Brownbook.net (www.brownbook.net) is a brand new website that helps consumers find reputable local businesses in Portland. It's an online local business directory, but with a special twist – anyone can update the information in it and anyone can review any business.
The founders launched the service after experiencing the long delays and high cost of getting their own business listed in the big directories. In addition, they realized that their best advertising was word of mouth from happy customers, but the big directories had no way for them to present those testimonials to potential customers.
"We are launching in Portland with 74,760 businesses of every type already listed - a number that is growing daily as people add businesses of al types and sizes," said Marc Lyne, Brownbook.net chief operating officer. "Any business owner can find their listing or add it to Brownbook.net instantly for free."
Business owners can include additional contact and marketing information to help more potential customers find and reach them.
In Brownbook.net (www.brownbook.net) even the smallest business like gardeners, dog walkers and people 'moonlighting' outside of their day jobs can immediately add their business and update their listing at any time – for free. They can even add photos, videos, marketing information and links to their own website.
People looking for a local business in Portland can read reviews written by other people about any business, helping them and other members of their local community evaluate businesses before making contact.
Anyone can also check out businesses they already know and add positive or negative reviews depending on their experience of those businesses, directly contributing to the local reputation of the business and helping other local consumers.
If a business you want to review is not already listed it takes just seconds to add it, so you can be the first to review it and voice your opinion.
"We knew that the big directory companies had monopolized the local directory business for decades, charging businesses high prices to advertise and giving no way for consumers to judge the credibility of businesses," Lyne said. "We set about building Brownbook.net by embracing wiki principles of 'anyone-can-edit,' but we made it so simple that even the most techno-phobic could do it.
He says that Wikipedia, the user-generated encyclopedia, became their model of operations.
"The result is a local business directory where anyone can add businesses, edit, or add reviews."
The service is free to use for consumers and for businesses. Regular users can optionally register with the site, which lets them build their user profile, keep a record of all their reviews and updates, create a list of their favorite local businesses, and show a picture of themselves to accompany their reviews.
Business owners can get instant alerts of any reviews or updates to their listing by claiming their listing for $10 a year, and those that want to promote their business listing with marketing information, photos and videos can do so by choosing from a range of five promotions that are $2 each for a year.