Google Hotpot Chooses Portland

10 12 2010

I assume you are reading this blog post to first find out what in the world Google Hotpot is. Well, it’s just another installment from Google in their quest to rule the universe. This particular product is very social in nature as you essentially receive recommendations from friends on places they’ve visited and reviewed. The more you review businesses and use Hotpot, the more recommendations you’ll receive.

As a user, I don’t get it

Frankly, I don’t get it. Google already allows you to personalize results when you log in to your Google account and commence the searching process. Furthermore, Google Maps allows you to review Places through its Google Places product. I understand that Hotpot will provide recommendations based on what your friends have rated, but I feel it’s rather unnecessary at this point. It seems like an extra step that some may find useful, but for me, I’ll pass for now. I imagine Google has much bigger plans for Hotpot, and what we’re seeing may be the tip of the iceberg, but at this point, I’m not buying. I can get recommendations from friends via social media apps/sites like Foursquare, Yelp and Facebook Places already. Why add another one to the mix that doesn’t offer up anything new?

As a marketer, this sounds interesting

Even though I’m not a huge fan as a user, I do like how Google is marketing the new product. As a marketer myself, I must take note and appreciate the thought and effort behind the launch. Google is debuting Hotpot in Portland, OR, which I reside, so it’s exciting to me to see how users and businesses react to the new product. Google is starting with local businesses that are already highly rated and reviewed. They will provide these businesses with marketing materials to help drive customer reviews (and get businesses to claim their Place pages if they haven’t yet). Some of the marketing materials being provided are window stickers, business cards, pens and even fortune cookies. Google even plans to buy local newspaper and billboard space to promote this new product.

If you’re a local business (especially in Portland), perk up and do what you can to try to get in on this new product. Reviews play a large role in how you rank in the Google local search results, so the more you can market your business and get folks to review you, the potential for increasing your local rankings rises as well. Plus, if you can get kitschy marketing materials from Google for free, it can only help increase conversations at your establishment as customers will ask what it is for. This provides a great opportunity for the business owner/employee to ask the customer to review their experience.

How to get in on the Hotpot fun

In order to start making Hotpot work for your business, you first need to have a claimed (and verified) Google Place page. If you haven’t done this yet, your slightly behind, so get on it (or contact us and we can help). Next, you’ll need to submit this form to obtain your marketing kit (unless Google has already contacted you…Voodoo Doughnuts, I’m looking at you). After you receive your marketing kit, or even before, start talking to your customers about it. Try to educate the repeat customers (since they’re obviously already fans) so they leave reviews either on your Google Place page, or even start using Hotpot.

I’d love to hear what others think of Hotpot from either a user’s perspective or a marketer’s.

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