The Internet now is very different than it was just 5 years ago. 5 years ago things looked bleak. The Internet was like walking into a crowd of used car salesman each trying to get a hand in your pocket. Ads with jumping frogs and dancing babies were everywhere. What happened? The people spoke…and other people listened. The Internet has become what it was designed for; a vehicle to exchange information. Now we talk to our friends on Facebook and our followers on Twitter. We write business reviews on Yelp. We write blogs and subscribe only to the ones we find useful to us. I’m not saying that ads and commercialism to the web is gone. It is however more how we like it as opposed to how the commerce companies wanted it. Thank goodness.
I just recently had someone drop off the latest version of the Yellow Pages at my front door. Was I excited, ala Steve Martin in “The Jerk”?…no I wasn’t. I picked up the books, which is more than many of my neighbors who it seem leave them laying around for weeks, and took them directly to my trash can. I’ve done this the last few years. I can’t say I’ve even held one in my hands in the last 5 years except to dispense them in the trash can.
I performed my own Yellow Pages survey and the results were…
It seemed everyone I asked did the same thing. Do you think the Yellow Pages folks know about this? I got the same reaction across the board, “why would I use a book when I have the Internet?” My thought exactly. Now the point exists that not every business has a website, very true.
But it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a website
With services/sites around like Yelp! where everyday people can list businesses, provide information and reviews, a website isn’t mandatory. Should you have a website if you’re in business, of course. A business without a website is like a business without a sign…and a business without a sign is a sign of no business. But just be aware that your business may be online even if you don’t know it. I personally put more weight in a business with a website. I figure if they went through the time and expense they must be serious.
Then I started thinking “What about online directories?”
I guess online directories will be the next to go. If I search for “Italian Restaurants in Detroit”, I expect to see websites of authentic Italian Restaurants in Detroit with their hours, menu, and a map (here’s one of my favorites, Roma Cafe) not neccessarily a list with every Pizza Hut and Olive Garden within 100 miles of downtown Detroit.
Track your advertising dollars.
So to all you business owners out there, do your research on where you advertise. My quick survey spoke volumes to me. If you are going to spend advertising dollars anywhere you have to track the response. You need to focus on your return on investment (ROI) or you’re wasting money, GUARANTEED! If you advertise in an online directory that reports your getting a bunch of traffic to you from their site ask for more information. How many people are starting at Google with a search then finding the directory site that lists you and all of your competitors and then clicks to your site? What if you put money into your website and increased your search engine visibility. Maybe then you could get all the traffic the directory was getting because you were listed ahead of the directory. I guess then you wouldn’t need the directory. Think about it…and Bill next door…that Yellow Pages has been in your driveway for the last 2 weeks.