This post is part of a series of 2016 predictions from industry experts.
Abandoning the Point Solution Model
I think we’ll see a leap forward in the ability of customer acquisition software & services for local small businesses to show they’re making money for SMBs. This leap will be driven in large part by growing challenges & competitive pressure from Google, Amazon, and others who are trying to connect local service providers with in-market consumers. Google and Amazon, for me, pose the biggest challenge as they’ve already got products that promise to deliver paying customers, not just rankings or just leads.
Google & Amazon are going direct to consumer to sell local services and both are in a position to add value to the transaction in some way. Consumers can do all their research on Google before deciding to contact a service provider listed in a Google organic search result or ad unit (I expect home service ads to expand, by the way). But Google does not transact with the consumer – this is where Amazon comes in. On Amazon, consumers are often offered Amazon subsidized deals to buy a home service (there was a $30 Amazon gift card offer with any booked service on 12/18) or often consumers can purchase products that need installing and the service providers to install them all in one shot.
To compete in this environment, many local search marketing consultants and software solutions alike will abandon the point solution model for SMBs (JUST a search marketing shop, JUST a reputation management platform, JUST a CRM) and either broaden their feature set/service offerings to include POS integration/appointment booking or focus on a category of SMBs to develop a solution that creates search visibility, nurtures prospects from top of the funnel down through to sale, and provides transparency into that process to the SMB.