water damage, etc but yet get the business because they can afford to suck up all the leads using national directories and marketplaces. You are also confronted now with a number of those aggressive middleman marketplaces we mentioned. As good as they are they still take a % of the profits to do business with their users (AKA your customers).
So we work hard to make our customers digital marketing assets, like their websites and social media channels built with original content, great looking ads, and most importantly to keep the traffic and calls and leads flowing right to them. Otherwise and ultimately all the traffic would just end up going to Yellow Pages and other national directories full of national franchises for everything! They charge a fortune and are not helping your community that much. Not exactly what we think of when we think of local marketing and the local economy!
We have wanted to go over a couple points for some time now. We've been asked a number of times to share some of the dynamics of National franchises and National Directories at work in Search Engine positioning and marketing.
So Search World Marketing is actual and thankfully different. Were basically at war with all the national directories trying to help small and independent business owners position their assets for long-term profits. Mom and pops and were doing a good job. We also work for many larger companies and Yes a few national brands with good business ethics. What we do a good job of is when someone searches for a location + service category + keyword we can drive traffic and leads for their business category. We hope you see the value in those search phrases landing on your pages instead of the other guys! Because we know when it comes down to quality its the local professional that can deliver the highest quality at the lowest prices. National Franchise technician vs. Local Expert....
Now that's a matchup their marketing should be afraid of...