New Startup Gives Local Businesses Big Internet Presences

It is crucial that business owners today promote and market their businesses online and locally in order to remain competitive and relevant.

Fortunately, for business owners who don’t have the time, patience, or savvy to create a powerful online presence, a number of services –including Foursquare, Yelp and Citysearch – have sprung up to fill that very need.

It seems, though, that an important missing component is an organising platform that allows local businesses to market themselves across a plethora of online channels easily and affordably.

Recently, I came across just that – a new service called LocalVox that allows businesses to publish and build their brands online locally with not much more than the click of a button.

The startup, which is based in Manhattan, is serving a rapidly growing demand of businesses that need to market themselves online but don’t know how and aren’t interested in spending thousands of dollars monthly for consultants.

LocalVox, founded in 2011, has hundreds of local business customers, including Whole Foods. Clients range from retail stores to restaurants and activity centres to beauty salons.

“LocalVox has done more to promote my business than I could have imagined,” said New York City hair salon owner Elise Giannasi. “It’s been a real boon for me and has helped me get this business off the ground with almost no effort.” Giannasi claims LocalVox has yielded her a 10-fold return on investment.

The genius of LocalVox is that it allows local businesses to be active across dozens of important online sites with minimal time needed from owners.

The service enables its customers to login to an intuitive interface and write events, deals and news updates, which are then automatically e-mailed to their customers, updating to their websites, posted to their Facebook and Twitter accounts and published to a powerful network of local blogs and publications.

The site also makes sure its customers are listed accurately and consistently across the major online directories – like Yellow Pages – which boosts Google Places rankings.

“LocalVox helped me launch my photography business. I now generate local PR, rank on Google, email my client lists and much more with a platform that doesn’t take much time at all,” said customer Ira Black. He has reported a six hundred per cent return on his investment.

Teaming up with LocalVox, Black says, has also enabled him to scrap a newsletter that had been costing him $100 per month and he has since stopped paying $500 per month for promotion on Yelp.

Tracy Frost, owner of 10,000-square-foot family membership club Citibabes, has likewise experienced great cost savings with LocalVox. “It is much more effective than the thousands I had been spending,” said Frost. “LocalVox has filled an important void by letting Citibabes reach out directly to the community.”

After two months of using LocalVox, Citibabes now appears on the first page of Google for the term “preschool SoHo.”

By providing local businesses with a variety of resources, LocalVox sees itself as the ‘one stop shop’ for all of a local business’ online marketing and promotional needs. There are surely competitors in the space, but it seems LocalVox is claiming a nice piece of the pie.

My favourite thing about the service is its pricing – which ranges from for $199-$749 a month, depending on the package.

LocalVox recently relocated from SoHo to a 14,000-square-foot headquarters in Manhattan’s Financial District, which will include an educational centre – the SoLoMo Lab (an abbreviation of the words: social, mobile, and local). The centre will offer free weekly digital marketing classes to local business owners.

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