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A guest post by David Lifson, the CEO of  Postling.

Recently, Groupon rejected Google’s $6 billion acquisition offer. Yes, billion. Some say the offer was rejected for anti-trust concerns. Some say Groupon may one day explore an IPO.  Whatever the reason, in the wake of this failed acquisition, both companies are now racing towards other ways to achieve further growth and success in the local business space.

Here are three tips on what to expect and what it means for the small-business owner.

Expect Google to Acquire the Second or Third Best.
The second and third largest players in the local social deals space are LivingSocial and BuyWithMe.  Both of these companies have massive, well-run sales organizations. And that’s exactly what Google wants to acquire. And why is there such a high value on a gigantic, efficient sales machine? Google knows that most small businesses appreciate picking up the phone and speaking to a real person who can explain what tools are available and how different local plans work.

So what’s this mean to the small-business owner? For starters, you can expect more sales calls and walk-ins. All these salespeople will focus on educating the business owner---whether it’s a walk-through of Google Places, demos of self-service advertising tools, or a chat about a new Groupon product. Envision the pitch: “So that’s what Google Places is all about---and you can actually get a Places page for free! And when you do, you can pay to get higher placement, create deals for people to buy, and so much more.”

Emphasis Shift: From Highly-Discounted Group Deals to Small, Self-Service Deals
Right now, the daily social deals providers have the “compelling deal/engaging editorial content/massive audience” process down to a science. However, we should expect the burden of deal and content creation to shift from the provider salesperson to the business owner. With the creation of thousands---potentially millions---of deals, it won’t make sense for the provider to handle that side of the process. But Google’s AdWords technology will be great at figuring out which deals are the best and match them to the right keywords. (This is another reason Google is hungry for one of these companies.)

Anticipating this shift, the small-business owner can do a few things. First, start brushing up on your ad copywriting skills. Subsequently, it’s also important to really think about how you want to communicate your brand, services, and products. (This is more than just a YellowPages listing.) We can also expect a cottage industry of deal optimization consultants to pop up, similar to what’s happened in the AdWords campaign management space.

Resist the temptation! Don’t push your daily deals to existing customers.
As a small-business owner, you might be tempted to promote your deals to existing customers via social media. But by doing so, you risk cannibalizing your existing business. Think about it: The deals that you offer to acquire new customers are most likely going to be much steeper than deals you’d push to existing loyal customers.

To keep things aligned, be sure to separate your existing customer channels from your new customer channels. For existing customer channels (e.g., email lists, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, blog/photo/YouTube subscribers, etc.), create campaigns that are exclusive but won’t break the bank. Tell them about the specials of the day or fun facts about your business. Engage them in surveys with little giveaway incentives. Generate promotions that recreate the familiar satisfaction and delight they’ve come to experience with you. For new customer acquisition, build up a strong reputation on Yelp and other customer review sites. Push to get a daily deal in a widely circulated lifestyle e-newsletter like DailyCandy or Thrillist.  You could even consider buying sponsored placement on Yelp or Google Local.

Local is going to play a huge part in small-business marketing. In fact, it already is. Small-business owners can find success with local by learning about their options (which salespeople will be more than happy to facilitate), by sharpening their written communication skills for things like ad or deal copy, and by effectively managing their customer channels. So don’t be afraid to dip your toe in the water---there’s a wealth of opportunity out there.

David Lifson is the CEO of  Postling, a web tool that helps small-business owners manage social media marketing.  Follow Postling on Twitter or on Facebook.

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