60 Free Local Business Online Directories

A great profitable step to take on your way to total local market domination is to take advantage of all of the FREE and EASY ways to help customers find you.

Forget the old days of advertising in the Yellow Pages with a ‘big ad is better’ mentality. If you’re still a believer in that strategy, you’re just going to lose your hard earned money – maybe even your business – a little bit faster.

As a local business – small or large – attracting new customers will always be a challenge so you need to work hard to keep your name profitably visible.

For the majority of people today, opening up a local Yellow Pages book to find a business is an outdated, antiquated – if not non-existent – method for of search!

Today, we simply Google to find your business – and you better be there at the top of the page!

Today, there’s a great, free and easy way for local businesses to get found on the Web and that is, by completing their profiles in online directories  and claiming their turf. And, it seems these directories continue to pop up online.

It’s pretty simple to add a listing, but if you’re only listing with Google – as powerful as it is – you’re missing out on lots of opportunities to get found by people who are interested NOW in what you’re selling.

Did you know that 82% of local internet searches follow-up offline with an in-store visit, phone call or purchase? Well, it’s true.  In fact, check out this Local Web Infographic for more insights.

Every online directory you submit your Business to gives you one more chance to step up to the plate and hit a home run with your customers.

Over the past few year or so, we’ve come across over 60 free online directories to date (see below), and wish you much success in using the list to help you get found.  If you come across any others, please let us know so we can add to our list.

60 A to Z and Free Local Business Online Directories

AOL Patch SitesAmerican TownsAxciomBest Deals onBest of the Web
BingBizJournals.comBiznikBrownbookChoiceVendor.com (TBD – bought by LinkedIn)
CitySearchCitySlickCitySquaresCityVoterDex
Discover our TownFoursquareGenieknowsGoogle PlacesHopStop
HotfrogInfignosInfoUSAJudysbookJustclicklocal
 Kudzu LinkedInLocal.comLocalCompanySearchLocalEze
Localndex.comLocal Pages Local Site SubmitMagic YellowMapquest
 Manta MatchPoint Merchant CircleMetrobotMojoPages
 MyhuckleberryNavteq GPSOutside.inRelyLocalShowMeLocal
Supermedia
(Yellow Pages)
TeleAtlasThinkLocalTopixTwibs
UsCity.netUSYellowPagesWhitepagesYahoo!Yellowassistance
 YellowbookYellowbotYellowPages.comYelpZiplocal
ZipwebTravelocity*UrbanSpoon**Note:HospitalityAngies List – Service Providers

Here are three final key points.

First, to see where you rank now, go to this GetListed.Org link.

Second, you might get tired filling in all of these online directory forms, so check out Firefox’s Auto-Fill add-on link to help save you some time.

Third, if you still don’t have the time to complete online directories for your business/es and keep them up-to-date,  check out companies like BrandMill or others such as Yext.Com who will charge you a small fee to keep you updated in online directories.

Good luck in getting found more often!

Share

How to Think and Plan for Christmas in July

Did you notice the number of brands that celebrated promotions this month with a “Christmas in July’ theme?

Do you wish you planned earlier to tie-in to the Olympics in some way (e.g., hold an Olympic Sales Contest for your team) after seeing the barrage of Olympian marketing to date?

If you didn’t take advantage of seasonal sales building opportunities like these, you lack a marketing plan that fails to take advantage of high impact sales events that give customers a reason to buy from you today! And, you’re leaving a lot of sales for your competitors to easily grab.

Seasonal, holiday and special occasion marketing is a profitable marketing strategy. And, here are just a few of the reasons why it’s so successful.

10 Reasons Why Seasonal, Holiday and Special Occasion Marketing is a Profitable Strategy

  1. It Generates Awareness & Excitement. There’s more awareness around these key days/months and generates more excitement.
  2. It’s Message is Urgent, Limited and Motivating. There’s a bigger sense of urgency with limited time offers.
  3. It’s Creates Fond Emotional Connections. Holiday events are emotional for customers as they think of family and younger days and their emotions trigger sales opportunities.
  4. Everyone’s Ready for It – It’s Expected. People are more ‘ready-to-buy’ at these times, they tend spend more too.
  5. It Takes Full Advantage of Gift Giving Time Periods. Lots of people buy gifts at these times, they’re more concerned about quality vs. price.
  6. It’s Easier to Persuade People to Buy. In some cases, customers NEED to buy, so they’re easier to persuade.
  7. It’s Familiar Old School Marketing. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Traditional holiday celebration marketing techniques work great.
  8. It Provides Ample Opportunities to Showcase and Sell Variety.  You don’t have to sell just holiday or seasonal themed merchandise.  You can sell anything.
  9. It Gives Brands a Perfectly Good Reason ‘Why’ to Promote and for Customers to Buy. Theming promotional offers gives a ‘reason why’ for you deal and is not as harsh to your brand as non-themed discounted offers. Holiday and seasonal deals are expected.
  10. It’s So Darn Easy to Plan & Budget. Seasonal sales opportunities and Holidays occur nearly the same time every year which makes it easy to plan and budget. Mother’s Day is always on Mother’s Day right? Don’t forget to schedule an anniversary or birthday event for your business!

Not to rub salt in your marketing wound (but just to accentuate the point), but here are potentially a few more July sales building opportunities you probably missed such as Canada Day on the 2nd,  America’s Independence Day on the 4th, Bastille Day on the 14th, Get to Know Your Customers Day on the 19th, Parent’s Day on the 22nd, or these special occasions American Freedom Week – July 4 – 10, Black Family Month, Make a Difference to Children Month, Social Wellness Month, Family Reunion Month, National Black Family Month and National Independent Retailers Month.

However, there are a lot more you can consider throughout year-end and into 2013. My favorite reference book is Chase’s Calendar of Events – I get a new one every year in 4th quarter.

Plus, there are several other good services – especially online such as Holiday Insights, Brownie Locks and several more to satisfy the needs of niche markets and industries. And, here are 70 sales building ideas (holiday marketing tie-in opportunities) to consider through year-end.

70 Sales Building Ideas to Consider Through Year-End

August
1 – Girlfriend’s Day
1 – US Air Force Day
4 – Single Working Women’s Day
5 – Friendship Day
5 – National Kids’ Day
15 – Best Friends Day
19 – National Aviation Day
21 – Senior Citizen’s Day
Simplify Your Life Week – 1-7
Rock For Life Week – 4-7
Family Fun Month
Romance Awareness Month
Black Business Month
What Will Be Your Legacy Month

September
3 – Labor Day
9 – National Grandparent’s Day
11 – Patriot Day
17 – Rosh Hashanah
21 – International Day of Peace
22 – First Day of Autumn
22 – Business Women’s Day
25 – Yom Kippur
25 – World Pasta Day
28 – National Good Neighbor Day
29 – National Coffee Day
Baby Safety Month
College Savings Month
Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. – Oct.)
People Skills Month
Self-Awareness Month
Self-Improvement Month

October
1 – Child Health Day
4 – Improve Your Office Day
5 – National Diversity Day
8 – National Children’s Day
8 – Columbus Day
16 – National Boss Day
20 – Sweetest Day
25 – World Pasta Day
28 – Mother-in-Law Day
31 – Halloween
Financial Planning Week – 1-7
National Customer Service Week – 1-5
Crime Prevention Month
German-American Heritage Month (Oktoberfest)
Polish-American Heritage Month
Positive Attitude Month
Strategic Planning Month
Work & Family Month
Financial Planning Month
Italian-American Heritage Month
Tackling Hunger Month
Breast Cancer Awareness Month

November
1 – All Saints’ Day
8 – Election Day
11 – Veteran’s Day
13 – World Kindness Day
17 – World Peace Day
22 – Thanksgiving
23 – Black Friday
24 – Small Business Saturday
26 – Cyber Monday
National Hunger & Homeless Awareness Week – 11-17
National Family Week – 18-24
National Write A Business Plan Month
National Adoption Month
Military Family Appreciation Month

December
9 – Hanukkah Begins
21- Humbug Day
22 – First Day of Winter
25 – Christmas

As a small businessman, I know how overwhelmed small business owners are with daily activities.

So, what’s the old saying about, “How do you eat an elephant?’ One bite at a time!

With a myriad of marketing activities to consider, your best first step is to create a marketing calendar with a foundation that is holiday and seasonally based.

Believe me, it’s always easier and more profitable to drive natural, seasonal sales peaks higher than it is to lift a valley. bet your hard earned money on it. I guarantee it.

Please note: When you research the marketing resources noted above, you’ll see that there are a ton of promotional themes you can choose from, but don’t get overwhelmed by the huge selection. Plan far in advance, select a few (net – a majority of ideas from a source like Chase’s won’t apply to your business), but execute them well.

In addition, there are lots of ways you can celebrate and drive consumer excitement such as:

  • Offering product discounts
  • Offering a BOGO – Buy one get one free or at half price
  • Buy something and get a free gift
  • Offer holiday themed merchandise or services at full price or promotional price
  • And more…

Please use the remaining days of July NOW to plan for Christmas – you’ll start seeing merchandise in stores in September – and get started now to plan the rest of your 2012 seasonal and holiday marketing calendar and 2013 too.

You’ll be happy you did.

Share

How to Get Your Pricing Right

I’ve always been a big fan of Tom Peters of ‘In Search of Excellence‘ fame and its because of him that I’ve studied McKinsey a ton. In fact, in many ways I’ve worked hard to build BrandMill as a mini marketing consulting model of the firm – and have always loved McKinsey’s 7-S Framework (developed by Waterman and Peters) too.

At the recommendation of Peters via a Blog post, I read a few books from former McKinsey employee Ethan Rasiel – ‘The McKinsey Way’ and ‘The McKinsey Mind.’ These books were a great help to me (still are) in building the processes of my marketing practice.

One little nugget that was worth a ton to me, was Rasiel’s insight about how company’s price their products.  In short, McKinsey believes most companies price too low because they haven’t taken steps to quantify their value – to prove and clearly communicate their worth.

TELEGRAM ONE – Most brands need to do a far better job at value creation and value communication!

TELEGRAM TWO: Raising prices is the easiest, simplest and least expensive way to profitably increase sales!

McKinsey argues that most brands price too low because they haven’t done enough work to prove (offer real proof – or make brand improvements to add additional proof) that their products or services should demand a higher price. So, most brands lower and lower their price or, discount and discount to a level that customer’s will say, ‘OK, that price seems reasonable.’

In our initial brand engagements we nearly always find two alarming opportunities to profitably build a small business.

First, most brands simply price their products and services following the traditional cost-plus (mark-up) model and never consider these other 10+ ways to find their right price.

12 Pricing Models

  1. Cost-Plus Pricing building price up from cost ‘floor’ generally on a percentage basis
  2. Elasticity Pricing – pricing to take advantage of known or perceived price elasticity or inelasticity
  3. Flexible Pricing – Pricing to meet changing competitive/marketplace conditions
  4. Follow Pricing – Pricing in relation to industry price leaders
  5. Loss-leader Pricing – Pricing an item/items low to attract buyers for other products
  6. Phase-out PricingPricing ‘high’ to remove a product from the line
  7. Penetration PricingPricing below the prevailing level in order to gain market entry or to increase market share
  8. Pre-emptive PricingPricing to discourage competitive market entry
  9. Psychological Pricing –Pricing at a level that ‘sounds’ much lower than it is like $99.95
  10. Segment Pricing – Pricing essentially the same products differently to various markets
  11. Skim Pricing – pricing at inordinately high level to hit the ‘cream’ buyers
  12. Slide-down Pricing – Moving prices down to tap successive layers of demand

…and more here – and more good stuff on pricing here too.

Plus, value-based pricing packages and pricing and revenue management software tools for dynamic pricing rock too!

Second, we find that most small business brands have a tremendous opportunity to improve their unique ‘WOW’ experience (a bigger, more unique and meaningful ‘WOW’ – clearly communicated – should justify a higher price), but lack the process/es and/or a desire to raise their bar of excellence because they get caught up in the day-to-day business at hand.

Face the facts.

You can’t control what your government or competitors do to negatively impact your small business (so stop your whining), but you can control and lead your brand to more profitable times with an improved approach to pricing and innovation.

Right?

Ok – back to pricing.

There’s certainly not enough time/space in this blog post to cover all you need to know about it (hey, we’re happy to help – just call us at 412.401.0555 – or email me at stephen.wayhart@brandmill.com), but we recommend that you make time to improve your ‘WOW’ (The Experience Economy is an oldie but goodie) and read a few good pricing books (and study hard) to help you more effectively do it.

Here are three excellent pricing books we highly recommend.

  1. Full Price, by Winninger
  2. Pricing for Profit, by Furtwengler
  3. The Price Advantage, by Baker, Marn and Zawada

We wish you good luck and great marketing!

Share

How to Build an Award Winning Press Kit

Many brands fail to take advantage building effective public relations into their marketing plans.  If they do, a majority fail to execute.

Take for example press kits to tell your unique story to the media. For as many years as I’ve been in the marketing profession, I’m still amazed at how many brands don’t take the time to tell a good story and package it in a way that excites the media who can then effectively excite the brand’s customers.

Here’s a great example of how to use an ‘old school’ press kit to gain media attention and coverage and win an award along the way.

For several years, we’ve been working with a super brand – Idlewild & SoakZone – the oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania and the third oldest in America.

In our certainly biased opinion, it’s one of the best park’s in the world for kids and families and it’s a grand testament to their hard work that now others feel the same way.

After a few years of being ranked ‘Second Best Kid’s Park in the World’ by the readers of Amusement Today Magazine – second to LEGOLAND – the Park finally burst to the top of the rankings and we wanted to shout from the rooftops its accomplishment in a unique way.

NOTE: In Public Relations and marketing in general, if you don’t make a big ‘to do’ about your brand’s news, how do you expect the media or your customers and staff to get excited and amplify your message?

So, recognizing that most media communiques are sent electronically these days, we decided to send an ‘old school’ press kit by mail. And, we packaged the press kit in a way that guarantees it will get opened and demands immediate interest and attention. In addition, because we needed to send the press kit to quite a few media contacts, cost effectiveness was key for our limited budget.

Take a look at the center of the picture above and see the colorful box with balloons on it? Well, we got that box from the good old U.S. Post Office for about $5.00 and it was big enough to carry a typical folder/press kit, an opening day ticket for our media day invitation, several cool items from the seven themed areas of the Park, our #1 foam finger/hand that was used in broadcast media and a FIJI water bottle that we used to promote the Park’s new Wowabunga Family Wave Pool (we stripped off FIJI’s advertising and relabled the bottle with the Wave Pool’s news).

The total cost for the box, chotchkes and mailing was about $25 per media rep and we got tremendous coverage for a Park that’s about a 90 minute drive from Pittsburgh – its closest major market. And, we won recognition from the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

Don’t take for granted the good news and stories that people would love to hear about regarding your company, brand, people and more. And, make sure you package it in such a way to overcome the noise that the media and people get drowned in every day.

Lastly, to paraphrase/quote Seth Godin – if you want people to make ‘REMARK’ about you do REMARKable things!

And, we’re blessed to have such a remarkable client in Idlewild & SoakZone.

Share