Writer and Small Business Influencer Shashi Bellamkonda On SMB Innovation and TalkLocal

A few years ago, in a conversation with Steve King (co-founder of Emergent research and blogger at SmallBiz Labs), we were discussing innovation and technology used by small businesses. He said that by nature, small businesses use technology to solve their problems but don’t always think they are innovative. His example was of roofing companies who figured out that instead of visits to the client and a climb to the roof to give estimates, they could use their computer and Google Earth and measure the roof accurately. Even if the business paid $400 per year for the Google Pro subscription, it was worth the savings for these roof repair companies. Google just announced that Google Earth pro is now free. This is amazing and innovative.

When cell phones started having cameras, one of the first flooring contractors who came to my house actually used his elementary flip phone to show me photos of work he had done for other clients.

The last two painting contractors who came to my house actually took my email address and sent me their quotes by email which is convenient rather than speaking to them on the phone and scribbling their quotes on the back of an envelope. That’s definitely a smart use of technology by contractors, roofing companies and plumbers.

Smart small businesses also use YouTube to showcase their expertise. Not only does this earn them a following among DIYers, it also earns their trust. When the job is too big, local viewers will turn to that familiar face for repair and renovation help.

Whenever I search Google for answers regarding my repair needs, I find lots of helpful advice from relevant service professionals in their own blogs as well as industry and DIY forums. This is SEO strategy at its finest. The forum discussions give the website of the repair company a lot of relevant content, raising their Google rankings and enhancing their credibility with customers. I found a company that would replace my charging port for my Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone in Fredericksburg, VA called RockitRepairs and they also have a blog that answers questions.

We talked about the use of Google Earth, photos, email and blogs. However, one of the most basic and essential ways in which businesses get discovered by consumers online is through  local directories and map listings on Google, Bing, Yellow Pages, etc. Of course, I’ve also found disconnected or inaccurate phone listings there, as well. That’s why I am so impressed by TalkLocal and the businesses I have found there. I can get quotes from 2 to 3 contractors very quickly and I never worry about being sent to voicemail, scheduling conflicts, and other hassles. More importantly, the quality of work has been excellent.

The fact that TalkLocal empowers me to reach a quality local business even if that business lacks a strong online presence makes TalkLocal extremely innovative.

Congratulations to TalkLocal for being recognized as a Business By Innovation finalist. I voted for them because I’ve seen the positive impact of their innovative service first hand. You should too!

Shashi-BellamkondaShashi Bellamkonda is VP of Digital Marketing at Bozzuto. He has been recognized twice as one of the Top 100 Tech Titans by the Washingtonian and Top 100 Small Business Influencer Champion 2011 by Small Business Trends. Follow him @ShashiB and read more of his insights at Shashi Bellamkonda blog.

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