We live in a noisy world.
While it’s probably too glib to say that the human attention span is shorter than that of the goldfish, or that our collective ability to process information has withered amid a sustained onslaught of data and opinion, it’s patently obvious that breaking through the noise is tougher than ever. This has real ramifications for businesses desperate to gain an edge on the competition.
Beware saviors who purport to have it all figured out and focus instead on what you can control: your firm’s external visibility. These five free or cheap online business directories won’t by themselves guarantee victory over the sturm und drang. But they’ll at least give you a fighting chance.
You’ve almost certainly used Yelp to find good eats, reasonably priced auto repair, or any number of other goods and services in your backyard. Why not use it to promote your business?
Some caveats. Yelp works best in the consumer-facing world. If you run a pure B2B business, a Yelp listing might not be worth the effort. And note that Yelp has a crowdsourced element, as well; your business might already have a listing on the site, even if you’ve made no effort to create one. Don’t forget to claim (and clean up) your existing Yelp listing — something the owners of Noodology, a well-reviewed Sichuan restaurant in Orange County, California, apparently forgot.
If you sell tangible goods, don’t neglect your MerchantCircle.com account. This is a great place to show off your craftsmanship and find an audience beyond your hometown. Burlington, Vermont-based Bixler University sells its wares nationally, for instance, despite keeping a MerchantCircle base in its home market.
Manta is sort of a cross between Yelp and Angie’s List, another directory site that every service provider needs to investigate. Think of it as the best of both worlds: boasting more value-added services and advertorial bells and whistles than Yelp, with a far wider purview than domestic Angie’s List. (Not that there’s anything wrong with bare bones or domestic.)
Time was when “Groupon” and “directory” would never appear in the same sentence. But, oh, how times have changed. Today, Groupon helps you kill two birds with one stone: turning up a cheap, ready-made business profile that’s highly visible in your local market and drawing prospective brand evangelists in with deals that are just too good to pass up. Groupon is especially clutch for emerging businesses looking to build loyal followings.
If “YP” rings a bell, you’re dating yourself. The abbrev stands for “Yellow Pages,” which — well, if you have to ask, it’s not worth explaining. All that matters is that YP.com is a highly visible directory for locally focused businesses. Think of it as “Yelp plus.” Mind the “YP Preferred” designation, which establishes key credibility in competitive markets.
An All-of-the-Above Business Directory Strategy
Okay, so you’re listed and active on all five of these directories. Time to rest on your laurels?
Not by a long shot. Dozens of other free or cheap directory sites await. Most bear further investigation, and perhaps an hour or two of your time to get your profile off the ground. As long as they’re not actively off-brand, what’s the harm in getting listed?