I was brief last night in my comments on Google’s new “Local Business Referral” program, and maybe didn’t explain myself as fully as I should have when I basically threw the idea under the proverbial rug.
I agree 100% with the need to improve local business data.
I just don’t believe this “Local Business Referral” program is going to make a dent in that problem. In my comments last night, I said there’s “no chance this succeeds in any measurable way.” Let me explain why in a bit more detail:
What’s the appeal to join this program and become a Google rep?
On the FAQ page about the program, Google answers the “Why become a rep?” question with a quick mention that you can “earn some money”, but they spend two sentences appealing to the good nature of my heart:
The information you collect could be seen by millions of people who use Google every day. And you’ll be helping the businesses you refer attract new customers while also making it easier for people in your community to find the products and services they’re searching for.
With all due respect, I think it’s naive to think that people are going to jump at the chance to knock on the doors of local businesses, take photos inside, promote Google Maps and Google AdWords, fill out paperwork, submit it all online when they’re done, etc., out of the goodness of their heart. You have to provide a better benefit than “you’ll be helping your community find local businesses.”
But Google says there’s money involved…
Yes, you can earn “up to $10″ for every business referral. But only $2 is guaranteed — you get that for submitting the business data to Google. Then you have to cross your fingers that the business owner remembers to send in the postcard or goes online to verify the data you submitted. Two things: 1) As busy as small business owners are, what percentage do you think will remember to do that? My guess: less than 2/3rds. 2) If you’ve spent any time reading the Google Maps for Business Owners Group, you know the verification process can be hit and miss.
What I’m saying is this:
It’s silly for Google to think that anyone who’s advanced beyond a newspaper route career is going to want to spend their time doing this for $10 per business, only $2 of which appears to be guaranteed. I give Google full credit for creativity and trying new things to improve the local data. It’s great that they’re being aggressive and trying new ideas. I just don’t see this idea working.