What is the future of Google+?

For small local businesses, the main argument against using Google+ as a social platform is that few of their friends use it. Therefore few of their clients will use it, and if such is the case, why bother?

Google+ has been taking a lot of flak from bloggers and industry pundits for being a "ghost town": huge user numbers (boosted by the integration of G+ with all Google tools)... but very low user engagement (just a few minutes/month/user - Nielsen 2013). 

On top of that, most local businesses we discussed with on the topic confess that they are lost in the user interface of Google+, and sadly enough most don't even know they can create a local business page and manage it actively from their own Google+ profile.


Considering the possibilities offered by Google+ to businesses to reach further out — far away from their friends and family (Facebook's main positioning) and their immediate local "Facebook groups" — it's a bummer that they don't learn how to use Communities and Circles to reach out to people interested in what they have to offer.


In my opinion this failure is a reflection of several factors: 

  • Google never made it easy for businesses to understand its User Interface. Digging down into a G+ account is way too complicated for small business owners with little IT skills. For the Ph.Ds at Google, this statement may sound totally far-fetched and non-sensical. We bet however they never came down from their PhD pedestals to meet small business owners face-to-face and test the G+ skills of the latter by asking them to perform simple tasks. We did. The results were dismal. The UI of G+ is too layered for small business owners, and the fact it changes periodically makes it even worse. Who has time to re-learn soimething already hard to understand? 
  • Google never engaged the community of business app developers. We heard Brad Horowicz and other top Google honchos pontify on how they had to "protect Google+ from spam" and therefore closed Google+ to developers with no API to speak of. The net result speaks the truth: Google+ user engagement stats are abysmal.  The reputation of Google+ as a social platform is shot. 

Compare G+ with Facebook, LinkedIn and WordPress:  

  1.  Facebook took a stance opposite to that of Google+ early on, enabling developers to play with its API and to create feature-rich apps that would engage personal and business users alike. From a "Friends & Family" network, Facebook has become a business network with huge revenues from business advertising. 
  2. LinkedIn is rapidly evolving from the "Resume platform" to a full-fledge "business platform", allowing businesses to promote their identities and services through multiple API-based tools that developers and companies put to good use.  
  3. WordPress has become the de facto standard of all blogs/website builders because it benefits from the support of a huge developer base that is extremely creative. Businesses now use Wordpress for their main websites because they can have killer front-ends.

Google+ has no developer community to speak of. It's impossible to share content from external applications to G+. It's impossible for a business to organize a contest on G+ (when it's totally easy to do that on Facebook). You can't run a G+ Comments box on a website. And logging in with your G+ ID to a web application has become a possibility only very recently: Facebook had this feature enabled over 2 years ago ("Login with your Facebook account").  


The UI of G+ — with convoluted screens and pathways — makes it difficult to interact with it. The complexity disease isn't specific to Google+. Try attaching over 25 MB of files to a GMail message: Google will tell you have to use Google Drive. Alrighty then, but instead of just pressing on a YES button and have your selected files directly uploaded to Google Drive, lo and behold, you have to re-select the files from your hard drive! What a waste of time.  


But wait, that's not all! Once the files are uploaded to Google Drive, Google sends you an error message that has you press another Share button to confirm you want to share the files! (Why in the world would you have to confirm this when your first intent was to send the files by email to a specific person?) 


Too much monkey business.  Typical of complicated persons full of their Ph.D. hubris.

The real promise of Google+ wasn't very clear from the get-go: It was not the 'friends and family' network. It was not your 'personal resume' network. It was not your 'real-time news snippets' network. So what was it to be? 


Guy Kawasaki described it as "the network of passionate people". Alright, that was an acceptable definition. I am a passionate photographer and Google+ enables me to connect to other passionate photographers, share art and tips with them, and learn much in the process. I can share with people in New Zealand, Japan or Eastern Europe, people I would not have known otherwise. So Google+ has a social function to connect me with people from all over the world who share my passion.


But is this all?


I fully believed Google+ was meant to be a strong tool in Google's arsenal of business tools to help small business owners to reach outside the confines of their local business friends and local business groups (in Facebook).


Google is the topmost business and information search engine, so Google+ was a natural social extension of this positioning. After all, everyone goes to Google to find products and services, and the success of Adwords is a reflection of this positioning. It made business sense for Google+ to find its own position as the 'business social network' intimately hooked into Google Search, Gmail and YouTube.  


The unfortunate reality however is that Google+ hasn't succeeded in becoming this tool. Its managers failed to make it easy to use; failed to facilitate its everyday use in business life through business applications; and failed to cultivate a strong following in the world of business/consumer app developers.


As a result, the word on the street today is that Google is ready to shelve Google+ altogether. What a shame. A shame to have wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on a platform that could still create a new paradigm in business social communication. A shame to have failed to transform this platform into a repository of meaningful business conversations that would have help Google to improve the precision of both Search and Adwords. 


A perfect illustration of this stupidity is Google execs asserting that +1s are not valid enough as social signals to impact Search.  Facebook uses the exact contrary approach: the more social signals, the more relevant the post and the longer and higher the post in the Facebook stream.  It's all about conversation. People vote with their Likes, Comments, Shares. What's relevant to them is taken into consideration by the network and the reach of the post expands. Beautifully social. 

Google suspects (rightfully so) that the SEO community will warp his +1 signal to manipulate its search results. Yes, they will. But Google is no stranger to these deviances, and Google+ profiles are verified strongly enough to limit the possibilities left to SEO spammers to register millions of accounts to send fake social signals to Google algorithm.


There is a trade-off between becoming a significant social tool (thereby entailing the risk of spam) and remaining a closed tool with no social impact (assuredly of no interest to the SEO community and to spammers). But with proper verification procedures, the spam risk is controlled and Google+ would have been pushed by the SEO community to business owners as the topmost tool to improve their local reach and have business conversations with their clients/prospects. 


It takes staunch advocates to get business owners to use a tool. Business owners are not prone to using IT tools. Facebook has garnered the support of social media managers, ad agencies and app developers, and guess what... They are having a big payday in advertising revenues today. 

Google+ execs' grandstanding actually barred the tool from getting adopted by business owners. Consumers shunned it for the same reasons: too complicated, and what's the purpose when we already have Facebook?


This cohort of issues is reflected in the Google+ tagline: "Connect with friends and family, explore your interests, and see how all of Google gets better."  The first niche ('friends & family') is already fully served by Facebook. Google+ already lost this war. Move on. The second clause ('explore your interests') is better, but not powerful at all. What's in it for me? The third clause is a farsical joke. Nobody (and I mean no-bo-dy) cares about checking how Google is improving. Someone should be urgently fired from the exec team to have conceived of such an egotistical statement. It only shows how divorced Google execs are from their user base.


But is the Google+ story over and done?


We hope not. In spite of all its failures, Google+ has the potential to becoming a really interesting business tool. There are so many ways it is integrated in Google's product suite, it would make no sense to decommission it.

Google has recently offered qualifying social media managers who have developed tools to manage their business clients' social pages a new possibility to apply to become "Google partners"... and link up their social management tools to Google+ through G+ API.

Ha! Is this a change in the right direction or what? 


Does Google intend to save a sinking ship by enrolling the support of some of the most ardent advocates of the "business + social" paradigm?


This would actually be extremely good news for the local business community because down the road, with a lot of tweaks and a lot of good help from third-party developers, Google+ could finally become the platform it had the potential to become and offer local businesses a way to get more support in their community.


This could be a long hard road, and it would most likely require a change in Google's corporate culture: less Ph.Ds, more die-hard marketers with their ears on the ground, and an extra-super dose of common sense based in real business experience. 


Personally, I look forward to this turnaround. I hope my business friends will find in a "Google+ 2.0"  the tool they really need to blend harmoniously their business presence in the search results with their social presence, and boost their reach and revenues.


Phil Chavanne


Marketing Wu Shu: Mix... or Lose to Better Fighters

There is no opposition between online marketing and offline marketing. Your marketing-fu [I prefer to say 'marketing wu shu'] is as good as you are able to set up the right mix for your business and your clients. Research studies show why, and a few figures will help illustrate this.



In the early days of internet marketing, back in 1997-1998, we were all drooling at the new horizons the web just opened to small businesses. No more costly mailings, no more ruinous trade shows, no more 'Forget national reach, we have no budget."


Websites, paid search ads (e.g. Adwords), banner ads and e-mail marketing were sketching the new frontier and we were all pioneers. The US Post Office went deep into red ink, the FTC took drastic measures against telemarketing firms, and TiVo helped us weed out TV commercials from our favorite programs.


All in favor of online marketing raise their hands.


Inevitable backlash


The wild swing away from traditional marketing channels inevitably generated its own backlash.


Spam became the plague of the decade and the Can Spam Act of 2003 was voted into law. It did little to rein in the scourge —spammers just outsourced to Russia— but internet service providers [AOL, TimeWarner, Comcast, etc.] became better at filtering spam. Web users learned to identify suspicious e-mails and delete them. E-mail opening rates plummetted and the once 'magic' medium lost much of its initial luster as a cheap, efficient marketing channel. 


Likewise, consumers learned to tune out on-site ad messages. Eye-tracking studies demonstrate how consumers successfully ignore ads: helped by the engineering of the human eye, they focus their line-of-sight on the non-advertising sections of a web page and the rest is blurred out.


To protect its advertising turf and its bottom line, Google regulated its Adwords and Adsense programs, weeding out tends of thousands of spammy affiliate marketers and imposing tougher linguistic rules on its advertisers [Gone the 'Click here!', gone the multiple exclamation marks, gone the all-capitalized words, gone the trademark hi-jacking practices.]  Today the advertising sidebar only draws 2-3% of visitors to a Google page, and the advertising claims are fairly tame.


Too much information kills information. Too much advertising kills advertising. 


Return to equilibrium


Under the influence of gravity, a pendulum invariably comes at rest at the center of its motion range. We can draw a parallel to this law in the world of human affairs: the wild appeal of e-mail as a marketing medium has progressively receded.


A recent study published in December 2011 by marketing firm Epsilon found that 50% of US and Canadian consumers pay more attention to direct mail than to e-mail, and find the former 'more trustworthy' than the latter. A subset of these results highlights the trust issue: 36% of US consumers and 40% of Canadian consumers prefer direct mail to receive financial services information. [The notorious Nigerian letter isn't as trustworthy as before.]


This following graph shows the 'trust gap' between postal mail and e-mail for a variety of product/service categories.

Trust gap between postal mail and e-mail

Trust gap between postal mail and e-mail
in various product/service categories (% of consumers)


The same study found that the appeal of TV as a source of consumer product information is down from 43% (2010) to 37% (2011) among US consumers, and that social media and blogs are trusted by only 6% of the US respondents.


One size does not fit all. Old school still works.


Other numbers


Other studies show it would be unhealthy for web marketing specialists and their clients to ignore or deride other marketing and advertising channels.


Over a six-month period ending in early 2005, Millward Brown and Information Resources, Inc. conducted a study on four pairs of radio and television campaigns led in four markets on a range of product categories including Grocery Food, Grocery Non-Food, and two very distinct Over-The-Counter Drug products.


The study results showed that radio lifted sales by an estimated 4.1% and TV by an estimated 7.5%.

Comparison of sales lift by Radio ads vs TV ads

Comparison of sales lift by Radio ads vs TV ads
Source: Millward Brown + Information Resources, Inc.




f four pairs of Radio and television campaigns 

in four markets, in a range of product categories over a six-month period ending in early 2005. The 
product categories included Grocery Food, Grocery Non-Food, and two very distinct Over-The-Counter 

Drug products.


The bottom line: Your ROI


The same study showed however that radio being much cheaper than TV as an advertising medium (cost of production, and CPM), the average ROI of the radio campaigns came out higher than the average ROI of the TV campaigns.

Profit per Ad Dollar Index shows radio ads

Profit per Ad Dollar Index shows radio ads
outpulling TV ads in terms of ROI

Note: The figures above are the expression of an index, not absolute ROI.



These figures address the crux of the matter: whichever advertising/marketing channel is selected, the channel with the highest ROI will, in the end, allow re-investing more dollars in marketing than the other channels. Affordability of the channel obviously dictates the channel selection.


The Direct Marketing Association [DMA] study —on which is based the infographics found at the bottom of this article— shows that telemarketing has the best response rate of all the channels studied. BUT... The cost of telemarketing campaign on a prospect list is almost 4x more expensive than the costs of any other channel!


That kills an ROI more surely than a Dr. Kevorkian working on his patients. 

Cost Per Lead/Order of Direct Mail, E-Mail,

Cost Per Lead/Order of Direct Mail, E-Mail,
Postcards and Telemarketing - DMA Report 2012



Saving hotels tens of thousands of dollars


Back in 2000-2006 when I consulted for the hotel industry, my firm evolved a marketing model that lowered the average cost of a booking from a historical bracket of 25%-50% to a predictable bracket of 2%-12%. In other words, considering an average ticket of $450, our clients' unit cost of sales went down from $112-$225 to $9-$54. 


These very significant savings were achieved by combining appropriately both online and offline marketing actions. Prior to our intervention, most hotels already pursued an offline sales strategy consisting in selling room allotments to tour operators (TOs) and virtual tour operators (VTOs), and participating in trade shows where they would meet with consumers, travel agents and TOs. 


Beyond the critical issues of credit risk [TOs were notorious for folding up without warning] and cash-flow strain [TOs and VTOs usually pay their allotments 60-90 days out], the hotels used to spend time canvassing their markets in ways which ultimately benefited the TOs and the Expedia™ of the world: when booking rooms over the internet or through a TO call center, consumers would search for the hotel name and invariably landed on websites and portals that didn't belong to the hotels.


In other words, the hotels were feeding Expedia and the likes and paying them high commissions on traffic that should have landed on their own sites. Talk about sawing the branch you sit on....


Our job consisted therefore in building and branding the online presence of the hotels [website, SEO, presence on proprietary hotel portals] and making sure all our clients were branding their marketing collateral with their own URLs and e-mail addresses.


Hotels have since continued to participate in trade shows [B2B and B2C] but they now invest their effort in their own brands, channeling direct traffic to their own websites and indirect traffic [from commercial partners] to specific rates on their booking engine.


As a result of this hybrid sales strategy, a remarkable figure emerged from web traffic statistics: 24%-27% of all bookings resulted from the hotel's own commercial strategy. A 3-star hotel in Paris has an average 50 rooms sold at an average €100 a night [2006 figure], 365 nights per year. You do the math.


The same effect will occur on any business that pursues a marketing strategy using various communication channels. Sooner or later, advertising and word-of-mouth will get their names out and people will start Googling their names directly without using keywords. 


Better margins, better brand recognition, better ROI... All of this through a fine-tuned marketing mix.


Getting your message heard over the noise


Internet marketers can make the costly mistake of focusing exclusively on their client's websites and paid search campaigns (Adwords) instead of balancing the marketing mix to achieve repeated exposure across multiple channels.


People do not express themselves through only a few words. Human beings like diversity. Likewise, they will not buy exclusively from telemarketing campaigns, but will be prompted to look at a product/service offer through a variety of messages and channels.


In the opening chapter of his seminal work 'The New Positioning', marketing expert Jack Trout depicts in a few numbers the reality of information overload:

  • More than 4,000 books are published around the world every day
  • More information has been produced in the last 30 years than in the previous 5,000
  • In 1975, there were 300 databases available online. In 1992, some 7,900.
  • A British child has been exposed to 140,000 TV commercials by age 18

These figures dates back from the early '90s.


A study on child obesity published in 2007 reveals that in the United States, children's exposure to TV commercials increased from 20,000 per year in 1970s, to 30,000 per year in the '80s, to approximately 40,000 per year in the '90s. [Children’s Exposure to Television Advertising: Implications for Childhood Obesity - Debra M. Desrochers, Debra J. Holt]


Yet, Jack Trout writes that memory research tends to show that you will forget up to 80% of what you thought you have learned.


Repeating your message over multiple channels is not a luxury if you want it to be heard and memorized.


Advertising irritation and psychological rejection


From another angle, a study published in 2006 by university researchers Mariko Morimoto and Susan Chang could give us a clue as to why postal mail is regaining some love in the hearts of US consumers versus e-mail. 

  • Ad intrusiveness negatively impacts consumer attitudes towards the advertising medium. Participants found spam more intrusive than postal direct mail.
  • Consumers are likely to experience a higher level of advertising irritation from spam than direct mail.
  • As advertising irritation grows, attitudes towards the advertising technique become less favorable (whether spam or direct mail).

Prior to this study, Chang-Morimoto and the Pew Research Center had separately published other papers showing that spam irritates people because of task interruption, volume, repetitive nature of content, time spent deleting the unwanted messages, obscenity of content.


Numerous other studies published between 1979 and 2002 identified several potential factors capable of triggering advertising irritation: over-dramatized and contrived content [fake blogs and fake review sites are good examples of this today], frequent ad placement [intrusive banner ads], targeting of the wrong audience [think junk mail addressed to 'current resident'], manipulative messages [Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes, pre-approved credit card offers], excessive repetition within a short amount of time [banner ad retargeting can become annoying] and forced exposures [forced sign-up on an allegedly free offer].


The results of these studies highlight that you can't bet the farm on a single type of advertising/marketing. As your favorite advertising medium intrudes in your prospects' lives, their attitude is likely to grow negative towards the message carried by the medium if only because a degree of irritation is attached to the medium itself.


The key to a good strategic marketing plan is to set up a well-balanced diversified channel mix with media that are likely to produce the best ROI.


That's good marketing wu shu.





To summarize these conclusions, I prepared a new infographics with some of the useful numbers quoted in this article, and rules derived from 23 years of doing business as a small business owner.


SEO specialists, web agencies and resellers of LocalRanker can reproduce the non-branded version of this infographics and give it to their clients. (Copyright mention may not be removed.)


If you are a business owner, this data will help to make more informed decisions in your selection of advertising channels. 

Setting up the right marketing mix ensures

Setting up the right marketing mix ensures
the reach of your product/service offer


To download a branded version of this infographics, click here: http://bit.ly/PaurP2


To download an unbranded version of this infographics, click here: http://bit.ly/MrsNWO


Note: As a courtesy to me, if you use this infographics on your website, please attribute the copyright to www.localranker.com with a link.



To your success!


Phil Chavanne


Google+ vs. Facebook Fan Pages: Where is Your $$$?

The integration of Zagat reviews in Google+ is a sound strategic move for Google and Zagat, on both sides of the supply-and-demand equation.


It gives Zagat the crowdsourcing capabilities it was missing.

It provides the new 'Google+ Places' with volumes of quality content which sets them ahead of all other social actors in the niche, like Yelp.


More importantly for Google, this move supersizes Google+ to the stature it was still pining for, to make it the #1 SOLOMO network in the world a year after its launch.


For Facebook, heavy weather ahead.

The Zagat conandrum


Zagat is one of the oldest and most respected restaurant guides in the world. An institution, a little brother to the Michelin. The company published paper guides well before they went online, contrary to competitor Yelp.


Because of the print heritage of their publishing house, Zagat has always been picky when selecting their restaurants: they couldn't waste valuable print space to write a bad review. Better not to review the restaurant at all.


Zagat picks good local eateries where guests can predictably enjoy dinner, and rates them on a wide variety of criteria. Zagat's detailed reviews take care of the surprise factor: the dinners' experience is commensurate with their expectations. Restaurant owners (hopefully) take notice of the sore points and correct them. Everybody is happy.


Yelp, on the contrary, grew online from the get-go. They 'crowdsourced' their ratings, allowing any and all to drop reviews on any restaurant with a We're Open sign. Unlike space in a paper guide, online space is low-cost. There is no concern about wasting it over scathing reviews and ugly food. The largest the footprint, the better.


Zagat went online in 1999 and established Zagat.com using their carefully crafted rating system. They simply duplicated online their offline paper-based model. Their financial model is based on subscriptions and guide sales.


With the rise of Web 2.0 sites and the growing popularity of review sites, a selective guide like Zagat couldn't grow as fast as the likes of Yelp. An article published by the NY Times in September 2008 clearly defined the issue.


Zagat reviewers take great pride in crafting detailed reviews, rating a restaurant on many different criteria. Yelpers can slap a review in 2 minutes on their favorite soapbox. Craftsmanship vs. crowdsourcing. Polish cavalry vs. German Panzer divisions. The battle is quickly over. Easy does it; free wins the day.


Though Ms. Zagat insisted her guide was never about rating as many restaurants as possible, it was urgent for her venerable house to mutate to Web 2.0. Google+ offers her this opportunity on a silver tray.


Google+ growing stronger fast


Google launched Google+ as a belated strategic move, partly in response to the explosion of Facebook as THE social network of the first decade of Y2K.


Note: I have no inside sources in Google, so this statement is my own opinion. But Google+ was a me-too product, not a disruptive product in the meaning given by Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm. It is still not a distruptive product but is becoming an 'integrative' product, soon-to-become much more powerful than Facebook.


Though the number of subscribers grew fast, the sheer size of Facebook has so far dwarfed [under the skeptical pens of the pundits] the progress made by Google+ in establishing its user base. Some writers likened G+ to a 'ghost town', others predicted a quick death. If perception is reality, the new social network was stillborn or DOA.


Yet the numbers are impressive: G+ is about a year old and has already reached 170 million subs. Where were FB's numbers after a year of existence?


Be it as may, Google is moving fast to flesh out the 'social' in 'G+ social network'. The rollover of Google Places into Google+ is a brilliant strategic move which, overnight, gives it the stature it was missing. With the integration of Zagat, it dons the respectability of a true publishing house.


Google+ version 1.0



In his insightful digital opus What The Plus!, author-speaker Guy Kawasaki expands on a social media identification model dubbed Social Media Decoder which differentiates G+ from FB, Tweeter and Pinterest. (The illustration proposed by Dan Roam for Mr. Kawasaki's 'Social Media Decoder' is way cool.)


Guy Kawasaki explains that G+ is the social network that links people who didn't know each other prior to connecting around a common passion. Accoding to his classification, this differentiates G+ from Facebook, the 'People' network.


Like product managers at Google, Mr. Kawasaki underlines that since these connections are made and nurtured in the confines of private Circles, a very large section of the conversation that occurs on G+ actually escapes measurement by conventional measures of social engagement. (Hence the 'ghost town' analogy offered by skeptics.)


That was Google+ version 1.0.

Times a-changing.


Seismic change


The merger of Google Places into G+ is an event of seismic proportions involving some 80 million Google Place pages.


For one thing, this move will drastically increase the noise level publicly shared in Google+. Google Places welcomed reviews, and judging by the number of reviews directly submitted to Google and published on Places, they have already earned their golden gloves in the heavyweight soapbox category.


People love the limelight and the 15 minutes of fame: they won't restrict their sharing. No no no. They will go as public, as loud as they can. No Family Circle, there. Only the Public Circle will do...


But wait, there is more!


The new Google+ Places will soon enable consumers to open discussions directly with business owners in Google+ Places, the way Facebook 'Wall' works. Heavy volumes of conversation in the making, guaranteed.


The resulting increased noise shared publicly on G+ will foster the perception that G+ is not just a big social network among other giants, but the 'SOLOMO network' (SOcial-LOcal-MObile) of the next decade, with a money-critical local component.


Just what the good doctor needed to order.


Zagat and Google+ to benefit


As far as Zagat is concerned, the future looks bright. They needed the massive amount of traffic Google+ will bring them. Yelp's over-bearing footprint in the restaurant scene won't be an issue anymore. Zagat's financial future is secured, whichever way the sales of paper guides go.


Rather, the issue for the Zagat House may become how they will protect the quality of their brand now that 150+ million reviewers can write Zagat-type reviews and publish them on G+ graced with the Zagat moniker. A sweet problem, perhaps.


For Google+, the integration of Google Places is a numbers game. Hundreds of millions of users searching Google 3 billions of times per day will get used to seeing the '+1' and 'G+' icons everywhere on their favorite search engine. The GMail users who haven't jumped on the bandwagon yet will now start using their G+ account to share their local-centric opinions.


This takes care of the demand side of the data equation.


On the supply side, business owners know where money belongs. Google Search, Google Adwords and Google Places have all the credentials they need as money makers and traffic drivers. When demand exist, a market gets organized and suppliers start touting their goods. Google Places are already populated with business content. The trend will continue with Google+ Places. 


As soon as Google+ Places allows consumers to address directly business owners on Place+ pages, the former will engage the conversation and the latter will respond because of the primary piece of real-estate that a Place+ page represent. The foot traffic is there already, no need to do anything special to create it! Location, location, location.


When 50% of local searches are conducted from a smart device and lead directly to a Google Map, you don't leave your Google Place page empty when people start commenting on you and ask you questions. You are on your computer every day, responding to the demand and participating in the conversation. Or you are a fool, soon to be put out of business. 


Facebook net loser  


Business owners know that time is a precious commodity, especially in tough economic circumstances where slacking at the wheel is just not affordable anymore. Try to sell anything to any business owner and they will quickly cut to the chase: Don't waste my time. How much will this thing make me, how fast?


Business owners constantly arbitrage their time investments. This is where Facebook draws the short sticks and walks the plank.


Whereas Google is a proven money maker, Facebook has nothing to show for. Zip. Nada. Even General Motors says it, and these guys are known to leak money like sieves.


For the business owner, the choice is clear:

  • Do I spend time tonight ornamenting my Facebook Fan page with cute comments and content that may engage 16% of my 350 Fans... in the hope they not only LIKE it but BUY it (please please pretty please, buy it)? 


  • Do I respond to the comments I received in my G+ Place which will be viewed tonight and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and forever by the thousands of people who search on Google each day specifically for a business like mine? 

Take a wild guess: who wins?



Phil Chavanne


Elevator Speeches That Sell Better

When in 1961 Rosser Reeves published the inner workings of the unique selling proposition [U.S.P.], he changed the way we market our products and services by showing us how to link up 'unique', 'selling' and 'call to action' in a clear message.


From his modest beginnings as a staff copywriter in the early '40s, Mr. Reeves went on to become Chairman of the board of Ted Bates & Co, one of the 5 most prestigious ad agencies on Madison Avenue. He knew how to 'move inventory'.


The Unique Selling Proposition


The author of Reality in Advertising articulates the concept of unique selling proposition around 3 key components. In his exact words:

  1. Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader:"Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit".
  2. The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. It must be unique—either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.
  3. The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions, i.e., pull over new customers to your product.

Source: Reality in Advertising, Rosser Reeves, 1961



Good examples to draw from


Any advertising copy can be filtered through these 3 criteria to measure the strength of the proposition it makes. Exceptional advertising headlines stand on their own as full-blown U.S.Ps.


Each of the following tag lines and headlines have U.S.P. power.


"Stops halitosis!" — Listerine

Immediately emphasizes the main benefit while stressing the uniqueness of the mouthwash by cornering the use of the medical Latin word for 'bad breath'.


"Hot, fresh pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed" — Domino's pizza

Convenience, speed, mouth-watering proposition, originally backed by a solid money-back guarantee.


"When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight" — Fedex

Speed of service very strongly emphasized, fully backed by a solid money-back guarantee.


"It melts in your mouth, not in your hands" — M&Ms

Stresses the one benefit that completely sets apart a product otherwise banal.


"We try harder" — Avis

The market wanted a higher level of service from car rental companies. A distant #3 on the U.S. market, Avis delivered the goods with all its personnel adopting the "try harder" (to please the customer) attitude. Subsequently Avis rose to spot #2.


"Kills bugs dead" — Raid

We dislike bugs. We want them dead. Deader than dead. Raid delivers the benefit in one punchy 3-word tag line, emphasizing it with repetition.


"The Third place between home and work" — Starbucks

Emphasizes a quiet, pleasant space 'in between', where the constraints of work and family do not exist.


"The soap that floats" — Ivory soap, Procter & Gamble

This late 19th century tag line emphasized the uniqueness and convenience of Ivory, a soap bar you didn't have to fish for at the bottom of your murky bathtub water.


"At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock" — Rolls-Royce

Mythical ad emphasizing the exceptional comfort of RR cars. Written by ad legend David Ogilvy.


More on crafting your U.S.P.


A USP is not necessarily a short tag line — Ogilvy's headline for Rolls-Royce counts 15 words. But it always stresses one single promise, a unique benefit that sells to the target market.


Legendary business consultant Jay Abraham expounds on Rosser Reeves's concept by stressing that a benefit does not appeal to all segments of all markets:


"...You will not appeal to everybody. In fact, certain USPs are designed to appeal to only one segment of a market..."


He insists that each business line can have its own U.S.P.:


"...There's no rule that says you can't, by adopting different USPs, develop different businesses or separate divisions of your business..."


Jay Abraham also warns entrepreneurs that a U.S.P. is not just a tag line, but a company-wide attitude and belief.


"All your in-store clerks, telephone staff, receptionists, customer-service people — everyone with any public contact or customer interaction or anyone who makes any decision that impacts your business — must fully understand, embrace and believe in your USP. That passionate belief in your USP must become part of every employee."


Finally, Rosser Reeves explains that a U.S.P. "is not a tight, close structure".


"It may be stated in words... Or a U.S.P. may be put only partly into words... Or, the U.S.P. may be a most fluid combination of words and pictures...

"There are only three criteria:

"Does the advertisement project a proposition? Is it unique? And will it sell?..."


U.S.P. and elevator speech


A few days ago, a fellow marketer shared a video clip published on Forbes.com by Carmine Gallo, the author of a number of best-selling titles including The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs — a marvelous textbook on the Do's and Don't's of Powerpoint and Keynotes presentations.


In this short video, Carmine Gallo offers a simple methodology to build a percussive 15-second elevator speech. His 3-step approach includes:

  1. Writing a Twitter-friendly headline;
  2. Blending 3 reinforcement points within the 140-character headline; and,
  3. Preparing 2-3 extra supporting points for each of the reinforcement points in order to sustain a longer conversation.

As a preamble to applying the technique, you have to know the 'story' behind the product and the company. The video clip can be found at http://onforb.es/Oc1uBN


I thought it would be interesting to blend Carmine Gallo's technique and Rosser Reeves's U.S.P. to produce a more targeted, better-selling elevator speech.


Based on Rosser Reeves's and Jay Abraham's recommendations, it is entirely advisable to create a U.S.P. per product line or department, and specifically targeted for specific market segments.


After all, you don't speak with your banker in the same ways you address a savvy audience in a tech conference or talk to your pals at the local Hell's Angels bar.


Creating multiple U.S.Ps, product by product, target by target, will also enable you to achieve a clearer vision of your general U.S.P.


Here is the resulting infographics. [Links to the downloadable versions can be found beneath the graphics.]


Infographics: Deliver Your Unique Selling Proposition in a 15-Second Elevator Speech

Tell your Unique Selling Proposition in 15 seconds flat

Tell your Unique Selling Proposition in 15 seconds flat
Create an elevator speech that sells well


Download the branded version of this infographics here: http://bit.ly/O0D13N


Download the unbranded version (*) of this infographics here: http://bit.ly/Ns0ATj


(Copyright attribution: If you download and re-publish this unbranded infographics, please insert a hyperlink to www.localranker.com into your article as a kind 'Thanks for your work, Phil'. For your information, the base template for this infographics was created by Piktochart.com and some of the icons were found free of charge on iconspedia.com)


To your success!


Phil Chavanne


The Battle-Tested Rules of SEO

A small token of appreciation to the web designer community, we slapped together this infographics which shows the road we follow when we help our users build their LocalRanker websites.


This graphics doesn't illustrate all the tricks in the book... but then again, we don't care too much for tricks.


We practice 'perennial SEO', viz. SEO that is 100% supportive of Google's mission statement and goals:


"Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful."




"...our goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to find the information you need and get the things you need to do done."

(Source: http://www.google.com/about/company/products/)


Since we build websites (1999), one principle has withstood the test of time:

  • Follow Google's SEO advice to webmasters.
  • Build websites that are well-organized, themed up and useful to targeted communities.
  • You will get the links and the social signals that tell Google your sites are relevant and deserve a place in Page 1 under those very specific keywords.

So here it is: a clear roadmap to website SEO. Get your staff to use it as a handy reminder when they SEO websites for your clients.

Road map for perennial SEO

Road map for perennial SEO
How to SEO a website correctly


You can also download the PNG file of the Roadmap of Battle-tested SEO rules here:


How to SEO a website using battle-tested perennial SEO rules



To your success!


Phil Chavanne


New mobile skins for LocalRanker sites

We are working on a new design series for the LocalRanker mobile sites.


These mobile sites are auto-generated by LocalRanker: build a classic site and its mobile version is automatically generated — no additional cost. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Free.


All LocalRanker mobile sites are Android, iPhone and Blackberry-compatible.


The Woodsy Mobile Site

The Woodsy Mobile Site

The AnthraSite Mobile Site

The AnthraSite Mobile Site
























The TechGrid Mobile Site

The TechGrid Mobile Site

The GreenHope Mobile Site

The GreenHope Mobile Site
























Which of these skins do you prefer?
The LocalRanker design team is hyper-interested in your opinion...
Which skin looks best on these 3 criteria?*
  Woodsy AnthraSite TechGrid GreenHope
Overall Looks
If you were part of the design team, what would you change?
Prove you're human*



More mobile website skins to come.

Please share with friends and keep coming back for new designs... :-)



Phil Chavanne


SEO: High Competition vs. Backlinks

This article could be titled "Analyzing how hard it may be to rank in Google's page 1".


When analyzing how hard we can expect it to be to rank a site in Google's Page 1, we have to gauge the competition for our keywords of choice.


People who do not specialize in SEO are sometimes confused by the 'Competition' column displayed by Google in its Adwords Keyword Tool. They think 'high competition' means highly difficult to rank high in the natural search results. It's not always the case, however.


Wheh Google's Keyword Tool indicates there is 'High competition'  on a keyword, it means that vendors/suppliers are bidding top dollar to get clicks and leads.


Google uses this 'Competition' term in relation to pay-per-click search (or "paid search").

Does it also apply to "natural search" (organic search results)?

Yes and no.


High competition is an indication of the money the vendors are ready to pay to acquire a prospect/lead. It's not a reliable of the money spent in SEO. Natural search results do not match paid search results. To rank high in the natural search results, you have to SEO your site. Whether or not you also pay high dollars to be at the top of the Adwords column has nothing to do with the SEO of your site. 


Google does not base its natural results on the money advertisers spend on Adwords.


Naturally, high competition means high demand. When supply is OK to pay dearly to acquire a lead, the market is hot. In such a market, we can expect a long SEO campaign to rank (durably) high in the natural search results on 'highly competitive' keywords .


Yet, it's not always the case.


Certain industries (or some actors within certain industries) are not very concerned about SEO. Their decision-makers think SEO is a waste of money: they mostly use paid search.


Such is the case for instance with major insurance carriers. They focus on paid search because it's the easiest and quickest way to get leads. Easier and quicker than competing on multiple insurance keywords against each other (e.g. AllState vs. Geico vs. Farmers) and against the myriad of smaller local players (insurance agents and brokers) who do run SEO campaigns to rank their sites high in the organic search results for specific terms.


Beside the 'quick and dirty' facet of the bidding war, I surmise big insurers prefer to let their agents and brokers dominate the search results because they know Google will skew the to favor local players: insurance is still a "local oriented" business as a good percentage of John Does prefer to call an insurance agent they know personally rather than having to talk to an impersonal hotline when they wreck their cars. As Google geo-targets its natural results, you can expect to find a good percentage of local agents/brokers in the results page for any insurance keyword combination.


In such situations, Google's search results present a diversified mix of vendors: small and big businesses. Not just the big guys.


In my experience, the most reliable way to determine how difficult it will be to rank a site at the top of the natural search results remains to do a backlink check.


Use this tool:



To make it efficient, don't run a backlink check on all top 10 results on all your keywords.


1- Select a small cloud of keywords based on the Adwords Tool analysis of local and global demand (take the "Competition" column as a valuable indicator), and also (very very important) on the basis of your "long tail".


[A friend of mine shot a couple of videos of me teaching classes on the meaning of 'long tail' and 'long tail keywords'. I'll post the links later.]


2- Take the top 3 dogs in Page 1. Run a backlink check. Don't run the check if these are obvious players: CNN is an obvious player. A .gov site is an obvious player. Wikipedia is an obvious player. Universities are obvious players. Analyze the top 3 players that are not downright obvious.


3- Take the last 2 results in Page 1 and run a backlink check.


4- Compare the figures:


a- Is there a big difference between the link numbers at the top and the link numbers at the bottom? (E.g., 2-3-4 times more links at the top than at the bottom when the average number of links exceeds 500)


If you observe a very large difference, link number is a determining factor in the rankings. In this case, ask yourself: do we have a chance beat the #9 and the #10 results? 


b- Is there big differences in link numbers between each site of the 2 groups -- top group and bottom group. (E.g. #1 has 20,000 links, #2 has 600 links. And #9 has 150 links, #10 has 50 links.)


If you observe big differences in link numbers between sites in each group (again, compare the sites within a group, not the 2 groups together), link numbers are not the only important ranking factor. In this case, ask yourself: do we have a chance to beat #3 or #2? (The order of magnitude of the link numbers will also tell you how difficult this will be).


c- Is there a relatively even distribution of links between the top results and the bottom results in page 1? (E.g. #1 has 1000 links, #2 has 1300 links, #3 has 900 links, #9 has 400 links, #10 has 540 links.)

In this fake example, you can see that the number of links is not the only factor (it's a very common case). Link quality plays a strong role -- otherwise, #2 would be #1, and #10 would be #9.


More importantly, you see that there is a relatively natural decrease in the link numbers between the top and bottom results. This indicates that link numbers are the prime factor in SEOing for this page.


Our next question is: "How hard will it be to reach the number of links necessary to beat #10?" And of course, link quality will really be important to beat all these sites. 


Run this procedure when you decide which keywords to rank for, especially on "short tail" keywords (high demand KW, usually expressed in very few words).

This is usually less important for "long tail" keywords (low demand, super-specialized keywords, sometimes expressed in very few words, sometimes in longer chains of keywords).


To your success! 


Phil Chavanne



Copyright (c) 2012 Phil Chavanne - Author

Virtuous Spirals - Facebook

Here is a new infographics we created around the concept of "virtuous spirals" (ever-growing phenomena that are fueled by the continuing coincidence of positive actions).


In clear speak, it means the possibility to grow actively your Facebook traffic by doing the right things over and over again. We name 6 actions and attitudes that fan the flames and help grow your audience and their engagement with your brand, shop, biz, practice.


Note: SEO specialists and web agencies can freely share this file with their clients to help them with their social media strategy. 


Without further ado, here is the infographics. The file can be downloaded right beneath.

Virtuous Spiral - Doing the Right Things to

Virtuous Spiral - Doing the Right Things to
Grow Your Audience on Facebook


Download the file: GrowFBTraffic




To your success,


Phil Chavanne


LocalRanker from inside: the 'Look & Feel' function

LocalRanker: Easy-to-use website builder

In this short video, we'll use how the back-office of LocalRanker is organized.


Each tab groups functions that fills out the same purpose in the workflow.


No more words here is the video.



If you like what you saw, and want more information please contact us at your earliest convenience.

LocalRanker: Benefits for the Local Web Consultant

The following video gives Local Web Consultants a quick overview of the benefits of LocalRanker™ for their consulting business.


The LocalRanker software was initially developed as a faster website builder. Over the last 2 years, it has become a soap box on the web for small businesses.


More than just a website builder, LocalRanker helps small businesses and the Local Search Consultants to work faster and really focus on growing their business... Not learning technology.



The bottom line


For the small business owner, LocalRanker goes beyond blogs and website builders such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. It is not more powerful than these software tools: it is just more tailored to the real needs of business owners.


It enables them to do business right out of the box, with just the right tools, without the clutter of a zillion useless plugins.


Traditional businesses don't care about technology. Technology irritates them. They care about getting more clients through the doors, more orders on the phone or online.

Read more