Promotion. Promotion. Promotion. Every business needs promotion. The best kind of promotion is the kind that is free. All it takes is a bit of effort to list a company in a business directory where customers of the company will be able to find it easily.

It used to be that a company who had a listing in the “Yellow” pages was enough. Those were the days before the Internet became popular. In contemporary times a printed yellow page directory is more likely to end up being a door stop or go immediately to the paper-recycling bin.

Nobody wants to “let their fingers do the walking,” by searching manually through pages of printed material, when they can more easily “let their fingers do the typing,” to find what they are looking for on the Internet.

On the other hand, there is still a valid reason for directories to exist, and people do find the information collected in an industry specific category to be useful.

Business Directory

Eric Vreeland gave us his list of the best 50 online local business directories. Most of these have a free listing service, so it only takes a bit of time, not money, to be listed with these services.

  1. Angie's List
  2. Better Business Bureau
  3. Bing
  4. BizJournals
  5. Brownbook
  6. Chamber of Commerce
  7. CitySearch
  8. CitySlick
  9. CitySquares
  10. CityVoter
  11. Dex Media
  12. Discover Our Town
  13. EZ Local
  14. Facebook
  15. Foursquare
  16. Get Fave
  17. Google
  18. Home Advisor
  19. Hotfrog
  20. Infignos
  21. InfoUSA
  22. InsiderPages
  23. Judy's Book
  24. Kudzu
  25. Local Site Submit
  26. Local
  27. Magic Yellow
  28. Manta
  29. Map Creator
  30. MapQuest/Yext
  31. Merchant Circle
  32. MojoPages
  33. My Huckleberry
  34. ProfileTree
  35. ShowMeLocal
  36. Superpages
  37. TeleAtlas
  38. Thumbtack
  39. TripAdvisor
  40. UsCity
  41. USDirectory
  42. Whitepages
  43. Wikipedia
  44. Yahoo!
  45. Yellowbook
  46. Yellowbot
  47. Yellowee
  48. YellowPagesGoesGreen
  49. Yelp
  50. YP

Business Listings

The power of using business listings is enormous. The key for success is to have a prospective client discover a listing for a business, at the exact moment when they are looking to hire a company to provide specific products or services. This is about being in the right place at the right time.

Consumers make decisions based on the information they find. If the information is easily accessible and puts a particular company prominently in the space that fills the need of the consumer, it is exactly the correct thing to do to increase business.

Many companies are a bit lazy about listings in directories. They need to pay more attention to these things. When a consumer goes to an industry association website and sees a company listed as a member in good standing then they take the time to check the reputation with the Better Business Bureau and the local Chamber of Commerce, this is a great customer. They are serious and ready to buy. All they want to know is if they are dealing with a reputable firm.

Company Directory

The company directory is the most helpful when it talks about the people who work for the company. Great companies are made up of great people. Brag about the workers and let potential customers know whom they will be dealing with. Make the information personal and real.

Online Directories

To make an online directory more effective, give answers immediately. Live chat is great, and if not possible, the next best thing is an auto-reply for an email followed up by a personal call the earliest possible moment in the next business day.

If a potential customer goes to the trouble to find the information about a company, and then makes an inquiry, this is a great lead, which needs handling with sincerity and given a prompt response.

Free Business Directories

Free is good. Paying for placement in an online directory is a waste of money. It would be better to use that same amount of money for a paid local advertising campaign that targets where most of the best customers come from.

Local Business Directories

We started out by saying promotion was the most important thing. We need to fine-tune this. For most businesses, it is the localization of promotion that is the most important thing. Some businesses sell products on the Internet and they are happy to have global customers because they ship anywhere.

These companies are a small fraction of the companies that exist. The vast majority serve a local market with products and services that find customers near to where the company is located. If a customer wants to have a roof replaced or new tiles in a bathroom, they need a local contractor not a company on the other side of the country.

Google made a major change in the search engine algorithm to put the local companies up on the top of the searches because they recognized that a local company was more relevant in most situations.

Web Directory List

For Internet-based businesses that have no localization component, they need to make sure they are prominent on web directory lists. Companies, for example that excel in SEO efforts, can work for a client that is located anywhere in the world. Their work is to make the company’s website more attractive to search engines and make the number of unique website visitors go up. For this effort, the physical location of the company doing the work is irrelevant.

What is more important is the reputation of the company and how they rank among others offering similar services on a web directory list.

Business to Business Directory

Alibaba is the best example of a major success in creating a business-to-business directory. A wonderful Chinese man, Jack Ma, started Alibaba in 1999 with a group of 18 people. He was an English teacher. His simple idea was to make a system that would help people easily contact manufacturers in China and create more business.

Forbes stated that the IPO for Alibaba in 2014, at US$25 billion, was the largest global IPO in history.

Company Directories

One thing neglected by companies is to publish an accurate and up-to-date company directory. Prospective customers, business partners, and industry affiliates all need to be able to reach out and connect with the proper person(s) in any company.

Anyone who is important enough to work for any company is also important enough for inclusion in a published company directory that states who they are, what they do, and how to contact them.

Online Company Directories

The minute a company directory is printed, it is outdated. This is why online company directories are more useful than printed ones, as long as they are updated regularly.

International Business Directories

So many companies foolishly think that the market of potential customers is limited to the country of the company’s origin. The major world players do not think this way. They see the world as a global opportunity albeit with challenges that need addressing for penetration into different countries.

The key is to make sure the company is in international business directories, so that opportunities on a global scale are attracted.

Top Online Directories

Eric Vreeland gave us 50 directories. Vertical Response picks the top 20:

Google Places for Business

Every day over 6 billion searches are made using Google. When a business registers with Google places for business, they become part of the Google map search. Customers are able to find the business easily and leave reviews on the Google+ page for the business.

Bing Places for Business

Microsoft is giving away the Window 10 operating system with the Microsoft Edge browser and Bing as the default search engine. Google is the leader. Bing is second. Businesses need to be easily found on both systems.

Yahoo! Local Listing

Coming in as the third most popular search engine is Yahoo! The listing on Yahoo! is free. A paid upgrade allows the addition of video and placement on 40 other directories.

Yelp

Yelp made its success by having consumer reviews. Yelp has a nice feature that allows businesses to create reward programs for their best customers.

MerchantCircle

Merchant Circle is another directory that focuses on localization. Everything is localized to a specific geographical area to increase the advertising impact.

Yellow Pages

This company previously ruled the company directory marketing. Prior to the popularization of the Internet, it was the only game in town. Its value has diminished. The prices charged for listings are not good. It is still good to have a listing in the Yellow Pages directory; just pay as little as possible.

White Pages

This company gets a viewership of over 200 million people. The Internet does not recognize color at all so white pages are just as good, if not better than yellow pages.

If you do not want yellow or white, why not try “super” pages. This is a copycat system that tries to make itself relevant.

If you do not want yellow or white, why not try “super” pages. This is a copycat system that tries to make itself relevant.

Profile Tree

This is one of the newest ways for companies to find high quality customers. ProfileTree offers free and paid directory listings for small business, self-employed and freelancers.

Yellowbook

This directory is not about pages, it is about the color of the book. It is a knock off of the other more popular sites, but it is worth considering.

YellowBot

Another also-ran attempt to provide the yellow pages information and allows reviews from customers.

Manta

Manta’s claim to fame is that they get over 30 million unique visitors to their website each month.

Citysearch

This free listing site is especially good for spas, bars, nightclubs, hotels, and restaurants.

Mapquest

MapQuest charges business to be listed in their service at the rate of about $12 per month. Mapquest is the second most popular mapping system after Google maps.

Local

This directory focuses on everything that is going on in a particular city, including events, special offers, and businesses that are popular.

Foursquare

This site combines a business directory with social interaction. Customers leave comments about their experience with a business for the rest of the world to see.

DexKnows

This directory lets customers add comments and engage with the profile of the business to show the impact on online reputation.

The Business Journals

This is a pay per click website that has about 8 million searches each month. Business owners choose the level of service they pay for, which determines the numbers of clicks they get each month.

Angie’s List

Businesses do not pay to be on Angie’s list. The consumers pay to subscribe to this monthly membership of real time, real people reviews of their experiences with the various businesses. This website is popular with those who need to hire contractors or other professionals. The honest reviews of the members give a person a good idea of what they will experience when they hire a particular company.

Hotfrog

The listing on Hotfrog is free. The goal of this website is to increase the search page results found by Google.

Kudzu

The website focuses on home renovation and construction. The listings are free and a nice idea for any company in the construction industry.

Best Online Directories

Those are some of the best online directories, depending on what a person wishes to accomplish.

Small Business Directory

Another great place for a listing is the local small business directory for a particular community. Check with the local chapter of the Chamber of Commerce to join them as a member. The reason for this effort is that people like to hire local companies. County and city governments have a mandate to hire local companies first, as well.

Being an active part of the local community connects a company to the people who live there. This is a terrific source of business that deserves attention.

Wordpress Business Directory

Wordpress has a plug-in , which makes it easy to create a directory. If a company is in a specialized niche, it might be good to create an industry-related directory using the Wordpress plug-in. This specialized directory is shareable amongst the companies that work cooperatively in the same field.

The value of this effort is to give potential clients an entry point to the services of related companies that already know how to cooperate and work together well.

Google Business Directory

Google is king. Need we say more? Not being listed in the local search results of Google is as if the company does not exist. Google makes it so easy for companies to participate in local listings that any company would be very foolish not to go along with the Google program.

Websites need to be relevant, full of good and useful content, and identified by Google as an important part of the local environment. It helps also if the website is easily viewable by mobile devices, since the use of mobile devices has now exceeded the use of PCs and laptops.

Home Party Business Directory

This is when it gets to be fun. If there is any possible relationship between a company’s offerings and a home party, it is a great idea to make this known. Even an obscure reference works. For example, a construction company can state they make ramps for a disabled person so that a home is accessible for partygoers of all types.

The idea is to make the company appear in all the directory listings, even those that are not directly related to the core business. This type of advertising really stands out, because it is so unusual. Sometimes the best business comes from unexpected sources.

Yahoo Business Directory

Google is number one. Bing is number two. Yahoo! is also important as number three. By making sure the search engine results are strong on all of these three providers, any company is going to maximize the attention it receives.

National Business Directory

When a company offers something that is not necessarily a local product or service, then they benefit by being listed in the national business directories. A word of caution is necessary here. Fraudsters are known to call up businesses claiming to be representatives of national yellow page-type directories.

These fake boiler-room telemarketers do not represent legitimate directories and simply try to trick customers into paying for fake directory listings that have no value at all. Be careful of this scam.

Jewish Business Directory

Some businesses benefit by making a religious or cultural affiliation with other members of society that they have an affinity for and want to nurture those kinds of business relationships.

A great way to increase business is to self-indentify with a particular affinity group. This can be on religious grounds, or based on another cultural determinant. This marketing approach is not based on discrimination, rather it is the opposite. It simply tells a particular cultural group that the company appreciates their business.

Veteran Owned Business Directory

Another example of an affinity group is to identify the company as owned by a veteran. Military people and ex-military people have a natural respect for each other. It means something significant to have similar shared experiences.

There is a comfort in this familiarity. Companies that are veteran owned should be proud to state this and veterans should be happy to support them, as well as others with a patriotic feeling about America.

Marketing

Whether the company directory is a local list for free or a paid listing, the important part is to get the company as much recognition as possible. Any relation to a particular affinity group is a useful thing to highlight in how a company is listed.

It is helpful to state in the marketing messages, if a company has Christian values, is an African American owned or a black business, or is focused on efforts in a particular country such as UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, UAE, Northern Ireland, and so on with countries around the world.

This kind of information helps a potential customer know more about a company and its owners before engaging in a business transaction.

Conclusion

Every company benefits by making sure they are listed in as many directories as possible. Because of the easily available information on the Internet, the power of any particular directory is diminished. This means companies need to pay more attention to get listings in multiple directories than before.

New systems are continuously popping up to try to help consumers find the companies that will best fulfill their needs. Companies are wise to pay attention to these directories and keep their information current and updated on these systems. Some of the newest ones like Profile Tree are gaining traction with consumers who are looking for good honest referrals to decent companies. Profile Tree also has terrific articles on their blog such as “How to Motivate Employees at Work.”

Read more help articles on the following links:

Excellent Quotes on Commitment
Advice on how to stop Procrastinating
Great Interview Questions to ask yourself
Advice from Bill Gates
Getting on the right Career Path
Self-Confident People
How to best Motivate Yourself at Work