Intuit has acquired Demandforce for $424 million. Demandforce is a software company that started out working with a couple of verticals in the SMB space (dentists in particular) and has expanded to at least seven market segments. The company points the way for local directory publishers and other service providers and sales channels in the SMB segment.
Demandforce began as a CRM tool and way to improve efficiency for the front office. It has expanded into a wide range SMB marketing services.
Yell, for example, is trying to transition from a publisher and provider of advertising to an “eMarketplace” services platform. It’s not clear that Yell can execute. But Demandforce is an already realized version of that aspiration.
Demandforce is a SaaS platform that helps SMBs operate more efficiently and effectively as a basic proposition. The marketing services (e.g., email marketing, social campaigns) are layered on top of that core functionality.
Local publishers that can offer a suite of services that help their customers run their businesses and accomplish key operational objectives — client scheduling is an example — are going to be better positioned over the long term than those that simply offer “marketing services.” Demandforce is the model.
I would guess that Intuit will make Demandforce a key offering to its several million SMB customers. Conceptually Demandforce is not unlike accounting software, which is a core operational tool for business owners. The Demandforce capabilities are highly complementary.