Bowling Industry Online

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7 Ways To Connect Locally With Your Customers Part I

Many small businesses rely heavily on the love of local customers while
Internet continues to make reaching them easier and cheaper than ever.

For entrepreneurs who would rather not shell out--or simply can't
afford--as much as $1,000 for an old-fashioned ad in the Yellow Pages,
there are now a host of alternatives for wrangling the locals (and even
calculating the return on those marketing efforts).

This is the first of a seven part series I will be writing about.

Each day you will receive one, in detail, explanation of how to connect
with your customers inexpensively and efficiently.


How it works: Instead if paying $1.50 to a mobile service provider for each
directory-assistance call, customers dial 1-800-Free411 (1-800-373-3411)
and connect directly to the business of their choice.

Callers can specify the name of a business or just canvass a category in
that location (say, "Melanie's Chocolate Shop in Manhattan," or just
"candy store, Manhattan").

The catch: Customers must endure a brief advertisement for a 1-800-Free411
advertiser in the chosen category and location.

What it costs: The model--common among the new crop of local ad
providers--is performance-based: Businesses join the database free of
charge but pay for each call received through the service. Each lead
generated by that opening ad costs the participating company between $2
and $7 per call, depending on the type of business.



How it works:

Yelp lists the names, addresses and phone numbers for companies across the
U.S. for free online; small-business owners can also add information about
products, services and special offers.

Customers rate the businesses from zero to five stars.

If a company merits a 3.5 or higher, it receives an invitation from Yelp to
participate in a premium service program, in which it has the privilege of
paying for placement in the top of the search stack on Yelp's site.

Now that's snob appeal. For more, go to

Here's what it usually costs: Premium service costs between $150 and $1,000
per month, depending on the type of business and amount of advertising you




Google AdWords:

Here's how it works: Businesses pay to be listed in the "Sponsored Links"
column next to the results of a typical Google search.

If the searcher clicks on your company's link, you pay Google an amount
based on how desirable your keywords are.

For example, if you want the search terms "hotel, Atlanta" to place your
business in the Sponsored Links column, it will cost you more than, say,
"Melanie's Bed & Breakfast, Atlanta," which is a lot more specific and
would have served up your company's name anyway, with no additional help
from Google.

For more, go to

What it costs: To open an AdWords account, you must pay an initial $5 fee.

Choose a budgeted amount per month or per day; once you've reached the
amount of clicks equal to that dollar amount, Google simply takes you off
the Sponsored Links column.

For bowling center clients, I usually recommend a budget of about $500 per

You can do less, of course, but $500 will give you a very good test. If
that's a little too much, scale it back to $300, but don't budget any

Check the price of keywords on Google's Traffic Estimator. Use key words
like bowling, entertainment, family, fun, dates, weekends, kids, teens.

You get the idea.


Part IV


But now it is up and running!

Today we are going to talk about Citysearch, a great local marketing tool

Here's how it works: Citysearch lists the name, address, phone number,
customer reviews and a maximum of two photos for free.

Citysearch also offers a premium, paid-for service that allows owners to
add more information, from videos to coupons. It even has a "send details
to my phone" option.

Better yet, Citysearch promotes premium advertisers through a network of
newspapers and Web sites across the country.

As with Google AdWords, paying advertisers get better placement in the
search results. For more information, please visit ,

Here's what it costs it costs: Advertisers on pay a minimum
of $200 per month. Citysearch subtracts from your designated amount each
time a viewer clicks on one of your links.

When your budget is used up, the content is still available on, though not through the distribution network until the next
budget cycle begins.


here's how it works: lists businesses by name, address and phone

It has syndication agreements with search engines like Google and Yahoo!
and also partners with other directories like and Yelp to
exchange information and customer reviews.

For a fee, companies can enhance their listings with more in-depth
descriptions of products and services, as well as receive premium
placement in's search function. also confers with local Better Business Bureaus to ensure that
businesses are in good standing. For more information go to

Here's what it costs: Premium service runs between $50 and $200 per month,
depending on the number of search categories and locations.

For instance, you might pay the base fee to appear in a search for
"Bowling Center, Manhattan," but more for the broader "Entertainment, New York

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