Tying the Knot With Consumers Through Online Directories

Bethany Sterzer

June 15, 2012

How can online directories help my bottom line?

Dating. It can be quite the chore. By a show of virtual hands, how many of you met your significant other by avoiding social interactions, spending time with only those people you already knew and filling up your free time with riveting games of solitaire? Anyone? I’d venture to guess that no one has because anyone who’s endured – ahemexperienced dating knows it’s a lot of hard work and takes significant effort.

So why should you think the relationship your business has with consumers should be any different? If you’re truly seeking to tie the knot with your potential consumers out there, you need to establish an online presence that includes enhanced online citations.

Don’t believe me? Here are the 5 Key Steps for romancing your target audience through online directories to get them to the big “I do”:

1. Being Available. No matter how uncomfortable it is you have to do it. Step out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there. This means targeting the most visited online directories such as Google Places, Local Bing, Yellow Pages and Yahoo Local and claiming and enhancing, or creating your listing. Be sure to give all possible information from your business description to your hours of operation, so that those seeking you out will have all the information they need. If you’d like to see what listings you already have and how they can improve, or discover directories where you are not found, try using this nifty tool to get the ball rolling.

2. The Introduction. I promise you, someone will notice. The more you put yourself out there, the more likely you will be to pull up in search engines. Online citations will only help your SEO presence. You’ll get noticed and visitors will take a look at your gorgeously detailed listing complete with links to other web assets, contact information, pictures and YouTube links—they may even give you a call! Being present is half the battle. If your potential consumers know you’re out there, they can then make that next big decision as to whether or not to pursue getting to know your business better, and perhaps eventually taking the relationship to the next level.

3. That First Date. Sometimes they’re awkward. Imagine that potential consumer finding your Web site through your online directory listing and seeing an out-of-date design. Or, picture them visiting your Facebook page before you’ve had a chance to tidy it up and it’s strewn with unanswered comments and irregular posts? How embarrassing! They may never want to come back. But, if your Web assets are clean, well-kept and reflect your sparkling personality, that first date is bound to go much better.

4. Courting. It’s getting serious now. They’ve seen your online listing, they’ve visited your Web assets and they’ve liked what they’ve seen. This is no time to get commitment-phobic. When they bring up that concern and post it on your listing, don’t panic. This is what relationships are all about – working through concerns and resolving them.

If you get a comment or a rating on your online citation that is less than stellar, respond. This is key. If you ignore the comment, or try to bury it, it could be a huge relationship-building opportunity lost. It may result in a breakup, or worst of all, those other potential consumers who had their eye on you may run for the hills after that. You run the risk of labeling yourself as the insecure one that’s trying to hide their issues. Respond to the comment and resolve the concern. Make it right, express regret and apologize if necessary.

No one likes to be in a relationship with someone who thinks they’re right all the time. Don’t try to hide who you are, even if it means revealing some of your faults. Transparency is key. If this particular consumer doesn’t see the value in your business, another one will when they see how you handled the difficult situation. Honesty goes a long way.

5. Matrimony. You’ve been dating for a while, and things have been going well. You may have had a few rough patches, but it has only served to strengthen your relationship. Purchasing your service or product won’t seem like such a leap of faith now that you and your target audience have gotten to know each other so well.

Just think! Your life of blissful union may have never come to pass had you not taken that first crucial step in putting yourself out there. It’s time—post your online listings.