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Where Do You Get Information on Local Businesses?

Not too long ago, people relied on printed directories, advertisements or word-of-mouth; the Internet has changed that

Earlier this month the latest edition of the local yellow pages was delivered to my driveway. I had to think hard about whether to keep it or toss it into the recycling bin. I may be showing my age, but there was a time when there was no question: A yellow page directory was the only way to find local resources from restaurants to movie theatres, plumbers to airline phone numbers. Even in the 90s, in a time before Google or even Yahoo, there were printed directories. I used to work in a bookstore (actual printed books) and one of the most popular books was the Rough Guide to the Internet which explained how the Internet worked and there was a directory of favorite sites.

Times have definitely changed. The Pew Internet report “Where people get information about restaurants and other local businesses” finds that the majority of people find this information online. This is especially true for young, tech-enabled and educated women.

We still rely heavily on word-of-mouth, but with social media it is so much easier to share opinions. Posting photos of a delicious meal or having a status extolling (or excoriating) a local contractor will spread your opinions much more broadly than simple chats with friends one on one. You can even go to Twitter or Facebook to specifically ask for opinions, which is much more efficient than asking your friends in person or on the phone.

Now we have Yelp to find restaurant reviews, local search on Bing, Angie’s List for trusted contractors and even just a basic search in Google to inform us. As we grow more accustomed to these online review sites, we also become more demanding. We want more local restaurant reviews in our own neighborhoods, more recommendations on good hardware stores, and no longer want to wade through reviews of Bethesda auto repair shops when we are looking for a reliable mechanic.

Your Patch site can be the source of reliable reviews from truly local sources. If you have a go-to pizza place or salon, share it with others. The more you share, and the more your neighbors share, the more useful the directories become. And businesses can also add their information so that it is easier for new customers to find them, which is yet another way that things have improved from the days of having to wait until the new phone books arrive.

Where do you like to find information on local businesses? Did the new phone directory replace a worn copy? Do you Google it or do you go straight to your iPhone?

Connie Moser February 11, 2012 at 11:55 AM
This is a great topic! I haven't used a phone book for over 5 years and I hate to see one on my driveway. The expense to accumulate the listings, proof, print and deliver must be astronomical. Mine go straight to recycle and for months after a new book has appeared, I pick them up when I'm picking up litter. Those books are often delivered to vacant houses helping to draw attention to the fact the house is vacant. If you were one of those people stealing copper pipe, what a great way for them to select their next house!

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