Where are people finding your business, these days? Betraying my own generational bias, I used to consult a hard copy directory if I was looking for an unfamiliar product or service, or simply wanted to browse what was available.
Now the transfer from hard copy to digital media is almost complete: people “let their fingers do the typing” and whatever they find the most easily online, is most often what they click on first. The general rule? If your business isn’t readily visible where people are looking for it, they won’t bother to find you. A recent post on Technocrati cites a study suggesting online business listings are providing greater ROI for SME, than more traditional hard copy listings and ads; how many times have you run a search for something or gone to a bookmarked entertainment listings site, versus picking up a flyer or entertainment coupon book for the same information?
Maintaining an online business listing in as many relevant directories and categories as possible, is part of an overall online marketing strategy that includes other ways to target your audience, including social media platforms and blogging. Here’s why you should list your business online:
1. It’s cheaper. Advertising, whether digital or print, can be expensive; the goal is to cost effectively and impactfully advertise to your target audience. There’s only one reason someone would be viewing a business directory: they’re looking for a specific product or service to fulfill a need or want, and if you’re listed, your business just might be the one they pick. Many online business directories offer basic listings for free, and value added features (such as paying more to be a “featured listing”) and services (detailed reporting) for a fee.
2. It’s faster. No printing lead time, delayed shipments, or flyers thrown into the recycling/garbage bin without a glance: you can set your business up with an online business directory within minutes, and start reaching your audience right away. It’s also a lot easier to convert potential customers; they can call, email, get directions, or purchase a product or service in a few clicks or swipes on their smartphone, tablet or laptop/home computer.
3. It’s global. How else could you advertise your business to a new market, for so modest a financial investment – or even gratis? An online listing gives you access to a much broader spectrum of local, national and international customers, both B2B and B2C, all of whom are searching specifically for the products or services you provide. You’ve had this type of conversation before: somebody mentions a great customizable product ”…found online, from this factory warehouse in Guangzhou – but it’s the best thing, you can make your selection, list your specs and pay right on the website, and they ship internationally!”
Added bonus? Any good online directory will be optimized so that your listing will rank well in search results, or will offer value added options that let you optimize your listing to maximize searchability and reach. What’s to lose? Not a thing. You can only gain time (which is money), exposure and customers.
There are plenty of directory and listing options available (just run a search for it), with a range of price points and different degrees of scalability and targeted reach; among them, Global Coupon is offering a 100% discount on the usage fee for its digital marketing and listing platform, for a limited time.