An online yellow pages company is offering independent sales organizations and sales agents a bundle of marketing tools to promote to merchants.
ISOs can earn signing bonuses and monthly residuals by persuading customers to take part in the promotions from Plantation, Fla.-based Real Local Pages LLC.
“Our ideal customer is the merchant that either doesn’t know what to do online or doesn’t have time to do it,” says Brad Daniel, Real Local Pages president.
It just happens that those customers fit almost exactly with the profile of small retailers and service providers that ISOs and agents sign up for card processing.
“It’s a nice match,” Daniel says.
Real Local Pages, which got its start in 2005, still maintains an outbound call center with hundreds of inside salespeople to cold call that type of merchant, but about eight months ago the company realized the perfect fit and started using ISOs to reach customers, too.
To recruit ISOs, the company hired Michelle (Talbott) Daugtry, formerly of Global Payments, as senior vice president, Daniel says.
So far, a “handful” of ISOs and a single processor are offering the Real Local Pages marketing program to merchants, he says. The company is looking to sign up super-ISOs and processors and isn’t ready to deal directly with larger numbers of small ISOs.
It plans to scale up its support staffing as the ISO channel grows, Daniel says.
The ISOs are offering the company’s two standard marketing plans, one that sells for $29.99 a month and another that costs $49.99 a month.
ISOs receive a signing bonus of $25 to $50, depending on the volume of business they generate, and monthly residuals of $5 to $10, Daniel says.
That adds 25% to 33% to ISOs’ bottom lines, according to the company’s calculations. The increased revenue can boost the value of a portfolio if an ISO plans to divest, he notes.
Real Local Pages also provides its ISOs with qualified leads for card processing services. The company generates the leads by directing call center operatives to ask merchants whether they’re open to changing processors.
Pitching the marketing services gives ISOs and agents something other than transaction services to discuss with merchants, Daniel says. That becomes a differentiator in the crowded and competitive card services market, he says.
That’s why the ISOs offering the services are closing 15% more deals than before they began working with Real Local Pages, according to Daniel.
The services also should improve merchant retention because they provide another reason to stick with a processing relationship instead of changing providers for a slightly lower fee, he suggests.
The services include listings on the Real Local Pages site, Daniel says. A flower shop, for example, would be listed under “florist,” “gift baskets” and “funerals” – up to six categories.
Consumers looking for flower shops could enter any of those any of those keywords into a search engine and find their way online to the merchant.
To increase the chances of connecting with those consumers who are searching online for merchants, Real Local Pages has formed partnerships with two other sites: superpages.com and yellowbook.com. That way, merchants’ listings reside on all three sites, greatly increasing the chance that consumers will find them.
“They’re both partners and competitors,” Daniel says of the other sites. “They’re a way for us to extend our reach.”
By listing merchants on all three sites, between 70% and 75% of the consumers who are searching the internet will come across a merchant working with Real Local Pages.
To further increase the chances consumers will happen onto a merchant during online searches, the company provides each merchant with a “mini-portal,” a website primed with search-engine optimization. In other words, the mini-portals are designed to appear frequently in searches, a quality that many merchants fail to build into their own websites.
The company populates the mini-portals with information relevant to the merchant’s business, and merchants can modify the sites if they wish or may choose not to modify them. The mini-portals also have a link to the merchant’s own website.
If merchants have videos, they can upload them to YouTube though a Real Local Pages dashboard. Posting the videos this way ensures that complete businesses information, including address and phone number, appear on the screen next to the video, something that might not happen when merchants put videos on YouTube on their own, Daniel says.
Real Local Pages also manages social networking, such as Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, populating the pages with content relevant to the merchant’s business and updating it four times a month, he says.
The company’s staff posts content to the mini-portals and social-networking sites that includes general information on the merchant’s industry and seasonal tips.
The $49.99 package comes with all of the company’s services, including listings in the three yellow pages sites, the search-engine optimization sites, YouTube postings and social media networking. The $29.99 offering has one less yellow page listing and does not include the YouTube posting.
“It’s just throwing a lot of lines into the water,” Daniel says of the bundles of marketing services.