The headlines about 2011 being “the year of local” are everywhere, and as the curtain lifted on ILM:10 (with a record 600+ local-focused attendees filling the master ballroom), BIA/Kelsey President Neal Polachek encouraged the audience that as more media ad spend tilts locally and digitally, “there’s a big prize out there if you get it right.”
BIA/Kelsey’s local media forecast underscores this tectonic shift. By 2014, local online/interactive ad spend is projected to reach $35 billion, or 24 percent of total spend. Traditional dollars, meanwhile, will continue to shrink.
Opportunity breeds challenge, however, as more and more entrants chase local, digital gold. A byproduct is an increasingly complicated and noisy ecosystem. Local businesses are bombarded with more offers than ever, many of which they don’t fully understand and even more of which they can’t fully consider. The key to breaking trough with merchants, Polachek said, is that “SMBs are seeking clarity with offers.”
Creating clarity for these businesses entails presenting them with value that helps them communicate in the new social language that consumer are fluent in. ILM Program Director Matt Booth noted that “conversations are radically changing,” and SMB/customer relationships must recognize how conversations across the open social Web can irrevocably (positively or negatively) affect their brand.
Consequently, BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor Wave XIII survey revealed that in 2009, 32 percent of SMBs intended to build a social network, marking unprecedented SMB channel adoption and a transition away from traditional audience-building channels. Recent BIA/Kelsey data show that 48 percent of SMBs now have Facebook pages.
Trust and 360-degree transparency will be the vanguards of success for SMBs and those who work with them, Polachek said. This is especially true as social networks promote personal recommendation over more generic brand messaging. Trust plays out through customer engagement and loyalty and will largely separate SMB success from failure.