Will Square ‘Inevitably’ Creep into SMB Marketing Services?

Square Stand

One of the several co-sponsors of yesterday’s Facebook Fit event was Square. I had a very interesting conversation with the company about its just-announced Caviar acquisition and its expanding product portfolio.

For the time being at least Caviar seems to be just about restaurants. There’s been considerable adoption of Square Stand (Register) in the restaurant industry and Caviar’s delivery service will complement that. No decision yet, apparently, on expanding the service to other verticals.

Stepping back, Square sees itself as a broad commerce enabler — not merely a payments company. To that end, it now offers a range of services, including SMB financing (Square Capital) and modest CRM functionality (Square Feedback), as well as some marketing (Square Market).

One interesting question and challenge for the company is whether and where to expand this portfolio. I got the strong impression that Square’s customers are asking the company for help with digital marketing and social media in particular.

It would not that far-fetched for Square to follow GoDaddy, for example, into marketing services. Most SMBs want to work with one trusted provider.

When they find that company or individual they start asking for all kinds of additional advice and services. Companies appear to be asking Square for help beyond the range of services it currently provides.

Square Services

This immediately raises the question of what Square wants to be or evolve into. It could continue to add capabilities and services that met the broader needs of its customers. But should it? Does it want to? Will expanding services dilute or otherwise impair its ability to deliver on its core capabilities and focus?

Here’s the popular Steve Jobs quote about saying “no” more than “yes”:

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.

Alternatively Square could develop a range of trusted relationships with third parties and refer its customers to them in situations where someone wanted SEO or SEM help, a new mobile website built or reputation monitoring tools. But it could also decide to join the fray and start offering its own or white labeled versions of these to its “millions and millions” of SMB customers. (I couldn’t get a precise figure.)

What do you think? Should Square add more SMB marketing services directly? Or should the company refer customers to trusted third parties? Alternatively should it say no to all these ideas and maintain its current, more limited “commerce” focus.

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