Short on time? Here’s the Bottom Line!
Please note that this article was written prior to Local Na8ion’s re-launch and as such the content may not be relevant for today’s audience of local marketers.
I think LinkedIn just hit one out of the park. Maybe it’s just me, but the minute I saw the story this morning that LinkedIn is now allowing their users to recommend service based businesses my mind immediately felt a huge connection on the local advertising front where I’ve spent a good deal of my professional life. But, the implications extend to any service based business, so this isn’t only about local.
And as we like to point out, consulting, jobs or a mechanic are all local. Someone like me who deals with people locally or from other parts of the world can benefit just as a recruiter or graphic designer can.
Why do I think this is so powerful?
As you know, word of mouth, or referrals are a huge influencer in making confident decisions about using or purchasing a new product or service or hiring someone for a job. That’s why there’s so much activity these days around interactive tools and marketing that support, or even induce, natural word of mouth marketing (or buzz marketing). The reason my eyes lit up around the local ad field with this service is that local businesses like child care, dentists, and contractors, can finally find an online word of mouth vehicle to connect with clients. There’s a segment of local businesses that stand to really benefit from this kind of referral and they fall along the lines of services that have deeper meaning in your life (child care), high purchase prices (contractor), or a personal impact on you (dentist) that makes advertising a less than appealing method of filling your need. Just recently I’ve been looking for a dentist. Or rather, I know I have to go to the dentist and I’d like to find a really good one. The Yellow Pages and local search are two of my main tools. I trust neither of them to help me. There are referral based services like 1-800-Dentist, but they’re just paid to tell you to go to a dentist who has paid to be part of their service. True, word of mouth referrals are what I need. LinkedIn could be just the ticket. And unlike other local products that have to build a big base of users and audience (think Yelp! or Local search) LinkedIn can leverage what they already have.
LinkedIn being used to make a recommendation for a recruiter
Users don’t have to go and use a new product or search in a new way, they can stay right where they are and extend the value of their LinkedIn experience by just using it for service based references.
I’ll close by saying that the service isn’t without its potential pit falls. Namely, that employees, friends, family and associates will refer people just because they’ve been asked to by the service provider, or gasp, because some enterprising business has paid them to write a referral, and that kind of manipulation is going to happen. It will devalue the product and just like ‘user reviews’ we see on sites selling products we’ll have to judge if they’re coming from a company plant or if they’re real.
Everyone in the local ad space has been trying to find the online equivalent to an oil field gusher. No one has to this point. This may not be it, but it’s the best example of one-to-one social marketing that I’ve seen that can have unlimited scale in the local advertising arena. Now, I wonder if anyone has referred a dentist yet in my area yet?