Confusing, Costly Choices Ahead For Local Business

While reading Krasilovsky's piece on The Kelsey Group Blog today about Gannet's new search marketing initiative I imagined being in the place of the local merchant. The typical local business by my definition is a landscaper or a restaurateur serving a city the size of Tucson Arizona.

The merchant already has a presence in the print Yellow Pages, maybe more than one, and likely has sunk one to four thousand dollars in each. He or she also maintains an ad in the local newspaper, runs coupons in ValuePack and maybe has some direct mail deals going. Local merchant is doing all he can offline and is paying a pretty price.

Now comes the Internet marketing peddlers.

Our representative local merchant likely has a website and assumes he's already "on" Google and Yahoo! but really doesn't know. The guy who set up the website told him he'd be in Google and he thinks he is. The website is live and it looks slick.

The Yellow Pages rep hits up our local merchant with a flashy proposal full of cool stats and promises of traffic. There is a sense of trust with the YP rep because an ad does exist in the book, that trust earns the rep a pitch.
The cost for representative keyword searches in Tucson may run $400.00 per month for a featured spot. That's a lot but the rep shows how the competition is already there or better yet points out the competition is NOT there yet. You have to be there in any case right?

Next is a call from Gannet's people from Planet Discover and their package is pretty slick too. The salesperson does his/her best to convince our merchant friend listing on Tucson.com
is vital. Soon after he gets a call from the CitySearch sales force.

After the big sell by these local directory people one might assume all the bases are covered but not one of them told our merchant he won't be seen within Google or Yahoo! local listings (to any meaningful extent).

Google, Yahoo, Local.com, MSN's local.live and SuperPages.com, local search most powerful directories still await. The ancillary or supporting sites like InsiderPages, Yelp, Judy's Book, Angie's List, Chowhound and the rest still wait as well.

So what is local business to do? Currently there are few search marketing agencies that specialize exclusively in local search marketing.
Take a look at the these results for local search marketing. It's populated with articles about local search but the merchant will have to dig deeper to find someone to help him sort out available online marketing options.
At the present time most local search marketing specialists use a cookie cutter approach to serving clients. Local search marketing performed correctly requires development of a personal relationship with the client's particular needs. There is little cookie cutter about it.

My advice to local businesses when approached by various directory sales folks is to put them off and list in their directories for free. See where you end up on their results pages. If you wantb an enhanced position take a trial run for a month or two.

Most importantly research Yahoo! Local and dig into Google Maps (local). Acquaint yourself with Google AdWords (PPC). Their local targeted AdWords product is the single most effective marketing tool bar none for a quick start local marketing campaign.

Feel free to call me for a free consultation. My number is on the front page of my home site.

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