One growing trend on the internet is the idea of localization, taking the larger internet and boiling it down to just what’s around you. What are you doing to make sure that your business is there when your customer needs it? Let me share a personal case.
A couple of weeks ago I took my wife out to dinner and a movie. When we arrived at our favorite strip mall we discovered that the sushi restaurant we like to go to before watching movies was closed. No problem; I loaded up Yelp on my iPhone and I asked it for sushi near me. Quickly I discovered that here was no highly rated sushi within a manageable distance. We then moved on to looking for other cuisines. After selecting an Italian place we found that just next door to that was a new (to us) sushi restaurant that Yelp was completely unaware of. We ate there instead and it was AMAZING. You would think that was a win for this new sushi place wouldn’t you? If you think long term the restaurant missed a few opportunities. First, they didn’t come up in my results, it was complete happenstance that I found them. Second, I had no way of sharing my positive experience. They were not on Yelp, they were not on Foursquare, no Kudzu, I finally found them on Google places and by that point my positive vibe was exhausted. Third, they allowed their competition to be where they weren’t; the Italian place next door was on all of those and even had listed specials on Yelp.
I know not every business is a restaurant but in the world today every business has a customer that looks online for a trusted local resource, even resources like tile manufacturers or security companies. In the same way people find Vistage by looking for executive coaching. It’s just not enough to list yourself on Google and hope that’s where people look. You have to list yourself everywhere you can. You have to become a power user of the local listing/review sites and you have to interact with your customers when they post messages (both positive and negative). So where do you go? Here are my primary suggestions in order of priority there are more than this out there but at least start here:
The first place you should go is Google Places, which lists you in the Google Maps and Google’s local search results, which appear for any locally oriented Google searches. Google Places List Your Business Page
You can get an enhanced listing here for a few bucks a month or you can go do the free listing. At the very least do the free listing because once you’ve been listed everywhere then you can think about paying for services.
Who knows how the Bing/Yahoo deal will affect this but don’t risk not being there. Get on this fast.
I have a bias here, Yelp is the first place I look before trying ANYTHING out. I mean it, restaurants, business coaches, golf courses, car dealerships, etc. I always check here first. Don’t just get on Yelp, ask people you know to post some reviews.
Not too different from Yelp and it must be backed by somebody big because they do a lot of advertising.
Yet another listing/review site you want to be on. Just do the free listing and get on it.
Kind of an online super pages, not being here is tantamount to not listing yourself in the old white pages (does anyone still use that?)
Localeze is supposed to be working on tie ins to social media, so right now might be the time to get in on the “ground floor” of an emerging technology.
Adding yourself to Foursquare is easy as pie. It works by letting users “check-in” to your location and become the “mayor” after enough time. Here in San Diego it’s just starting to get popular but I hear that in places like San Francisco certain bars might even give the mayor free drinks. An interesting way to be found and drive some fun interaction.