Is your business in the 21st century phone book?
If you've watched the movie "The Jerk" you may recall Steve Martin's character exuberantly jumping when new print phone books are delivered to the gas station where he is working. In that scene he is delighted to see his name listed in the book.
"The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!" he said.
Long ago, before there was a metaverse, there was print marketing and there were phone books that were an unacknowledged cornerstone of print marketing. Consumers "let their fingers do the walking" as the famous tagline went, to find a plumber, a bakery or a doctor's office telephone number or virtually any business contact information needed.
The Google Business Profile (GBP) has replaced the phone book. The GBP might just be the single most important place a small business occupies online. Many business owners fail to harness the tremendous value this business listing offers. This Google tool is free and should be fully utilized by every business including professional services, nonprofit organizations and even sole proprietorships.
Recently, I was heading to a doctor's appointment and experienced something that I've encountered many times with my clients. The doctor's office, located in a sprawling office park where there are many different numbered buildings and suites, was unfindable.
Unbeknown to me the office moved six months ago from one building to another. Like many people, I used Google to confirm the address and suite number. I followed the listing, which led me to the wrong building.
Frustrated, I found myself calling the office from an icy parking lot to confirm exactly what building the office was in. Someone in their office had failed to update the Google profile.
My experience is a common one. Consumers use Google search to obtain essential information. If the listing information is incorrect the consumer will select a competitor presenting more complete, accurate information.
The take-away? Every business owner should audit their Google Business Profile to confirm accuracy and completeness.
I did find it ironic that I was lost in an office park thanks to an inaccurate Google Business Profile considering this is a communications tool I frequently help clients improve.
A complete GBP includes:
• Photos of your business, leadership or products/services;
• A Google map plotted with your address or a service area if you do not utilize a physical street address;
• Business contact information;
• Customer ratings and reviews;
• A 750-character description of the business or organization.
When a business has a complete and accurate GBP it can most effectively compete and earn higher placement in search results. Google also counts the number of profile views, website and telephone actions and more for each profile. These metrics can inform your decision-making around advertising on Google.
Beyond basic contact information the GBP invites consumers to rate and review a business. Star ratings and reviews educate consumers during search. Star ratings also drive a profile's ability to turn up higher in Google searches. Each rating and review is a gift from a customer as they have the power to influence consumer behavior.
The GBP is a self-service tool. Some people are comfortable populating it information. Some people prefer to outsource the effort. If you struggle to complete these sorts of tasks a consultant like myself can help you get the job done and removed from your to-do list. More than anything I want you jumping up and down with excitement once you know you have a complete, and effective, Google Business Profile published for all the world to read. Google Business Profiles are better than a listing in an old dusty phone book.
• Rebecca Hoffman is the founder and principal of Good Egg Concepts, a strategic communications and brand marketing consulting practice serving clients around Chicagoland and nationally.