From Yellow Pages to Facebook Pages

Years ago way before the Internet rolled around if you wanted to open up a local barber shop or a neighborhood restaurant or any other type of local business, your ability control the demand for your business was quite limited. Location, location, location was pretty much the most important element attributing to the success of your business.

So you spent months scouring the streets in busy areas looking for vacant lots in high traffic areas. You go during the day, you go during the night, you go a thousand times until you finally decide, “ok this is it.” You are convinced that you have found the ideal location where you will open up your dream business. You negotiate for weeks with the landlord and finally you come to an agreement. You then sign a 5, 10 or 15 year lease–you are pretty much locked in and the clock starts ticking.

Then you proceed to spend your life fortune (or your friends and family’s life fortune) building out your space, hiring designers, buying fixtures, furniture and equipment. And if you were smart you get everyone you hired emotionally involved in the business so they too feel a sense of ownership. You believe everyone is so excited about you opening and will help spread the word to their friends and family and you will be a household name in no time.

Your business opens and it’s a big hit. Your friends and family all come by to check it out and support. The entire neighborhood stops in and commends you on what a great job you did. A month or two goes by and the initial hype has come and passed and another new business opens up down the block. Now you’re no longer the new kid on the block and business starts to plateau out.

You decided to spice up your revenue a little and you put together a little marketing plan to get your name out there. Back in the day, you really didn’t have many choices, you took out an ad in a local newspaper and signed up for a six month commitment for a full page ad in the Yellow Pages. If you were a bigger establishment you started thinking about sponsoring local television and radio segments.

So the first few weeks you get a nice little boost in customers walking in and you say to yourself oh great this is starting to work. It wont be long before you realize that the amount you are spending versus the amount of money you are generating from new customers just does not make it worth it to continue your marketing efforts. It was great while it lasted but you simply could not afford to keep the campaigns going forever. So now you have two options, continue running the space for the next 10 years and scrape by from week to week or shut it down and go get a REAL job.

That was 10-15 years ago, it is now 2011 and things have changed. The entire dynamic of local business marketing has been completely uprooted. And its time for you as a local business owner to start leveraging the resources that exist and leverage them to help you build and market your dream business.

With the Internet crammed with hundreds of social tools like Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare, and local listing and reviews sites like Yelp and Citysearch, the choices can be a bit overwhelming. The purpose of this blog is to help local business owners, like yourself, optimize your precious time and properly leverage the tools that exist today to generate new customers, retain old ones, and understand and track which marketing techniques are working and which are not.

In the next article we will talk about existing social media tools and discuss which ones work and which ones don’t. Feel free to send us feedback and suggestions!