Are you ready to market your local business on the Internet? Well then, the first thing you need to do is spend a lot of money creating a website… not! As a matter of fact, you don’t even need a website to start. So put away that chequebook (for now) and let’s instead take a look at your online advertising options…
Internet Yellow Pages. Yes, it’s the online version of the tried and true yellow page directory. Simple enough to understand right? For example, check out YellowPages.com, SuperPages.com, and Yellowbook.com. Each of these offers a free listing for your business and you can also pay for a more prominent listing… again, just like the regular yellow pages.
Online Directories. These sites make it easy for Internet users to search for a local business like yours. Yahoo! Local, Local.com, and InsiderPages are local directories you should consider. There may also be directories that just focus on your type of business. For example, if you own a restaurant then you probably want to be listed in UrbanSpoon. Many directories offer free business listings… and if you’re willing to pay, your business can show up higher in search results!
City Guides. These websites are more about “what’s great” and “what to do” in your local area… and user reviews and popularity are important factors in determining which businesses get the most attention. Citysearch and Yelp are good examples. And like the Internet yellow pages and online directories, you can get a business listing and promote your business in search results.
Paid Search. Of course, you can always pay Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft to show up in their local search results. For example, if you’re a dentist located in Chicago, it may make sense to buy a paid search ad for the keywords “dentists, Chicago” to drive local prospects to your website. Keep in mind that setting up, testing, and managing your paid search programs can be time-consuming and complicated… so you may want to turn to firms like Yodle or ReachLocal to help out.
Online Newspapers. Don’t forget your local newspaper! It attracts lots of online readers from your neighbourhood. And just like the print version, you can buy ads in different sections like the news, sports, and entertainment pages of their site. But this may be a better option if you have your own website and a bit more of a marketing budget.
Local Websites. There are many other websites that cater specifically to your local market. For example, your city magazine probably has an online version. Plus there are local blogs that focus on community news, real estate, parenting, sports, and even nightlife. And some may be looking for advertisers just like you. The key is to find local websites that do a great job of reaching your target audience.
All good and helpful information right? But where do you start? Well… that depends.
What if you have no website or budget? At least get your free business listings with the Internet Yellow Pages, Online Directories, and City Guides. A business listing is like a one-page website showing your company name, address, phone number… and maybe more. That way the millions of people searching these sites can now find your business! And if you have some budget to spend then consider upgrading to a paid and more prominent listing (about $50 per month). You should also start testing some of the advertising programs these sites offer ($100 to $400 per month) to see what works best… to get the phones ringing!
What if you have a great website and $500 or more per month to spend marketing your business? Then, in addition to advertising in the Internet Yellow Pages, Online Directories, and City Guides, you should also be running local paid search ads. And if you’re looking to spend over $1,500 monthly on advertising your local website (lucky you!)… definitely, consider adding your online newspaper and local websites to the mix.
Btw… right now someone in your neighbourhood is searching the Internet for a business like yours. Hurry up and get started… to make it easy for them to find you!