What We Mean When We Talk About ‘Hyperlocal’
Today, Greg Sterling, one of the smartest people in the hyperlocal space, asserted that the term “hyperlocal” should be retired. Tongue in cheek, he claimed he coined the term, which he later admitted he didn’t.
At Street Fight, we are happy to claim we absconded with the term. We expanded it from its traditional use pertaining only to passionate, driven, highly local publishers who were the first to act on the erosion of local media’s business. We have applied it to include anyone who is disrupting and taking market share from traditional media and offering local businesses new ways to reach consumers.
“Hyperlocal” businesses push beyond “local.” They focus on highly targeted geographic areas, from my neighborhood, to my block, to where I am right now this very moment, perhaps standing in a store.
“Location” represents a focus of what these exciting new start-ups do, but “location businesses” doesn’t capture the full extent of what they offer. Can you describe a point-of-sale marketing offering as “location?” In our opinion, no. But “hyperlocal” does reflect the “right here, right now” aspect of the transaction.
‘Hyperlocal’ businesses push beyond ‘local.’ They focus on highly targeted geographic areas, from my neighborhood, to my block, to where I am right now this very moment.
In truth, when we launched Street Fight in early 2011, we did lack a term that would include what then were perceived as disparate businesses that are now coming together (e.g. deals companies don’t stand in their own silos, and if they do, they’re in trouble: see, Groupon, Group Commerce), as well as the new entrants we anticipated, including payments and SMB services businesses. We also aimed to be inclusive of those local media companies who would begin to embrace these new ways of being a better marketing channel for local businesses, as well as traditional locally targeting businesses like yellow pages and coupons.
We saw “hyperlocal” as the most representative term of an industry that was using a range of digital means to help local businesses reach their customers. It has admittedly faced a challenge on two fronts: one, from its traditional assignation to refer to only publishers (and a stodgy, folksy term it was at that), and two, from “so-lo-mo,” which we acknowledge as a worthy strategy, but put that way, creates silos of efforts. (And which Anthony Ha at TechCrunch agrees is a terrible, terrible term — “outrages all decency and common sense.”)
We aimed to re-energize the term “hyperlocal,” and also to give the forward-thinking entrepreneurs in this space a way to identify and name the new industry they were building, and to support that growth.
It’s clearly an ongoing discussion and we’d love to have your input on how you describe your business and this industry.
Laura Rich is CEO of Street Fight.