Google’s social network powered Local ‘Sales Force’

From the Kelsey Group

The Utility Belt blog reported that Google recently announced a plan to pay a commission to people who are willing to photograph local businesses and gather information about the company to post on Google Maps. The idea is that self-appointed local “contractors” would be willing to not only gather local information and photos, but also promote its AdWords program to local advertisers.  

The new plan, called Google Business Referral Program, representatives can earn up to $10 for each business they catalog for Google – $2 for the business’s information, and $8 for getting the company to verify that the information is correct by either sending in a postcard or approving it online.  

According to the Google site:  

As a Google Business Referral Representative, you’ll visit local businesses to collect information (such as hours of operation, types of payment accepted, etc.) for Google Maps, and tell them about Google Maps and Google AdWords. You’ll also take a few digital photos of the business that will appear on the Google Maps listing along with the business information.  After the visit, you submit the business’ info and photo(s) to Google through your Local Business Referrals Center, and we’ll pay you up to $10 for each listing that is approved by Google and verified by the business.            

All you need to be a successful Business Referral Representative is a passion for helping local businesses succeed, a love for the Internet (some knowledge of Google is great, too), and access to a computer and a digital camera. …  You can earn up to $10 for each approved, verified referral you submit. This includes $2 when a business referral is approved by Google; and $8 when an approved business verifies that the information you submitted is accurate. Referrals are approved by Google based on the completeness and quality of data supplied by representatives. Businesses verify their information either by sending us a response postcard or verifying their information online.             

As long as your earnings total at least $25 a month, you’ll receive a monthly check. 

The idea is that if Google cannot build its own local sales force, why not use the power of social networking and local Google evangelists to do the job? Paying $10 per listed store is a far cry from what it would have to pay a local sales rep. Given this scenario, if a “Business Referral Representative” can confirm five businesses a week (a reasonable goal for a local sales rep), he or she can earn $50 for the week, $200 a month and a whopping $2,400 per year. While seeking to build off its user-generated content appeal, this effort seems to have little chance of building major content additions since the financial benefits are minimal compared with the work and travel involved in gathering and verifying the information and uploading the content to the Google site. These are the main reasons for having a paid professional sales force that can educate and consistently sell advertisers on the benefits of online advertising and local search. While its creativity can be applauded, it is unclear how this moves Google closer to building the richest local content. 

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