CW: What is your background? How did you get to where you are today?
NH: I spent ten years in the information technology sales, recruiting, and sales management arenas, most notably at Management Recruiters International a professional search organization. Currently as President of ReachLocal, I oversee day-to-day global operations for the company which specializes in local market, small- and medium-sized businesses leverage online marketing.
CW: Tell me about ReachLocal.NH: Our mission has always been to help small- and medium-sized businesses acquire, maintain and retain customers via the Internet. ReachLocal creates tens of thousands of online marketing campaigns for more than 19,000 currently active small business advertisers and dozens of large national brand advertisers, including Nissan and The Dwyer Group. I developed and deployed ReachLocal’s products and services, including ReachCast™, ReachLocal’s award-winning* software/service that uses a powerful combination of proprietary technology and expert service to manage a local business’ Web presence including SEO, social media marketing and reputation management.
CW: Many offline print directories have migrated to online. What has been your greatest challenge in moving into this space?
NH: When ReachLocal was founded eight years ago, it wasn’t to become an online directory or destination site. This is a shift that the print directories made to stay relevant with advertisers. With the advent of Google, we saw consumer eyeballs shift from offline to online. Our mission was to migrate the millions of SMB marketing dollars from offline print to online search through platforms like Google, Yahoo! and MSN. The challenge for ReachLocal in the early days was to create a sales experience that local businesses enjoyed with their offline media reps. In order for local business to be comfortable with buying online media, they wanted to have a face-to-face relationship with their sales rep like they did with print directories, newspapers and broadcast. After creating that model with Internet Marketing Consultants (IMCs), who visit SMBs face to face, we duplicated it to what has become 60 offices around the world with nearly 800 IMCs.
CW: Many national services such as Facebook are becoming hyper-local. And there are also companies such as Groupon. What differentiates ReachLocal?
NH: ReachLocal is not a search engine, a social media nor a daily deals site. It is a service company that partners with platforms and publishers like Facebook, Google, Yahoo where our core products and services distribute ads on behalf of SMBs. ReachLocal looks at online platforms and publishers as partners, not competitors. We’re hyper-local because we deliver search results and ads to the person searching based on geography and keywords specific to the searchers local area. These are geo-targeted ads to a local community: the primary audience for small businesses.
CW: Do you consider ReachLocal a “push” or “pull” service? And why?NH: ReachLocal offers products that provide both a push and pull service. We serve ads that target people searching for a specific keyword (such as our ReachSearch product) and also create display advertising that builds brand awareness (ReachDisplay). ReachSearch is pull (a consumers expressed need for a product or service) and ReachDisplay is push (branding).
CW: Take me through the process of a small business working with your company.NH: A small business is paired with a ReachLocal Internet Marketing Consultant (IMC) based in their city. Working together, the IMC begins to understand the business and its goals. Then, the IMC develops a custom online marketing strategy to help the business get more leads. Next, the IMC works with our team of local marketing professionals, like our campaign service and web presence teams, to build and execute on the campaign using ReachLocal products. Then, our technology distributes and optimizes the campaign across the Web. Our extensive media reach boosts a business's visibility across the places where consumers are searching, surfing, and socializing online. We track campaign activity to measure its success, and we use those insights to monitor, adjust, and improve the results. The SMB can access the reports any time to see everything from clicks and emails to recordings of phone calls coming from the campaigns.
CW: Looking ahead five years, please give me three predictions on the media industry.
NH: We'll see more consolidation of marketing providers as winners create end-to-end services in a one-stop consumption environment. Local commerce will be the space to watch as offline businesses and consumers transact in new and interesting ways beyond daily deals. The SMB segment will significantly increase spending on tools to help convert prospects into leads – CRM, reputation management, drip marketing, etc.