It's time to renew our Yellow Pages ads again and it got me thinking about the effectiveness of this medium compared to one of my favourite alternatives, search engine optimisation or SEO (also referred to as website optimisation). Sure Yellow Pages can be very effective for certain industries (that's a topic for another post), but every year we have to front up with a lot of money to keep in the forefront of our target market.
For the past couple of years we've put a lot of work into optimising our website for elected keywords and phrases. It's now really starting to generate some meaningful sales and is definitely on a par with our Yellow Pages results. Here's the thing though, it doesn't cost us anything! Sure we had to invest some time, money, effort to optimise the site initially, but as time goes by, the site and it's ranking improves in the eyes of Google.
In preparing your brand or company for the economic recovery, you should be seriously looking right now at how you can get your website to feature on page one (top 10 results) on Google searches. You do need to give the SEO changes time to be indexed and valued by Google.
Google's keyword research tool now offers a filter to display New Zealand search results for the previous month, comparing it to the international monthly average. Previously you only had access to USA or UK databases, which didn't give a very clear idea of actual keywords or phrases in a local context. Confusion with local terms such as "companies" vs "firms" could potentially reduce the effectiveness/relevance of your meta tags.
Now we can accurately determine what the true local search terms are and exactly how many searches occur in New Zealand for those terms. Terms with less than 10 searches in the previous month don't show exact volumes, but it still gives us a good idea of their relative popularity.
I recently returned from a visit to South Africa, where for many years the level of service across most industries, was at best, dismal. This time I was pleasantly surprised to find a huge improvement in service across all touch-points.
I guess the upcoming FIFA World Cup in 2010 has a lot to do with it, but the important thing is that I really enjoyed the retail service experience and how special I was made to feel. I now find myself telling everyone that asks about my trip, how great the service was (and not how bad the crime is). Now that didn't cost them a cent, but it sure added value to my experience of the "South Africa" brand. In fact, you could say I'm now a disciple by default.
Never forget that WOM (word of mouth) advertising is the most powerful form of promotion, and it costs nothing to generate, other than a bit of effort and discipline.