Can you remember what life was like before the internet? Some of you probably can (and I count myself amongst you!), but it is getting harder to imagine how things would be if we lost this fantastic resource now. Apart from anything else, the internet does provide us with an amazing promotional tool, and the ubiquitous Google has made itself a key part of that facility. Who doesn't turn to Google early on in a search for information: whether it is to track down a book you've heard about, find a plumber (or business coach), book a flight, or even get directions somewhere, Google searches provide us with speedy & informative results, whatever it is we are looking for.
If you're in business, it's vital Google becomes part of your promotional mechanism. And how can you ...
Google Places for Business / Google+ Local is an incredible resource for anyone starting out or even well-established in their business, and what is even better is that it is free to use! And you don't even need to have a website in place!
Now we all know that when we search Google, the results that are produced are generally for websites that relate to the search terms that you've entered, and so, understandably, people assume that to get a listing on Google, you need to have a website that Google can find and direct people too. Generally, as I say, this is true, and it is helpful to have a site to promote your services anyway - as I discussed elsewhere. But Google Places for Business/Google+ Local is one part of Google where you can get listed whether or not you have a website.
Google Places for Business/Google+ Local is a part of the Google search function where, if people search for a term alongside a geographical reference - such as "business coach in Chester" - as well as the usual web links that such a search would generate, Google also flags up listings that have been created within their Google Places/Google+ Local service, and these listings appear AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE, WITH A MAP! You know the one; it's the map that shows you where some of the businesses matching your search term can be found.
Go on, try it. Open a new tab and do a Google search for "psychologist in Chester". What did you get? What I hope you found was a page with a listing for Mirror Coaching near the top of the page (not counting the 2 or 3 items in the cream box ... these are paid-for ads). But my listing is free, and it comes along with a map of the area with pin markers showing exactly where Mirror Coaching is based. This link includes our address and phone number and, if you click on the name 'Mirror Coaching', you go straight to our website.
However, try clicking on the blue 'Google+ page' link below my business name. This brings you to my Google+ page that includes more details of Mirror Coaching, including details of services we offer, information on appointment availability, directions to our offices, with a more detailed map, and more photos and my logo for Mirror Coaching! I intend to add lots more, but this is enough for now ... and it is all listed there FOR FREE! Even if I didn't have a website to direct people to, this Google+ Local page has lots of details that will help people find out about my services!
Do you think you could use this kind of free exposure? I suspect you would be happy to have it, and the fact is, it is easily available for you. All you have to do is register and enter your details. You'll need a Google Account, which you can set up with your email address and a password (for free). Then do a search for Google Places and click on the "List a New Business" link (or words to that effect, I can't see the original Google Places opening page anymore as I have an account there now) and follow the instructions to create your listing. Or go to Google+ and "Create a New Page". You do need a bricks and mortar premises (I think), as Google look to verify your listing is for a "real" business, either online or by post, where Google will send you an email or a postcard with a verification code that you need to then enter on the site to activate your listing. This can take a few weeks to come through by post and then to 'go live', but it is a small amount of time to have to wait to be able to benefit from such a superb free online listing service.
Go on, find yourself with Google ... because once you do, then so can a whole new population of possible clients ... sounds good, doesn't it?
For more ideas about how to grow your business, check out my Business Breakthrough Programme and learn how Mirror Coaching can help you progress your practice more efficiently. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org directly - I've got lots of support to offer to help you grow your business and make this year your best yet!