Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Visibility Challenge: Free Online Business Listings

It can be hard to be noticed as a new business. I'm learning just how hard it can be since I opened my new office last week. I'm running into some obstacles and avoiding some traps. Let me tell you what I'm trying to get low-cost online presence. Maybe you can get back to me with some ideas of your own.

First, A Shameless Plug
As I mentioned, I just opened my new office:
Rockin' Good Health LLC
559 Main Street
Suite 216
Bethlehem, PA 18018
... right upstairs from the Aardvark Sports Shop. I'd love for you to stop in and see the new office. Give me a call to let me know you're coming, and I'll put on some coffee.

Every Free Listing I Can Find
When I have a few spare minutes, I find another place to post a free listing. Places like Yelp,, Yahoo, and plenty that don't start with Y. When I find one that treats me well in the process I link back to them, and you can see those links on my website. Then there are the ones that treat me badly from the start. They SAY it's a free listing, but then they make it impossible to figure out how to post for free, and easy to see how to pay for "premium" status. At that point it's buh-bye for me. I may come back later and throw some money at the nice ones, but the others don't seem worth my time.
A standout in this category - great features, easy to use: showmelocal

...And The Annoying Result
Almost immediately after starting to post free listings I started getting phone calls. "Maybe it's a potential client," I thought. No, but it's amazing how many services can "get you on the front page of Google." At this point I know their patter, and I shut them down right away. But the first few times I took the time to listen, and while they spoke I put their company name into a search engine. Invariably, what came up were complaints, complaints, complaints. Do yourself a favor and don't give your credit card info to these folks. I suppose there are some reputable services like this out there, but so far I don't think one of them has called me.

My Next Hope: Thumbtack
Thumbtack looks like a good deal, and I hope it turns out to be that. With Thumbtack, you create a profile to describe your business. They don't just post your listing online in a big list, like the others. Instead, when a potential client comes looking for your service, they ask the client questions about their needs. If the client's needs match your profile, you get a request for a quote. You (and a few other providers) send a quote back through Thumbtack, and the client picks the deal that works best for them. There's a small charge to send a quote, but it's for a pre-qualified lead, and that's worth a lot. I'm just getting started with Thumbtack now; here's my thumbtack listing: Rockin' Good Health LLC. If you're already using Thumbtack, let me know how it's working for you. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to sending out my first quote!