Headlines and perceptions aside, Uber has become a juggernaut in the transportation business by awakening a latent sales force — a move that has allowed the brand to infiltrate local markets around the world and become an overnight success.
There are now an estimated 162,037 active Uber drivers, many of whom just months ago were likely spending their weekends like anyone else — at a bar, watching the game, or hanging out with family and friends. Uber took notice of these “average Joes” — as well as an under-supported group of taxi and car service drivers — and saw them as the perfect asset for its business.
Brands should take notice – this could very well be their ideal model. With an overwhelming number of consumers searching online, many local businesses have yet to embrace, or fully understand, digital marketing. Brands stand to generate incredible revenue by helping their local business partners activate digital marketing strategies that will win local consumers. Uber’s outside-the-box thinking has helped them become an overnight sensation. Product brands have the ability to enjoy similar success by reframing the way they think about and empower local businesses.
Think about it. Product brands commit more than $22 billion in online co-op advertising funds each year, but local businesses leave approximately $1 billion of these funds untouched. That’s a lot of money. The revenue brands stand to earn by introducing local businesses to the digital age is remarkable. According to IDC, the annual revenue of the average small business is $3.6 million. But for those that have a strong online marketing presence, revenue increases to more than $5 million!
The relationship between brands and local businesses is evolving rapidly as brands begin to recognize the vital role these businesses play in the local commerce ecosystem. Google cites that 50 percent of Americans use local information from an online search to help them make their purchasing decisions. When making a large purchase — such as an appliance or piece of furniture — consumers are spending up to 12 hours online researching which local business is offering the best price, warranties, et cetera.
Brands can no longer ignore the importance of local businesses to their own success. If these businesses can’t be found online, how will customers searching for a brand’s products find them locally? They won’t, but they may find competitors. Brands stand to make millions more by working closely with their local partners—whether by synchronizing efforts on messaging, discounts and promotions or lending financial support in the form of co-op dollars. The key to doing any of this successfully; however, is offering the technology infrastructure needed to support successful local digital marketing efforts.
Technology can help connect product brands to their local business partners by creating a vehicle of communication and collaboration between them. Pre-built, fully brand compliant campaigns, program scorecards, turnkey digital promotions and campaign analytics are just a few of the assets that can be shared seamlessly and effectively by brands and local businesses, empowering greater local market success for both. Uber has managed to do something similar: on-board and activate new drivers in three days or less using a comprehensive, streamlined technology. The company’s use of mobile computing has allowed the brand to unsettle local economies overnight.
As Uber continues to infiltrate local markets, the simple truth is that brands and local businesses need each other to be successful at the local level. By empowering the complex relationship between local businesses and product brands with technology, each stands to grow — in revenue and customer base. Together, they make a formidable competitor to less forward-thinking brands that lie idle in the face of local opportunity.
Brendan Morrissey co-founded Netsertive in 2009 after serving as the VP of Business Development for Motricity, an interactive mobile marketing technology company. Immediately prior to this role, he played a major role in the growth, subsequent sale and integration of venture-backed mobile marketing platform GoldPocket Wireless before being acquired by Motricity.