Local Business Listings done correctly are a great way to attract local buyers. Customers love them, because they can compare reviews from one company to another. After the buying experience customers can join the conversation by writing their own reviews.
Business owners like the listings, because they can see how people rate their business. They can see where they are doing well and what needs to be improved. The savvy business owners will even address customer complaints to ensure a positive word-of-mouth.
Before review sites, companies could not be a part of the word-of-mouth they generate. Now that the conversation between customers has gone online, the business owner can join it. In the pre-review era all a company could do was to ask customers to "tell their friends". Now the business owner can incentivize customers to review them online which reaches a greater audience than just a circle of friends.
Another reason for encouraging patrons to review your business is to gain higher display frequency. Google's local business listings (Google Maps) are rotated for each search. This means that for competitive keywords your listing might not show up a lot of the time. Listings with a greater number of reviews are rotated in more often than listings with little to no reviews. This is because Google sees reviews as business creditability and rewards companies with greater creditability.
Local business listings are a great place to start your Internet Marketing portfolio for your local business. The next post in this series will teach you how to get started and how to leverage your listings for online success.