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Making connections: Online directory focuses on Grand Valley businesses

Phil Castle
Business Times

Martin Duarte offers a testimony to the benefits of listing a company in a new online business directory.

Within days of adding Premier Signs & Neon to FindItLocalNow.com, the Grand Junction sign company was hired to install signs at a hotel. The response was greater and faster than Duarte, the owner of Premier Signs, had anticipated. “I was sold.”

Rick Nisley, a partner in the venture that developed FindItLocalNow.com, can’t necessarily guarantee a similar response for every business in the directory. But Nisley believes the comprehensive online directory strictly for the Grand Valley makes it faster and easier for potential customers to sort through the clutter of the Internet to find products and services — along with the local businesses that provide them. “They’ll not only find you, but they’ll find out about you,” he says.

The directory works the other way, too, in offering small businesses a venue in which to market over the Internet. The directory includes directions and tools that guide businesses through the process of creating a website with such features as coupons, maps and menus.

Nisley; his wife, Starr; and their daughter, Holly, have been working on the online business directory for more than a year. They launched what initially was called NoYellowPages.com in March, but rebranded the site as FindItLocalNow.com.

Rick Nisley says the directory features 7,500 listings, about 6,500 of those businesses. The directory also offers free listings for non-profit organizations. The directory offers several search methods: by category, business name or a key word.

Businesses can add their listings to the directory for free and include their names, telephone numbers, addresses and Google maps of their locations.

FindItLocalNow.com operates as a business by selling premium listings that include not only the basic information about businesses, but also customized Web pages containing documents, images, social media links and even video.

Premier Signs & Neon uses its Web page to present a photographic portfolio of the company’s work. Restaurants that have purchased premium listings include menus. Businesses with premium listings also appear in bold in searches.

Premium listings sell for $495 a year for the first category, with discounted rates for additional categories.

Nisley says FindItLocalNow.com is different from other online directors in several ways. “First of all, it’s local. That’s the biggest thing.”

What’s more, there are no pop-up ads on FindItLocalNow.com, nor will there ever be, he says. Still another distinguishing feature is the designation of businesses that offer products and services 24 hours a day.

Nattana Johnson owns Monument Graphics in Grand Junction, which helped develop FindItLocalNow.com in one of the biggest website projects in which the firm has been involved.

Johnson says the directory is unique in offering small businesses a venue in which to establish a Web presence without the substantial expertise or costs usually involved in that undertaking.

Nisley says the use of FindItLocalNow.com has increased to top 8,300 page views a month, nearly a quarter of those new visits. The average visit includes more than five pages and lasts nearly five minutes. People can access the directory not only on computers, but also smart phones.

Nisley says he expects the use of online directories like FindItLocalNow.com to increase as people rely more and more on computers and mobile devices to search out and obtain information about local businesses.

Judging from his own experience in listing his business on FindItLocalNow.com, Duarte agrees. “I think more and more people are using the Internet.”

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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