Because the very future of local is at stake
From the desk of Brendan King, CEO, Vendasta
To: Marketers, advertisers, and agency leaders
Subject: Helping local businesses win in a world dominated by brands, bots, and big marketing budgets.
Local businesses are struggling.
Every day—in every city around the world—local businesses are getting Starbucked and Amazoned and Walmarted to death.
Simply put, mom-and-pop shops and independent local business owners don’t have the technology, budgets, and expertise that the big brands have.
It’s David vs. Goliath, and guess who’s winning?
Meanwhile, the future for agencies and local media companies is equally threatened.
Ad revenues are flat, robots are stealing our jobs, and it’s tough to survive in an Amazon-dominated world where increasingly everyone just buys all of their stuff online.
In other words, we are facing an existential threat to the whole local ecosystem.
The good news? You can help local businesses and grow your marketing company. All you need to do is keep up with the paradigm shift happening right now.
The State of Local Marketing
Inspired by the presentation “Crap!” from Digital Marketer CEO, Ryan Deiss
1. Advertising revenues have flatlined
Advertising revenues are no longer growing, and the current market is being dominated by a few major players. For example, Facebook and Google account for over 60% of online ad spend, which is predicted to grow to 84% this year (Financial Times).
Because of this, advertising costs are going up, margins are going down, and jobs are vanishing. In fact, an estimated 137k advertising jobs have been lost due to Google and Facebook alone (Scott Galloway).
Translation: agencies and media companies cannot rely *only* on advertising revenues as the dominant players continue to swallow up the remaining market share.
2. Robots are taking our jobs
The likes of Amazon have gained significant competitive advantages thanks to automation.
Automation has been displacing jobs for years, but it’s going to displace even more in the coming decade—particularly in digital marketing. That means that the robots are coming for your creative, marketing, and ad-buying departments, as noted here:
And to make matters worse, the robots are coming for your salespeople, too.
How? AI, machine learning, and big data may kill the need for salespeople sooner than you think. Commerce is now happening through the likes of chat apps, bots, and voice recognition devices such as (surprise, surprise) Amazon’s Echo.
And it’s happening right under our noses…
Believe it or not, a six-year-old girl in Texas was recently able to order a $170 dollhouse and four-pounds worth of sugar cookies by asking Alexa.
Honestly, who needs advertising, marketing, and sales departments when kids can buy dollhouses and sugar cookies just by talking?!
3. The “Amazon Effect” is real for local businesses
A whopping $4 out of every $10 spent online in the U.S. is with Amazon, and their ad revenue is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 55% through 2019, reaching $6.6 billion (Business Insider).
That sounds great until you realize that this growth has resulted in the destruction of almost 300k local brick-and-mortar jobs.
Local businesses—your customers—are feeling the pain.
And local businesses fear the “Amazon effect” very much. According to a study from the Advocates for Independent Businesses, 79% of businesses say Amazon has a negative impact on their revenue.
In fact, if you ask local businesses what their biggest challenges are, three of them are directly related: competition from internet retailers, inability to market their business well, and the fact that overall customer traffic is down.
So how do we protect small businesses from this guy…
(Just kidding. Jeff Bezos is all right…but the struggle is very real.)
First, consider the fact that Amazon is successful because they have a relentless customer obsession and a keen ability to solve real-world problems.
Second, they also have great technology. They’re able to put artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and big data to good use, and they are winning because of it.
Wouldn’t it be great if local businesses could get access to the same cutting-edge technology that could help them grow? Let’s look at how they can do that—with your help.
The Agency of the Future
As a local marketer or agency, you have strengths that the big brands don’t. These strengths, combined with the right go-to-market tactics and technology, form three winning strategies:
1. Provide great
2. Offer more than just advertising solutions
3. Become a cloud-based technology provider
– Strategy #1 –
Customer service is your secret weapon
As an agency or local media company, superior customer service is your key advantage over the robots and big corporations.
- You can offer better and more personalized service
- You’re part of your clients’ community and can be involved more locally
- You have superior knowledge and expertise in the products you sell, your niche, and the needs of your local market
- You can offer a more custom and enjoyable experience for your clients
Excellent customer service is what makes customers prefer you over the likes of Google, Facebook, and other brands competing for marketing dollars. This survey backs that up:
Great customer service and deep community relationships are Amazon-proof advantages for both your agency and your clients.
– Strategy #2 –
Transition from selling advertising to selling marketing solutions
The amount businesses spend on marketing continues to rise…
…but advertising is NOT the reason for that growth.
The real growth is coming from local promotions and marketing.
If you don’t have at least 2x revenue in digital marketing products and services versus digital advertising revenue, you’re missing out. Big time.
What are exactly are marketing solutions?
There are over 5,000 marketing products that you could offer in the diagram above.
Local businesses need a lot of these solutions—but how do you proceed?
How do you find the right ones to sell?
How do you build your services around these products?
How do you negotiate with all the vendors?
How do you market these products?
How do you train your staff?
How do you sell these solutions?
How do you support your products?
And the most essential question of them all: how do you make money?
This brings us to our third strategy…
– Strategy #3 –
Become a Cloud-Based (SaaS)
You’re asking yourself: “How do I continue to make money in local marketing?”
The answer? You have to use technology.
You have to become a cloud-based technology provider.
Revenue-wise, this is the most important strategy, and it involves three parts…
1. Use technology that grows your brand, not someone else’s
Your brand is your most important asset. You work really hard to build relationships, provide a helpful, knowledgeable salesforce, and offer local support.
It’s very hard to build a brand. And so…
Why would you use someone else’s brand when YOU are the one providing solutions?
Unfortunately, that’s what most agencies do. They offer solutions through Hootsuite and HubSpot and Moz and GoDaddy and Yelp and BirdEye and AppDirect, etc.
You need a solution that promotes your own brand—not someone else’s.
That means finding a white-label provider who can offer solutions that will maintain your look and feel and not steal your thunder.
2. Sell the full marketing stack
Research shows that over 86% of local businesses want to buy solutions from a single provider. They don’t want to deal with multiple vendors and logins and bills (LSA Tech Adoption Index Survey 2017).
If you don’t fill your clients’ many needs, someone else will.
They will replace you in a heartbeat.
While there are over 5,000 different marketing products and services, as previously shown, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. These solutions are grouped into six categories that make up the local marketing stack.
The Local Marketing Stack
In every one of those categories are important digital solutions that local businesses need in order to acquire, retain, and grow their customer base.
Do people know about your clients → Digital advertising
Can they find your clients? → Online listings
Do they trust your clients? → Reputation & reviews
Can they buy from your clients? → Website, in-store
Do people advocate for your clients? → Social marketing
And will they remain loyal to your clients? → CRM & loyalty
Warning: If you don’t offer products across the whole marketing stack, your clients will find someone else who does.
Another benefit of offering more digital solutions is that your clients will stay around longer. Vendasta’s research has proven that if your client is using only one of your products, selling them just 1 more product will increase their retention rate by nearly 20%. (Source: Vendasta Partner Study, 2018)
3. Make the robots work for you
There’s no way to sell all of the digital marketing products above without automation.
The trick is to sell local businesses what they need.
By implementing needs-based selling through technology in your organization, you stand to earn significantly more than those not doing so.
How do we know that’s true?
In a study conducted at Vendasta, we looked at small businesses in our system that had a failing social media grade on our Snapshot Report and split them into two cohorts: one in which those businesses were sold a social product and one in which they were not.
[For those unfamiliar with the Snapshot Report, it’s a tool that leverages big data to assess SMBs’ marketing needs and highlight potential pain points. The system then uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to monitor engagement with the report, and when it believes a prospect is ready to buy, it delivers a hot lead to your sales team.]
In the case where a social product was sold to those who had a failing social grade, the retention rate was 30% higher than the businesses who were not sold a social product.
Needs-based selling improves account retention rate
Conclusion: Identifying a business’s needs with technology (e.g., grading their social media presence programmatically) and selling them a related solution (e.g., a social media product) increases retention by 30%.
SUCCESS STORY: How Hearst lets robots do their grunt work
LocalEdge (Hearst) was one of Vendasta’s first customers, and we did a test with John Moore, one of their 10-year sales veterans out of New York.
We sent Snapshots to 100 customers that hadn’t bought from Hearst in over a year. These were dead customers to them—in many cases, verticals they weren’t even calling anymore.
John ended up selling a $7,200 advertising and software deal to a 70-year-old barber. He said, “I walk past that guy every day. I don’t have time to call on him. I haven’t called him, I never would’ve called on him. Snapshot lit him up as a hot lead, and I had a 10 minute conversation with him. Within an hour, I had a deal.”
Clearly, you can use robots to call on people you never thought were customers.
Bottom line: What does this mean for you?
In order to help local businesses survive, you must:
1. Transition from selling just advertising to selling complete marketing solutions
2. Become a cloud-based technology provider
3. Do it all under your own brand
That’s why you need a platform that gives you:
- Monthly recurring revenue
- Best-of-breed technology solutions
- Instant go-to-market on new products
- Your own brand, front and center
- Self-serve / billing platform
- Scalability & integrations
- Continual investment
This is why Vendasta exists. To bring those elements together.
How does Vendasta work?
Vendasta is a platform for helping you sell digital solutions to local businesses.
Think of us like an agency-in-a-box, complete with all the products and services your clients need combined with AI that helps you sell.
Step 1: Brand our platform as your own. Start by white labeling our software from top to bottom to make it yours. By doing this, you’ll be able to protect and promote your most important asset—your brand.
Step 2: Build your store with best-of-breed products. Fill the gaps in your offering by reselling best-in-class marketing solutions, from social marketing and listings management to review generation, paid ads, and more.
Step 3: Add your customers and prospects. Upload contacts and automatically see who needs help in a variety of categories. For example, who has a bad website, who needs a social media makeover, or whose reviews could use work.
Step 4: Kickstart premade campaigns. Your customers and prospects will get a 10-page report card called the Snapshot Report showing them how they perform relative to industry benchmarks and their competitors on advertising spend, listings, reputation, social, website categories, SEO, and more.
Step 5: Get great campaign results. When prospects and customers start receiving campaigns and see that the content is personalized for them, engagement skyrockets.
Step 6: Leverage artificial intelligence. Vendasta continuously monitors how local businesses engage with the information you send them, and when the system believes a customer is ready to engage, it delivers a hot lead to your sales team.
Step 7: Engage with hot leads. Your salespeople are able to have an informed conversation with leads thanks to the Snapshot Report. Best of all, you don’t have to tell your leads they have a problem since the report has already done that. Essentially, a lead sees they have a broken arm and you have a “broken arm fixer”.
Step 8: Allow leads and customers to browse your store. Of course, all this engagement is tracked and creates even more hot leads for your sales team.
Step 9: Deliver prescription, context, and tracking. Once a customer buys your products, they’ll want to know what you’ve done for them lately. You’ll be able to provide them with proof of performance by showing them where they started, where they are now, and how they are doing against their peers.
Step 10: Take care of billing automatically. You’ll never worry that you or your customers are getting charged the wrong amount.
Take action now to become a
recurring revenue machine
I hope you’ll make the right decision to give Vendasta a closer look.
Not only does our track record speak for itself (we currently work with over 19,000 salespeople who serve 1,000,000+ local businesses around the world), but we’ve also helped many an agency become a multimillion dollar recurring revenue machine.
In fact, on average, Vendasta partners grow their digital revenue 3.5x in their first year alone. That’s important for us because, well, thanks to the nature of our partnership, we make money when you make money.
In short: we succeed when you succeed.
Let’s work together to build your reputation as the trusted local expert.
Brendan King, CEO
Co-Founder of Vendasta
Request a demo
Our sales team will reach out to connect with you at your earliest convenience.