It’s a perceived problem with small business advertising. Anecdotal evidence from local online customers indicates that one of the sore spots for small business owners involves the cost of online advertising. Hmm. To my knowledge what one spends on advertising is determined by how much the advertiser is willing to spend. Cost is controlled by the advertiser, especially when the ads are in the online space.
That being said, there is no question that many small businesses have been buffeted by the economic storm that the country has endured over the past few years. In continuing efforts to keep their doors open, business owners have cut costs by cutting online advertising. But I would suggest that small business owners rethink those cuts.
The potential solution
Mr./Ms. Merchant: If you are concerned about cost, establish an online presence for your business using local listings. Yahoo! Local and Google Places are two simple means to get online. The basic listings are free, and it’s an easy way for online searchers to find you. As noted in many other columns under the Small Is Beautiful heading, make sure your listing content is correct and is the same for each of the online sources you’re posting to. The only spend incurred is the time you take to set up the listings.
The result is the assurance that your business will be found when local shoppers are looking online for your products and/or services. The process isn’t difficult; follow the step by step directions as presented for Google Places, Yahoo! Local, or Yellowpages.com, for example.
For a modest monthly fee, you can upgrade to the enhanced listings which allow more info and content to be included in your listing. The choice is yours. With little fuss and less cost you have established an online listing that will give visibility to your business. And once your info is posted, you don’t have to do anything else aside from editing should any of the contact/location content change.
Many small business owners may be more familiar with long-standing advertising media such as yellow page and newspaper ads and, perhaps, Val-Pak coupons. However, those products provide little if any means for measuring their efficacy. How many customers arrive at your business based on a yellow page listing? Or a newspaper ad? Val-Pak provides coupons or other paper forms that may be brought to the business to secure a discount.
Absent those pieces of paper, though, how can one measure the value of media that is so difficult to track? The alternatives may be well known, but with the advent of online marketing those methods of publicizing a business do not provide the same value as an enhanced business listing such as those described above.
Where do the above tactics get small businesses? A merchant wants people to buy what he/she has to offer. In order to gain customers, the public must know what is offered. How do customers discover what a business has to offer? Advertising.
What is the easiest, most affordable form of advertising and one that we now know more and more people are turning to? Internet advertising. Billions of searches are conducted online for businesses just like yours. Don’t you think you should be there?
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.