Directories: Digital Marketing “Do” or Dinosaur?

Does directory participation matter in this day and age? Consider these few tips to make sure your strategy remains relevant.

As marketers manage their limited budgets and time, it’s easy to put low priority on participation in directories. “Aren’t they dinosaurs, just like phone books?,” some might ask.

Not at all!

While it’s true that dynamics have changed through the years, participation in directories can be even more powerful these days for connecting with fresh prospects and driving traffic to your brand. The key is having the right strategy. Here’s what you need to know to get the most from your efforts.

3 Tips for Successful Marketing with Directories

Think niche. Putting your name in every directory just for the sake of generating backlinks is no longer a win with Google. Unlike the early days of SEO, search rankings now weigh relevant context over mere quantity of links. So which directories you participate in makes a difference. Those from a high-authority site in your industry will be a lot more influential than local or general directory participation.

Also, consider whether the source of the directory focuses solely on contact listings or whether it also provides relevant news and perspective across the industry—linking with the latter will be far more effective.

View participation against the backdrop of changing buying teams. Real benefit of directory participation isn’t just about link value, however. Also key is discoverability and connection with your addressable market.

Trends across B2B show buying teams that are larger and more prone to fits and starts in their research and vetting processes these days. According to recent PMMI Media Group research, 32 percent of machinery buyers have seen their buying teams grow over the past five years. And one in five have buying teams of 5+ people. (Source:

What this means for marketers is that it’s now more important than ever to find ways to increase the likelihood of your brand getting seen from this diverse group. Participation in directories associated with well-respected events and trade media can cut across this wide swath of decision makers and attract fresh eyes beyond narrow customer lists.

Also, the role of directory inclusion in trust-building shouldn’t be overlooked, particularly when there are decision influencers that may not have been as involved in past purchases. When someone is new to researching options, directories and “best of” reports are an easy way to identify primaries in the competitive landscape. What’s more, because most directories have a relatively long shelf life (especially those in print), the right placement can keep a supplier top of mind as key players within the buying team shift over time.

Pro Tip: Don’t give short shrift to picking your categories when participating in directories. Think about your ideal prospect: How would this buyer be most likely to search for you? Also, be selective with category placements. It’s better to have fewer, well-supported listings that showcase your areas of core strength (and content) than to simply grab as many categories as tangentially possible. You’ll be more successful being perceived as having expertise in the buyer’s area of interest than watering down your listing as a generalist. (You’ll also attract those buyers that you are best equipped to serve!)

Take a beat to think like your prospects. Whether a directory search occurs online or onsite at a trade show, it’s a moment that’s golden to marketers: You’re in front of the eyes of someone actively searching for solution providers.

So when given the opportunity for inclusion in a listing that’s more than company contact information, don’t waste it by simply rambling on with ho-hum facts about the history of your organization.

Instead, focus on areas most meaningful to those in buying mode­­, such as key applications and industries served, as well as ways to get these viewers to your website (or trade show booth) for additional information. Successful traffic drivers might include showing highlights of equipment or referencing applicable case studies. By taking the extra time to thoughtfully maximize visibility in these directories, you’ll up your likelihood of being contacted by prospective buyers.


Mark Your Calendars: Deadline for “Leaders” Is Fast Approaching!

PMMI Media Group offers the preeminent print and online directory package for suppliers in the packaging, processing and automation industries.

Participants receive company profiles in print, branding print ads, and significant web presence, including:

  • Presence in the relevant media brand’s homepage directory, links to the supplier’s site and a profile space that facilitates sharing the supplier’s product information, sales contacts, videos, press releases, case studies and company news
  • Amplification of the supplier’s YouTube videos on the media brand’s site
  • Contextual company profile pop-ups on the media brand’s site triggered on relevant articles and pages associated with the particular category(ies) the supplier has selected
  • A custom widget with the supplier’s company logo that can be used by the supplier on its own site to steer readers to its profile page with the relevant media brand

Contact Wendy Sawtell, VP, Sales for more information at

Deadlines are as follows:

Packaging World
Leaders in Packaging
Reservations accepted until 11/27

Automation World
Leadership in Automation:
Reservations accepted until 12/17

ProFood World
Leaders in Processing
Reservations through mid-January

Healthcare Packaging
Premier Suppliers
Reservations accepted until 1/17

Written by
Sarah Loeffler

Sarah Loeffler is Director of Media Innovation and Marketing Insights at PMMI Media Group (

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Written by Sarah Loeffler