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Making Advertising Sales to Small Business Owners

This will be the finale post on creating local search websites. If you’re just joining, the previous six posts have covered how to launch and profit from local listing websites. These are small sites that perform well in search engines by targeting niche keywords and list local business information.

As mentioned before sales are the X factor that will determine your overall earnings. The second post discussed the advertising options which I suggested are charging each business per listing, charging one or two businesses for premium advertising space throughout the website, or trying out affiliate marketing and Adsense.

Of course, all are options for one site. Bottom line, sales is the most flexible aspect of this business model and results will correlate with effort. Many things might trigger someone to go ahead and spend on advertising with your site. This post will give you a few ideas to open the relationship with a manager and conduct sales.

For those of you joining now here is a link to all of the posts so far.

Part 1 Generating Income Through Local Search Websites
Part 2The Local Search Advertising Business Models
Part 3How to Uncover Local Search Trends With Google
Part 4Building The Most User Friendly Local Directory Sites
Part 5 Streamline Your Workflow as a Local Search Entrepreneur
Part 6The SEO Equation for Long Term Traffic

How Do Local Business Owners Make Advertising Decisions

Believe it or not most local business owners shop for advertising like you and I walk down the cereal aisle and choose breakfast food. The owners see a myriad of options and each look pretty similar from their stand point. They understand one ad medium alone is not a miracle worker but they feel every new opportunity is a wild card. Owners are pitched daily from newspaper reps, sponsorships requests, SEO companies you name it. They have heard it all.

It’s going to be critical that you demonstrate the value of your website with visuals and statistics in under a minute. Keep the pitch and options simple. The upside is that you are a niche site and can demonstrate a top ranking for the area they serve. Doing this and delivering one, two at most options for advertising will go a long ways in helping achieve sales.

Materials Needed for Sales

I recommend these essential items to convey the value of your website.
A Screen Shot of Google Results Showing Your Site’s Top Rankings
Within the Screen Shot Text Citing the Cost Per Click for Paid Results.
The Traffic Your Site Receives & Pageviews for the Past 6 Months (and all time visitors).
Print Out the Top, or All Keywords Used to Arrive at Your Website
Show Where Ads are Placed at Your Site
Demonstrate Cost Saving Over Some Alternatives like Adwords, Yelp,, Entertainment Book, the Newspaper, etc.

Getting The Relationship

Starting a relationship with a business manager / owner is the first step to making a sale. You want to be talking with the person at the business calling the shots for ad purchases and as best as possible start the relationship in a non-treating (non sales) manner.

I believe you should follow the advice of Yvonne Herbst in her post on . Yvonne talks about approaching business owners by giving away a free listing. This is something you already have done with your targeted directory. I believe the next step is to approach business owners and ask them if they would like to write an article for their page on your site. Think about it from an SEO perspective. In order to rank well your website needs content and links. This tactic would satisfy content, and possibly links if the business has a website.

Your Pitch Essentials

Once traffic is steadily arriving at your niche directory and the value of advertising is clear, it’s time to start selling ads to those business owners which you have worked on developing a relationship with.
Remind owners that you personally run the site, and are a small business owner too.
Show them your top rankings through screen shots of Google results.
Show them steady growth in traffic.

Discuss other positive attributes like a low bounce rate or high pageviews.
Tell them that you receive traffic from people looking for competitors; this is a great chance to get back in front of qualified leads.
Remind them this really is the most qualified audience available on the web related to their business.
Demonstrate your ad rates relative to other choices.

Streamlining Sales

Keeping an excel sheet with notes on all the business listing is a helpful tool to organize which ones have been solicited. There are two effective options to get in touch with business owners or whoever is the advertising decision maker, either by phone or in person. Don’t try direct mail; I found it doesn’t work. Business owners will never contact you by themselves. From my experience when visiting a business there is a 50/50 chance of getting in touch with an owner in person, so calling first helps. No matter what ask whoever greets you at the business who makes decisions regarding advertising before handing off materials.

Another handy idea is to organize businesses into three types of categories; A, B and C. A being what you believe are the most likely businesses to sign-up for advertising, B being second, and C having no chance. Organizing materials will help reduce your costs in time and materials.

Get After It

I love this business model for anyone who is looking for a part-time project that can earn more income. Over a period of time you might even own the town in terms of good online real estate. Building multiple sites is a great way to broaden your potential and hosting costs are flat because one hosting account can accommodate multiple sites. Best of Luck.

Using the SmallBiz Theme for Local Websites

This series shares advice related to all aspects of building local listing websites including sales, choosing a niche and web design. I build my sites on WordPress and recently switched to the using the SmallBiz Theme for these types of sites because of the speed at which I’m able to launch a quality of site that is supported with help forums, and a platform that is search engine friendly.

Go here to visit my site example for Ballston Restaurants and Ballston Hotels

About the Author:
Jeff Howard has delivered SEO results for major consumer oriented websites all the way down to local businesses and writes a column for Search Engine Guide.

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