It really is a changing and new world out there…If there is one thing that has stayed the same forever, it’s CHANGE. Change means the unfamiliar. Change is uncomfortable. Change means learning new things.

All of us grew up with the Yellow Pages book in our house. It has been around forever. The YP book is familiar – an old friend. Service businesses are comfortable with the Yellow Pages. They understand it, they know it delivers calls. They’ve used it for years and years.

But change has already stared…

The internet has grown. More people are throwing out their YP books and doing searches for local businesses online. For most service businesses, this is new. This is the unfamiliar.

This is not about staying comfortable. This is about growing and developing and leaving comfort zones.

You’ll Always Need Marketing

There will never be a shortage of customers! But you need to position yourself so they can find you.

Without customers, you cannot succeed.

Let me show you how internet marketing works – and ways companies like yours can take advantage of it… and a lot is FREE.

You already know you’re good at your given trade. If you are a plumber, you can fix sinks, install hot water tanks etc. If you are an electrician, you can wire a house, install a circuit board etc. If you’re a backflow tester, you spend your time dedicated to the protection of drinking water by preventing backflow.

You also know running a business requires many skills such as inventory, hiring, payroll, bookkeeping, and marketing to name a few. If you are like most small business people, you find your trade takes up most of your time, leaving you with little time to master the other business skills.

This is where FocusedService helps you. We make marketing easier for you. We set you up so internet marketing is running on automatic. That is one less chore you need to worry about. One less skill you need to master.

The information in this document is simple to take advantage of. Why doesn’t everyone take advantage of this information? Because it is estimated that only 2 out of every 10 small businesses are aware of the information given here. Sad but true.

If you can take advantage of this information, that means you are going to reach customers that 80% of your competitors will not get.

You may not have the advertising budget the big boys have. You may not be able to buy those big fancy ads. But the internet is an equalizer. You can rank right up there with the big boys when a potential customer does an online search.

The Shrinking Yellow Pages Phone Book

How many times have you used the yellow pages phone book in the last year? I don’t know about you, but I have used them exactly once. I have been doing my search for local services and goods online for the last 5 years.

It seems I’m not the only one. Recent research suggests the Yellow Pages will be out of business within the next four or five years. Want proof? Look at the Yellow Book stock price…it has fallen 90% since 2007.

On July 31, 2008, Borrell Associates reported in BizReport “…classified ads will be virtually dead within the next five years. So, for now, perhaps classified listings are a good investment but marketers need to begin looking at other options.”

As reported by the Associated Press on August 10, 2008, the Yellow Pages Association responded stating “Although the $17 billion-a-year industry is showing remarkable resilience as other advertising-driven businesses suffer, it has become a familiar target in state legislatures, where lawmakers have tried — unsuccessfully, so far — to place limits on the distribution of phone books.”.

Here they claim their industry is showing “remarkable resilience” but go on to admit there are problems with governments who want to limit phone book distribution because excess phone books are creating a costly environmental problem for local governments. Others call them a neighborhood nuisance.

The key question is whether or not the Yellow Books are showing “remarkable resilience” as they claim. How do we know who to believe? Obviously the stock investors are bailing out.

So let’s do our own home grown test. You can do this too!

Today we found our new Columbus, Ohio 2008 – 2009 Yellow Pages phone book by the doorstep. There was something different about it. It’s smaller!

The 2007-2008 yellow book is 8 7/8″ X 10 ¾” X 1 ¾” or 167 cubic inches in size.

It weighs 4lbs 3oz.

The 2008-2009 yellow book is 7 7/8″ X 9 ¾”X 1 ¾” or 134 cubic inches. It weighs 3lbs 5oz.

It’s shrunk 20% in both volume and weight!

Getting back to the distribution of phone books, the Associated Press article went on to state that some residents “receive phone books from as many as four different publishers, said Tom Watson, a waste-prevention specialist for the region. Phone book publishers acknowledge that many households and businesses receive more phone directories than they need.”

How many directories does your community receive? Which ones do you choose to put your paid listings into? And will it be the one they choose to throw out or keep?

Switching to the Internet

The myriad of local business information available on the Internet and the bevy of options you can use to find that information have made it easier, faster, and more convenient than flipping through that bulky yellow book.

What does this mean to you as a local business owner? Well, if you haven’t taken the time to list your business online, you are missing a way to advertise for FREE and get more customers.

Consider:

· Only 33% of all consumers still consider printed yellow pages as their primary source of local business information.

· 82% of online local searchers follow up offline, via an in-store visit, phone call, or purchase;

· Of these searchers, 61% went on to make purchases.

· A majority of local searchers – 60% – first go online for conducting a local search:

o 30% of searchers use general search engines, such as Yahoo or Google.

o 17% use internet yellow pages (IYPs)

o 13% use local search sites, such as Citysearch.

· Internet Yellow Page and local searchers are savvy and fairly affluent.

Source: marketingcharts

Whether you are a plumbing service, a handyman service, a pet grooming service, or a window washing company, taking the steps below to position your business online in front of local customers will make a big difference to your bottom line.

Should you continue to pay for an ad in the Yellow Pages Phone book? If you are getting enough calls from this source to justify the cost…then, yes, keep it.

But as time goes by, leads from the YP book may decline due to the reasons listed above. Or worse, the Yellow Pages Phone book may cease to exist or be banned by government decree!

Get yourself positioned on the internet right now. It is relatively low cost and you can get free listings if you know where to look.

Next we’ll talk about getting free listings on the internet and how your own website ties into this. And why it is so important to do this.

Take Advantage of Free Internet Yellow Pages

There are many places to get free listings. They are all different in some way. There is a lot of information you can put out there for your customers to find. The more you put out there, the greater the chance a customer will find you and not your competition.

Some of the most popular Internet Yellow Pages sites for you to start with are:

(These are website links but due to publishing restrictions, the .www and .com have been removed.)

– Yellowpages

– Internetyellowpages

– advertising.Superpages

– corporate.Yellowbook

– Local

– YP.Yahoo

– brightpages

– citysearch

– HelloLocal

– YellowBot

– USDirectory

– Switchboard

– MojoPages

– Ziphip

– OpenList

– MerchantCircle

– EnviroYellowpages (specialized – see if you fall in a matching category)

There are other “yellow pages” websites that you may come across. Many are free for a basic listing. Take advantage of this free gift. If you want to pay to use extra features these online yellow pages offer, it is up to you.

However the yellow page directories listed above are the most popular ones and these also feed into other directories. For example, yellowpages.aol is fed by YellowPages . YellowPages also feeds into Mapquest.

You can also find directories that specialize in countries. For example, yellowpages .my is a YellowPages directory for Malaysia.

The nice thing about internet directories is that they are timeless. With paper Yellow Pages, you need to plan, place and pay for your advertisements in advance, year after year. If you miss the deadline you are left out. Internet Yellow Pages have no deadlines and the free basic listings for the most part do not expire.

When you go to these directories, you may find you’re already listed there. The directories sometimes pick up information from other sources. But usually the information is very basic. It is in your interest to check it out, make corrections and enhance it as much as you can.

Do your best to make your listings look good. If the basic free listing allows you to do so, upload a logo. Add an attention getting slogan. In the company description talk about reliability and customer benefits. If you have a specialty, talk about it. Add a guarantee if you can. And top it off with a short customer testimonial. Last and MOST IMPORTANT add a link (URL) to your website if you the opportunity.

Why is a website link so important? Because you want to beat your competition! Inbound links to your website are one of several factors that search engines use to rank your website. The more links you have pointing to your website, the higher your website will be listed on the search pages.

Take some time and go through all the Yellow Page websites listed above and add or update your firm. Usually in the footer you will see an “Advertise With Us” link. Click on it to get started.

You will not see results all at once. It takes time for you listings to be approved and show up.

Contractor Website Listings

There are various contractor websites that you can join. Some are free, others are not. Once you sign up, they assign you to a category, such as plumbing services etc. Potential customers who are looking for plumbing services can describe the work needed and ask for bids. You will be notified and if you respond, you will be bidding against other companies.

Some of the more popular Contractor Websites are:

-ServiceMagic and related site Home-Contractors.net

-Respond

-ConstructionDeal

Some also specialize in specific services. Using Plumbers for an example:

-FindAPlumber

-PlumbingNetworks

Do your own research. Pretend you are a customer and create a customer account (should be free). Do a search for the services you offer. See how much competition there is and what competitor quotes are. If there are very few bidders or you know you can compete with them price wise, then maybe you can look into using this service. If nothing else, you can learn a lot about your competitors and what they charge.

Search Engine Listings

Search engines are another source of FREE listings.

Each of them has a local version. Google has Google Maps, Yahoo has Yahoo Local, Ask has AskCity and MSN has MSN Local Search. MSN uses a 3rd party – Superpages – to provide paid advertising listings.

More people use search engines than they use Internet Yellow Pages and Local Search Engines (such as Citysearch). And of all the search engines, Google is the most popular.

A new high of nearly half (49%) of all internet users use search engines on a typical day, up from about one-third in 2002 – and closing in on the use level of email (60% of those online use email each day) – according to a new analysis from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Also, online searchers tend to be higher income with more money to spend. These are the type of customers businesses would kill for.

* Those with higher levels of education who are online are more likely to use search:

o College graduate: 66% use search on a typical day.

o Some college: 49%

o High school or less: 32%

* Higher-income households online are more likely to use search on a typical day:

o $75,000: 62%

o $50,000-74,999: 56%

o $30,000 -49,999: 34%

o Less than $30,000: 36%

It is possible that your company is already listed on some or all of these search engines. The information provided about your company may be very basic. Do a search for your company name and city and see what is there.

All most all search engines allow you to register and claim you listing. For example, Google requires you to “claim” your business first. They will send a postcard to the mailing address listed with a special PIN (personal identification number) that you will use to gain access. Naturally, this takes a few days.

From this point on you can enhance your listings, correct mistakes, create coupons etc. You can add YouTube video to your Google Maps listing. How cool is that?

Did I mention this is FREE?

If you have a website, be sure to provide the link.

Google

Google is the most popular search engine on the planet and deserves special attention. At the very least, make sure you are setup with them. Go here to get started: google/local/add/

Google pulls some listings from citysearch. Click on that line and you will go to their CitySearch Listing. Those with “maps.google” and their own website links probably have setup a free listing with Google .

How are these ordered? Google is smart. From past online searches I have done, Google knows which zip code I reside in. It pulled up these listings in order of those who are closest to me. These are not paid listings!

Google does place a several “paid” listings on the very top of the search page. But after that, Google tries to find the information you are looking for based on the keyword phrase you use. It matches keyword phrase to various websites to see which one is most relevant to your search.

This shows the internet is an equalizer. You don’t need the big advertising budget. But having these listings link to your own website adds credibility to your company and gives customers a chance to find more information about you.

Please note it sometimes takes months before your listing or changes show up.

Search results change regularly. This is the first thing to understand. It’s not at all unusual for the SERPs (search engine results pages) to change from day-to-day, sometimes hour-to-hour, and sometimes even more frequently than that.

Local search results are very much a work in progress. All of the search engines are constantly developing and trying to improve their local search results.

Customer Review Websites

Customer review sites are arguably the most important of the three local search areas, because the content is customer generated. Google (and other local search engines) pull customer reviews from these websites to display on your listing. So it’s important to be aware of what people are saying about your business.

Popular customer review sites include:

· Yelp

· InsiderPages

· CitySearch

· JudysBook

There are even specialized customer review sites like AngiesList.

Mobile Search

Using cell phones, iPhones, etc. to do mobile search is becoming more popular. The good news is that if you do the work to enhance your listings on all the sites mentioned in this article, you will be more than covered in the mobile search arena. Most, if not all, of the local search engines and Internet Yellow Pages have special mobile versions that are readable on mobile phones and other handhelds.

So get to work on your FREE listings on Internet Yellow Pages sites, local search engines, and customer review sites. You’ll soon see a big improvement in your business – whether you run a one-person plumbing service or a 10 truck carpet cleaning business.

And when that bulky print phonebook finally goes out of business, your business won’t miss a beat.


Source by Rick Parsons

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