It would depend on your geographic location...
Big city folk may be inclined towards emails, and mailings.
While "in the country" folk may not even have a clue about email, but will receive mailings.
I really have no suggestion, ('cause I live in a "cow-town" now...having moved from Chicago) but I simply wanted to point out the vast differences in geo-location would stop some types of contact "cold"...
Best of luck!
[edited by: Terabytes at 7:21 pm (utc) on Oct. 20, 2006]
It really depends on what you want from them. Most local, i.e. small to medium, business owners/managers resent cold calls, mailings, etc. as irritable interruptions of a busy day. Junk mail/telemarketing/spam is a quantity rather than quality exercise.
The quality exercise is meet them in groups: Board of Trade or Chamber of Commerce, clubs that attract business people such as Rotary, local beautification projects, industry conferences, etc.
You can simply join and network or you can get invited as a speaker or...just use your imagination.
It's tough. I visit 20 or more businesses per week and ask to speak to the manager or owner. These are busy people and because local SEM is unknown to almost everyone it's a challenge to educate in a very short visit. A minute is more than most are willing to give up. I leave my literature hoping they will actually read the information.
They may read it but most don't really get it.
It really is an education project more than selling. Once they "get it" however they sign on and are happy for it.
I might add those that do get it and adopt a local campaign quickly forget about the print Yellow Pages and the fortune they pay those folks!
I feel their are two populations of potential customers looking for services; those who are inclined to search by PYP and those who will search on-line. I further believe the on-line searchers can be segregated into those who will use a generic SE, vs. those who have a bias towrds IYP.
Do your clients who leave the PYP behind not feel they are abandoning a viable customer acqisition channel? From where I sit organic seprs have by far the best ROI, but I personaly think it's premature to walk away from the PYP - in most markets anyway.
Forgot to ask: Do you mind telling us what proportion of the SME's you visit convert? Out of 20 visits, how many hit pay dirt?
If you're talking about a specific group of local businesses (as in businesses near you) as opposed to many groups of local businesses, the local Chamber of Commerce (or any other local business groups) is probably a good bet.
You could talk to them about letting you write an article for thier newsletter. Or inviting you to speak at a monthly meeting. (In some cases, you may need to pay for the privilege.) If you're local, joing the CoC would probably improve their disposition towards you.
Rosswall, the ratio is approximately 10 to 1. The prospect who "gets it" signs on before I can finish my introduction. The ratio is unacceptable as I spend too much time away from the computer where my time is beter spent. Today I placed an ad for a salesperson on Craigslist.
I intend to advertise my services in the local newspaper this weekend.
"Do your clients who leave the PYP behind not feel they are abandoning a viable customer acquisition channel?"
Speaking generally they are conditioned to buy print. Hold your nose and pay the price. Surely print YP works well for many but the small guy I am after can't pay for top print placement. The IYPs and search engines are a great equalizer. This is the pitch and once they get a taste the print budget diminishes and the digital budget advances.