A while back I was having lunch with a friend and we got on the subject of how much life has changed since the acceptance of the Net into daily life. Since I am in the computer repair business, I find myself always always on the lookout for what changes and trends are around the corner in tech. What I saw as an inevitable change to occur was the end of the ‘hardcopy phone-book’.
There has been a slow, massive migration of advertising dollars away from the printed, hard-copy “yellow pages” of old and into the ever evolving “online business listing” which offers far more features at either a much lower cost or even at no cost. Not just with the traditional phone book, but even large newspapers and magazines have been struggling to get those much needed ad-dollars coming in as business owners realize the importance of being found on-line.
A look at the ‘old way’. With a hard-copy phone book ad a business person is looking at getting printed once a year at a set cost with copies of their ad going out to perhaps several dozen cities. The ad is ‘static’ and cannot be updated until the next year to reflect a new address, phone number or current promotions.
A look at the ‘new way’. With an on-line business listing there is often zero cost with optimized search engine placement as an option. On-line listings can include a live link to the business website, reflect current changes to phone number or address and include current promotions and/or coupons which can be printed by the visitor. But that’s only the beginning. Having an online ad means being able to target a much larger area and even target a more specific group of customers. In addition, sites like Merchant Circle and Facebook allow you to easily ‘network’ (get to know) other businesses in your area that may either be possible clients or provide services you need. Bartering services then becomes an option.
I have two hard-copy phone books in my home. I use one as a base to lift up my monitor a few inches and the other I keep around in case I ever need to start a bonfire. I haven’t cracked open a hard-copy phone book in at least eight years and every year that experience becomes more and more typical of the average person.
The 7 Places.. While there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of online business directories you can list your business in, I will now list in no order of importance or priority the 7 places you should be advertising your business, today, for free. Again.. FREE, so what are you waiting for?
GOOGLE PLACES & GOOGLE MAPS
First be sure to get a Gmail.com Google email account, then use the link above. Using the link above you begin by entering your business phone number and the tutorial walks you through the process. Once you are in the system you will automatically be ‘Googled’ for analysis based on visits to rate you in regular Google searches apart from the listing. (that’s a good thing.) Be sure to have a ‘blurb’ you can copy/paste consistently to all your business listings to save you typing and provide uniformity. For an example of how the finished listing appears, visit my listing here;
YAHOO LOCAL LISTINGS
You definitely want to be in the Yahoo Local Listings. While Gmail people will often defer to Google Places (above).. similarly those with Yahoo! email accounts will turn to Yahoo Local Listings since there are links all over Yahoo for it. Same thing.. fill out the form at the page and follow the instructions along the way. You will need to confirm at times either by email and sometimes via a text to your phone to authenticate you are the actual holder of that number. It’s all part of the process. To view my example of a finished listing, view here;
While Google and Yahoo are the big players.. Merchant Circle is very innovative. You not only get a free listing for your business, it creates an easy way to ‘network’ with businesses in your area and thus get more exposure by appearing as a mini-ad on their listing in addition to your own. Think of it as Google and Facebook, but without all the drama. A very cool site that gives lots of features, for free, including online coupons you easily create with an expiration date for your visitors. They also make it possible for you to create a mailing list of subscribers for your newsletter and much more.. all free. Plus, unlike any other listing site, they allow you to create a custom url to your listing. To view my completed listing, visit here;
If your business is not on Yelp!.. you are definitely missing out on customers. To put it one way.. it’s where all the cool-kids go with their fancy smart-phones these days. The Yelp! App is very popular for several reasons. For one, it acts as a business listing directory (duh) that is easily accessible via smart phone. It provides maps. It provides users with the ability to both read and write their own reviews of the businesses. In short, you need to be on Yelp! To view my listing, visit here;
If you’re only using Facebook to share pics of your frappaccino or videos of singing cats, you’ve really got to make an Official Fan Page for your business. At the link above, use the form along the right-hand side to get started after logging in to your personal Facebook account. This will make it easy to share news, updates and promotions about your business to both your friends base as well as to the Facebook community at-large. Once you have 15 people ‘Like’ or ‘Join’ your fan page you get to choose your own custome url. Facebook also provides a pay-as-you-go plan for advertising in specific geographical areas to users with specific interests, so be sure to check that out as well. To view my completed page, visit;
At the link above, enter your phone number and you will be prompted to either Add or Edit the results it produces for your listing. SuperPages is worth registering for free, but out of the 7 listed here gives the least free benefits, charging for things like photos which the others give for free. But still definitely worth placing yourself in as a major listing site.
Don’t tell me you haven’t been to Craigslist. And if you have but wrote it off as too bland for your time then consider this before dismissing perhaps the largest, yet local opportunities to advertise for free.. prior to placing myself in the above major listing sites.. 75% or more of my business came from Craigslist alone. There have been times that I (refreshed) my Craigslist ad and within an hour the phone starts to ring. One time in less than fifteen minutes and I had a new customer. To make things easier here are a few tips. First, take the time to create an Account using the link along the top-left corner of the site. This will make it SO much easier to post and re-post your ads later. Second.. do NOT over-post your ad! This will get you banned and there is no way to appeal it other than switching your DSL/FiOS provider. Post once, maybe twice a day and always change the wording around a bit as well as the title to keep from getting flagged or banned. Third.. include a graphic if you know some basic HTML. You’ll have to ‘refer’ to an outside link where you have the image hosted to do this. I know that’s a bit ‘geeky’ for most of you, but it can be done.
There you have it. If you don’t have an ‘internet presence’ for your business yet, now is the time to get started and make yourself visible to all those PCs, Laptops and SmartPhones out there in the hands of your future customers. Your competition already is.. just do a search and you’ll see who they are.
Author: Henry The PC Guy
Since 1983, Henry The PC Guy has been working with the most basic of computers and continued to today’s Win10 operating system. From 2007 until 2012 was the owner/operator of ‘Up&Running PC Repair’ in Southern California until moving to a life in the Philippines in 2012. He has been building websites since 1993 and is well versed in various aspects of blogging, vlogging and podcasting.