Marketing Your Company Through Business Listing Websites

When it comes to promoting your business online, casting as large of a net (pun intended) as possible is one of the best ways to ensure your customers can find you. Long gone are the days where you could just advertise in a single place and be found by your customers and search engines. Users are now scattered across social networks and various information-supplying websites, and Business Listing Websites can act as information aggregators to give people searching for your services as much information as possible. Not only is it important to put your information out there for search engines, it’s important to direct how your customers interact with your company through social media and reviews.

Local listing services from Search Engines (such as Google Maps) use the number of references your company name has alongside your address as one of the indicators of how relevant your business is to a specific geographic location. Search engines understand that someone searching for say, an Architect in Toronto, will benefit from a listing of local Architects as close to the center of Toronto as possible. To this end, a major factor in deciding which business to show the searcher is the number of times a business appears around the web with their physical address tied to the company name. Business listings typically include a location for a company to specify their physical location, creating another “reference” for Search Engines, and boosting the company’s position in local listings.

The more targeted to a specific service, the more relevant the result in a Search Engines’ (metaphorical) eyes. Search Engines can learn to associate specific websites and even companies with keywords. Smart companies use this to their advantage by ensuring that their company name and websites are found along services that they offer, such as “drain unclogging” for a plumber. Business Listing Websites often allow a company to list the services they provide to their customers, which allows Search Engines to create positive correlations and present the right companies to users.

On the flipside, searchers are able to view negative associations a company has, such as “scammer”, or “never showed up to complete the work”. This is just as integral to Search Engines and Business Listing Services as the positive correlations because it helps the end-user decide which companies to avoid in addition to which ones they should consider. Businesses see it as the double-edged sword that it is – after all who hasn’t had an irate or irrational customer – but no business should have a short supply of happy customers who can provide positive reviews to outweigh the negatives. Some directories go a step further and allow a business to list its Social Media accounts so that users have multiple ways of contacting a company.

Finally, most Business Directories will allow you to link back to your own company’s website so that the searcher can get even further information if they wish. This link to your website counts as another “vote” in Search Engines’ eyes for your company, and is one of the more critical aspects of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Business Listings (or “Directories”) are an effective method of promoting your business and should be an integral part of any company’s online marketing efforts. Not only do they solidify your business’ physical location for local searches, they also tell customers about what services you offer, let them know if your previous customers are (un)satisfied with your services, and can boost your website’s ranking in Search Engines. With signups taking less than 5 minutes and a user base in the hundreds or thousands, getting listed might be on of the best investments you’ve ever made.

Newsletters – The Missing Link in Your Business

When I talk with a new client for the first time I have a series of questions that I ask them. Do you publish a newsletter is one of them. Most popular response? “No, I know I need to do that, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.” As a matter of fact, I just recently took a poll on my Facebook and the largest percentage of people agreed with that same statement. My hope is that this post will encourage you to take that first step.

At this moment about 30% of my new business is coming from my newsletter. That is new business that I would not have without this effort. In addition, my newsletter serves as a platform to create awareness about my business and my brand.

Reasons why you should be publishing a newsletter:

**New business development**

Build a target audience/Prospect list
Branding
Establish yourself as an authority in your field /Increase credibility
Announce new products
Gage interest
Great referral instrument as people send good newsletters to their friends, coworkers and colleagues
Traffic driver – drive traffic to your website and social media sites
Convinced yet? :-)

One of the things I really love about my newsletter is the reporting feature. It tells me who opened it, how many times they opened it, if they forwarded it, and if they clicked through to my website or social media site. It helps me see what topics get the most interest from my audience and that helps me not only gauge what I should be talking about but a deeper issue, potential business development ideas. The reporting tool can help me gauge interest on a specific idea that I may have for a new product, and when you look at the reports from that perspective, this information becomes PRICELESS!

So the point I am trying to make is the value in doing a newsletter is so multi-faceted if you look at the whole picture. Most people understand the sales part of it but they don’t really use all the research to their benefit. Don’t just see it for face value, look way past that. So when I say a newsletter can grow your business if done well, that is exactly what I mean!

Design matters! Your newsletter is a representation of your company so it is very important that is a very thorough and well thought out effort. As a matter of fact I feel pretty confident that this component is the obstacle of most business owners.

Good content is crucial! If you want your newsletter to achieve impact and influence you need to seriously consider the content you are delivering. I think about my newsletter all week long, I plan carefully what my topic is going to be and I put a lot of thought into how I am doing to deliver the information. My main objective is to provide value for the reader, even if it is something small, I want my audience to walk away with something they can use in their business right away. In addition I want to be a resource of learning and new information. I get many notes about my newsletters, thanking me and telling me how great they are. Although the goal is to grow my business through this effort, the notes make my day, and make me feel good about the time I invest.

In essence the newsletter has to provide something of value to the reader, it has to be worthy of their time. It cannot be a sales pitch. (Unless you are a retail establishment, there are exceptions – your readers will want to know about upcoming sales etc.) Your newsletter also has to be a consistent effort – this is another obstacle to the business owner. I feel that business owners don’t want to commit to producing a regular newsletter that they feel burdened by the continuance of creating good content.

Yes, I won’t lie to you, publishing a newsletter is a large undertaking. It takes commitment and lots of work. I promise you it is worth it!

I am currently in the process of developing a Business Development Workshop. I will be targeting the small business owner with this product. There will be a component of developing your database, creating your list, designing the newsletter, how to produce good content, and in addition Business Development 101. If you have interest in receiving information once this is launched you can email me at [email protected].

The 7 Critical Reasons Why Every Small Business Owner Needs Business Coaching

1. Whatever you call it, small business coaching, executive coaching or just plain old business mentoring, it has become a necessity for small business. You’re working too many hours and pretty sure that if you left for a holiday, things wouldn’t work anywhere near as well as they do now. Or put another way, you’re ready to work a whole lot less. Having a business coach is a far more profitable and affordable way for you as a business owner to get the help and growth in your business.

2. If you’re not making anywhere near enough money to justify the effort, risk and investment you’re making in the business then a good coach can help you turn that around. A good business coach will be able to help you with your sales, marketing, advertising, profit growth, business growth, business systems, time management and team building to literally bump up your revenues in a matter of months.

3. To build a team of people that can grow the business whether you’re there or not requires of lot of resources. A good business coach can guide you through the recruiting, training and help you keep the best people.

4. You need to fall in love with your business again, it’s gotten boring and at times you even feel sick of it all. Now is the time for a re-injection of that vision and passion you had when you first started. Business motivation is at the core of everything a good Business Coach should take you through. Building either a simple business plan or marketing plan will give you the clarity on not only what needs doing but how to do it.

5. You know that to grow you need to be learning more, but you don’t even have time to keep up with your industry changes let alone the changes in global business and how to improve it all. Business education has moved into a new realm, with business mentoring and business coaching taking over from traditional books and seminars so you get the right information at the right time. Think of it as an entrepreneurial degree using your business as a case study.

6. A good Business Coach, a mentor, will hold you accountable. A good mentor will demand a profit and results. Someone to push you, cajole you and hopefully more often than the rest, congratulate you on a job well done. Being a business owner can be a lonely job. Having a sounding board, a mentor and coach, a friend to talk with you and provide expert coaching, helping you to solve your business problems and turn them into business opportunities can sometimes make all the difference. Creating opportunities is just a small part of what a coach should do, but often it can be the most valuable.

7. A Business Coach can help you see the forest for the trees, as they aren’t blinded by the industry and by too many years in your business. Running your own business is like any part of life, often you need a mentor to see the simplest of things. Often you need someone to ask the tough questions to keep you on track.