For any local business, the only reason to market online is to drive more customers and sales, with so many places to start, so what do you do first?
We strongly believe that business directories are THE place to start.
This article is part of our ‘holiday home series’ where Jonathon Monk talks through some of the things he has actually done to successfully market his holiday home online.
Though before we dive into our 5 reasons, just too quickly define business directories.
These are other websites where you can put your businesses details, usually for free, but some paid for, the most well-known being Yell.com, but others include Facebook.com, Qype.com, Google Plus, FourSquare.com, and many more. Paid specialist sites could be for example checkatrade.com for plumbers, electricians, etc., or holidaylettings.co.uk for holiday homes.
OK, so why start your online marketing by registering your site with these online business directory websites?
For more on some of the most influential directories, please check out – 21 Web Directories That Still Have Value in 2019
The top reason why you start here is that you do not even need a website to start marketing your business online.
But for someone to be interested in your listing you are going to have to prepare some great information to entice inquiries:
So you can start marketing your business online even before you spend any money on your website, and most of the services are free!
I am only saying to do this, as with my holiday home website, we have had real leads and real paying customers as a direct result of registering with online directories.
I’ll give you some real examples below of the leads we have had and the website site they came from:
a. Specialist paid for websites
So far our marketing on the specialist paid for holiday home websites has driven us the most number of inquiries, and websites include holidaylettings.co.uk and homeaway.co.uk.
Whilst you may not be marketing a holiday home, it is worth hunting out the specialist websites in your niche. So for tradespeople, this could be checkatrade.com, or for double glazing, double-glazing-directory.co.uk, or accountantlocal.co.uk and there are many more.
Though I do appreciate that not all niches have these types of websites, but do not fear, for there are many other types of websites where you can list your business to get leads.
Find out more reputable online directories by clicking here.
b. Google My Business Page
This is the local result you see in Google; see the example below for the search “plumber in Croydon”
This is free to set up, and we started ranking in Google on page one for some of our main keywords within weeks of setting up the listing and have received a number of inquiries as a direct result.
Setting up a Google Plus Business Page is a must for your local business, and please make sure you set it up well with a great description, photos, etc.
To set up your Google My Business page, please click here.
c. Supplier’s websites
I used to part own a bike shop and one place that drove us enquiries was to get our business listed on the bike manufacturers (whom we stocked) websites; such as Raleigh.
So, do you have suppliers whom you can list your business?
d. Specialist Geographic Location Sites
All over the UK, there are websites that cater to local areas, such as glasgowdirectory.info; and hundreds more.
Only a couple of days ago we received a booking from our local equivalent of this directory, a listing which took me 10 minutes to set up, was free, and will now be there on the internet indefinitely helping potential customers to find my business.
Check out ‘The Ultimate List: 57 Online Local Business Directories‘ for the best locations based online directories.
e. Social Media Sites
In my humble opinion, social media sites such Facebook work best for local businesses that are consumer-facing (therefore not business to business), and have some form of the product or service that people would naturally want to share on social media.
For our holiday home, we have found Facebook to be excellent. For after people have stayed with us, they are in the mood to tell all their friends about the great time they have had also shared their photo’s etc. So we get online reviews, posts about us, and so far have received two bookings as a direct result of Facebook.
Though I do appreciate that if you own say a debt management business that people are not going to be so up for sharing on Facebook! And bear this in mind, for another danger is wasting loads of time on social media when it may not actually do your business any good!
Other relevant social media sites could be Twitter and LinkedIn.
Find out ‘The 7 Best Social Media Channels for Business Marketing’ by clicking here.
I would typically register any local business with up to 50 online business directories, which would include the sites mentioned above, plus more general directories such as Yell.com, Qype.com and many more.
I do this as this can be a very low cost and genuinely effective way to start marketing your business online, even before you have spent any money on developing a website!!