A while ago a friend of mine said the Internet is becoming more important than phone books for many small businesses. While I’m not ready to make that claim, I do think we all need to look at the Internet as a viable option for marketing our local businesses.
As I talk with small business owners, more and more of them tell me they get a lot of new customers from the Internet. Some use their own websites and others use local directories. Some use the online versions of print phone books.
Add this to the recently new “local search” features in Google, Yahoo and MSN and I think we have the makings of a trend. At the very least it’s something most of us should be aware of.
I read an article yesterday morning in Toronto’s Globe and Mail about this. This article points to two factors that feed this trend.
One is that people in their mid-thirties and younger tend to get more information from the Internet than from print media. So, to the extent we want to reach this demographic effectively, the Internet can be a good channel for many of us.
The second is that traditional print media is too expensive for many small businesses to use effectively. Remember, to get the best results from local marketing you should deliver your message in as many complementary media as possible within your budget. If the cost of one ad in a newspaper or phone book takes most of your advertising budget then it’s difficult to accomplish this diversity of media.
Also, traditional print media often does a poor job of targeting the delivery of your message to a small geographic area. In many cases you pay for more exposure than you need, which leaves less money available for other media that target the area you want to reach.
Like many aspects of running a small business, keeping on top of trends can help our bottom line. I think this is one to keep our eyes on as we think about how to best promote our businesses.
I’d interested in hearing what you think? Do you use Internet based advertising instead of (or in addition to) traditional media. If so, how has it worked for you? Please let me know!