5/26/07

Mini-Cities Franchising Local Directories

Mini Cities.com is selling franchises to people interested in owning a hyper-local community directory. Franchisees will seek to attract local businesses to advertise on their community directory.

Sounds simple enough but possessing a pretty template with some neat graphics won't make success for the franchisee automatic.

Having a stand alone community directory to invite local merchants to advertise on is nice in theory but convincing a plumber, roofer or dentist to put a percentage of his or her marketing budget on such a site is tough work.

Judging by the franchise and set up fees Mini Cities charges, the franchisee will have to pick the merchant's wallet pretty clean for him to get a sponsored link or image ad.

Read Mini Cities franchise info;

"The Mini Cities franchise is a very low overhead franchise with no inventory and no high cost leases. The franchise fee ranges from $15,000 - $40,000 and overall startup costs are between $27,000 - $53,000 (this number includes costs for salaries which can often be avoided). Mini Cities provides initial training, marketing materials, and start up marketing for each directory launched. Mini Cities also offers ongoing support for our franchisees."


I wonder how many people looking to start a web based business will look bite. Anyone who does faces the same challenges local oriented search marketers face but with an added burden of having to convince the advertiser that your (single) site will deliver.

If you are not Google you cannot promise traffic to any degree. To that end it looks like Mini Cities may well have an agreement with Google. Take a look at all the pages Google has chosen to index from one of Mini Cities example sites. Pretty decent for a relatively new site, over 2000 pages and the first 40 results are fully indexed. A mix of indexed pages and supplemental results follow. Pretty good for a site registered in April 2006. Compare that love to ILoveNewportBeach.com results, a similar site with more history.
Hmmmm.

I wish all those buying into the program good luck, they will need it no matter how nice Google treats their site. On the surface selling local businesses on search marketing looks easy. The statistics support the trend, small businesses are putting more money on the net and the costs are substantially less than traditional marketing like newspaper, TV, radio or Yellow Pages. Most importantly the customers are using the Internet to search for local services!

Even so it's a tough sell. The local merchant has to be sold on the concept and the product. To the average local business person search marketing is the great unknown. They want to be there but they don't know where to start. Your job is made more difficult because traditional marketers pushing newspapers and Yellow Pages have pushed and pushed and worn the local merchant down. They don't like you before they ever see you. Finally, your pitch better be good because you are only going to get 30 seconds before their eyes gloss over. Save yourself the trouble at that point and politely excuse yourself.

1 comment:

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