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Offline Business Directories are Out - Online directories are In!

Apr 1, 2008
Business directories have always been useful if you remember the name of a restaurant, shop or electrician but can't find the telephone number. But what if you're new to an area and you're starting from scratch? You open a large directory and see pages of anonymous listings. The only logical place to start is with the "A"s. The whole experience is a gamble and a step into the unknown, making you feel vulnerable and unsure.

Offline, hardcopy directories can't offer any more than a listing service, and one that is updated after long intervals at that. If what you ideally want is a neighbour or friend to say "You should try X, I think they offer what you're looking for", but you're in a new place or can't find someone to recommend you something then what do you do? And when is a business directory more than just a business directory?

You'll find many online directories are not merely listing sites but include recommendations, ratings and reviews too. These allow you to quickly get to the right person or place for you, without wasting time contacting endless unsuitable service providers, before (hopefully) getting to the right one.

A big advantage of many online directories is that they offer national coverage. Sure, your local directory can give you the number of your local Italian restaurant, but what if you're visiting another area and want to book somewhere there? Or maybe you want to arrange for an electrician to sort out your elderly relative's wiring in another part of the country? Online directories will not only allow you easy access to services elsewhere, but ratings systems give you added peace of mind in unfamiliar territory.

Good online directories are updated much more frequently than their hardcopy equivalents, which tend to be published annually. The online directories should therefore be much more accurate, we all know that small businesses quite often change names or sometimes go out of business, so it's frustrating for everyone if they remain listed in offline business directories.

There are some aspects of life that are well known to be efficient online. Increasingly people are booking flights online, buying books and CDs from websites, even their groceries. It's the services that we traditionally organise using a business directory that can be done so much more satisfactorily online. For example organising home improvements with a builder, plumber or other tradesman. Letting someone into your home to fix it is a big deal, you want someone you can trust to do a good job and who will treat you and your home with respect. This is a prime example where a recommendation or rating, rather than just a name and phone number, is essential. Similarly with other areas of life where it's essential you get a good service - party entertainers, childminders etc.

Not only do online directories often include reviews or ratings, but there is much more scope for additional information alongside simple contact details. Photographs, links to a website, detailed descriptions, sometimes even video footage all let you make an informed choice about the business you spend your money with. Online business directories are a real step forward in providing busy, discerning people with a reliable source of contacts.

So better turn to an online service of which there are a growing number. Not only can an online business directory be updated regularly, making it more reliable than an annual publication, but you get the added bonus of peace of mind from previous users. All valuable stuff. And space on your bookshelf for something more interesting than lists and lists of business contact details...
About the Author
Expert business consultant India Cooper sets the case that paper a business directory is out of date with the online business directory proving significantly more helpful. To find out more please visit http://www.ratedpeople.com/
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