Image by plemeljr via Flickr
By now you’ve already heard about Google Earth coming to the iPhone. And yes, it’s awesome and fun and cool. But you’re a marketer at the end of the day so you’re looking to find a way promote your real estate or other business online using this newly enhanced tool. Before coming up with some internet marketing tactics that might be appropriate for the Google Earth-enabled iPhone, let’s look at a few concepts related to this combination of mapping and mobile technologies. Video after the jump.
Local without the hyperbole
For some time, internet pundits have been talking about “local” and when no one seemed to respond then they started talking about “hyperlocal” (when driving gets dull try hyperdriving!). The concept of Local is about delivering results when knowing about location increases the relevance of the results.
The real estate industry is an obvious example where information is more valuable when it’s location-aware than location-numb. If you know about the schools/neighborhood/employment/scene etc then you know something valuable to anyone looking to buy or sell real estate.
But real estate isn’t the only industry where local information or knowledge is valuable. Any physical-only business should be firmly woven into the internet representation of a locality. Think about restaurants, car dealerships, news outlets, museums and colleges etc etc. I could go on and on. But all of these things contribute to the quality of “local” and can benefit by being present in the digital representation of a locality.
Google is the de-facto digital representation of locality for most areas. When people want to know about a location they ask Google about it first. And Google has a variety of platforms for delivering that local information.
Good marketing is relevant
While “local” is an expression of information quality, “relevance” is perhaps more dependent on delivery. Are you getting the quality information you want when you can act on that information? If so, you’re getting relevant information.
The problem with relying on Google’s database for local information has been that local information is most relevant when we aren’t tethered to our computer.
If I want to gather more context from my immediate surroundings while I stroll down Church Street in downtown Burlington, I’m out of luck. With Google Earth for my iPod (Vermont still doesn’t have an iPhone… I know, it’s a real bother) I can pull in the WiFi, auto-set the location, and the resulting image will include Wikipedia entries and images by default. If I’m hungry I can search for a restaurant nearby and the search results will be overlayed on the map. If I’m looking for a condo… hmmm…
What about plain old Google Search or Maps? They’re already pretty much the same thing right? If I don’t care about physical space at all I’ll probably just use Google Search. Google Maps has the directions and streets for that specific sort of task. If I want a restaurant it will also show me the address. Google Earth doesn’t have the maps or direction-making capability. But it has photos and wikipedia for increasing local context. If I want to get somewhere I’m going to use Google Maps. If I want to know more about an area, I’m going to use Google Earth.
Using Google Earth, I can have local information delivered to me when I can act on it. It’s also a really fun delivery method so that helps too.
4 ways to use Google Earth in your Internet Marketing
Up to now I’ve focused on how individuals might be using Google Earth with their iPhone, concentrating on the concepts of Local and Relevance. How can you use this tool to market your business online?
Caveat: What follows are some nice untested tactics. Using these tactics shouldn’t hurt (in fact, you should be doing some of them already). But I wouldn’t replace a functional internet marketing strategy with the handful of tactics which follow.
- Ensure that your Wikipedia entry exists and is up-to-date. Google Earth for the iPhone will show Wikipedia entries that are relevant to the section of Earth that is being displayed. A tip here: if you go in and create your Wikipedia entry with what sounds like a press release you won’t get very far. The editors are quick and thorough. Be certain to cite any and all claims you make and respect the Five Pillars.
- Get your images of your business into Panoramio. By default, Google Earth will show little squares for images that are relevant to the section of Earth that it is displaying. Make sure your place of business is one of them.
- Get images of your products into Panoramio. This might be easier for something like real estate, where the product might be a house or condo. But you can use this internet marketing tactic for other products as well. But keep to the spirit of Local when you do so: photographs of your product in relation to the landscape/locality. Show how your product is a part of what local means. Also, one picture isn’t enough. Lots of pictures. WIth tags and descriptions. And a Panoramio username/profile that also markets for you. This one will be hard for me as I’m a big Flickr fan.
- Get to work on your plain old Google SEO. Google Earth for the iPhone or iPod allows users to perform a search that is limited by geography. Make sure that you are well ranked for the search terms that are relevant to your business.
These four tactics should tie into your existing profile-marketing, image-marketing, SEO and reputation management strategies. Any other ideas?