Red on Marketing Blog

Making Things Happen with Business Directory Listings

b2b lead generationWhere do your directory listings lead? What have your paid links done for you lately?

If you're like me, you're getting hit up by business directory sales guys. Maybe it's niche directories in your industry; or maybe umbrella directories like,, or Yahoo Business.

"You want to be in front of business decision makers when they're looking for services, don't you?" they ask me. Which to me is as irritating as, "you want your baby to be born healthy, don't you?" (No, I'm not having a baby. I'm recollecting ancient history.)

Despite irritating truisms, sometimes a directory is just where we should be. If so, there's more investment required than the few hundred bucks for the directory listing. In other words, it's on me to make the business listing make things happen.

My checklist for making listings make things happen

Here is my 'checklist' for making sure directory listings pay off - whether it's B2B or a client picking up the tab:

1. Care what happens

The goal is to convert more people already coming from the directory listings – right? So what we care about is not so much being found, but rather being engaged... being contacted... being asked for information.

A link to the home page is rarely a good idea. We've got to welcome potential customers by offering them a seat in a well-appointed conference room, not by dropping them off at the entrance to our office building. A front door drop off means they'll have to check the directory on the wall, find the elevator, and navigate the hallways before they knock. If we care about having their butt in our seat, we need to guide it there.

2. Be specific

I also look at whether directory listings are feeble or robust. Are we offering a preview of something concrete and telling how much time/ how many steps to get it?

A nice trailhead is easy...

In a directory we offer a ‘trail head’ for the best prospects. The trail needs to be well maintained and get them promptly to something worth hoofing it for. But I'm not just talking about a landing page. We need to get the prospect to and through these points and more:

  • First conversion – with "here is something to help you learn about X topic and about us"
  • Pre-meeting – with "here is something to help you get the most out of our first meeting"
  • Contract – with "here are services to help you get the best results"
  • Post-project – with "here are other ways you could use us (related services... periodic check ins...)" and "here are ways you could share your opinion (survey, testimonial, referrals, subscribing, comments at blog...)"

My fake trailhead sign above helps illustrate how a trailhead should really say something like ‘Pike’s Peak Overlook – 0.5 mi - moderate terrain,' to set expectations for a hiker. Prospects pick up the trail and follow it past each ‘marker’ (decision point), seeing clear confirmation at each point that they’re going the right way to get to their goal.

The trail should be a loop, returning to the trailhead (related services).

Too loopy?

Do any of these metaphors help? Are you happy with what you're getting from your directory listings? Got a good one to point to as an example or one that you need help to improve?

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Topics: Performance Lead Generation Design