Small businesses are gaining the ability to interact with customers anytime, as e-mail marketing gives way to “the social graph,” says local marketing pioneer Perry Evans, who is introducing Closely Inc., a new firm dedicated to helping SMBs leverage the new opportunities in online and mobile marketing.
Like everyone else, Evans says he has watched the rise of Groupon and pondered what role daily deals have in the new marketing. His answer: They are great “training wheels to demonstrate to businesses how powerful social networking can be to stimulate demand.”
But more comprehensive solutions are really needed. “The daily deal model simply organizes an audience for a specific metro-area deal, campaign-style. We need a broader term than ‘daily deals,’ ” says Evans, offering up “live local social marketing” as a candidate. “This captures the real-time and socially engaged ways that marketing will shift into a key small-business tool for demand stimulation.”
Closely is being designed specifically to meet these needs, adds Evans. Businesses should be able to create live deals anytime, when they most want/need demand. At the same time, Closely is building an engine for expanded offer distribution.
“Offers will get to consumers in variety of ways,” says Evans. “The industry has centered on a campaign e-mail model; yet the user spends a ton of time on local and social Web sites, in search and on mobile devices. Getting offers published when businesses most want leads, and delivered through multiple channels is the best way to describe what we’re about.”
Ideal SMB customers for such a service are more local service oriented than product commerce oriented, he says. Product commerce granularity can be overwhelming, while offers from local merchants and service businesses seem to be welcomed right now by consumer. “This implies a meaningful opportunity for Yellow Pages as partners, alongside daily media, mobile and e-mail distribution,” he adds.