We all lament the problem with local data: its inaccuracies, non-existence, and irrelevance. We all dream of Deep Content shimmering below the surface of Big Data. Companies like SinglePlatform are collecting full menus of businesses like restaurants and spas (and end up being worth 8 figures). Many applications are trying to “get the goods” on the offerings of different businesses through various means, like taking photographs of your favorite dishes at a restaurant (lobster cavatelli with ricotta gnocchi). When you’re in a hurry or driving by at 60mph, though, you don’t always have time to do this perusal though. So, we have this problem where on the one end of the spectrum, we don’t even have a business listing and at the other end of the spectrum for select business listings we have more information than we can reasonably use in some critical cases.
We certainly have to continuously work on getting the baseline data complete and correct - business name, address, main phone number. After that, we start throwing businesses in category jails: Italian Restaurant, Pizza Parlor, Bakery. This has value but depending on how this data is used it can quickly become meaningless - a map of 10 Pizza Parlors around you is still pretty generic (and can miss the great pizza in the Italian Restaurant).
So, I’m advocating for soliciting what I call “trigger terms” - those key phrases that summarize a business so succinctly that we can rely upon a person to “fill in” the rest. Terms that trigger almost a complete picture of what a place provides without necessarily picking through the indexed regurgitation of an entire menu. Examples of trigger terms to me are “New York Style Pizza”, “Authentic French Pastries”, and “Fresh Local Pastas”. Immediately, you can start differentiating offerings (New York, Chicago, Colorado Style Pizzas). You can almost smell the difference - and there’s nothing more powerful for evoking imagery than smell.
Not quite going so far as to try to develop some kind of digital olfactory offering but I hope the point is reasonable. Of course, there are a lot of interesting questions surrounding this approach (like what’s Authentic or Local) but at least this is a little further away from content derived from opinion and review (like BEST PIZZA). And there certainly is some fuzziness around categories (Northern Italian Cuisine) but still feel like getting the right trigger terms for a business is the missing link between getting the basic business information right and getting Deep Content for a business. At the end of the day, it’s all about getting away from these anachronistic Yellow Page-derived categories (a legacy of the print book) and moving towards a more genuine and authentic way of describing a business quickly.
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