5 Tips for Selling Your First Directory Listing

Published on August 25, 2021. Updated on August 22, 2022.

If you just launched your own directory website with Ideal Directories or are thinking about starting one, you're probably eager to sell your first listing.

However, landing your first paying advertiser is often the hardest sale.

This is true for any new business and it can take a little time for you to become comfortable with the sales process. But once you get in the groove and gain momentum, sales will come easier, referrals will start to trickle in, and you’ll be on your way to building a profitable online business.

The good news is there are plenty of ways, or opportunities, to sell your first listing fast, and relatively easily – some of them are right under your nose.

Here are 5 tips for selling your first listing:

1. Set Your Site Up for Success

Before you start calling on local businesses, make sure you finish setting up your website so it’s ready to show off to potential advertisers. Start by uploading a professionally designed logo and connecting your domain name. Next, establish your advertising plans and pricing and connect your Stripe account so you can collect payments online.

Nobody wants to be the first paying advertiser, so you’ll also want to add some sample listings. This will help ensure your site looks established, active and ready for advertisers to buy into. If your site looks empty or amateur, business owners will question your legitimacy which will make them wary of advertising with you.

How many sample listings should you add? Simply put: the more the better. We recommend adding at least a few businesses in each industry / category.

2. Reach Out to Family and Friends

Family and friends are a great place to start your sales efforts. We all know more business owners than we think. Think about the people in your personal network who own or manage a barber shop, hair salon, restaurant, plumbing company, body shop or any other business in your area.

Selling to friends and family is often easier because they already know, like and trust you, which is extremely important in sales. Although they are often overlooked as referral sources, friends and family alone can easily account for your first 5 - 10 sales. From there, rapid exponential growth will be a definite possibility.

If your friend or family member isn’t a business owner, they might work for a local business or know someone who does. Ask them to spread the word about your new directory website and recommend that they purchase a listing on your site. Make them feel special by offering a friends and family discount to any business owner that a friend or family member refers you to.

3. Tap into Your Social Network

Social media is a free source of advertising and should be leveraged in your site promotion plans. Most people have at least 100-200 friends on Facebook so it’s a great place to focus your sales efforts. Even if you get 5% of your network interested, that can mean 10 new listings right out of the gates.

Create a post that announces the launch of your directory website and be sure to mention advertising opportunities available for local businesses. Email or message local business owners and friends and invite them to create a listing on your site. Ask friends to recommend a business they think should be on your site - you can use this as a referral when you go to visit the business.

4. Sell Where You Shop

Chances are you already patronize many of the businesses in your area. Introduce yourself and your directory website the next time you're at your favorite pizzeria, coffee shop, supermarket, or dry cleaners. Drop off business cards and brochures that explain the benefits of advertising on your site. Most business owners will happily support your business since you’re supporting theirs. You might even want to consider bartering or trading advertising for a product or service you want.

Make it a goal to introduce yourself to at least one or two local businesses each week. Use this goal as the excuse you’ve been looking for to try out the new restaurant that opened up. In fact, new businesses make excellent prospects. Most new businesses invest heavily in advertising and are actively looking for different ways to spread the word about their grand opening.

Make sure you say hello and are friendly every time you visit, even if they haven’t signed up to advertise with you yet. Odds are you’ll earn their trust over time and will win them over – just stay at it.

5. Give an Offer They Can’t Refuse

Don’t be afraid to offer a discount to get your first paying customers in the door. After all, your goal is to sell your first directory listings as quickly as possible to get you to the point of profitability. Create a coupon code and offer a substantial discount to your first 10, 20 or 100 customers. Build value by assuring them that they will be locked into the low discounted rate for as long as they advertise – this can potentially save them hundreds or thousands of dollars over the next few years. Create a sense of urgency by letting them know this is a limited time offer that will not be available for long.


Final Thoughts...

While generating your first sale can often be the most difficult part of any business, it doesn’t have to be if you have a proper plan in place. These are just 5 tips you can use to help you sell your first listing(s) on your directory website without even having to do any cold calling on the phone. Use these tips to have fun while you immerse yourself in your community as a local business owner. Before you know it, businesses will be asking you if they can advertise on your site because you won’t appear to be a pushy’re just another small local business owner who is offering a valuable service - just like they are.
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