Don’t advertise in an online local directory before reading this.

by Brad S

I am amazed at how successful some online local directories are at getting small businesses to sign up for year-long contracts when they haven’t proven to the small business owner, who is always operating on limited advertising budget, that they actually work at delivering results for their particular business type.

How they do it is interesting and is one of the reasons why I became a marketing consultant.  They use the ignorance of a small business owner who is often confronted with so many decisions that he or she does a “react to the latest sales approach.”  And it makes ME MAD that they get away with it!

For example, one online local directory cites official statistics and uses data like “90+% of people use online media when researching products and services in their local area.”

“Okay, that sounds true and is in agreement with what I have heard, I need to be online,” says the business owner.

Then the pitch goes something like, “Online directories are quick and make them a preferred way of finding a business.”  Isn’t it CONVENIENT that they make the leap from online searches to the fact that people go to online directories first?  Really?  Are you kidding me?

What do you do when you go online and look for something?  I bet most of you open up Google, Yahoo, or Bing and type what you are looking for in there.   Right? (I know there are diehards who check out specific directories, which is why I said most, not all.)

From there you start narrowing down what you are looking for and exploring.

So, what you need to do when you are contacted by a salesperson is do the following:

1) Open up your browser and type in how you think someone might search for it.  For example, one online local directory says that Restaurants are a top 12 search.   So put in something like “Restaurants in xxxx.”  I live in Cocoa Beach.  So, here’s what happened when I typed that in.



The online directory that I mentioned didn’t come up on the first page.  Nor did it come on the second page.  Nor the third page. (Have you ever gone past page one or two looking for something?)

The Local Online Directory Didn't Show Up Until Page 7!

So, congratulations, you are paying $100 a month to come up nowhere near the top of a search! (Of course this is one type of business.  So, check yours out to see for yourself).

Does this make sense to you? It shouldn’t.   I don’t blame you, though, because you are not a marketing person.  You are a small business owner who is good at what you do.  I don’t expect you to know the right questions to ask.  Neither do some advertisers.

2) If your category doesn’t come up in the first page or maybe the second page, run away!  You are better off spending your limited resources in more productive ways.

Take our client, Inmon Auto.  They had spent some money advertising in a local directory before they became a client and the contract is now done.  If you were them, given these search results, spend a $ in local directory advertising?

Inmon First Page


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