Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.

I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

 

Primadesk – Let's you search, manage and backup your personal cloud data with one simple interface no matter what device you use.  You can organize and move files across multiple services that you use like Facebook and Google Plus.  A nifty free service if you use and store files across several different services.

EasyHi – A free service that lets you create cool looking music and video e-cards.  Great for sending personalized ecards to customers. They have hundreds of free templates to use for all occasions.

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

 

 

 

 

Having a presence online for your small business is very important.

Besides having your own website, it's important to add your business information on other websites so more people can find you online.  All of these external listings you create will all point back to your website and help more people find you.  This is what's called creating local citations for your business.

What is a local citation?

A local citation for your business is a “mention” of your business on another website.  A perfect example of this is your business listing on the Yellow Pages website.  The search engines use this citation, or “mention” of you business to further validate that you are an existing and legitimate business and will increase your chances of getting found online.

Below are 20 websites that are great places to add your business information and help you build a strong presence for you business online.

 

Google Places

Since Google is still the dominate search engine in most of the world, Google Places is an important starting point to building a strong online presence for your business.  There are several ways you can customize your Places listing and you should spend some time on it as it will help in your search results rankings.  If your not familiar with Places, you can read an article that I wrote on Google Places for Small Business.

Yahoo

Yahoo has had a local listing directory for many years and is a great place to add your business info

Bing

Like Google Places, your Bing local listing provides you with alot of ways to customize you listing page.  It also integrates with Bing maps, so this is a must have listing.

Yelp

One of the biggest independent sources for customer reviews in the world.  Your customers are very likely to being using this service already so it's a good idea to claim/update your listing and have a chance to respond to both good and bad customer reviews.

Super Pages

A very powerful place to add your business listing.  Search engines regard this as a high authority website for local business listings.

City Search

City Search has been around for a long time and many people still use it for their local guides

FourSquare

Local check-in and social sharing site that is hugely popular with the under 40 crowd.  Has lots of gaming aspects that can make interacting with your customers fun.

Judy's Book

A popular review site for local businesses that adds social sharing elements to the listings

Kudzu

A local listing site that lets you add photos, videos as well as other things to spruce up your listing.  Customers can also leave reviews on the site.

Yellow Pages

A brand name that everyone knows and trusts.  Like Super Pages, is a trusted source for search engines when it comes to local listings.

LinkedIn

If you aren't signed up for LinkedIn as an individual, you should go do that now.  It's a great place to network with other professionals and business owners as well as get lots of great business information from others.  You can also create a company page for your business for free.

Facebook

I assume your on Facebook already, but have you created a fan page for your business yet?  Even if you will not be spending alot of time on it, it's still a good idea to create a fan page and add your business information to it.

Hot Frog

Consistently shows up in the search engine rankings.  They are also one of the only directories that will email your statistics on how many times your listing was viewed.

Insider Pages

A recommendation site where customers leave reviews for businesses and services that they frequent.

Super Media

A full featured marketing site that lets you add a free listing but also provides other marketing options for business owners.

Local

Very popular local listing service that offers lots of upgrade options over the free listing you can claim

Localeze

Great place to add your listing, many other local platforms use the listing info from Localeze for their own websites.

Brown Book

Local business directory that gives you premium features like video and photo uploads for free

Merchant Circle

Directory for local businesses that lets you show off you expertise by answering user questions

Local Niche Sites

There are lots of local niche sites like Trip Advisor, Angie's List and Open Table that may be a good fit for your business.

 

Summary

These just a few out of hundreds of available directory, review and local listing sites that are available for listing your business information.  The ones listed above are great places to start as they are proven to help boost your business presence online.  Also, don't forget industry specific directories that may be available to you.

If I've missed and important listings, please leave them in the comments below.  If you have any questions about local listings, feel free to contact me here and i'll be sure to respond.

 

 

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.

I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

 

Square – Mobile payment processor for small business.  Simply plug  the swipe mechanism into your headphone jack and start taking credit card payments directly from your phone.  Supports iPhone, iPad and Android devices.  The swipe mechanism comes free with signup and has pricing similar to what you would expect from Paypal.  Great for taking payments at Fairs, Festivals and other out of business events.

 

Freshbooks – Probably the easiest way to invoice clients.  The user interface is so easy to use, it's almost fun to bill clients with Fresh Books.  Integrates with all of the major payment processors and does a great job tracking your invoices and time keeping.  Free option for 3 active clients and paid pricing plans after that.

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.

I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

 

Google Adwords Express – Adwords Express is built for local businesses looking for local customers.  It's a quick and easy version of the full Adwords platform and is much easier to use.  Knowing that many local businesses were not signing up for Google Adwords because of it's complexity, Google decided to make things easy for small and local businesses.  Adwords Express does not have all of the features of it's big brother, but it's a quick and effective way to start marketing your local business online.  You can read about my Google Adwords Express announcement here.

 

Tout–  A neat little web app that  coordinates and streamlines your emails with Templates, Tracking and Scheduling.  It doesn't replace your existing email client or CRM system, but augments it and adds some cool features that you may be currently missing.  Free and paid plans available.

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

 

 

Any sales or marketing person will tell you that the key to sales is identifying the customers' wants, needs and pains…..and then providing a solution for them.  Or better known as, ask them what they want and give it to them.

What about when the customer doesn't know what they want?  Or they only think they do?

Assuming that the customer knows what they want is assuming that the customer knows all available options.  They usually don't.

“If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have said ‘a faster horse’.”  ~Henry Ford, Ford Motor Company

As the expert for your product or service, it's your job to show the customer what will best fit their needs.  You do this by asking questions, discovering what they want, what they desire, and showing them the best possible solutions based on your expertise.  Some of these solutions may be something the customer was not even thinking about or didn't know existed.

By simply asking what the customer wants and giving it to them, you are not positioning yourself as an expert in your industry, your just acting as a store clerk and demonstrating that you know little more than the customer when it comes to your industry.

You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new. ~Steve Jobs, Apple Computers

The next time someone walks through your door and tells you what they want, don't take it on face value until you have done some digging and asked the right questions.  You may find that the itch they need scratched is only a small part of a much bigger need.  This is what separates the “order fillers” from the real experts of their industry.

Malcom Gladwell on spaghetti sauce

This is a great  Ted video by Malcom Gladwell showing that customers do not always know what they want…..until they are presented with it.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIiAAhUeR6Y&w=320&h=240]

 

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.

I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

 

Animoto – Create styling video collages from your video and pictures.  Add text and music to create some awesome videos for your business.  Free plan includes videos up to 30 seconds in length with reasonable paid plans after that.

 

Tiny Letter –  A free and really easy way to start an email newsletter for your business.  Tiny Letter is owned by Mailchimp, one of the biggest email marketing firms in the world so you know it's built on a great platform.  Tiny Letter is free and even allows you to create a paid subscription plan for your newsletters.

 

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

Google Places is a  service that allows business owners to have a  single page website for free, courtesy of Google.

If you're a small business and have not claimed your Google Places page yet, you’re simply throwing money away.  Or maybe you just don’t need any more business, in which case I would love to know what line of business you are in.  There are thousands of potential customers searching online everyday looking for a business just like yours, why not take advantage of a easy and free way to get in front of those people?

Think of it like an online Yellow Pages listing except that you can create and personalize all of the content yourself.  The ability to write your own business descriptions, add images and video, makes Google Places a must have for any small business.

If you want to find out more about Google Places, you can read my previous article which introduces business owners to Google Places.  If you still need convincing, listed below are 5 reasons you should claim your Google Places listing.

Be found on Google Maps

Your Google Places page is tied directly to Google Maps.  When a user performs a local search, such as “Denver Plumber”, a map will show up in the results that include place markers for plumbers in Denver.  More so, a list of local plumbers with links to their Google Places page and (if you have one), your own website will also appear next to the map.  If you have not claimed your Google Places page, there is very little chance that you will show up in these kind of search results.

google local search results sample

Rank higher in the search engine results

Google understands that many searches online have a local intent to them.  This means that Google will try and “localize” the search results for a user when possible and according to the type of search they perform.
What this means for local business owners is that you now have the potential of showing very high in the search results for local search terms (Boulder pizza shops), above even large national pizza chains.  The localization of search has leveled the playing field for small business owners when it comes to search engine results.  How you rank in the Google search results really depends on how you optimize your Google Places page.  The thing is, you can’t optimize it if you never claimed it in the first place.

Showcase your business

When you claim the Google Places page for your business, you have the opportunity to add photos and video highlighting your business.  People love visuals and adding these to your page will really help potential customers see what your business is about.

Examples of photos to add are the inside and outside of your store, employees in action and featured products. Videos are a great way to show your product or service in action as well as a chance for the owner to speak directly to their customers.

google places sample page

Get Customer Reviews for your Google Places Page

Google loves customer reviews, especially when they are hosted on one of their own products.  Google Places allows your customers to leave reviews about your business.  This “Social Proof” is vital for potential customers who are trying to decide whether or not to shop with you.  Amazon.com built an E-commerce empire off of customer reviews.

google places customer reviews

Google Places is Free

The great thing about Google Places is that it's free.   Also, you don't need to have your own website in order to use it. Though I highly recommend that you create your own website, for a number of reasons we won’t discuss here, your Google Places page can allow you to have a great online presence hosted by Google for free, and with little work on your part.

Don’t forget about Bing local and Yahoo local

Though we talked about Google Places today, Bing and Yahoo both offer their versions of a local listing for small business owners and I recommend that you go ahead and grab those listings too as Google is not the only search engine that people use.
If you are a small business owner and have questions about Google Places or local marketing, feel free to contact me here with your questions.

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.

I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

 

Invoice Bubble – An online invoicing service that has a very generous free plan.  Create online invoices and get paid via Paypal.  You can also setup recurring invoices, even with the free plan.  Great for small businesses and freelancers.

 

Wufoo – An easy and fun way to create online contact forms for your website.  The easy drag and drop interface makes it easy to create custom forms on your site.  It integrates with most major email services and has a pretty generous free option.

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here