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LSA Members in the Business of Local: Closely

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Closely is an independent technology company aimed at re-creating a trusted channel to the small business owner. The company is reimagining how small businesses stay in the know, learn and discover the best ways to grow their business with digital technology.

We caught up with Perry Evans, CEO of Closely, to learn more:

What local problem(s) does Closely solve? How?
Small businesses are living a quantum shift in how they interact with their customers, find new ones, and manage their position in their local market. The traditional model of “selling them an ad package” to solve their needs for new customer growth is long gone – it’s simply not sufficient.

Any business aimed at growth knows that the game has changed and continues to change. They also see that they are being sold at by 1) people who either don’t know their business, or 2) who really don’t know the products they are asked to go sell them. The old sales model is fundamentally broken.  With over 2,000 start-ups now building products for SMB’s, it’s clearly time for someone to reinvent how small businesses are matched and introduced to the right products and providers.

Closely is building a new way for small business owners to watch and learn, assess their performance, and focus on what deserves their attention. We are rooted in deep local data and simplified mobile experiences. Our aim is to bring data into the middle of the equation and help the business owner build their playbook for growth. Ultimately, we’re creating a new data-driven, SMB-centered marketplace for digital SMB services.

What makes Closely innovative?
We started by not selling ANYTHING to the SMB.  Quite the contrary, we began by giving the SMB owner a product that saves them time and helps them absorb and learn how they are doing. Our Perch Mobile App service is a free mobile app for SMB owners to help them follow and calibrate their overall word-of-mouth marketing. That’s pretty powerful, and we obviously struck a cord – in 2014, we added some 90K small business owners into the application, and we’re really just getting started.

So, we’re a bit of a unique beast – we’re the quintessential “deep local data” startup, but we’re also deeply rooted in understanding the nuances of how SMB’s allocate their ad dollars and – more importantly – their time. We believe a smarter customer benefits all, and SMBs want to be empowered with understanding and with a new generation of “shopping tools” for their digital decisions.

How does Closely make the local space better for advertisers and/or consumers?
We’re creating a new, scalable channel to the small business owner. Small businesses want to be more informed and confident in their decisions. Every SMB vendor wants less churn and more efficient and effective ways to provide their services to SMBs. It really is a paradigm shift – akin to how industries like online real estate evolved – but it’s mission critical to both sides of the market.

What is next in local?
SMBs have to find a way to construct their own personalized “playbook” for the right use of digital technology. It’s impossible to do this without a true local data view of their performance and a matching engine for narrowing their efforts to the right choices, based on their buying criteria.

This reminds me of the early days and the evolution of industries like real estate. The incumbent industry controlled the data and limited the access to the consumer. And, they really didn’t understand the customer’s motivations or needs. If you look at how home shopping has evolved, there is a real lesson in 1) empowering the customer to be more informed, 2) benefiting from their increased knowledge, and 3) rebuilding the mechanism as a “matching engine” not a sales infrastructure.

More Info

Closely’s Perch Mobile App has been reviewed by sites like Forbes as a “must have” app, and was awarded the business app of the year at 2013 SXSW Appy Awards. The app is used by tens of thousands of small business owners 2-5 times every week.

To learn more, visit www.Closely.com or download and experience the award winning Perch Mobile App at www.perchapp.com. In addition, Perry and Closely will be at the LSA|15 Conference, and anyone can reach out to him directly at Perry.evans@closely.com.

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