Can You See Me Now?

Don't be hard to find! Focus your marketing efforts where customers who are ready to buy look first.

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By Kim T. Gordon

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Your small business can't thrive if it's hard to find.Are you making the most of "search corridor" media?They're where customers look first when they've made adecision to buy and should be an important component of your mediamix. Telephone directories are the most common form of searchcorridor media, but they're just a part of the story. There arealso search corridors created by consumer and trade magazines.Newspapers provide classified advertising opportunities plusspecial sections that become effective search corridors, and onlinesearch engines have become overnight sensations when it comes toentrepreneurial marketing, thanks to pay-per-click ads.

Choose the Right Media

Where do your customers look first when they want to buy whatyou sell? Here are a few of your best search corridor options:

Directories: Of the $22 billion small to midsizedenterprises spent on advertising media last year, 46 percent wentto Yellow Pages advertising. That's nearly half of all addollars spent by small businesses. And it's easy to see why:For some types of products and services, telephone directories arethe ultimate ad tool.

For example, let's say you sell something that customersonly need occasionally (so they don't necessarily have anestablished supplier at hand) or that's needed quickly when aspecial situation occurs. You might own a retail store that sellsparty balloons, or perhaps you're a locksmith. You'dbenefit by having a standout ad in your community telephonedirectory because you'd reach customers with immediate needswho are more likely to look there rather than wait for referralsfrom friends or take the time to do extensive research.

In addition to the Yellow Pages, there are many other types ofdirectories that provide excellent media opportunities. There areindustrial directories and others that fit the needs of all typesof B2B marketers. A freelance cameraman, for instance, mightadvertise in creative directories that production companies use tofind crews when shooting television spots.

Magazines: Many types of magazines offer special sectionsin the back designated for "direct response" print ads.These sections typically consist of small-space black-and-white adsclustered together under a special banner-thereby creating a searchcorridor. Subscribers come to rely on the special sections and usethem to "shop" when they have a specific need.

Magazines that reach a wide range of target audiences all offersearch corridor opportunities. For example, in addition toclassified ads, Entrepreneur magazine provides an"Opportunity Mart" that advertisers use to reachentrepreneurs looking for new business opportunities. BoatingWorld magazine provides a "Boats & Gear" sectionwhere readers can find ads for everything from drive-on docks forjet boats to remote-controlled bow lights. And MetropolitanHome magazine includes a "Gallery" in the back withsmall-space ads where readers can locate the manufacturers ofspiral staircases and factory-direct table pads.

Newspapers: It's no surprise that newspapers rankedsecond (at 13 percent) after Yellow Pages when it came to claimingthe largest percentage of advertising dollars spent by small andmidsized businesses in 2003. Classified advertising sections innewspapers nationwide are among the hardest-working search corridorvehicles. But newspapers also offer much more. Daily newspapershave search corridors that meet the needs of all types ofadvertisers and consumers. Most publish business, home and leisureand travel sections, as well as special sections that may run onlyonce per month or several times per year. These become searchcorridors because readers turn to them when they want informationon where to buy products or services in those categories. TheWashington Post, for example, seasonally publishes aspecially bound dining guide that readers save to use time andagain to find just the right restaurant.

Paid searches: More than 100 million Americans looked forproduct and service information online in the past year, and nearlythree-quarters of them used search engines, according to a studyfrom the Dieringer Research Group. Even consumers who plan to shopoffline will research their purchases online prior to buying. Infact, for every $1 spent online, the Internet influences $1.50 inbrick-and-mortar sales. So it makes sense that pay-per-click adshave become a workhorse for small businesses. With paid searches,you select keywords or keyword pairs, and your ad appears each timesomeone searches on them. Pay-per-click ads are offered by all themajor search engines and are one way to guarantee your ad will showup at the top of search results.

Create Hardworking Ads

Search corridor shoppers are ready to buy-it's the job of aneffective ad to persuade them to buy from you. For bestresults, create ads that specifically list all the important waysyou'll meet your prospects' needs. If your deli offers freedelivery, then your ad should say so. Got a bigger selection ofDVDs than anyone else? Put it in bold letters. Get the picture?Help your customers find what they need quickly and easily, andyou'll have standout search corridor advertising that will playa strong role in your marketing mix.

Kim T. Gordon is an author, marketing coach and mediaspokesperson-and one of the country's foremost experts onentrepreneurial success. Her newest book, Bringing Home TheBusiness, identifies the 30 "truths" that can make thedifference between success and failure in a homebased business. Kimoffers one-on-one coaching by telephone to motivated individuals,providing practical marketing advice and budget-consciousstrategies unique to your business. To receive free how-to articlesand advice, get information on coaching and appearances, read abook excerpt, or contact Kim, visit, a huge site devotedexclusively to marketing your small business.

Kim T. Gordon
Kim Gordon is the owner of National Marketing Federation and is a multifaceted marketing expert, speaker, author and media spokesperson. Her latest book is Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars.

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