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Month: October 2012

The Ever Changing Dex

I‘ll never forget the time I was at a tradeshow in 1996 or 1997 and ran across the USWest “yellow pages” directory folks.  I approached them about the Internet and they all looked at me like I was talking jibberish.

For those of you who don’t know who USWest is, it’s now Dexone or Dex or Dex something without the phone companies attached.

Over the years they’ve morphed and changed from one of the Baby Bells to a separate phone company with a yellow page division; to also include a cellular company – US West Cellular. This is an altogether separate story seeing that USWest Cellular changed its name to Airtouch and then some time later to Qwest.

Qwestdex was the brand that I remember when it took Qwest and added this Dex character to their name. A little later Dexonline came around and Dexknows was brought into the picture and today it’s Dex One, I think.

The only reason I say, I think, is because I see different variations of Dex and get confused.

As you can see this once Baby Bell has not only changed operationally over the years but also in the front end as their identity has gone from pretty obvious (yellow pages) to offering a large list of services, just like everyone else.

So why even bring up the past of this aging behemoth? Because it was this directory company that first approached me about online listings in 1999 and was charging $19.95 per listing, per category.

You see, I was utilizing SEO since 1995 and doing great with our business (Secrets of the Tiny Store) but was looking for additional ways to get the word out and focus more on local business. During that year I also approached DoubleClick about banner ads and searched for other directories to see what we could do about gaining exposure in our local community. Google was still very new and in the early stages of growth.

Now back to Dex…

Dex, or what was USWest at the time, had proven to be the leader for us when it came to local yellow pages. I had diligently surveyed, tracked and tested our advertising and marketing which showed them as the leader when it came to the offline yellow books.

They had a proven track record offline but when it came to online, there was no proof or easy way to track unless we did it manually, with phone numbers or relied on their tracking system.

The real problem was that their $19.95 charge was per month, per listing and when you added up our listings, it was a good chunk of change. When you compare the listings to my previous four years of SEO and there was no comparison when it came to return on investment and results.

Today, it seems that they have not changed the pricing and even added a few hoops for us small biz folk to jump through. Claiming my free listing they automatically put me in an auto-responder and had a sales rep emailing and calling.

Not that I asked for any of the above, it was just their process and way of doing business. And was the ‘rep’ flexible or even open to helping me? No, all he wanted to do was sell another package and yet here I sit still not sure about my free listing.

The funny thing about ‘Dex’ is that in my recent research for clients and prospects, I barely found them on any of the page one listings on Google or Yahoo. Yet I saw Yelp, Merchant Circle, Kudzu, Yellowpages.com, Superpages and a handful of other directories and citation sites. Dex was there in some cases, but not as visible as the other guys.

Yet here he(it or they) is again asking for my $19.95 per month, per listing, per category. 13 years later and history is repeating itself.

So, my loyal reader, when it comes to growing your small business, do business with people and companies that can help you plus will add value.  And always be on the look out for the marketing that supplies the best results and ROI. Because in the end your bottom line is what counts, not what the other guys think.

To your small business success,

Dave Krygier

Local Marketing – Will Your Business Survive?

Local Marketing is today’s topic here at Click and Mortar Blog headquarters. And when I say local, I mean local as in 1 to 50 miles of your location.

The web has forever changed the landscape how we as small business owners market to our prospects and customers. This landscape is further changed as more and more small businesses struggle to figure out how to integrate their offline efforts with online channels.

Add to the confusion the rapid growing mobile and video sectors and media sales people yelling, “we’ve got what you need and you need to buy from us” and you have one big info overload headache coming on.

With all the changes coming down the pike, it’s really amazing that anyone can keep up. For a local business owner, manager or even hired gun like a business consultant, you need to be on top of all this stuff and if you’re not then your business’ reputation might be suffering.

Not only are we needing to embrace the weavers of the web, but we also have to be really concerned with our reputations, because the consumer now has the power to praise or persecute.

It’s no longer just the better business bureau but now citation sites and reviews are becoming the norm with Google + Local, Yahoo and Bing filling in the gaps really fast.

Much harder it is today for businesses to get away with lousy service and quality issues because their mishaps, shortcomings, oversights and lack of attention to the customer will forever be shown for all to see.

So you can hopefully see how important it is to have a solid foundation in your business and this way your reputation won’t haunt you.

With all that said, let’s talk turkey and get down to the bottom of all this.

Local marketing is no longer just offline media as in newspaper, radio, television, direct mail and billboards. Local marketing has merged both offline and online channels which means you as the business owner need to narrow your focus and engage your target market.

Engaging your target market means that your efforts need to be more focused than ever before with an eye out for what people are saying about you.

This brings me to the topic of reputation.

If your reputation stinks, then you are going to have a tough time growing your small business and all the local marketing you can do will be like swimming up river. No longer can you leave a customer hanging or in a lurch as citation and reviews have become the norm, allowing the consumer(and business) control over what they really think about your business.

If on the other hand your reputation is good to great, then you’re off to the races. Because all you need to do is maintain, monitor and continue to grow by using positive reviews to boost awareness and increase traffic.

So what can you do about it?

1. First work on your foundation. Get all the cracks fixed, leaks plugged and foundation in solid shape. Do whatever it takes to make your small business’ foundation a solid structure that can support your sales and local marketing efforts.  This means from the person answering the phone, to those that answer email and deal with live customers, patients and clients, it’s very important that a positive, uplifting message is left for all.

2. Set up a system for capturing customer reviews. In some cases you might direct people to Google. In others you might direct them to Yelp, Kudzu, Insiderpages or a specialty site that pertains to your industry. No matter how you do this, it’s important to continually work on getting positive reviews and if a bad review ever shows up you can deal with it immediately.

So build a solid foundation and then engage the people who come across your doorstep. Treat people right and the reviews they leave you will help build and reinforce your existing foundation. 

Until next time.

Dave Krygier