If you’re a business that operates out of a storefront, then the odds are you want to attract and serve customers that are nearby.
In this lesson we’ll be explaining the ins and outs of one of the best ways to connect with local customers: local directories.
Local directories are a great way for local businesses to connect with potential customers in their area. The first step is to create a listing
These listings include your key information, like your business name, your address and your telephone number.
Many local directories require that your business has a physical location or a local service area in order to be listed, so online only businesses are usually ineligible.
To get started, you’ll need decide on the name of your business as you want it to appear online. The name of your business seems straightforward, right? But, consistency is key. If the sign in front of your shop says Mike’s Bikes, then you don’t want to list it as “Michael’s Bicycles” in one directory and as “Mike’s Bikes” in another.
For the address, you’ll need a physical address or location. Post office boxes and shared locations usually won’t be accepted.
Just like with your business name, enter your address in the same exact way for every directory.
Make sure you include a phone number where interested customers can reach you to ask a question or make a booking.
You’ve got to have three things—name, address, telephone number—to attract local customers.
There are lots of online directories to choose from, but we’ll start with the obvious ones.
First, you want your business and all those great local details to show up on the most popular search engines, like Google.
You should also explore options on major local directories, social networks and review sites, and some of these might be industry specific. Not sure where to find them? Try searching for a business that’s similar to yours to see where they appear.
Every local listing site has its own registration and verification process, but most work essentially the same way. Let's talk about what this might look like for a bicycle shop.
You need to include three key pieces—name, address and phone number—plus additional business details like your working hours, photos of all those beautiful bikes, videos of your shop, and anything else they’ll let you list. You may be asked to choose one or more categories to describe your business, and while you might not find the perfect category, you should always try to choose the closest fit.
Sometimes the directories will ask you to prove that you are, in fact, the owner of the business you’re verifying. It makes sense, and every directory is different, but most will verify you by doing things like mailing you a postcard with a special code on it, leaving a voice or text message for you with a code, or sending you an email with verification instructions.
Once you’re approved, you can update and manage your listing any time. That just means regularly reviewing and changing the particulars as needed. It's a good idea for the business owner to keep track of the details for these listings as staff may turnover. If someone else sets up the listing for you, make sure they give you the access details as you’ll likely need to make changes later.
If you’re listed on heaps of directories—and you should be—you’ll want to keep track of what you’ve got where, maybe by making a spreadsheet.
You always want to keep your local listings consistent and up-to-date.
To sum up, you want to connect with local customers, by taking advantage of the major search engines’ local business listings and creating profiles on business directory websites, review sites and more.
Being there gives you the best shot of connecting with local customers
- where to start
- how to list your business
- how to manage your local profiles.