Local Listings – The Good, The Bad & The Unnecessary

Online listings are an essential marketing and advertising tool. Whether you are a start-up business or a large corporation, is it important to have claimed, optimized listings that you have complete control over. The more relevant include listings such as Yelp, Yahoo Local, Dex, Merchant Circle, Bing and most importantly – Google Plus.

Not only do these listings help with improving search engine rankings but most also allow for customer reviews, which can either help boost or destroy a business’ reputation. Reputation management is one of the many services Old Town Media offers to clients, which includes managing and responding to reviews on various listing sites. The great thing about listings and reviews is that business owners have a fair amount of control over the reputation customers are sculpting for their business.

One thing we always stress is if your business receives a negative review, it is imperative to respond and address the issue in a timely manner. Business owners should look at negative reviews as an opportunity, not a defeat. Neglecting to respond in a timely and professional manner shows a lack of empathy for the customer’s poor experience and word of mouth can spread like wildfire, devastating a business’ credibility and/or reputation. On the other hand, a sympathetic response provides an opportunity to win over the customer and show them that the problem will be addressed, not happen again and that the business truly cares about customer experiences.  Opportunities such as these are invaluable to a business. Word of mouth and personal experience are a few of the most powerful tools in marketing and business owners inevitably want people to be saying positive things. Be sure to utilize the positive aspects of your claimed listings and respond to poor reviews!

The Grass Isn’t Always Greener…

Although local listings can be a fantastic marketing and reputation management tool, there are some unfavorable and extremely unnecessary components that come along with these platforms. The only way these listing websites can be profitable is by offering their own advertising services to businesses. Unfortunately, this leads to an extremely persistent Ad Rep contacting business owners and pitching a very persuasive, expensive and ultimately useless advertising campaign.

The picture Ad Reps paint for advertising with them seems like a no brainer – they make it seem like your business could not possibly be successful unless you utilize their services. I am here to tell you that is false and that your money can be way, WAY better spent on literally anything else (okay, maybe not anything..).

The catch is, these advertising campaigns usually leave business owners in a year-long (at minimum) contract costing a ridiculous amount of money that can be better spent in manageable, trackable and more strategic ways. In fact, the marketing team at Old Town Media collectively has a handful of clients right now that are currently under a $300-$1,000/month contract…that they cannot get out of.

Although the pitch sounds perfect (movie reference not intended) from the Ad Rep, the ultimate outcome and performance of these advertisements are very poor. The campaigns are not built around a strategy. The ads are not targeted towards a desired audience. Account managers and business owners have no way of analyzing the in-depth analytics and overall success of the advertisements in order to see if they are actually benefiting the business. The only available metric is the web traffic these advertisements are bringing in, and on average it’s really only 5-10 visitors per month.

When developing any marketing and advertising strategy, it is important to ensure you have trackable and manageable tactics that are being implemented. Ambiguity and costly, not-personalized contracts will not give business owners the data and performance that they should be looking for and utilizing to reflect on past efforts and plan future marketing strategies.

Business owners and marketing account managers should be able to look at a marketing, advertising or public relations campaign after its completion and determine:

  1. These were our successes
  2. These were our failures
  3. We did/did not reach our goal because…
  4. This is how we will adjust our practices in the future

Although listings can be an effective tool for businesses, make sure to utilize its positive services and do not fall victim to the costly ones. Your Marketing team should be able to point you in a profitable, reasonable and manageable direction, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice when the Ad Reps start leaving you voicemails every week and threatening your business’ success. I promise, you will not regret your suspicion.