For the first time in nearly a decade, online spending was reported to be 5% lower in Q1 of 2009 than Q1 of 2008. Although losses were not specified by category, it's clear that online advertising is not recession-proof.
Yet, glimmers of success are still found among gloomy reports and forecasts.
Yodle, an online advertising provider that specializes on small businesses in local markets, has repeatedly shown dramatic increases in year-over-year revenue gains over the past two years.
How dramatic? Try a 300% increase from 2006 to 2007, and 700% from 2007 to 2008. The company started with just nine employees and now boasts over 250. Additionally, Yodle's client list has jumped from 125 clients in 2006 to well over 5000 accounts managed in 2009.
What is Yodle's business model for success? As luck would have it, I was able to ask Court Cunningham, CEO of Yodle, that exact question (among others).
Court Cunningham (CC): Yodle delivers the strongest return on marketing investment to the small business owner. In 2007, 50% of online users performed searches for local businesses. In 2008, 82% of online users searched locally. Yodle focuses on providing an avenue for small businesses to "get found." We place our clients' ads on larger sites, such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN, as well as 75 other top-performing local sites, providing small businesses the online accessibility of a larger company.
Beyond Madison Avenue (BMA): When you say "small" business, what size company are you talking about?
CC: A law firm with 100 employees can be considered a small business... but Yodle's main focus is on businesses with ten or fewer employees. We are targeting the "S" of SMB. Small business owners realize that they need to be online now more than ever, and Yodle can get them there.
BMA: What does Yodle offer a small business that the online Yellow Pages or a local portal does not?
CC: The greatest benefit Yodle provides is more leads and a lower cost-per lead. Second, we accommodate small business owners by getting them online in an effortless (on their part) manner. If a business owner needs help developing a web site, we offer those services. Finally, Yodle provides full transparency and accountability. We supply clients with an online dashboard that records the number of clicks and calls from their ads. This allows them to record the clicks or calls that turn into qualified leads or sales versus those that did not go anywhere.
BMA: Do you focus on certain types of businesses?
CC: Businesses that benefit the most from Yodle are those in which the product or service has a high value. We cater to plumbers, electricians, cleaning services, locksmiths, personal trainers, contractors, construction companies, etc.
BMA: Do you advertise national companies on a local level?
CC: We do have clients that are national franchises, such as ServiceMaster, that advertise their services locally. But, the majority of our clients are small business owners. Yodle has a unique solution for national franchise companies that allows them to manage local ad dollars and national coop dollars through one easy to use product.
BMA: Currently, Yodle is in the Top 40 DMAs (markets). What are your expansion plans? Are you going to increase the number of markets that Yodle covers?
CC: No, our plans for growth are vertical, which will enable us to provide greater depth per market. We'll also be rolling out new products in the near future that will be beneficial for our clients.
BMA: Would you say that your greatest competitors are Yelp and other "like-minded" sites?
CC: Not really. We use Yelp and City Search to display our client’s ads. Our biggest competitors would be other sites like ours, and the Yellow Pages.
BMA: Please reiterate Yodle's advantage over these sites...
CC: Yodle will provide small businesses with a high volume of quality leads, complete service and transparency, and higher ROIs than advertising currently being used.
Yodle is yet another example of a company that thinks progressively and has the ability to succeed while others remain stagnant. Now is the perfect time for small business owners to take advantage of online advertising opportunities to increase their advantage over competitors. Yodle provides local businesses with a simple and affordable way to get new customers and phone calls while establishing an online presence. Click here to find out more about services offered by Yodle, as well as its clients' success stories.