Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Fine-Tuning Local Search for 2007

Small businesses may soon be able to target their online ads to prospective customers who are within a few blocks of their shops - by Jeffrey Gangemi

Karl Murphy, president and co-owner of Carolina Auto Spa, a car wash and automotive detailer with two locations outside Raleigh, N.C., says his business depends on impulse decisions—no one makes an appointment to wash a car. So the company’s entire $4,000 to $5,000 monthly advertising budget is devoted to inspiring high-income prospects in the immediate vicinity to pull in and drop some coin. “Car washes live or die within a five-mile radius. If you put a [compass] and draw around my site, that’s where I advertise,” says Murphy. “My best friends 24 miles away won’t wash at my car wash—and I’d let them do it for free.”

A few months ago, Murphy started spending about $300 a month on Google (GOOG) and Yahoo! (YHOO) pay-per-click advertising. Murphy says the pay-per-click model works reasonably well for his business but it “would be much better if it had more specificity of location.” That way, Murphy says he could target more of the impulse purchasers—real estate agents and other “wired” professionals—who may not live in his area but are there for business with time to kill between appointments.

Read more at: www.BusinessWeek.com

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