In 2007, Google replaced Yellow Pages directories as the #1 consumer choice for finding LOCAL goods and services. But Yellow Pages still work for many businesses. Why? Because some categories of businesses have found it difficult to get the web working for them. Not just you, but everyone!
#1 Problem? Getting Found!
Using Google as a service directory is different. With the book, there was room for someone to wander around the pages and eye-catching graphics were very useful to attract. That game is done. Google shows words. In most cases, only words. And the results are ranked. The first 4 positions are great, the next 6 are mediocre and the other 8 million don't count. If you don't compete for the top positions, well... why do you want to be on the internet? You need search marketing help.
You have choices, but those choices mean squat if you don't act. You can:
- Ignore the new market conditions and hope that the old stuff will work well enough to keep you going.
- Pay for the online version of the Yellow Pages directories. You're still sitting there listed alphabetically, but at least you're out there.
- Publish your own material on your own site using techniques that show you as a results ABOVE those directories.
NeighborWave will create or re-create your website using techniques to get you to the top of the search results. What's better is that we'll also develop your advertising materials so that you are ready to publish other kinds of advertising. What's better than that? You get those exceptional results for 20% of the cost of Yellow Pages advertising.
.. talks like an entrepreneur...
I love this Seth Godin post about differentiating small business owners from entrepreneurs. Especially the line: "The more I see both, the happier it appears that small business people are." Seth is definitely a terrific writer and can really extend your thinking about what you are doing with your work life. I highly recommend his books, though, as always, with the caveat that reading about marketing does not qualify as completing a task! DO your marketing work, don't read about it.
Seth is definitely a product, and a player, in the type of business that is about big returns in a very fast marketplace of economic ideas. That style of entrepreneurship was once only pursued on the net, but I see evidence in more local operations lately. Has the age of Winner Take All business tactics bubbled down to the corner gardening shop?
Something that you will have no trouble finding are people who would like to sell you a book or set of tapes or access to web pages about how to market your local business. These products are called software-- it is an information product that can be produced once and purchased many times. This is likely to be a very different business model than yours. NeighborWave is like you- we really do operate as a neighborhood based business. Just ask our printer, who also lives and works in our neighborhood. We believe in an economy of real intrinsic value-- a real product or service. You could say that we are the opposite of "perceived" value. We don't feel that competence is a separate product. Competence is included in working with professionals. You cannot buy anything here except our staff's time working for you. We like to think of this as: "our job."
NeighborWave offers no paid advice or software- instead, we do work for you and the advice is included at no charge. We are willing to actually do work for free to begin our conversation. Most of what you can read on our pages is about why we work the way we do in local advertising.
Most Marketing "Secrets" are about Selling Marketing Secrets!
The best work done by most marketing firms is their own product. The marketing that they know best is how to sell marketing "secrets." The value is "perceived" and varies widely. Some operate on the simple principle that if you charge enough money, the mere fact of high price will get the sale. It can be so difficult for a marketing company to perform actual work using their own theories that many don't even try-- they only sell advice.
NeighborWave is sharing some important new marketing information with our clients-- some of our ideas are quite unique and new. How do we know that? Our competitor's have griped to our face that they can't compete with what we offer. They don't deliver the range of features and they don't compete on price. We are confident you will really struggle to get what we do from anyone else. Our simple philosophy is that if we want to be valued in your marketplace we have to be valuable. That's why we begin our conversations with you by showing you some real work. Our Free Evaluations are much more than people expect- and our pitch is secondary to making the information valuable for you. Our work is about putting the right information in front of people making a purchase decision. Why wouldn't we want to show you our work- and isn't it just better that we show you work done specifically for you?
Why Software Doesn't Always Help
Have you ever created a list of things to do and then never really got started? Marketing and Advertising advice sellers work on this principle: you can buy activity and feel like you've done something. Nothing actually happened, but you feel like you've done something. They really aren't concerned that you don't get started because they have your cash. A few intrepid entrepreneurs do follow through and that is the feedback that you see on those sites. As long as you're parting with your real money-- shouldn't you just consider buying some effective marketing work?
Any Real Effort Gets Results
One of the most overlooked secrets of marketing is that almost ANY actual effort will produce some results. Our work is much more definite and you get to see results right away. We work from a pretty simple script. We like to begin with internet advertising so that we can create more than enough content to advertise your local business. NeighborWave applies every lesson that we've learned in our work for you. Next, we tune that advertising and show you directly that it is working with real customers. Later, you might call us to have us help with taking that same information and publishing in other kinds of media. It's efficient. It's easy for you to be in control of your advertising. NeighborWave is real work done by real people with a real value. Simple Advertising Help.
We've found a lot of useful information in some of these software products and we promise we'll use the best advertising ideas when we work on your account. The links below are all taken from the first couple of pages of a Google Search for "local business marketing."
- Referral Flood. It's interesting that on this internet page he uses a very simple referral technique. It's the next best thing to an actual person speaking to someone about your business. He supplies comments from customers right next to his offer to sell. Yes, we help you do that.
- City Slick dot Net. This is a directory service-- a software product where you build their business with the value of what you do. Don't be surprised if they turn up above you in Google listings.
- GeoLocal. I gave them 5 minutes of my life and I have no idea what they sell.
- Duct Tape Marketing. I love that name! It's not immediately apparent, but they actually do work for you! And it's only $7500 per half day to talk to the owner.
- SiteSell Reseller. These guys have automated tools that help you create content that costs you $299 per year. They bill you again next year after you've done all the work.
- Wolf 21. Real work happens by these guys-- and if you spend $250,000 on yellow pages ads, they'll teach you how to optimize for search engines.
- eBook Seller Bobette Kyle. She gives lots of useful information and she saves the good stuff for her eBook. I really like her focus on planning.
- Seth Godin. Seth is a terrific writer with lots of novel ideas. If you've got some cash and want to just read-- buy his stuff. He's much less about How to do it than many, but he'll help you to understand and tell your truth.
None of the links above are compensated in any way (though it's tempting!)
Meanwhile... If you'd like to simply purchase some Small Business Advertising Help (you know.. that work stuff-- human activity!) give NeighborWave a ring.
When you work with us, you'll learn a lot if you'd like to learn all this marketing stuff. We highly recommend that you manage your advertising and we build our product so that you can do that from day one. We also see plenty of clients that want limited involvement and that's OK, too.
So, what do you think? Buy some advice-- or hire some advertising help?
Good Advertising is Simple and assists the Salesperson. Some of the same businesspeople who struggle with sales also struggle with how to speak to their customers through advertising. A common fear is that you leave money on the table if you donâ€™t try to speak to EVERYONE. There is one very simple advertising technique that can truly go to work for you in your sales efforts and it is this: speak directly to the customers that you want. Your business is a perfect fit for some, but not all. Asking for the customers that you want gets you exactly thatâ€“ perfect customers.
Bad Advertising Kills Your Sales Efforts. It kills sales by attracting the wrong customers. Do you want to collect prospects that you need to refer to another business? When you attract prospects that you can't close because you don't have the products or don't accept credit cards or for any other reason, then you are creating negative branding for your business. You are literally paying to advertise against yourself. The resulting customer quote is this: "They didn't have anything for me." If word of mouth is golden then that gold will kill you.
What's a better way? Check out Informational Advertising.
Want to know how long Bad Advertising has been around?
Want to see How Good Advertising goes Bad?
Nope. Don't do it. Won't help you. It's a bad move. Move along, now. Nothing to see here.
Save your money. Later, you are going to need seed corn and a tent and matches. The idea of advertising while no one is advertising is just dumb. The advertising genius of those who leave advertising as pure white space--empty and free of competition, free of words and images, free of sales--really can't be disputed.
Really, you didn't want the hassles that come with owning a business anyway. Did you?
Local businesses that have the same name as where they are located have some real challenges. Many of these kinds of names are actually just the description of the product with the location: It's "Podunk Tire And Kitchen Appliance" to the owner of the business, but to a search engine there's little difference between that name and "tired of kitchen podunk appliance." And there lies the trouble. As more and more large businesses use automated tools to populate web pages that talk about local-- the more these place named businesses get left behind in the search results.
Meanwhile, there's a whole different set of problems with just plain bad names. Seth Godin talks about A Dumb Branding Strategy. And by the way.. Pizza Hut got their name because there was only room for 9 letters on the sign attached to their first building. Not many 3 letter words that describe a location.
There are a lot of 'gotchas' out there- seemingly simple choices that can reduce the effectiveness of your advertising. A simple example: use the email account that comes with your website address-- like this "firstname.lastname@example.org"-- not this-- "email@example.com". The "yourbusiness" name is recognizable and it's from a real business. Another gotcha is building your website on a name that you don't own. Many companies assume the legal ownership of what you create. Your advertising winds up belonging to someone else!
Our writers, designers and technicians have worked through dozens of small technical problems just like the gotchas above. But technology isn't the only place where you can get got... have you checked lately to see if anyone is using your name? Are you buying placements that don't actually help you? We really don't want to use fear marketing, but the details of your marketing can go wrong and hurt instead of help. Most gotchas are fairly insignificant, but there are definitely some advertising mistakes that we see regularly. Our attention to detail will protect your interests, increase the value of your advertising investment, and get you speaking more directly to customers.
Do you still want to be in business in 5 years? You always have 3 real choices in adverse situations: 1. Change the situation; 2. Change yourself in the situation; 3. Leave the situation. So, again: Do want to be in business in 5 years? NeighborWave is easily affordable and we make advertising that works long term. That means that our clients are not panicking. You can get in front of the real opportunities that you have today and tomorrow and make more money. [This article was originally written in September 2007.]NeighborWave can help your company advertise effectively in today's market for as little as $100.
Do you just want to know how? Click here for "How to Advertise in a Down Economy."
Why Should your business advertise now? Advertising has a real response rate even in a recession. What is useful for you to know is that your competitors are running away from their advertising budgets. While they run, you can Increase Market Share permanently. Is advertising in a down economy a good idea? Better than just good, it's a great idea. The economic bumpy road for 2008 is creating a great opportunity for the present and future of your business. You can advertise and compete for new customers much more cheaply. Here's the how and why:
- When Sales are Down, your competition's Ad Budgets go Down. They act on their fear and stay out of your way.
- Fewer Ads means less competition for all of your ads.
- If You Advertise NOW to Increase Market Share, you'll get new sales-- now and later.
- When the economy rebounds, your market share is increased.
- A 5% gain in market share can equal a 25% income gain in two years.
Let's stop to do some simple math here-- you pay the advertising costs to see a 5% increase in sales during the down economy. When the down economy bounces back, you GET a 25% increase in sales. Seems like a bargain to us... and we aren't alone:
"...a business-to-business (b-to-b) media study conducted by Yankelovich Partners and Harris Interactive. The study showed more than 85 percent of business executives believe advertising during a down economy is extremely important." [Source]
Here's the catch, though-- and I just don't have a better word than weird to describe how 85% believe it's important, but as the chart below shows.... no one actually does it! The short advice: don't be the believer who won't act! NeighborWave helps small business with innovative ads that cut through the clutter. We'll talk with you for free and show you a plan that can take care of you for years-- even a tough year like 2008. Many businesses will reduce their advertising budgets in 2008 just on their expectations. What that clearly means for you is that there will be less advertising competition during a down economy. There will be fewer ads competing with yours. Historically, big business in particular pulls back their advertising dollars in every economic downturn. NeighborWave's Small Business Advertisers can gain some ground especially against larger competitors during this time. In charts, you can watch the line of advertising dollars following the economy quite closely. See for yourself:
Be Smart. Press your advantage while your competition is staying out of the game. If you're interested in reading more on this topic, here's a white paper from a firm that consults for big business. NeighborWave is a privately held small company in Berkeley, California. We help Small Business develop and deliver advertising messages using simple tools like websites with an edit button.