The Thoroughly Modern Marketing Angels are on their next case. A recent client asked about marketing their business locally by utilizing directories.
I run a small business in Portland, OR. I have a monthly budget of about $1000.00 to try and market my business online. I have been considering local directories such as Citysearch, Dex and Superpages. Are there better ways to allocate this budget to reach my target audience and drive online sales?
Absolutely! There are much better ways than directories to reach your target audience. Searchers are getting more and more savvy and directories are the LAST place most of them would look for anything. I would love to see you use your $1000 budget to creatively engage a new client-base using social media. Offer them something they want in a new way and get people talking about it. For example a cleaning company could give away cleaning services to some of the local Twitterati and tweet about their digs – with permission of course! Do a GREAT job and they’ll be sure to mention you to their followers. I would be MUCH more likely to actually purchase cleaning services if they came recommended from a Twitter buddy. That being said, house-cleaning isn’t the sexiest product – unless you’re working in the nude?! (Sorry, couldn’t help myself!). Keep in mind this tactic is not likely to work on what you might consider your typical suburban client. Heck, it may not work at all. But in today’s world, marketing is all about taking risks, measuring the results, and optimizing for profits.
Use the free listings offered by directories like Yelp, Superpages, CitySearch, Craigslist, etc., to list your business. Depending upon the competitive breakdown of your keywords, you may not get enough coverage with just a free listing. If this is the case, then only invest the minimum required. For example, the Citysearch ppc minimum budget is $200 a month or $130 for the profile.
Create a Google Adwords and Analytics account instead of using third party ppc advertising (such as Superpages or Dex). This allows you more control over the traffic to your website, budget, tracking and measuring campaign ROI. Another advantage to creating your own Adwords account is the enhanced ability to create TV, Radio and Newspaper campaigns. All the reporting would integrate your marketing ROI analysis in a single report, giving you valuable, real-time accountability.
I think both Sabrina and Jill are on the right track. I would invest a portion of your monthly budget in search engine optimization, optimizing around locally targeted keywords and concentrating on link building to raise your rank in the search engines. In addition to the directories Sabrina recommended, you should also submit a free business listing to Google so your business can appear in Google Maps search results. As Jill suggested, try generating some buzz via social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook. In most cases this can be done for free. You should also look for other niche social networks that cater to your target audience and seek out any local social networks in your city. A local TV campaign is another great option, although television advertising can be expensive. Go ahead and check out Google’s TV Ads, as Sabrina recommended. With Google TV Ads, you can choose the local networks you want to advertise on and then set a daily bid for those networks. Depending on the number of competitors bidding for the same air time, you may be able to get some local TV exposure and still stay within your budget. If you don’t already have a commercial, Google will help you create one. Don’t waste your money on advertising in local phone books. Unless you are targeting a much older demographic, your audience is looking for you online; not in a clunky old phone book.
Category: Ask TMM