Have you ever been in a rush on a Saturday morning, with a lot to accomplish since moving into a new home? Let’s say you discover the pool needs some serious attention before the housewarming party tomorrow, so you look for a pool supply store in the phone book and repeat the address over and over again as you maneuver your way through this new city.
You thought you remembered the address, but in the frustration of the day, it has now escaped your mind. You grab your cell phone, accessing the Internet, type in “Pool Supplies” and do a local search. A few choices appear, none of which look like the name of the store you first had in mind. Clicking on some choices, you discover a map. Great! You are on your way to a successful purchase, which is good for you and your new store of choice.
You walk out with the pool supplies you need and the business owners win your money, maybe even a loyal customer for many years to come. But their gain is another’s loss: The store you originally headed to forfeited your business by taking a gamble and opting not to place an ad or listing on the Internet Yellow Pages (IYP).
You’ve heard the old adage, “You cannot win, if you do not play.” Well, it has never been truer, especially in this slacking economic time. A customer is more valuable than ever, and you don’t want to miss the opportunity to obtain a new one. Maybe you’ve previously considered Internet advertising a “gamble” that wouldn’t pay off. Today, it is imperative to look at it differently.
Statistics have shown, unequivocally, that customers are using the Internet to make purchases and locate businesses. Consumers reference IYP more than 3.3 billion times annually, and this number continues to grow. IYP users comprise 50 percent of all new customers to a business. Each dollar spent on IYP advertising generates an average of $47 in sales and $16 in profits. These figures are no longer “guesses” or “gambles.” They represent true sales.
Almost all of the IYP sites are now partnering with major search engines, such as MSN and Yahoo, to drive users to their sites. Even if you are one of the more skeptical business owners and have not created a website yet, most of the IYP sites offer a “business profile page,” which can be created as a substitute. Some sites offer a map, driving directions, coupons, etc., on these profile pages. A customer can even call or e-mail you directly from your IYP listing.
Most sites can bundle Yellow Pages print and online advertising together, creating some tremendous money-saving opportunities. Not only can you capture the customers you’re missing on the Web; you can optimize your print investment and give the customer more information by being able to view your print ad online.
Some sites will duplicate your ad at no additional cost. Your business profile page should contain all the necessary information in order to answer “do you” questions asked by potential customers:
- Do you take credit cards?
- Do you deliver?
- Do you give free quotes?
If you’re making an investment, you should keep track of your returns. To ease some minds and eliminate the “gamble,” many sites offer tracking options that include a dedicated phone number so you know exactly how many calls you receive. Some offer to match what you spend on their site and give you that dollar value to put toward Yellow Pages print advertising. Most will offer a discount on print advertising if you purchase on their site.
Now is the time to get in the game if you haven’t already. It may seem like a gamble, but the stakes are higher if you don’t play. We are already seeing advertising seep into the cell phone market. According to market researcher Informa Telecoms & Media, advertisers will spend more than $11 billion by 2011 on mobile marketing.
Internet Yellow Pages advertising is the least you can do today to keep up with technology. When was the last time you pulled over and used a phone book at a payphone? The younger generation is oblivious that many of us had to rely on coin phones with the swing up directories (remember those?) when we were on the road and urgently needed a number or address.
With cell phone access to the Internet, there is no time like the present to make sure customers can locate you. Don’t let the next customer find your competition and not you. It is a necessary form of advertising. You must “play” if you want to “win” the business.
Michelle Millis is senior client service manager of Michaels Wilder Inc., an advertising agency specializing in Yellow Pages, Internet marketing and talent recruitment for the self-storage industry since 1989. For more information, visit www.michaelswidler.com.