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Is Technology Giving Local a New Hope

I sometimes wonder if local is becoming an outdated concept. I drove through a Houston shopping mall a few days ago and sighed with all the same brands that I see in every other shopping mall. It’s maybe age that makes me look back to a romanticized time of local stores where we knew the storekeepers name and they knew our weekly shopping list. Maybe it was never there but most of us over a certain age will like to think so. It seems that type of personal service is reserved for bars and restaurants now. If the answer is Best Buy (replace store name here…) then the only concern is which one is closer ? It’s not news to anyone that big brands with marketing dollars, bargaining power and consistency have squeezed out the small guys.

I then had some good experiences with local. I need new business cards and used moo.com. Using Illustrator to design, I uploaded PDF’s and in a few weeks I’ll see them. With forthcoming events I really need them sooner so I found a local print company. I called and emailed the PDF’s. On my return from the aforementioned shopping mall I called the print company to see if I could proof a copy of my card but Google maps had told me that I wouldn’t arrive before their closing time. No problem, we’ll stay open later to see you. Proofing meant a few minor but necessary changes and I’ll have my cards back later today.

My moo.com cards might be great (I’ll certainly update this blog with the finished article) but they might not.

I then read this and I think local has a chance. The combination of local marketing, mobile computing and investments from search and data providers means that we’ll start to see more location based results when attempting to control a vehicle whilst wrapping our fingers around the keyboard of 5 inch phone. That’s a really bad idea and hopefully illegal in most places now so don’t try it.

As search shifts to include a greater percentage of local content, the big boys will also switch their focus. Walmart’s online presence will highlight local store specific deals and inventory, therefore small business needs to stay focused. Marketing isn’t always a priority when you have a business to run so efficient streamlining is important. Here is a good article with tips for necessary focus.

It’ll be fascinating to see what shakes out of this. To use the cliched David v Golliath metaphor I think many of us like the idea of the of small business beating big but I think I know who’ll win. Maybe it’s up to all of us by voting with our wallets. I know where I’m voting even if it costs a little more. There is a romantic buried in there, somewhere.

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