Groupon and Daily Dealers are down, what should be the next?

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After watching rises & falls of Groupon and its daily deal cousins on the sideline in last years, I have learned two things:

  1. There is a huge under served appetite for online marketing for local businesses (the businesses which must face the customers in order to deliver goods & services); and
  2. Serious shortcomings in daily deal business model(s), such as escalating operating costs, lack of merchant & customer loyalty, call for new years of connecting consumers and local merchants.

WebCoupon is an online marketing service to local businesses which is an alternative to daily dealers. It has been available to restaurants in New Jersey and New York.

Highlight: WebCoupon provides local merchants with marketing channels which reach not only new but also recurring customers. It significantly lowers the operating costs by not spending on acquiring consumer contacts (email IDs, app subs etc). Instead, WebCoupon turns local merchants’ online traffics into customers.

This short deck explains. https://goo.gl/M8mfuq.

Will Local Businesses Win A Lion Share of Search-based Sales Leads?

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Keywords: SEO, Pay-per-click (PPC), Bait-services, Packaged Marketing Solutions 

Summary: a new industry, internet lead-generation for home service, has been emerging to control flows of consumers to home service businesses from internet searches. Local service businesses are fighting back by setting up their own websites and tuning SEO to make lead-generation engines for their businesses.

Conclusion: in a few years, home service businesses’ websites will NOT be main sources of leads from internet searches for their respective owners. Businesses should focus on leveraging social networks such as Facebook for lead-generation, and on using their sites to nurture relationships with existing and potential customers to counter the invasion by the internet lead-generation industry.

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imageWith its recent Home Services announcement, Amazon is officially in the ring to fight for a share of internet lead-generation for local home service industry. Business owners are, in general, not excited about the new entrant and some are, legitimately, worried. Over the years, this crowded market has already seen established, upstarts and heavy-weights such as Google Local, Home Advisor, Red Beacon, Porch.com. Amazon’s announcement will intensify the war, whose sole objective is to control and profit from internet flows of customers to businesses.

 

This war is mainly be waged on two fronts: one is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the other is paid search, aka Pay-per-click (PPC). For Image result for SEO and PPCthose who are not familiar with this terms, SEO  is a set of methods, technologies and best-practices in website designs and implementation with the objective to rank the website higher at various search engines, Google in particular. Needless to say, companies such as HomeAdvisor, Red Beacon, Amazon, Porch.com are masters of SEO. In fact, SEO is probably one of the most important technical competencies they must master in order to compete. On the other hand, Pay-per-click (PPC) is a mechanism by which businesses pay to have their clickable advertisements displayed. The more a business pays, the better the position in  search results where the payer’s ad is displayed.

Not surprisingly, impacted business owners, in general, resent the internet lead generation industry which inserted itself between customers and home service businesses on the internet. A lot of business owners believe that the industry is “squeezing money off” them and they are seeking counter strategies to defend themselves. Currently, the most well received strategy is “Setup your own website, get it SEO tuned, to generate and own leads yourself”.

I have no doubt that this strategy is a sound and has been producing positive outcomes for now. At the same time, I am also concerned that it will be dangerously inadequate in near future.  This is why:

  1. From consumer’s perspective, these internet lead-generation companies do provide benefits: initial round of vendor screening; price and quality transparencies; vendor selection/choices; and convenience, just to name a few. When consumers like them, they have lives and they are here to stay!
  2. Internet lead-generation companies are providing valuable services to businesses who have yet to establish themselves on the internet. Here are a few data points: more than 50% of home service businesses do not have internet presence. For those who have either a website or social media pages, 1/4 of them are dormant, and attracting no customers. These businesses will benefit from the services by the lead-generation companies
  3. Most importantly, lead-generation companies have undisputed technological (for SEO) and financial  (for PPC) advantages to win against businesses in home services.

This leads to my prediction, companies of Internet lead-generation for home services are here to stay, and they will control major portion of search-based lead-generation for home service industry. In other words, the role of service providers’ websites as lead-feeders will be significantly reduced. This will negatively impact those who have been generating leads on internet and/or paying for PPC: they must pay more in SEO to get their share of traffic, or bid higher for the most relevant keywords, including keywords with strong locality flavors.

The next question: what will  business websites be for if they are not main source of internet leads. This will be long discussion, but here is a simple narrative of my thought:

  1. Businesses need to employ more strategic marketing solutions to nurture demands for their products and services and to draw customers to them, including using social sites such as Facebook and Pinterest. Another important strategy is using “bait services” to attract customers, then nurture the relationship for bigger, conventional transactions.  This is analogous to the prevalent “Info” or “Content” marketing strategy: giving something first, then nurturing the potential customers to real transactions. Examples of such “bait services” can be found here.
  2. Businesses must use their websites as “online nurseries” to nurture their relationship with existing and potential customers. This will become more important in the situation when businesses’ existing customers and sales leads were from lead-generation companies: whom the customers will give credit for being well served – the businesses served them or the lead-generation companies who brought service providers to the customers?

I’ll write about these issues in details in the next post. Stay tuned.

If you are reading this last paragraph, you must have put up with me to go through this entire posting. Regardless you have interests to, or are holding strong opinions on, the subject matter, please leave your comment and/or help spread the message via your favorite social networks.

Whatever you do, it’s greatly appreciated!

Selling Consulting Services to Local Businesses One Zip code at a Time

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Summary: This blog post explains, from business consulting professionals’ perspective, what is Liquibil’s Packaged Business Solutions and how can they sell their services as products, instead of retainers, to scale up quickly.

Key Phrases: Packaged Solutions; Selling consulting services as products;

Call To Action: Signup  NOW to bring your business solutions to local businesses and reward yourself along the wayThumbs up, or follow the progress of Liquibil business development. Signup


Liquibil is pursuing a business of marketing of professional consulting services as products, aka Packaged Business Solutions, at pre-determined prices. This is in contrast with the common practice of selling consulting services as groups of billable hours.

Why Packaged Business Solutions? and what inspired the concept of Packaged Business Solutions? Let’s go over this short story which I am sure will bring satisfactory explanation:

 

joe the roofer 2Our first character in the story is Joe, the owner of a roofing company in New Jersey.

A few years ago, Joe noticed that when most houses reached 20+ years of age,  the roofs began to show signs of wear — a good time to establish contacts with these homeowners in order to position his company for the anticipated new roof projects.  Although this is not some new discovery, without any effective means, Joe had been unable to take advantage of this insight. Fortunately, Joe had resource and foresight to seek professional helps.

 

Consultant2

Eventually, Joe signed a service retainer with Mike, a marketing guru, who had helped small businesses for 19 years.

Leveraging Joe’s insight, Mike put together a strategy and the necessary materials to execute it:

  1. Designed a new service, a small roof maintenance annual contract, to help Joe’s company target the identified homeowners;
  2. Crafted a description of the new service, its value proposition to the homeowners, and Joe’s company is the best choice for delivering the service in the area;
  3. Drafted a sample contract which Joe can use in this sales process, and finally,
  4. Compiled a list of 20 year-old houses in Joe’s service area (4 townships, covering  an area of 5 zip codes)

 

Liquibil_CustomLogoDesign_opt01Seeing Joe’s success, as well as Mike’s with Joe’s company, Liquibil has been wondering if the same marketing package, with limited customizations, could also help other roofing businesses at a price significantly lower than Joe’s retainer. In other words, is it possible to make “copies of Mike’s work” and bring them to roofing companies outside of Joe’s service territory. The following data points a great potential

  1. There have been 2,700+ local companies in New Jersey which listed roofing (NACIS code is 238160) as their primary trade; and
  2. There are over 500 localities, employing 557 zip codes in the state of New Jersey.

Simple economics: the more copies sold, the more revenues to Mike,  and the lower the price to buyers of these solution copies.

 

imageThrough Liquibil, the complete package of solution is available to New Jersey roofing companies. Please use the buttons on the right to learn more about the solution; explore solutions for other trades, e.g. landscaping, home remodeling, tree services; or receive updates when new solutions are released.

These solution packages are marketed as products, i.e. there are only very limited customizations available to buyers:

  1. Buyers’ logo, business name, contact info, e.g. phone #, email, web site URL, social network ids, can be integrated into the marketing materials included in the package;
  2. Buyers’ customer testimonials, brief history and owner introductions can be integrated into the marketing materials included in the package;
  3. Buyers are allowed to modify specifics, e.g. pricing, product details,  to accommodate their market conditions;

The only drastically different component will be the homeowner lists which are determined by the zip code(s) chosen by the buyers;

 

Let me stop for today. If you are interested in more information, or would like to market your assets as Packaged Business Solutions through Liquibil, please reach out to me at zhuzh@liquibil.com, or contact me here.  You can also find packaged solutions for landscaping, home remodeling, tree service businesses here. Take a look at them to see if they what you have imagined.

Last, but not the least, I would be very grateful when you share the words of Packaged Business Solutions, and its impacts to consulting professionals through your favorite social network platforms.

Explaining Packaged Business Solutions

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Over the course of last two months, I have been repeatedly challenged by my colleagues and friends to state clearly what is "Packaged Business Solutions", what are their values to small businesses and how are they different from other types of "business solutions" which are abundantly available both on and off the Internet. Therefore, I would like to gradually clarify, in the subsequent blogs, these three questions:

  1. What are Packaged Business Solutions and whom are they for?
  2. What are the values to their consumers? and
  3. How are they different from other types of business solutions?