Booker CEO Josh McCarter opened his Street Fight Summit keynote address with a question that’s on the minds of many small business solutions providers: “How do you take a system that’s designed for one vertical and take it across more categories?” Factoring in the differing needs of various service-based businesses makes that question even more complex. But given the size of what McCarter termed the “local service commerce” opportunity, answering it could be tremendously lucrative.
In a wide-ranging Street Fight Summit fireside chat, Ajay Kapoor, who oversees global business solutions for Procter & Gamble, covered everything from the wealth of market research sources P&G has at its disposal to channel marketing strategies to on-the-ground local initiatives in emerging markets like India.
The 2015 Street Fight Summit in New York saw the presentation of the first annual Local Visionary Awards, an eight-category competition designed to honor the very best campaigns, companies, ideas, and individuals in local marketing and commerce. The Innovator of the Year award went to Yext CEO Howard Lerman.
Dennis Crowley started Foursquare in 2009 from his kitchen in Manhattan with a lofty vision: Amass enough data to map out specific areas, build a location-based recommendation engine, and create navigation software. But when the company introduced gaming dynamics to encourage check-ins, that’s what it became known for. Today, Foursquare’s ambitions and vision lie well beyond the check-in.
Of all the changes mobile has wrought, on-demand arguably has made the biggest splash. The emergence of companies offering products and services immediately, with only a tap or two of a phone or tablet screen, is pushing incumbents to change their business models to stay on top of their industries. Three of these young-gun threats — Button, Urgent.ly, and Pager — made an appearance at the Street Fight Summit, speaking on a panel about on-demand in local commerce.
The Street Fight Summit played host to a wide-ranging conversation between BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith and investor Ted Leonsis. The fireside chat touched on Leonsis’s decades of local economy expertise, stemming from his many investments in and experiences with media ventures, professional sports teams, and ecommerce ventures, including Groupon.
Mobile has become an automatic, subconscious extension of our digital lives, and technologies that leverage the versatility of smartphones are maturing rapidly. But the apps vs. web debate continues to rage. And where does search, which has existed since the early days of the internet, fit into the picture?
Small businesses have a lot of options when it comes to choosing tools that keep things running smoothly. In fact, they have a lot of options even when partnering with a single vendor because companies within the connected local economy are transforming into marketing one-stop shops for advertising, point-of-sale (POS), and other solutions critical to the daily operations of SMBs.
“In politics, advertising is definitely still a TV-centric world. But we’re moving in a direction where the voter is going to be a 360-degree touchpoint, and the media accessibility is going to be very easy. Everything is going to be done programmatically, and I think you’ll see that shift within two election cycles,” said Rocket Fuel national director of politics and advocacy JC Medici.
“I’ve long been a believer that on-demand is going to revolutionize every service sector in the economy. There will be different flavors of it, based on the characteristics of particular verticals. Five years from now, this is how everybody’s going to get service for everything,” said Urgent.ly CEO Chris Spanos.
“A lot of companies started with a one-product solution — ReachLocal in search and other companies in email marketing or social. But our customers’ needs evolved, and they needed more than that one product. In order to stay relevant with your market, you have no choice but to broaden,” said ReachLocal CEO Sharon Rowlands about the pressure to offer a full suite of services.
“It’s about establishing trust and community. I think there will be many different Craigslists, each for your own local community. That’s where something big can be built in the local space — a Craigslist that’s organized by neighborhoods, rather than by cities,” said Redpoint Ventures partner Satish Dharmaraj about local “unicorns” waiting to emerge.
“There is no way a company can start with a holistic service. You have to specialize then grow. But I will say because of the cloud it’s very easy to bolt on other providers to create a holistic service,” said ShopKeep founder Jason Richelson about branching out beyond his company’s initial focus on SMB point-of-sale software.
Preliminary results from our forthcoming executive survey suggest that industry players are investing the most in mobile, followed by data and analytics. Respondents indicated that mobile marketing and managing company websites were the biggest challenges for local merchants, along with SEO and listings management. More complete survey results will be revealed at our upcoming Street Fight Summit in New York City.
“In today’s ecosystem, there’s no fooling around anymore. You have some serious players taking 80 or 90 percent of the share, and the only way that you’re ever going to compete is with scale, targeting, a large user base, and product capabilities that can command real budgets,” said ironSource head of mobile and global brand partnerships Chris Cunningham about ad-tech consolidation.
Local startups have reached a tipping point — go big, or go home. The fifth annual Street Fight Summit on Oct. 20th in NYC will explore the shifting local landscape. Conversations will look at the future of beacons, retail marketing, the changing programmatic landscape, and the nascent battle in mobile.