As we start our relaunch, we invested in rebranding our National Business Directory. It used to be a page on our site where we simply added each members company name. I really felt this did not add value to our membership so we focused on making our new directory, the National Small Business Directory, a more robust display that would actually be useful to our small business members and small businesses in general.

Once the directory was up and we started to populate it with our current members, we decided to offer a free listing to new prospects in the hope that in the future they would keep us in mind since we offer a ton of great discounts for small businesses. We also monetize the listings to cover our costs by placing affiliate ads.

So why are we getting so many people who are not interested in a FREE listing that may help their business get found on the web? I had to investigate and find out more. Apparently, there are a lot of scam directories out there!

According to the BBB, “Scammers call companies claiming to represent Yellow Pages or another business directory, real or fabricated. When the scammer gets someone from the business on the phone, he or she will claim to be updating the directory and asks for basic information, such as the business’s address, telephone number and email. After the target replies, the representative repeats back the information and prompts the employee to confirm the listing.
A few weeks later, the business receives an invoice for several hundred dollars for an ad or listing in the directory. When the business calls to complain, the representative says that an employee verbally confirmed the placement. In many cases, the scammer even plays back a spliced version of the previous conversation. The altered recording makes it sound like the employee agreed to the charge, when, in fact, he or she was saying “yes” to the listing information.

Yikes, we certainly do not want to be lumped in with scamming scum! Nor do we know how to combat the bad reputation that these scammers have earned for directories in general. I myself have gotten these kinds of random bills from yellow pages or similar places…each time I just throw it away.

At the end of the day we prevent this by reviewing every bill and charge that comes thru the company. Unless I have told our bookkeeper a new charge is coming she will not process anything without showing me. I sign every check by hand.

In the meantime we want to be very clear about our marketing methods and the strings attached to our FREE National Small Business Directory. We buy lists of small businesses that do not have a web site and employs less than 20 people. We find this is the audience that will benefit most from our services. We then call thru the list and offer every business a FREE listing. This is not free for 30 days, or free for the first year. This is a FREE directory listing for the life of your business. We cover the costs by placing an ad on these free listings, always making sure it is not a brand or product that is in competition with the small business listed.

We want to keep our listings as accurate as possible, so we call and follow up when the listing is live and then each year after that to make sure the business is still open and update information as needed. Still free by the way!

Now, we would not be a good business if we didn’t also try to sell these companies on our paid services. You may be asking why we bother with the FREE listing…we already bought a list of companies so why not just call and sell them the membership first. Well we want to show thru our first impression that we really are here to help all small businesses, not just the ones who have the money to pay for a membership. This lays the groundwork for a mutually beneficial relationship where we earn their business and keep it! Also, our directory is new and we want to fill it up with thousands of small business before we launch our app and campaign to “shop small every day”.

So if you are wondering if our free directory is a scam, I can tell you it is not. We are here to help! In fact, if you are taken in by one of these directory scams – call us. Our Business Advocates will call them and make sure you are not pursued by these companies! The only way to prove we are not one of these companies is to put them all out of business and we will gladly help with that and publish their names in the comments below so you can know who to avoid.

Is the National Small Business Directory a scam?