The relentless pursuit of being noticed – it's a challenge shared by businesses from Townsville to Timbuktu, from Stawell to Shanghai (and everywhere else in between) – and in the always-puzzling world of competitive commerce, there's no simple solution.
While fairly recent avenues such as social media and search engine optimisation are now an essential ingredient in any marketing recipe, business directories, both traditional print and online versions, remain a popular choice for tracking down products and services.
In fact, according to a study conducted by Burke Inc on behalf of the Local Search Association, when researching a product or company, 8 out of 10 people will use a directory or an internet directory, and of those who use directory searches, 8 out of 10 of them result in “purchase or intent to purchase”.
Digital marketing agency owner Michael Johnston says as local directories continue to be refined, “they just keep getting better and better”.
“They give small business the chance to build their brand and to reach potential customers in their local area at the exact moment when they are ready to purchase their product or service,” he says in a blog on the Specialized Digital Marketing website.
“I am amazed at the number of small businesses who have not yet taken advantage of this opportunity.”
While the push has been towards online directories, of which there are many, there are certain qualities associated with print versions that will always endure.
“Print media works because it understands the needs of the customer,” an article on the Print Power website says. “By picking up the print medium, they’re investing time and attention, actively seeking... information rather than allowing it to wash over them.”
“The key to successful marketing is engagement, drawing your customer in through attention-grabbing content before rewarding them with a worthwhile offer or service.”
“(So) in many ways, print is the ideal marketing medium: it’s available in both large and small numbers, can be accessed easily, and is engaging, versatile and creative.”
There's no denying, however, that online directory listings – now accessible via a whole variety of devices – have cemented themselves as an easy and convenient way to search for, well, just about anything one's heart desires.
“For any business – but especially those that depend on a local customer base, such as service providers and brick-and-mortar shop fronts – attracting local customers through online efforts can often be a determining factor of success,” an article on the DirectoryBug website says.
“When you list your business in an online local business directory, you are taking advantage of all of the dollars and expertise the business directory itself has invested in marketing.”
“In addition, these business directories often appear quite high in the organic search results, so your company name could be one of the first to appear in the search engine results with minimal effort on your part.”