Marketing Around COVID-19. Here's #9 - How Many Online Directories are Too Many?
Long before we were faced with COVID-19, small business owners were experiencing two big issues related to marketing; “awareness” in the marketplace and “standing-out” from the competition.
In article #4 of Marketing Around COVID-19 – Making Your Business Stand Out, we stressed the importance of researching, finding your niche, identifying your unique value proposition, and getting the right mentorship. All of this is foundational.
Now that you’ve completed all of the groundwork, how do you overcome the difficulty in meeting new people?
We all know that a Website is a great “one-stop-hub” to which we can direct potential clients. Websites are still a good and necessary tool, that is, when the business owner is in the driver’s seat, however, in this environment, it’s the audience who’s driving and they can go ANYWHERE and EVERYWHERE online to find what they are looking for.
Enter Online directories … they are popular tools to help people find products and services …that typically will lead the buyer to your Website or Landing Page.
There are dozens of so-called online directories available to the public and you are probably familiar with the most popular ones like Yelp or YP Online. You may have even thought that an online directory and a search engine are the same … there’s a difference. Search engines are typically associated with a Web browser and can include many directories as well.
Here’s a good definition of an online directory, provided by GoDaddy: “Online directories are part comparison tool, part social media and part Yellow Page (or White Page) ad. That makes them a very strong tool to build your brand.”
Now that the Pandemic has reduced opportunities to “get in front” of your target audience, the question is “Should you try and list your business in as many directories as possible, in order to gain more exposure??”
Hold on there, partner!! Before you begin opening up “free” accounts all over the place, here are a few things to contemplate:
· Quality is always the first consideration, so it only makes sense to place your business information in a directory that relates to your products/services/causes/core values. Most of the larger directories may meet your criteria.
· How is your competition representing themselves in the directory? If the public can find your services being provided by others, then of course you’ll want to be found there as well. If you are not paying for the ad, other businesses may appear first on the list, but with planning you can still find ways to out shine them.
Not all attention is good attention. The entire point of spending time managing an online directory account is to take advantage of additional exposure…and with extra exposure comes the spotlight to receive comments/reviews and testimonials. But are you and your business really prepared to accept remarks and statements that you cannot easily control?
· Due to the pandemic, consumers are naturally being driven to online resources for business comparison, COVID policies, and to learn more about the products/services they are looking to purchase. For nonprofits givers want to know more about where to make donations. These searches can drive new clients to your Website. Have you prepared consistent branding and content across all of your platforms?
There is very little doubt that online directories can be a great asset to small businesses in bringing awareness and search engines certainly place value on the backlinks, but like every other business marketing tool that can bring promise, online directories can also bring pain.
Our advice is to do your research. Just as we have advised you in being selective with your social media platforms, use the same caution with online directories.
Online directories take time and effort. In every directory where your business appears there should be consistency in branding and content.
Directories like Yelp and Google business directory allow the public to leave a comment. That means you must have a process in place to monitor those directories and respond to all comments, the good, the bad and the ugly. Potential buyers pay close attention to the way a business handles its online communication.
A word about cost: An online directory service may allow you to post your basic information for free but make no mistake this is a business! You’ll be constantly solicited to upgrade. We advise most business owners to start with the free versions and refrain from upgrades until the free platform has proven that it would be worth the ROI (return on your investment).
If you need assistance in deciding which directories and social media platforms would work well for your business, we have strong, proven strategies to share with you.
Schedule a chat with me. If you are a new business, we can help you get started the right way; it can be very difficult to back pedal or reverse or actions. if you a seasoned business looking for ways to pivot in the pandemic and improve your outreach, we are here to help.
With Paulette Smith