Google Maps is the leading mapping software for people on the go and for apps that use any type of location-based platform. Google has been aggregating local information from Yellow Pages and reviews from sites such as TripAdvisor, Citysearch and Yelp. Google Places has created thousands of websites for business owners and yet most of them are still unclaimed. Best of all, this is a completely free resource with no set-up costs or ongoing fees. How great is that?
Unfortunately, the majority of pizzeria owners are unaware of this free resource and could fall prey to paying someone who understands how to utilize it. I predict that many of you will have individuals coming into your shops this year and offering to set you up on Google Places for anywhere from between $500 and $1,500. They’ll probably make it sound extremely complicated too. Not to worry: I’ll save you some money and explain it all in this article.
When people leave their homes these days, they typically take three things: their keys, their wallets or purses, and their cellphones. More and more of these cellphones are smartphones or iPhones that have incredible capabilities, including a Google Maps app. When these busy people are on the move and looking for a place to eat, the first thing they do is pull out their cell and search “what’s near me.” This is where the two-kilometre rule comes into play. People are looking for something local.
This is what’s called local mobile marketing. It’s local, because it’s localized to the individual’s location. It’s mobile, because the individual is typically mobile. It’s marketing, because essentially it’s targeted marketing to these people on the go. If your business is on Google Maps, then chances are it’ll show up on their phone search. But if you haven’t claimed your Google Places listing, there won’t be very much information besides the address and phone number. In some cases, it could be outdated information or show an incorrect location on the map.
To be clear, a Google Places listing isn’t meant to replace your website. However, if you don’t already have a website, this is a great place to start that will put your pizzeria on the map. When you claim your business listing you can add your website, your hours of operation, your phone number, whether you take reservations, the forms of payment you accept, and the neighbourhoods where you deliver. You can even add up to 10 pictures and videos. You can also include a coupon to help these mobile diners decide to visit your pizzeria. Now when these mobile diners come to your pizzeria they can “check in” on their smartphones, which means telling the world they’re at your restaurant. When several dozen people have “checked in” at your pizzeria, you can become a favourite Google place. This also facilitates your guests adding reviews of their dining experiences. Again, this isn’t something that you have to pay for. This is a free resource to help mobile people find your establishment. Apps such as Foursquare use the Google Places resource, in many cases automatically uploading reviews to the Google Places site. This article isn’t meant to list all available apps and sites, as new ones are being developed every day and space here is limited. If you’re interested in more articles on this topic, please e-mail me or the editor.
How to list yourself on Google Places
Create a new Gmail account for the business, unless you already have one. Go to www.gmail.com to do this. You’ll see a box on the lower right side of the page that says, “Create an account.” Click on it.
Next, go to www.google.com/places and click on “places for business.” Log in and search for your business. Click “claim this listing” when you find it.
Complete the various screens, entering the requested information, selecting the categories that your business might be found under, and uploading photos, etc.
On the last screen, Google will either have two ways to verify the business listing or just one. If they have the phone verification method, make sure you are physically at your pizzeria and expect Google to immediately call with a four-digit code. As soon as you click the finish button Google will call you. Get the code and enter it into the page you are now on. Otherwise, Google will only tell you that it is sending out a verification post card to your business and to expect it in two to three weeks.
Your Google Places listing is also where you will be able to generate a QR code. A QR code is a two-dimensional picture that can be scanned by a smartphone and decoded. For example, once scanned, it will automatically launch the user’s Internet browser and bring the person right to your website. Or it could bring the customer to your Google Maps listing and show all the information you’ve entered. Or it could go to your coupon. As of writing this article, QR codes are not being used by Google Places in Canada; however, it seems safe to expect them soon.
Google Places is a great tool. It’s free, effective and simple to set up. Don’t miss out on making it easier for diners to find your restaurant. Especially those two-kilometre customers who are nearly outside your door!
Diana Coutu is a two-time Canadian Pizza magazine chef of the year champion, an internationally recognized gourmet pizzaiolo, the co-owner of Diana’s Gourmet Pizzeria in Winnipeg, Man., and a member of the board of directors for the CRFA. In addition to creating award-winning recipes, Diana is also a consultant to other pizzeria owner/operators in menu development, creating systems to run a pizzeria on autopilot, along with marketing and positioning to help operators grow their businesses effectively and strategically. She is available for consulting on a limited basis; for more information contact her at
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