Google Places Business Kits Make Local Really Local

I’m kind of a big deal. Why? Because Google took my recommendation to create a way for businesses to market with Hotpot. OK, OK … maybe it’s been in the works for a long time, but the fact that Google Places business kits were announced a mere 15 days after I wrote the post, “Hotpot: Hot Tips for Businesses,” well, I’ll just assume they heard me. If you want more million-dollar ideas, read on.

What Google is doing is actually quite genius. The Google Places business kits currently in beta with the Portland, Ore., merchant community allow local businesses to market themselves online by integrating with Hotpot. The business kits are also set up to get the residents of the community involved with reviewing through Hotpot, say, over a Yelp.

The push to have Portland natives start reviewing on Hotpot came with the Hotpot Jackpot contest, where locals have a chance to win prizes for reviews. And while Matt McGee over at Search Engine Land said Google was breaking it own rules by incentivizing for reviews, I don’t entirely agree. Yes, those people may not have reviewed those businesses prior, but they can still be honest about their reviews, right?


The pièce de résistance of the business kits is the Smartphone-enabled window decal that can be affixed on a storefront, allowing patrons to read reviews on the spot. This is huge for both businesses and consumers. Think of the possibilities.

I wondered how long it would be before this instant-review action spills into other aspects of our lives. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to scan people you find attractive with your Smartphone and instantly find out their interests, what they do for a living, how they spend their free time, what their baggage is and every other piece of information that comes from a long, painful first date?

But I think the big picture with Google’s window decal is this: what could be more local than interacting with online reviews offline, right at the place of business you’re standing in front of? And what’s more social than being able to bring the trust factor of online community reviews into your offline experience, at the scan of a decal? And while these concepts are not new, they’re new to Google. And I have a feeling this is going to be huge.

Jessica Lee is the founder and chief creative for bizbuzzcontent Inc., a marketing boutique that focuses on digital content strategy and professional writing services for businesses.

See Jessica's author page for links to connect on social media.

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16 Replies to “Google Places Business Kits Make Local Really Local”


lol … course is not my real name. I looked out the window and there is in fact summin out there. Go figure, been glued to this comp so long I’d forgotten. ;)

You have some interesting topics covered here. Thank for posting it. Nice change over all the web pollution too often found online. Personally think about 75% of what’s on the internet ought to be deleted as useless.

Will definitely check in on your blog now and then though.


Well, thank you! That’s a huge compliment — and it’s our goal to try and keep things interesting, so nice to know people like you are taking something away from it.

And thanks for the update on the outside world. I look forward to hearing more about that someday.


There’s a world offline ? Hmmmm, could it be ? I’ve spent so many hours researching online. Feel like I’ve forgotten the concept of offline. This offline thing of which you people speak where and what is it ?

Mrs/Ms Lee has acquired a new stalker … errrr, I mean fan of her blog.


Hello, Mr. Smith. (If that is your real name.) ;) It’s kinda of like the equivalent of the Matrix, I would say. Look out the window and you might catch a glimpse of the outside world. Let me know what you find out.

Thanks for reading!

thank You Jessica
Google Places is hot news while it has been around for a while now.
Europe is always on the last frontier and percieved an outerpost in space but not to worry;

I have put up my own lemonade sign and are givving away little pins I stick in every customer to grab their attention.
The effect of good merchandise is immediate and customers literally jump on me to get their hands on a spot.
This handson direct communication with the customer realy
is such a big hit that i can not even fight off the amount of customers; some even give it to me in the face when
after a review I tell them Google Places might not be right for them but that I made a first aid kit to do it Yourself just for locals only.

Themelis Cuiper
SEO Social Media Marketing Expert

Hi, Themelis — Not sure how I missed your comment before. Sorry about that. Tell me more about this, sounds interesting!


“I wondered how long it would be before this instant-review action spills into other aspects of our lives…” Social Networking of the not so distant future.

+1 Alan #FTW :)

Our social lives that went from offline to online are going back offline again with an online twist. That about right? Thanks for joining the conversation!

re: “…kind of a big deal…” — Yup, I’d say so for sure, Jessica!

Too dang bad tho, that I don’t have a client “in” Portland, as then I’d apply and get an early lesson on what to expect when this is rolled out over NA….as a Canuck, I’m pretty used to being ‘behind the curve’ when it comes to G’s rollouts, but that sure would have helped, eh!

and @Alan….I too await the next android/iPhone app that lets you just take a pix of that HotPot decal and then read the various reviews on your phone….if I didn’t hate X-Code so much I’d do it myownself….

hello, mobile entrepeneurs….you listening lads?



Hellooooo, Jim! Aww, thanks. And my question is: Doesn’t Google know who you are?! How dare it delay rollouts to our friends in the North. I’m wondering how long this will be a Portland-only test myself. I’m sure lots of businesses are anxious to try it.

Yeah, anyone who works with Susan eventually becomes a big deal Jessica. So while you have every right to be proud that you’re a big deal, it’s not like you’re unique among BCI bloggers. #JustSayin ;-)

What I’m waitin for is scanning a person’s personal hotpot decal and reading reviews on them other guys have written who’ve gone before me :-) #WIN

Hey, Alan! Well thanks for the compliment/putting me in check. And good to hear from you on the blog! I’m crossing my fingers that Google picks up your suggestion, too. ;)

I guess everybody gets nervous with user reviews. It’s good, it’s bad. In the end, you hope the average of a lot of reviews causes negatives to be out weighed by positive.

Certainly in accommodation there was a lot of concern about TripAdvisor reviews. TripAdvisor created a policy where you couldn’t remove bad reviews, but you could make rebuttals. “It was the noisiest place I ever stayed – Guest” with a rebuttal “It was 4th of July and the celebrations are loud that day, but it’s quiet 364 days of the year – Mgmt”.

I haven’t seen whether HotPot will give businesses a chance to reply? That would be good. If not, I think business takes a big risk promoting reviews.

Hi, Mark! From what I know, Google Hotpot works in conjunction with a business’ Google Places page, so the reviews are left through Google Places and Hotpot is just a service that personalizes your search when you are logged into it based on your prior reviews of other businesses and reviews by people in your community, etc.

So, there is an option for a business to address a negative comment. Google makes suggestions here:

BTW, I love your example of a user review/business response above — made me chuckle out loud. No business is perfect, but I think they way they handle bad reviews is key.

Are you “offline” if you have access to the internet with your smartphone?

Alex, good point. This is debatable. I originally was thinking your world outside of “just” the the Internet, but the lines are fuzzy, aren’t they?


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