On the way home today, I went to the barber around the corner from my apartment in Manhattan. Naturally (ummm) the conversation turned to online marketing. Really.
Normally the father cut my hair. Today it was the son, Paul. He wanted to know about free ways to do online marketing and advertising, and I started bringing up low-cost options like Google and Facebook. With Facebook, I noted, it will be much more powerful when you can target by ZIP code and not just city.
Then we started talking about Yelp. Admittedly I don't know too much about advertising on Yelp, but the barber said he uses it and it does help the business.
Finally it occurred to me that the most concrete thing I could do for him was write a review. I base tons of decisions on reviews, so one more five-star rating could materially help his business. And since I never had a bad haircut there, five stars out of five was not just a nicety – it was true. As soon as I went home, after taking out the garbage, I wrote the review.
I should do this more, especially for local businesses or independent hotels/inns, or other establishments where it really matters. Of course, to a franchise owner – an important part of the business world – even reviewing a local KFC can help someone's livelihood. For local businesses where you get to know the properietor, it can feel especially rewarding. It takes just as long to write that as it does an average email, and it's likely far more important.
I need to do this more, such as for the dry cleaners and my favorite coffee shop. But this is a start. Whether it's Yelp or Menupages or Citysearch or Google/Yahoo/Bing Local, is there somewhere you love you can review?
By the way if you're in the Gramercy/Flatiron area of Manhattan and need a haircut, check out Classic Barber Shop on 27th between 3rd/Lex. I'm not the only one to give it a five-star rating either.