Java Square[d]

Don’t be scared off. I’m not talking about programming languages. I’m actually talking about coffee. Well sort of.

You may have seen the news over the past couple of weeks about Starbucks investing in and partnering with Square. The post that follows isn’t a marketing tip per se. But since the story involves a couple of my favorite products/companies and carries more than a little relevance for small business owners, I thought it was worth a whirl.

First, let’s set the stage a little bit. Would you believe me if I told you that Starbucks, in addition to its success as a retailer of all things java, is also a leading tech firm? It’s true. Thanks to their homegrown payment app, Starbucks is the largest mobile payment processor–as in, bigger than PayPal.

While that sets in, let’s talk about Square. Have you heard of this little company? If not, it’s time to get up to speed because they are successfully disrupting the credit card payment industry and have already left most of the mobile payment upstarts (including Google Wallet) behind. They’ll process between $5 and $6 BILLION in payments this year. Some of those payments may take place at your local garage sale–which is what makes Square so cool. (more…)

Proximity is nine tenths of the sale.

Shopping in person

Shopping may start out online, but half of consumers will end up buying in person.

Now you know what distinguishes local searches, and you understand more than a little about what makes local search so important. Let’s dig a little deeper into consumer shopping behavior to discover just how valuable local search can be to your business.

We’ll begin by returning to an industry we know well, auto insurance. Comscore reports that 43% of auto insurance customers purchased their policies from local agents. However, over 1/3 of the customers who shop with local agents also go online to receive quotes. In fact, 69% of all auto insurance shoppers get online quotes, but less than 8% actually buy their policies on the internet. Here’s the most important stat–57% of customers who don’t buy online, purchase their policy in-person from a local agent (and that’s not counting those who buy from an agent over the phone).

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How is Local Search different from “Global” or “Organic” search?

Where do you fall in search results?You didn’t think we were going to start at the beginning did you? We’re going to jump right into a graduate course on Tip 3: Get Listed in the Directories. Whether you’ve done it or not, getting listed in online directories is the most fundamental move you can make to improve your local search ranking. Today, we’ll explain a little further why local search is so important to your growing business. Along the way, you’ll learn what makes “local search” different.

Just about all of the shoppers who search for products online fall into one of two categories: global and local. Sometimes the product dictates the kind of shopper. If you’re shopping for a web domain, you’re going to shop globally. You don’t expect to find a local domain hosting shop where you can pop in and browse around. Likewise, if you’re shopping for a landscaper, you expect to find someone local who can swing by and provide you with an estimate.

Depending on the kind of products and services you offer, your business will attract different kinds of shoppers. Seems pretty straightforward until you realize that some business attract both kinds of customers, as do some products. If I’m shopping for a vintage Heywood-Wakefield dining set, I might prefer to find one locally where I can inspect it and pick it up. Or, I might decide to shop for it on an auction website where the selection is larger. (more…)