Copyright 2009 Off the Page
A Yellow Page Ad Says You’re “Open for Business”
Most small businesses that have a storefront or provide a service are committed to a Yellow Page directory ad. It was a safe bet, since buyers went to the directory when they were ready to buy.
Every year owners renew their ad. And steadily the costs go up. Many advertisers “beefed up” their ad, hoping to stand out – making it even more expensive. For too many, their directory ad is their most expensive (or only) promotional activity. While the expense increased, directory use has gone down. Since last year’s advent of Local Search, many more people go online than to their Yellow Pages before they make buying decisions.
The Walking Fingers are Walking on the Keyboard
“Let your fingers do the walking” means calling a business to get desired answers before visiting the store. Nowadays, instead of opening the directory, 70% of buyers head to the Internet to conduct searches. Already, 36% of such searches are looking for local vendors. Of those, 45% have a buying intention. Yet 54% of the qualified small businesses don’t appear in those results. So customers select from those who do – a major handicap for those left out.
Older businesses depend on the directory more than newer ones. 78% of enterprises open over 20 years rely on the directory, compared to 52% of firms under 10 years. Younger operations are more willing to incorporate online exposure, and thereby out-pace their well-established competition. Ouch!
Of course, every Yellow Page category is different. Some get a lot more use than others. Maybe it’s true for you. But the only way to know is to track where your new customers come from. And if you’re bothering to track, how much is coming to you via the Web?
Local Search Appeals to Computer-Savvy Buyers in your Town
A Local Search occurs when a person adds a geographic term (city, state, region, zip code) to a search engine query. The results only show enterprises in that area – florists in Cheyenne – displayed on a map.
Who searches for local businesses? The locals, certainly. But so do travelers, people intending to move there (or just arrived), and those who want to do business with an enterprise in that town (flowers for Aunt Mildred). Most have no prior contact (or preference) with your competitors.
Yellow Page directory listings were added to search engine data bases. So even the cheapest ad gets a business listed. And there’s no evidence that a more expensive directory ad can accomplish any more than that. That’s why your savings from cutting the size or options of your directory ad could cover the costs for your initial online exposure.
Your directory ad gets you into the search data bases, but won’t make you stand out there. And just being listed isn’t sufficient. Where are you listed? In an obscure section that doesn’t get searched? Under what keywords? Is your information accurate or complete? Probably not.
Take an Active Role to Assure Plentiful Search Engine Results
To get the steady flow of customers search engines can deliver, you need to get involved. Make sure information about your enterprise is accurate, complete and consistent – everywhere it appears.
Look for yourself online. Conduct various Local Searches from the buyer’s mindset – what terms do they look for? How hard are you to find? And who does appear in such results? What are they doing that you’re not? Enough said.
Search engine optimization (SEO) involves methods to boost one’s search engine rankings. Be wary of most SEO advice. It can be expensive and time consuming – and unlikely to work for you anyway. As a small or mid-sized enterprise, you’re not competing for a front position related to the entire Internet. You only need to appear at the front of search results geared to your community, and ahead of your local competitors.
Get listed in the various Internet Yellow Pages (IYP). Some are free, some aren’t. Some are national, others regional. But the few dollars spent for enhanced listings or links to your site, can pay real dividends. Shop around and compare what works best for your region and type of business. Start by checking where you’re already listed: http://www.localsearchresources.com/listed.html
Businesses with Websites Benefit Most from Local Search
Even a small website provides more complete and useful information than any directory ad. And you’ll appear in many more categories of search results. When asked where to get an inexpensive website that’s optimized for Local Search, I recommend Geo Target Search http://www.geotargetsearch.com. If you mention my name they’ll give you third month of hosting free.
Look for resources designed for brick-and-mortar enterprises that bring effective search engine results – without it being expensive or overly complicated. They’re out there.
For those who already have a website and want to make sure it appears in Local Search results, I recommend Sharon Fling’s set of videos, “Get listed on local search for free”
http://www.localsearchresources.com/fling.html She has spent years showing small businesses how to develop their Internet presence and earnings at http://www.geolocal.com
Yellow Page Smarts, explains how to combine your Yellow Page ad with your website for maximum profits. http://yellowpagesage.com/smarts.html Capture ready buyers wherever they’re looking for information – online and offline.
Local Search lets small businesses show up before buyers when they’re ready to spend. And it needn’t cost you more than you already pay. Shave some of your Yellow Page directory expense and put those dollars to work on your website and IYP. You’ll multiply your exposure and traffic.
Dr. Lynella Grant Expert in communicating through Yellow Page ads and Local Search. Stand out online and offline. Capture more Internet-savvy buyers for your brick and mortar business. Free resources http://www.localsearchresources.com 719-395-9450
Written by: Lynella Grant