The Phone Books of Today

Whenever I see stacks of phone books outside of an office building or apartment complex, I can’t help but wonder how much money some businesses are wasting to have an ad in traditional phone books or yellow pages.

The fact of the matter is much of your referrals are likely coming from online sources such as your website, search engines, or social media. Is your business listed in the phone books of today?

Unless your target market consists of the elderly or those who are likely to be on the unfortunate side of the digital divide, or certain types of businesses, it is important to devote much of your resources into ensuring your business can be found online. Here are four places to begin:

Google Places
“Just google it!” We’ve all said it at one point. As if we wouldn’t begin here!

Google dominates the search world and you want to make sure your business is appropriately listed on Google Places. Your listing not only lists your location and contact information, but customers can also leave reviews of your business here. Check your listing to make sure everything is up-to-date and make sure you are listening to the feedback being left about your business.

As the most popular online social network, you may very well want to establish a business page on Facebook. Depending on how you setup your business page, you can include hours of operation, parking situations, price points, a description of products and services, etc.

Like most social networks, customers can leave “recommendations” on your Facebook page. Keep your eyes peeled and respond to each as appropriate.

This social network makes a game out of places you and your friends visit. Foursquare is a great opportunity for you to establish a presence online and provide incentives for your customers to check-in (i.e.: discounts and freebies). If you verify your business listing on Foursquare, they will even send you a free window-cling to display on your storefront to encourage members to check-in.

No matter what type of business you have, Yelp can be your friend. It is a powerful social network where customers leave feedback and reviews of businesses. Make sure you setup your business on this social network and monitor your reviews.

As the print medium continues to decline, it will become even more crucial for you to pay attention to online directories and listings to ensure your business can be found on the Web. While these four sites are certainly not the only online places where customers and prospects could potentially find you, they are great places to begin establishing yourself on the Web.