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Currently we offer a basic listing free which encompasses new business listings which we add for every business. We also offer an enhanced listing with more headings and keywords, but a basic business Info Box. Our premium listing includes a logo in the Search Results, access to our coupon system and an html ad page with all of the usual links for email, www etc. We have been operating the site for several years and are getting ready to make a big marketing push with thoughts to cloning into a couple new markets this year as stand alone directories which we prefer to a directory that you have to enter a location.
I have two questions for people who have had experience with this type of directory. We currently market by direct mail to new businesses and any business that we update for new location, adding www or something else my staff finds. What I am wondering is what people have had luck with as far as marketing this type guide. We are preparing for a 4 color postcard mailing to the appox 16,000 businesses in our market but we also would like to build up our overall marketing plans.
I am also wondering what features people with this type directory are including both as part of the business listing and as eith a free or cost feature. We currently have a coupon system and are improving our backend to be more customer friendly for adding and modifing listings although we actually prefer doing the adding and listing ourselves as it gives us a chance to interact with our customers and to set them up with the best package for them which many of them are clueless about.
I did read through the post from Chicago back in January with the list of questions. We have a very professional site and system that compares favorably with any site out there including the majors. What I am more interested in is any personal experience people have had with eith marketing or features that have worked for them for both the businesses and the end users
Sorry for the long post. If anyone would like to see the site please feel free to email me for the link.
Thank you for your post. It appears as though you understand your business well and that you are off to a good start. We can talk about signing up advertisers and on-site features and functions until we are blue in face, but in the end the central issues concerning advertiser adoption, rich features, and effective marketing, will come down to this central proposition:
Distribution and/or Destination. Put more simply: eyeballs ~ the reason why advertisers purchase inventory.
Are your geo-vertical landing pages being crawled and indexed? Do they rank in the major engines?
Does a buy with your directory provide the advertiser with distribution in other ad inventories extraneous of yours?
Do you have distribution deals for your advertiser/business data?
Do you provide a platform to allow external publishers to publish your directory listings within their sites?
Are you trying to become the reference point for consumers in the geo's you operate?
What are you doing to promote destination in addition to your advertiser marketing?
Why would a user use your directory as opposed to the 2 dozen other directional media types?
Ultimately, the answers to these questions will directly impact the decisions that are being made concerning advertiser adoption, marketing efforts, and features and functions.
If you care to elaborate, I will be happy to elaborate further as well.
We are currently doing some research in the local area on what people's thoughts are on local search and what features they are looking for. The results are interesting but what they mainly point out is most people are not very savvy on "local Search" as a term but they are starting to become more aware of the advantages of online local search. We find that most of our eyeballs do not come from search engines and the like as these people are not conditioned to going to the majors for local searching, even if they don't know it by that term. Instead what we find is they weren't looking for local search but when we put our marketing message in front of them they think its great.
As far as being crawled and indexd we are experiencing it to some degree and my designer is working on optimizing more for it but over the years I have come to believe that the major search engines are not going to do much for me and I don't spend alot of time worrying about them. I sure alot of people will disagree but we feel that our best stratagy is to concentrate on convential marketing in our market area.
We also don't spend alot of time worring about PPV or PPC or any of the other ways of doing this as most of our business owners don't have a clue what we are talking about and their eyes start to glaze over. We can track a specific business but we don't make a big deal of it. Instead I like to set my prices on the low side and sell the service as exposure. One more tool in the arsenal to get your business name out there if you will and not something to track down to the slightest detail. It seems to make our customers happier and saves alot of time on my part.
As far as external publishers, we operate several related sites such as dining and a metro guide site etc that work off our database. Our listings are seen across the sites that are applicable for that companies industry and we look at it as more chances for local consumers to run into us. As for other publishers we are talking to a couple other sites about using our data but I am proceeding slowly on that as I have alot of time in my data and I am slow to use it except on our sites
We are trying to become the central reference point for the area and we are working on additional features to enhance our listing while still making our directory a quick place to find a business. It can become a tightrope of added value or too much junk.
As far as promotion we have mainly marketed to the advertisers but we are starting on a new direct mail campaign along with event marketing and basic exposure marketing. I find that I don't have to do alot of selling as much as simply put our URL in front of people. As far as choosing us over someone else, there is no one with as complete a database or that maintains their database like we do in this area and in most of the midwest. As long as we continue to market we can get the users which is why I am looking for ideas and techniques other people may have come up with that we can incorporate in our program.
As you probably can tell I am not a big fan of the national IYPs as I find them horribly inaccurate and clunky to use. I have seen some improvement but I still think we outdo them. As far as the Search Engines "Local" functions I have seen several features I find interesting but I still think we can outdo them with basic local marketing and intense ongoing database upkeep. To that end we are moving into a new office shortly and I am putting a couple people on the street selling full time to see what happens
I am interested in what has worked and not worked for people in both marketing and directory features. I feel I have a good feel for what we need to do to grow but I am always looking for new ideas.
Thanks for your patience withese long posts.