A customer asked me whether he should advertize on Yelp. He has a well established business with a good website and a great reputation. He already does the right things offline, with plenty of networking and professional affiliations. This was my response:
You have a certain budget. The real question is - what is the best way to spend it?
a) Yelp. Straight advertizing. Yes – my first choice for straight advertizing dollars.
b) SEO. Take it to the next level. Ask an SEO expert what he would / could do for the money. I already did SEO work on your site. He can do more work off your site – building your inbound links etc
c) Social Media campaign. Ask a Social Media guru what she would / could do – pay for a certain amount of ghost writing on a blog, a certain amount of posting etc etc
Option (a), advertizing is easy in many ways because you ‘just’ pay for it. It is immediate and it does not require time or effort from you, both of which are precious commodities.
But I really think it is worth at least finding out about (b) and (c) first and deciding whether either of them are right for you. If either of them work, they work for longer than the time you are paying for them. The advertizing benefits stop the day the ads end, but the others are investments that last longer.
So… if you have no time, just do the advertizing. If you have any time, find out what what the advertizing would cost for 6 – 12 months and ask for SEO and Social Media quotes for the same money.