What I learnt at #LeadinginLocal in New Orleans: Day 1


From the founder’s desk: [Ajay Garg, Founder and CEO at Hakema]

For the first time I am attending a BIA/Kelsey event Leading in Local and also took the first steps to take Hakema to the US market. Here is my story from the day 1 at the event.

I started my day at 7am and a group of people went to LaunchPad to enjoy startup prezos. It was a great experience and the place was awesome for startups to hangout.


In Exhibit halls, companies have set up booths and so did we. We were drawing attention at “Future Stars” alley corner, a great start for a small startup from Finland.

SMB Digital Marketing pre-event session threw more light on content-based marketing and it was a good kick off for the event. After that, I got busy with a demo to one of our potential customer from UK just prior to the “Networking Lunch”.

I could get a glimpse of some important insights with respect to data such as how much SMBs spend on digital marketing. James Croom from Google mentioned that only 55% of SMBs have a website while some other said 60%. It is like saying 70% of people in NY have a car because rest may not need it. Well do all SMBs really need a website? A website is not essential but online presence is. So if SMBs can boost their online presence, it will improve their credibility to their customers and that’s where Yelp and Online yellow pages can play a big role.

Then there was this witty speaker, Kevin Ryan, CEO of Motivity and co-author of “Taking Down Goliath: The Digital Marketing Strategy for Beating Competitors with 100 Times Your Spending Power”. He had pretty good points big being slow and clumsy. I liked his statement “We are not saving lives here, it is only marketing”.

There was a lot of buzz about sales transformation with good insights from YPG CEO Julien Billot and folks from Cox Media, Smart Reach etc. The key message was to focus on customer (SMB) needs. Traditional yellow page companies sold print products and met customers once every year. But Now they need to spend 1-2 hrs every second month to analyze SMBs needs. The bottomline is to first think of about customers and their needs before you pitch your products and services. This has given rise to what is known as consultative selling, where your customers might not know their needs and you prepare a proposal for them to help them.

End of sessions was a great session by Yelp. It became even better when this really funny and smart restaurant owner lady on stage said “SMBs can not trust Google, Yelp, Trip Advisors of the world as the algorithms keep changing and one day I am #7 and other week I could be #45.” This is so true and we are being played by giants without having a clue of it.

The day winded up with nice cocktails, chatting and networking with over 50 people. Well now I have my fingers crossed as I am going to be on the stage for my presentation today.



Future Stars, Small Business Marketing
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