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.