We were talking with our friends yesterday, one is a doctor in a university-affiliated hospital and his wife is a birthday party clown (we love to mention our friends, "the doctor and the clown"). Marketing Objectives and Strategies are Ideal, Usually
We had shown him the Monocle feature on the Yelp! app (which overlays Yelp! reviews wherever you point your camera's viewfinder - see photo) on our MyTouch 4G phone and he was asking how to get a business to show up on Google Maps when someone does a local search as we had been doing on our smart phones. As I explained how to sign up he asked, "But what's the strategy? Shouldn't there be some kind of strategy that you're going for?"
An excellent question. Typically the objective for small businesses is to get the phone ringing (or people coming in the door, online sales, appointments booked, etc.) and local search marketing is one strategy to reach those objectives.
Just Go For It - in Low Risk, Low Involvement Efforts
While we're usually in favor of fleshed-out marketing plans that detail marketing strategies and expectations in order to track what's working, sometimes you also have to go for it.
What does that mean? Well in this case our friends had just moved to a new market and hadn't yet created their listings on Google, Yahoo and Yelp!'s local listings. Since these are fast and easy strategies to implement -- and in our opinion essential building blocks to any business starting in a new area -- our friends should start by listing themselves on all free local listings available to them, starting with the sites most trafficked by their customers.
Free, Easy and Essential Is the Strategy
Listing a business on free online listing services costs nothing and is not time consuming, so there is no financial risk, and there's no way to know what's going to generate a response until you start getting the word out.
Leave it to the doctor to try to apply the scientific method - which is often appropriate. But in some cases it's OK to throw your name out there in many directions and see what works.