Depending on who you ask, people would say that I’m an “Internet guy.” I’ll own that. I make my living on the Internet. I work primarily in the world of explaining to people how the digital world will change their lives. I’ll accept that to be true. But I must be really clear with you: understanding how the Internet makes Local work better is probably the most important part of what I’m studying and learning, and what I hope to help companies understand better.
This morning, I have a strange conundrum. I lost my car key at an airport a week ago. The thing is, I bought my car over the Internet, which was a great experience. Only, I have zero local support. I have no local relationship with any dealership or garage. It turns out that I need this, desperately, to solve this particular problem.
So, today, I called Anthony at a dealership local to the car. Anthony, not General Motors. I called one guy who is skillful, friendly, and able to help me solve my problem. On one side, I have the ease of use of buying my car off the net without the typical hassle. On the other side, I have a local guy who is going to fix my issue.
The Blend of Online and Local
In 2009, Julien Smith and I wrote Trust Agents to talk about the need for someone online to help build relationships. To be honest, back then, I’d say we were defining something akin to a WalMart greeter. In 2012, I believe that the trust agent is more like a high powered concierge. These people are still very vital for growth and business success. (Never read the book? Get it here.)
Today, however, I think it’s important for us to know both the online trust agent as well as the local hero. I think that’s a missing piece of many companies’ puzzles. But then, what will that entail?
Simply, a database is a good start. If I were to contact Scott Monty of Ford, and ask him who the trusted person for Ford would be in my neighborhood, he’d point me to Regan Ford, not far from my house. But there’s more to this, right? Scott might know where a dealership is, and that’s a good start, but then, how will he know who’s the real “trust agent” of that place or area? There’s a difference. You know the difference, right? There are people who have a job and people who live to serve. We want to connect with B, especially when we’re a bit frantic.
This is an Unfinished Thought
This post is more of a proto-post, a thought in action, the start of some thinking. I’m putting it out here because I invite you to think about it too. To consider it with me, if you would.
How will we blend the online and offline even more? How will we help people understand what you offer?
What will this all mean?