Today’s business directories ain’t your parents’ Yellow Pages. For one thing, directories are now online. And from just listing down businesses per category, online directories are evolving and getting more creative in establishing links between businesses and their customers.
Online business directories promote listed businesses in many ways. Supporting content can be posted to guide prospective customers and to direct them to businesses’ websites and contact portals. Customers get the convenience of finding the suppliers and businesses for their requirements. Businesses are promoted more effectively to a focused group of consumers.
There are two major types of online business listings in the market today. Free business listings list and categorize businesses without any fee—think of it as posting an ad online without the usual advertising charges. On the other hand, paid online business directories provide added support and services to paying advertisers through strategic content within a limited period. Summit Media’s BridalBook (bridalbook.ph), for example, is one of the online business directories that offer both free and paid listings.
“Online directories are a good way to get your business out there,” says Jamie Lyn Arcega, general manager of BlackBook, Summit Media’s directories arm. She adds, “With a majority of users online, getting listed increases your chances of being seen by your target market. Most directories offer free listings so you can take advantage of the free publicity. But if you want to enjoy extra mileage, it wouldn’t hurt to invest in advertising packages or subscriptions.”
Arcega says inclusion in an online directory can help businesses get regular and ideal exposure to a steady stream of potential clients who are looking for products or services.
For businesses that intend to take advantage of online directories, Arcega has this advice: “Getting listed is a good way to get clients. But before you become a part of a group or directory, don’t forget to think of what your business really needs. Don’t think that just because it’s free, it’s worth getting listed in any or all of them. Find out first what type of clients you want to attract and do business with.”
She adds, “If you only service weddings, why get listed in a directory for birthday party suppliers? You not only run the risk of getting a lot of unrelated inquiries, you’ll also turn off a lot of clients who might think you’re turning them down intentionally.” In the same way, should you decide to invest in online directories, take stock of what you need and make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. If you feel there are some features that you do not need, or would rather have something else, try and negotiate to see how flexible the advertising package could be, she says.
“Your presence in an online directory may generate leads for you, but in the end, it is your business relationship with the client that can make or break the deal,” Arcega says. “Make sure you own up to your part and accommodate potential clients that the online directories have brought your way.”
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This article was originally published in the March 2014 issue of Entrepreneur magazine.
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