Cheaper, Fast, Easier & Measureable: 5 alternatives to yellow book advertising

Wow, huge response via email to the last post “Yellowpages is dead” and a lot of questions from visitors to the site so we thought we’d put this quick post together for small business owners.

Here’s 5 ways to market your small business online that are cheaper, faster, easier and more effective than yellowbook print advertising; Plus you can actually measure how effective these platforms are very quickly and adjust, adapt and make changes and improvements as necessary.

If you’re going to try any of these, make sure you have Google Analytics installed on your website so you can how well these tools and platforms are working for you.

Google Adwords Search Advertising

Cost $100-500 monthly for a small business
Difficulty Medium

This one shouldn’t need any explanation. You can advertise your business to people who are already looking for you in Google. For a lot of small businesses, particularly those that service a local area, a well put together Adwords campaign can cost you less than $500 per month and easily generate 10-20 new customer enquiries or retail walk-ins.

The big benefit of Google Adwords is that people are already searching for your business so you don’t need to convince them that they need your help, unlike some traditional advertising channels which actually have to create demand first and convince people they need your service before they start looking for a service provider.

More info at http://adwords.google.com
**make sure you’re not displaying ads on the Google Content Network as this will cost you big $$$
**if you’re time poor or don’t want to DIY, you can hire an Adwords consultant from as little as $300 a month – cost of Adwords consulting usually varies depending on the complexity and competition in your market and how many products or keywords you want to target.

Google Places

Cost: Free
Difficulty Easy

Places aka Google Maps formerly known as a the Google Local Business Centre…confusing yes but a very powerful platform. Google Places search results usually show up when you’re searching for a local business or service provider, for example if you search “plumber melbourne” you’ll get a bunch of search results with phone numbers, addresses and map locations. These are the Google Places search results and they’re separate to the regular website search results.

A well optimised listing in Google Places can have your business found by thousands of Google searchers but perhaps even more importantly, Maps data feeds hundreds if not thousands of other services and apps including hundreds of iPhone apps.

Make sure your business is listed, all your listings are claimed and you’ve de-duped multiple listings. The quickest way to see if you have a Places listing already is to search YOURBUSINESSNAME SUBURB in Google. For example, search: johns accounting melbourne

Once you’ve claimed your listing, encourage clients and customers to post reviews to your Places page which helps your Places listing appear higher and more often in the search results.

More info at http://google.com/local/add

**Google Places is for the most part a DIY platform BUT if you’re operating in a highly competitive market or have a large number of offices, retail stores or franchise locations, an SEO consultant can help manage your Places listing for you and get the listing ranked higher in the search results.

Email Marketing

Cost: Free/Paid
Difficulty Easy/Medium
Email marketing is a dirt cheap way to market your business, keep in touch with current or past customers and promote new products, services and promotions you may be running. Its usually overlooked by small businesses because they confuse it with spam but email marketing can be one of the most effective tools you have in your marketing arsenal. Its also a great way to boost your website traffic.

Most of your clients or customers would love to hear from you once a month to see what your business is up to, new products or services you’re offering or new promotions you’re running. Legally you can’t just email anyone, people on your email marketing list need to have bought something from you in the last two years or opted into your subscription list.

A big mistake most businesses make is sending bulk emails via Outlook or another email program – this is a big no-no and can often get your mail server put on a spam blacklist. Instead, use a dedicated newsletter or mailout tool which will manage all the subscribes and unsubscribes and can actually show you how many people looked at your email and clicked the links. You can also integrate mailout tools with your website so people can signup directly from your site. Email sent from these tools is also far more likely to reach its destination and won’t put your servers at risk of being blacklisted.

Our small business mailout tool of choice is MailChimp which is free for small mailing lists and a great way to get started.

Visit mailchimp.com for more information.

Group Buys

Cost: Varies
Difficulty: Easy

Services like scoopon.com.au and spreets.com.au offer daily discount deals to subscribers in a local area via email, social media & smartphone apps. Discounting is never a good long term business or marketing strategy but can be a great way to move old inventory, get exposure for your new business, product or service or get you through a cash crunch.

Visit spreets.com.au or scoopon.com.au for more information.
**If you haven’t heard of group buying before, visit this Flyingsolo.com.au article for more information. Also wise to ensure your business can actually to cater to another 100, 200 or 500 customers or orders before heading down this path.

Facebook Advertising

Cost: Varies, from $100/month
Difficulty: Easy/Medium
Similar to Google Adwords, Facebook have a PPC (pay per click) advertising platform. Facebook ads are different to Google search ads in that they’re “display advertising” which is essentially the same as traditional newspaper, magazine or print advertising. They can be a great way to promote a product or service where there’s no real demand in the search engines and since their advertising platform is still underutilised its dirt cheap!

Facebook ads are based around user demographics and psychographics so this means you can very accurately target your ideal customer or market. For example, a wedding photographer in Sydney could advertise to users on Facebook who live in Sydney or within 100kms of Sydney and are engaged or a Perth petstore could advertise to dog lovers in the Perth metro area. The other huge benefit Facebook Ads have is that you can advertise and if nobody clicks on your ads you don’t pay! Try that with a half page magazine ad.

Checkout the ad platform for yourself at http://facebook.com/ads
**You can play with the demographic filter without putting any credit card information so you can see how many people you can target in just a few minutes.

Want More Info?

If you’re looking for more general information on any of these tools, flyingsolo.com.au is a great resource for Australian small businesses owners and has a whole bunch of blog and news articles that go into a bit more detail about each one.

If you’re looking for help in implementing one of these tools, drop us a line and we’ll be happy to help.

Anything you’ve tried or recommend? Post in the comments.

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