NEW YORK - In today's economic climate, starting your own small business can be a risky proposition; however, it can also be an immensely profitable one if you take the right steps to give your business the exposure it needs. Online reviews, a clever marketing campaign, an attractive and easy-to-use website, and numerous ads – both in print and online – can certainly get you attention. However, there's one thing many tend to overlook when establishing a new entrepreneurial endeavor, and that's getting the phone number for your business properly listed in order to achieve maximum exposure of your brand, and ensuring that your potential customers can easily reach out and touch you, as the old phone company jingle goes.
In the old days, someone would simply crack open a print Yellow Page directory when they were looking for goods and services in their area; however, this was before the Internet came along and changed things forever. In addition to online Yellow Pages directories, things have also changed drastically overall in the modern telecommunications industry. Where in the past, there were only one or two major phone companies, today the industry is decentralized and comprised of multiple carriers, and this means there are many, many different directories out there. Depending on the scope of your business and how far across the country it reaches, you need to ensure that your phone number is listed in every market applicable to you.
The general rule of thumb is that if a customer can't find you, then it's not possible for you to serve them. You need to give your business the most exposure by making sure your phone number is available to potential customers in multiple markets and venues. Thankfully, if you know what you're doing, this is a generally easy and low-cost – often free – process, when done in its most basic form.
Shockingly, in this day and age, there are still individuals who turn to the print phone book when they need to look up a business, so even though it's something you may generally overlook, it still is worth your while to make sure your business is listed there. Most often your listing would be included for no extra charge when you sign up for a landline for your business, but if you're actually using your home phone number instead be prepared to be woken up at all hours. Also, bear in mind that your listing will be appearing instead in the White Pages – not the Yellow Pages – which will make it more difficult for potential customers to track you down. In addition, home landline numbers are often the victims of spam calls more often than business numbers; with this being the case, it only makes sense for someone starting a business to invest in a business phone line. Again, this typically includes an automatic listing and your carrier’s local Yellow Pages – both print and online – so it makes sense.
However, when it comes to getting your business phone number out there, online directories are really the way to go. After all, telephone books generally come out annually – or bi-annually at best – and as a result, much of the content within its pages becomes obsolete quickly. With this being the case, if any of your contact information has changed, no one that uses print directories is going to know it for at least six months to a year. Meanwhile, online directories are typically updated every day – or multiple times a day – which ensures that consumers always have access to the most up-to-date information.
Making sure you're located in all of your local online directories is important as well, as often consumers will search local zip codes in order to find businesses either local to their home or nearby places they're planning on being in the near future. With a paper phone book, they would have to go through page after page in order to find a business that suits their location; with online sources, it's simply a matter of typing in your ZIP code. So again, making sure that your business is listed in as many online directories as possible is essential, and typically free as well.
Google My Business, for example, allows you to create a listing for your company, including your phone number, address, and any other information pertinent to your customers. Google is the world's number one search engine, so it's very important to get your business listed there, and to ensure that the information you put in is correct.
However, while Google may be number one for the foreseeable future, it's not the only place you should list your business. For free, you can also add your business to Yelp for Business, Bing Places, Facebook, Yellow Pages Goes Green (of course), and several others. Once you have your information imputed it into these sites, you'll have yourself thoroughly out there for any customers looking to potentially engage your services. To see how your listing appears you can use this tool to scan your listing across multiple sites at once and look for errors.
Again, having a business phone line is the most effective, but nonetheless there are still those out there who choose to use a private line, and others still will actually use their cell numbers for their business. This option can certainly complicate matters for you, mainly because of the fact that many telephone service providers don't make cell numbers available to directory assistance. Cell phone numbers are not listed in public directories by default, but it is possible to use websites such as Express Update or List Yourself, which allow you to add your business information – including a cell phone number – to a number of directory assistance providers and publishers in the country.
Any new business owner looking to get an edge in a crowded and very competitive market will take every advantage they can to possibly gain an advantage, and while a snazzy advertising campaign or bright and inviting sign above your shop may get some foot traffic in the door, making sure you have your listings in order – especially in regards to your business phone number – can go a long way to spelling success for your endeavor.