Research over the last few years has proven that reviews and advice from family, friends and colleagues are the key buying influencers. No advertising or PR can outweigh the value of a good personal recommendation.
Realizing the importance of peers in the buying decision, Google has just rolled out a new initiative to help people “decide where to shop, eat or hang out, with a little help from local Google users?”
Google is bringing the value of public recommendations and reviews easily to the Google Local service – helping you find the best places to spend your time and money. From the launch post:
…we’ve launched a new effort to send window decals to over 100,000 local businesses in the U.S. that have been the most sought out and researched on Google.com and Google Maps. We’re calling these businesses the “Favorite Places on Google” and you’ll now start to find them in over 9,000 towns and cities, in all 50 states.
The windows decals provide a QR Code which visitors can scan using their various smart phones. By scanning a business’ Google decal with QR Code, you’re taken straight to their business listing with reviews, additional information and discount coupons – all at your disposal.
If you’re unfamiliar with QR Codes – they’re a 2 dimensional barcode which can be scanned by phones to provide access to a host of information (e.g. URLs, addresses etc).
Google is working hard to blur the lines between offline and online for their local business customers and this is definitely a great initiative for consumers.
Whilst there’s only 100,000 business with the decals at the moment, Google will surely have a plan to roll this out on a mass scale. And at that point – Businesses will be severely disadvantaged if they haven’t got their online local presence in order.
Not having a Google Local listing and business decal in your window will be the equivalent to not having a website today (and believe it or not – some businesses still don’t have any online presence).
I love the idea of the Google Local window decals. I already use Maps on my phone extensively, but imagine being able to just scan a barcode before trying a new restaurant to find out how good it is,– or going to a shop and finding a discount coupon before making your purchase!
But what does this mean for your business? We’ve been proclaiming the virtues of Local Business listings for years – and this just makes it even more important to have one. But ensuring you have good pictures, reviews and coupons in there is becoming vital!
Rene is the marketing manager of ineedhits.com - a global search engine marketing company. He also leads the marketing for Gooruze.com - a web 2.0 style community for online and digital marketers. Rene has been in the industry since 1997 with much of that time spent helping businesses embrace the best of the internet and digital world.