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Google 2010: end of empire, hail the new order

I started 2010 being Google’s biggest advocate.

They had the majority of consumer attention, sophisticated advertising systems, and an incredible product development process that has seen the development of Google Maps, Docs, Checkout and Talk. Previously whenever they turned their attention to a particular area they seemed to quickly dominate it.

Until, until…Lord Nelson

Google Buzz fizzled, Checkout is proving problematic, their search results seem dated (I even tried bing the other day! – but it was worse), their advertising is often not providing good ROI, they seem to be more interested in corporates (Commerce Search), their mobile app is just a web browser… okay okay, enough grumbling.

Perhaps Google remains as talented as ever but I’m just finding better ways to interact with the wider internet community.

Social media like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook of course. But also by going directly to websites that I know are good regular performers like Mashable and Huffington Post. And, because I use my iPhone, this is via apps not browsers (which means Apple is my “home page”).

Then there are my favorite blogs, podcasts, mobile apps… the percentage of my time in front of the Google search page (and computer screen) has just collapsed.

Unless I’m researching for information then Google is still the best place to start.

So what does this mean for your business

Since the mid 2000s you could expect to make a reasonable return on Google SEO and Adwords marketing expenditure. With the increase in competition, and the explosion of Social Media, Mobile and Local services this is now not necessarily the case. Or at least it is much harder.

Just like me, your customers’ time has been moving from Google to other web pages as well as other devices. Attention has dispersed and an internet marketers job has become more complex, more multi-faceted – and frankly more interesting.

Especially for a local business

A local business is at the heart of the three changes we’ve seen in 2009-10: Social, Mobile and Local.

For example:

  • Social – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Groupon
  • Mobile – Apps, Yelp, Foursquare, Twitter
  • Local – Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook Places

Indeed Groupon seems so successful because it fits into all three.

Here’s a Venn diagram from Screenwerk that shows this intersection:

Social Mobile Local Venn DiagramOver the last 12 months I’ve been partitioning out the various internet marketing topics. But in reality they all intersect in a very human mish mash of the social, geographic and technology worlds.

It is almost as though the internet started out as being the whole world then became

  • the world where your friends are
  • the world where your friends are nearby
  • the world where your friends are nearby, on your mobile

The full circle has taken us back to where we all were before this started. Hanging out with friends, generally within a 20 mile radius.

Sure we spend lots of time criss crossing the internet super highway, but we still prefer to spend most of our time talking to local customers, friends or family.

Which is completely sensible of course. Technology is to serve our human needs, not a programmer’s business plan.

So where to from here?

Time to go back to 2 miles. Forget the superhighway.Rule Britannia

Time to say hello to the customer you see walking down the street, not the theoretically possible customer 500 miles away.

Time to talk to them in the ways that suits them, the mobile in their pocket not the PC on their desk.

It’s time for me to rethink my service. To take it away from Google and put it yours’ and your local customers’, hands.

So that’s what I’m doing in 2011

First I’ll be opening this website to you. I’ll be starting a forum so you can discuss your ideas with other like minded wine retailers on topics that are important to you. I’ll even let you make blog posts yourself should you have such a desire.

Next I’ll be actively working with eCommerce providers to attach internet marketing systems to their software. No more standing on the sidelines and using third party systems, if I can’t find what I need in the marketplace I’ll commission it myself.

At the same time I’ll be revamping the marketing systems to, you guessed it, Local, Social and Mobile.

Here’s what the new service will look like:

Mobile

  • Wine Retailer Mobile App
  • Foursquare
  • SCNVGR

Social

  • Facebook Page and Commerce
  • Sharing to friends and followers e.g. Twitter, Check-Ins
  • Blog (from a social engagement point of view as well as Google SEO)

Local

  • Yelp
  • Foursquare
  • Facebook Places
  • Wine Retailer Mobile App in-store QR codes
  • Google Places (OMG I mentioned Google 😉 )

Plus eCommerce of course.

Time to move on. Google RIP, or perhaps just a pugnacious island not an empire …

How have you seen the internet and/or wine world change in 2010?

Images courtesy of: Screenwerk, Lord Nelson, Rule Britannia

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