Most of you would probably agree that local is one of the biggest trends on the web these days, fueled by a variety of factors: increased mobile and smartphone usage, localized deals services (like Groupon), and of course search. Local is a major focus of Google right now, as evidenced by an increasing number of local results being returned for queries, as well as products like Google Places, Hotpot and Google Offers.
Much of this trend has been based upon B2C offerings, however, and where B2C trends occur, B2B trends tend to follow. It's happened with email, social media, and will likely come around again full circle with local and even local email.
It's all about the next Groupon or "the Groupon of...fill in the blank" these days, it seems. Google and Facebook, for example, have products on the way like Google Offers and Facebook’s Buy With Friends that could rival Groupon in the niche of localized deals and group buying.
Everywhere you look, you see Groupon clones or some niche variation on the concept. For instance, you've got:
- "The Groupon for Good"
- "The Groupon for Casual Games"
- "The Groupon for Green Shoppers"
- "The Groupon for Travel"
- "The Groupon for Publishers and Bookstores"
- "The Groupon for Cause Marketing"
- "The Groupon for Moms"
Groupon is about group buying, but even more so, it's about localized content and email marketing. How do I know what Groupon offer is available in my area every day? I get an email from Groupon letting me know, and I know it's personalized to me based on geography, which makes it much more likely to be something I'll actually use, than if it were something available to all Groupon customers around the world.
Now apply that concept on a B2B (that's business-to-business) level - perhaps an office supplies vendor, a business that cleans uniforms. In fact, you can apply it to B2C businesses as well, because the businesses have employees, and they're all consumers.
B2B works for consumer-facing businesses too. A restaurant, for example, could offer a business a way to give their employees discounts on meals, or a golf club or gym could do the same with discounted memberships.
In fact, the concept works even for national brands (which could spend a lot of money with such a service) that have local locations. Much of the appeal of local is on the consumer side anyway. A consumer (or business on the receiving end) is likely to feel a deal is more personalized to them as long as the local angle is there (this is an area Groupon could improve upon itself, by the way).
Email marketing works for B2B. It stands to reason that local email marketing, of the sort Groupon caters to, would work extremely well for small and local businesses. It also stands to reason that we'll see more startups looking to fill this void in the Groupon-mania induced gold rush of 2011.
Expect to see more "The Groupon of..." verticals aimed at local businesses. Groupon calls itself the "savior for small business". There's room for such a savior for local B2B business too, which isn't the kind of business you normally see in your daily Groupon emails.