Big or small business, the answer I frequently hear when I ask, “what are your biggest challenges,” relates to marketing and advertising. Essentially, connecting with existing and potential customers or clients. And this isn’t just limited to businesses, but nonprofits and other organizations as well.
As a business owner, you invest a lot of effort into crafting the best service or creating the best, highest quality products you can. But without a way to get your message out there and connect with customers, your results are going to be limited. Fifty or seventy years ago, maybe that wasn’t as big of a concern. Choices were limited and there were fewer things competing for customers’ attention.
Today, just the opposite.
Customers are overwhelmed with choices and alternatives. As a business owner, you have a near-endless array of marketing vehicles and tools at your disposal, if only you had the time, money, or knowledge to utilize them.
So, maybe you created a website, and maybe you even employed shotgun-social media…where you register a profile across every social media venue you can. Or perhaps you’ve chosen to focus your efforts on just one, like Facebook or Instagram, and practice spaghetti-social media every day…you know, when you post everything you can just to see what sticks?
We’ve all been there. And don’t get me wrong, some of this is necessary and just part of the new reality. But…
Let’s be honest, the problem isn’t just you, it’s them.
Customers and clients are just as inundated with messages and distractions for their attention. They may love your posts and photos, and that’s great for rapport, but those posts may not lead directly to business.
Sure, maybe if they’re scrolling through Facebook right before lunch, and they just happen to come across that post you made with the amazing food photos, maybe they’ll decide to stop in for lunch.
But more times than not, that just doesn’t happen.
We’re Here to Help
Along with helping everyone discover new things about and places within McHenry County, one of the other primary goals of McHenry Life was to take our knowledge and experience within digital marketing and apply it at scale to McHenry County businesses, nonprofits, and organizations.
By creating this marketing channel, we provide a vehicle for you to promote your business (freely) to connect with potential customers. We’re not a replacement to your website, we’re a path to lead customers to it. But we also wanted to do this in a way that provides the most value to your customers, which is why we built in some of the features that we’ll share below.
We’ve pulled together the top 9 reasons we think you should claim your free McHenry County business listing.
1. It’s Free
Given that one of the other big challenges to businesses, especially small ones, as well as nonprofits, is money…specifically marketing dollars, so having a free marketing channel at your disposal is certainly one of the most important features we have to offer.
No matter what your budget is…or isn’t, the more opportunity you have to put your message in front of someone, the better. Especially if your message gets there at the time they are receptive to it! And if all it takes is a few minutes of time, all the better.
We do also offer paid subscriptions that offer even more features, but our free directory subscription may be more than plenty for many businesses, especially new ones starting out.
2. Easily Manage & Update Your Directory Listing
We won’t get in the way.
Once we approve your listing initially (which we can usually do within minutes or hours of your submission), you have full access to manage your directory listing. There’s no “one way” to do a directory listing.
Some restaurants run with the same menu for years, while others supplement the main menu with sheets for specials, and some change their menus every season. None of those is necessarily the right or wrong way.
Similarly, your approach to your directory listing might be a “set it and update as need be” or a more active approach. It’s your listing. It’s our job to make it easy.
When your business, nonprofit, or organization is listed on McHenry Life, you have your own login and the ability to add, remove, or change details at any time, as often as you need to or like. You don’t have to submit changes to us to make for you within our McHenry County directory.
3. Connect with Customers with What Matters to Them
Do you know what matters to your customers?
Or put another way, do you know what your customers love about you? The reality is, every customer is different and there is an endless array of things that may be important to them, and it may vary over time or situation.
WiFi availability, kid-friendly, pet-friendly, outdoor dining options, ability to make reservations, discounts for military or seniors, types of payment accepted…the list is endless.
We can’t even begin to list everything that might be important to your customers, but we went out of our way to do the best we could to include some of the things that may be most important to a lot of them.
We give you an unprecedented opportunity to communicate more details about your business than any other directory listing service we’ve found. This is true for the free listing option as well as the paid ones.
Why do we do this? Because it’s the right thing to do.
Our site users can search and filter listings on what matters to them, and we want to make sure you are able to “show up” when you should. That’s why we encourage you to take an extra minute or two to include these details, most of which only require a few mouse clicks on a list of options.
We have over 30 different information details at your disposal. Here are just a few: kid or pet-friendly; whether alcohol is available, allowed, can be carried in, etc.; WiFi availability; whether food is available, allowed, can be carried in, etc.; take out and delivery options; what type of parking is available; fees and payment types accepted; type of entertainment, etc. Most are available across all listing categories, but some may vary depending on the category.
4. It’s a Path to Your Website
We are not a replacement for your website.
Our goal is to help you message and publicize your business, nonprofit, or organization…to get it on the radar of your audience, and help get them to your website. That’s why every directory listing (free and paid) can include a link to your website.
If your business doesn’t have its own website, maybe you want us to be your “website.” And you can use that link for a different destination…perhaps to your business page on Facebook or Instagram, or maybe an online ordering platform…you name it. Either way, you have the option to make McHenry Life the destination, or the path to help get your audience to wherever you want them to go.
5. We Let You Show Off
Upload high-quality, large resolution images. No, really. Please do.
Personally, we hate tiny images where we can’t even make out what we are looking at.
Even basic smartphones have enormous photographic capabilities now. There is no reason that your listing can’t have amazing images. And these images speak volumes to your potential customers.
We want to make sure they help tell your story. That’s why we allow and encourage you to submit images that are high-quality and up to 1500 pixels wide.
Every directory listing subscription includes at least one image upload, even the Basic free subscription. While uploading multiple images does require a paid subscription, there’s no reason you can’t upload at least one amazing photo that helps deliver your message and promotes your business. We even have a photo guide to help you.
6. We Help Boost Your Brand
Because brand building is a 24/7 job, we also encourage you to upload an image of your logo as well. We want to help boost your web presence and reinforce your messaging.
And to that end, you control the main images on your listing through the photos or the logo you upload. Anyone who shares their experience on your listing page can also upload images, but their images are kept separate and below your primary listing space.
7. Share When You Are Open
It still amazes us how hard it can be just to understand when a business is open!
It’s probably one of the most sought out details about your business, by both potential and existing customers. We think it is so important that we also feature that information on your listing card, even before they click through to your listing page. But we can’t provide this information if you don’t.
Maybe your hours are a little more complex.
Do you open for lunch but close again before opening in the evening for dinner? Not a problem.
You can not only specify the hours of individual days, you can have multiple open/close times within a single day.
8. We Help Amplify Your Message
If we can help spread the word and play some part in making your business, nonprofit, or organization a success, we succeed. While we make no guarantees, in addition to your listing on our site, we may post and share your listing across our social media channels when we can to help spread your message.
How’s it feel to have someone in your corner?
9. We’re Hyperlocal Focused
We are hyper-focused on McHenry County and require any listings on McHenry Life to have a McHenry County address. This means that your business doesn’t get lost in a sea of listings from Chicago or surrounding counties.
And people can easily look up businesses by city or even within a few miles of their location, as well as search and filter by all those amazing details you provided.