Local business listing websites are trying to attract local consumers to use their websites to find local businesses, to rate businesses and to post their reviews. Businesses dependent upon the local market for their revenue need to be aware how local business marketing is achieved with local business listings and how all these websites will affect your business. The following is a blog post by franchisEssentials’ strategic partner, SmartFinds Internet Marketing, describing the upcoming local business listing wars.
Local Business Listing Wars
As posted on SmartFinds Internet Marketing Blog on October 24, 2010
Have you noticed the number of commercials being run by high-profile tier one companies and websites that are in the local listing industry?
For example you may have seen TV commercials for Angie’s List, SuperMedia, Yellow Book, and of course AT&T. If you add Internet advertising that includes but not limited to Google, Yahoo, Bing, Merchant Circle, Yelp and Citysearch many others, you have to start wondering how all these websites can attract a finite number of businesses and visitors to use their website. The other more significant question is how a business will manage their local business listing at all the local listing websites?
History of Local Business Listings
As a business, if you have not kept up with the evolution of local business listings you will need a quick primer to know where things started and where things are today.
The origins go back to the early 1990s when search engines had directories listing businesses by categories in addition to their basic search results. These basic business listings gave way to business directories giving the business the opportunity to add more information to their business. Of course, while this evolution was taking place so did having the yellow pages on the web. Business directories then gave way to the idea of rating a business with companies like Angie’s List, Merchant Circle and Yelp in social communities. In 2007 business listings began showing up in search engines and consumer reviews were already showing up in these local business listings.
So, in summary, a local business listing is a combination of yellow pages information, business description, business marketing information, consumer ratings and consumer reviews.
Local Business Listings as Interactive Yellow Pages
Calling these listings a business directory does not do them justice considering all the content that is available. Not only is this about getting your business marketing information into these listings, but they also become mini-websites for your business and more importantly allow consumers to quantitatively rate and subjectively provide commentary about their experience with the business, products and services.
Local business listing websites that are social communities allow customers and consumers to collaborate. We are distinguishing between customers being B2B and consumers being B2C. We will discuss B2B customer comments in a future article.
Live social communities that provide location based services like Four Square, Twitter and Facebook create instantaneous feedback to friends, family and followers alike. This collaboration not only allows for ratings and comments, but the information is posted permanently. This will require a business to ask satisfied customers to post commentary and manage those postings that are negative…..at multiple local listing websites.
Manage Your Local Business Listings Everywhere!
Unlike the traditional yellow pages where business information was located in a single source, the Internet lets business information be found everywhere. With so many sources, it becomes imperative for a business to stay on top of its information, description, marketing materials and consumer reviews at various local listing websites.
If you wonder why, the answer is simple. Your business information shows up in search engine results, mobile search results and is available to mobile application developers for mobile apps. Since you don’t know what source your local customers or mobile application developers are using, you need a way to manage many sources simultaneously.
Select a Company to Help
Whether we are talking about website local optimization, local business listings, mobile marketing or geo-social marketing, a business needs proper support to succeed in this new era of local business marketing. You need a partner with experience and expertise in multiple digital marketing fields and can adapt to the progression of new technologies that will become available over the next few years.
Some key elements for a company to provide local business listing marketing services include:
* Claim your local listing at multiple local listing websites
* Providing both data and marketing services
* Update your basic business data information monthly
* Update and manage your business marketing information that include photos, videos, coupons, offers, discounts, and events monthly
* Consumer review monitoring and management monthly
* Analytics review of local business listings analytics and the appropriate changes to your local business listings monthly
* Expertise in Mapping Technologies and GPS
Certainly your time resources are limited and Local Marketing Services are provided by SmartFinds Internet Marketing. You will find this to be of great benefit to your time resources and the low cost service may eliminate your yellow page ad costs. Let the experts of over 16 years Internet marketing experience help you use this local business marketing tool properly and prevent brand security issues from occurring.
Need more information please visit HERE.
In the continuing debate about making the case for social media policies within franchising, below is an article by Attorney, Chad Finkelstein, expressing his opinion on the matter. So, as a franchise professional, we’d love to hear your opinion as well!
Franchising and Social Media
by Chad Finkelstein
As posted: Financial Post on October 25, 2010
Whether you are a franchisor or a franchisee, the realities of social media likely already affect you. Franchisors need to determine whether, from a marketing perspective, it makes sense for them to have profiles on forum such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Many already do, but depending on the nature of your business, it is not always an ideal method of promotion.
If that type of online marketing suits the strategies of the franchise system, then the next question to ask is whether franchisees should be permitted to have their own social media websites – for instance, a Facebook page for that particular franchised location. The franchisor will need to decide whether the benefits of widespread marketing on these popular websites outweigh the costs of giving its franchisees that much control over advertising the brand.
Accordingly, it is a good idea for franchisors to develop social media policies, and for franchisees to ensure that those policies are not too restrictive. If you are an existing franchisor or franchisee, your franchise agreement likely already states that franchisees cannot conduct any internet advertising without the consent of the franchisor. While that may have made sense at the time it was drafted and agreed to, the practical realities of business today means that franchise law in Canada has to evolve to reflect new technologies and marketing platforms.
As a result, franchisors should consider adding social media policies to their standard agreements, and franchisees should consider requesting them where they do not already exist, so that the franchise system as a whole can benefit from this new world of online marketing.
Chad Finkelstein is a franchise lawyer at Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP in Toronto.
Within the LinkedIn franchise groups we continue to see discussions about social media. There’s great interest in what still appears to be the unknown. With fundamental questions being asked and basics being discussed, there is still a level of exploration and discovery going on. Yes, and uncertainty as well.
But, there are also discussions about how to utilize social media better, more efficiently and effectively. Many are exploring ways to expand their social media reach into franchise marketing and lead generation. While others are determining how it can help drive business to franchise locations. And, others are looking into improving system-wide communications, support and training through the many facets of social media. Certainly, the franchise community is embracing social media more and more each day.
Discussions have also centered around social media guidelines, policies and procedures. Who’s allowed to do what is an often repeated question? Other questions touch upon Facebook Fan Pages, Twitter presence, types of posts, information to be shared and continue through to crisis management. All are very important topics of discussion and all must be addressed prior to launching a social media program.
That being said, it’s essential an overall strategy be developed that addresses these questions as well as establish goals and objectives of utilizing social media within your organization. Brian Solis, globally recognized as one of the most original and most prominent thought leaders in social media, is very insightful as to how organizations should embrace social media. In his recent book, Engage!, A Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate and Measure Success in the New Web, he shares that insight.
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, investor, entrepreneur and Chairman, HDNet, is quoted as saying, It’s no longer an era of business as usual. Executives and entrepreneurs must embrace new media in order to not only compete for the future, but for mind share, market share, and, ultimately, relevance. [Engage!] helps you engage. Without it, you’re competing for second place.
In Chapter 17 of Engage!, Defining the Rules of Engagement, I believe Solis truly delivers the message, and addresses many of the underlying questions I’ve outlined above. At the very least, with respect to these questions, Solis provides what is in essence an outline of what must be considered as businesses take the next step within social media.
With Social Media Comes Great Responsibility
from Engage! by Brian Solis
Chapter 17, Page 205
Please remember these words…
Perhaps the biggest mistakes committed by businesses, personalities and brands in social media occur when people jump into social networks blindly without establishing guidelines, a plan of action, a sense of what people are seeking and how and why they communicate, an understanding of where people are congregating, a definition of what they represent and how they will personify the brand online, and the goals, objectives, and metrics associated with participation.
Everything starts with education and the instruction of policies to protect individuals and brands.
In addition to setting the guidelines and regulations for how and when employees [and franchisees] should and shouldn’t engage online when it relates to the company, we must teach our spokespersons, ambassadors, and advocates how to leverage the immediacy, extent, and potential of these powerful social media tools. Our communities will follow by example.
Holding informal and infrequent workshops and/or publishing internal guidelines for self-consumption and interpretation is not nearly enough to satisfy the substantial requirements for an in-depth comprehension of the scenarios, circumstances, objectives, hazards, and nuances associated with engagement, influence, and community building.
This is more than publishing and it’s far more important than empowering employees [and franchisees] with the ability to chat online.
It is our responsibility to contribute to the increase of a significant, tuned, and strategic signal, with a high ratio to noise. I assure you that in doing so, you will earn a place among the elite in the ranks of social, new, and emerging media practices within your organization.
Recently, on Franchise Today, my guest, BJ Emerson, Social Technology Officer at Tasti D-Lite, mentioned social negligence. At the time, I thought it was a powerful statement and was intrigued by its implications. But now that I’ve read Engage!, I truly understand what BJ was referring to, and now realize the power and magnitude of social negligence… and social responsibility.
This post was originally posted on this site April 2010.
Franchising is no stranger to change. The industry adapted well to the internet when it integrated its then traditional marketing at tradeshows with development of elaborate websites. Next, the industry adapted again as it integrated its marketing efforts and web presence with franchise consultants and brokers through a multitude of franchise portals.
Well, as Bob Dylan once wrote, “…the times they are a changing.” Much has been written and spoken about weeding through the many tire-kickers experienced on the internet, shuffling from one portal to the next with the same non-objective to “see what’s out there.” The franchise industry has literally seen thousands of these leads with no purpose, no chance of ever presenting a franchise opportunity.
Instead of trying to catch fish in a wide open ocean, why not direct your attention to the fish in a lake, pond or even, a barrel? That’s correct, a barrel! In searching for qualified franchise candidates, we, as an industry, need to locate the barrels of candidates that exist in the market today. How do we accomplish this seemingly insurmountable task? We need to embrace new technology and integrate the same with traditional efforts. Specifically, Social Media and all it has to offer.
Social Media is truly extraordinary, consisting of many different aspects beyond the familiar LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. There are wikis, webinars, blogs and podcasts, just to name a few. But there are others as well. To the many, the thought of stepping foot into this jungle is daunting, and therefore, the journey continues to be delayed. So, as the old adage of how one could eat an entire elephant (of course, one bite at a time), it’s necessary to take small bites out of the Social Media elephant and step through the jungle carefully, one step at a time – using all the tools at our disposal to reach our destination… our objective.
The following is a discussion on a blog by Michelle Bonat originally posted in 2008 but still very relevant today. Michelle discusses taking small steps towards integrating Social Media Marketing with classic (traditional) marketing programs.
Babysteps…How to integrate social media with traditional marketing programs
Social media marketing is most effective when it is an integrated part of your overall marketing efforts. But how do you jump into social media when you already have some really effective classic marketing programs in play? Here are a few ways you can babystep into the world of social media by leveraging the good stuff you already have.
1) Maintain a single consistent marketing strategy through classic and social media marketing.
Your goals, objectives and messages should be consistent across all of your marketing. Sounds simple, but unless you define and enforce this it won’t happen.
The good news here is that you don’t have to re-figure this all out just for social media. It is really just taking your existing marketing platform and extending it.
2) Extend your reach – Reach out to your influencers in ways that they like to communicate.
Use your existing marketing knowledge about who influences your product’s purchasing decisions, and use social media tools to create a discussion with them where they hang out.
Some specific examples: Are your influencers kids? Get on the social networks catering to the younger set. IT buyers? Figure out which bloggers are influencing this community. Mobile sales professionals? Deliver content in a mobile enabled way, such as Twitter.
3) Invite your customers into the process.
While you are planning your next product, refining your messaging, or even launching a marketing campaign, figure out a way to get your customers involved whenever possible as early as possible. When you do this they feel that they have been heard, feel more engaged and valued, which results in a tighter connection with your company and product. It also gives you the benefit of upfront input. A product that people actually want? Described in a manner that speaks to them? Wonderful!
A good way to on-ramp this customer involvement include online communities (public or private, even a public group on an existing social network). You can even ask them to deliver their thoughts in video form by way of a contest – “describe what our product means to you”.
4) Turn an online forum into a social media hub.
Make people feel more at home by adding profile information and allowing the posting of pictures (or pointers to a picture posting service like Flickr).
Recognize that you have to give to get. Start a genuine conversation with your audience by having company employees contribute to the forums in their own words. For example, instead of just asking for feature enhancements suggestions, tell them what direction you are headed and, if possible, the timing for these enhancements (without giving away too much info). Then ask them their opinion.
Try these few tips to help ease into a social media program that leverages your existing marketing – and you will soon be on your way!
Note: This post was revised from earlier post on this site, “Web 2.0 – A Jungle for Franchise Development” (Mar 2009)
- Driving Franchise Growth - Jun 20,2013
- SPECIAL EDITION - Dealmakers' Summit - Jun 19,2013
- Franchising is All About Relationships - Jun 13,2013
- Consumer Marketing - A Cornerstone of the Franchise Model - Jun 06,2013
- IFA Legal Symposium Recap - May 30,2013
- eDiscovery - What's New & Why Do I Care? - May 23,2013
- Effective Financial Performance Representations - May 16,2013
- Franchise Sales Outsourcing - Opportunities & Pitfalls - May 09,2013
- Franchise Litigation - Getting Your Ducks in a Row! - May 02,2013
- Understanding Private Equity in Franchising - Apr 25,2013
- “Franchise Today” Kicks Off Fourth Annual Franchise Legal Series
- Passion. Enthusiasm. Culture. Jersey Mike’s!
- Value-added Discussions – A Linkedin Best Practice
- IFA 2013 may have ended, but the discussions should continue…
- Heavy-hitters in Franchising on Franchise Today in 2013
- True Social Media ROI – Relationship & Community Building
- Let’s Get Together at IFA2013!
- Personal Branding and the Power of “YOU”
- The New Media Effect on Franchise Sales & the Franchise Relationship
- Franchise Social Media Basics – What a Great E-IDEA!
- Marketing, Media & Franchising
- How Much Change Is Good?
- Are You Confused by Franchise Terminology?
- Controlled Growth Key to Success for New Franchise Concepts!
- Franchise Sales Process: Consistent or Flavor-of-the-Month?