I've been working with Tyler Hammer of Turn the Page Online Marketing for a few months now. Oh my! The things he's taught me! Not only the technical stuff that you need to know about SEO's (and all the . . .
For Google Places now read Google+ Local. Yes it is all change as the implementation of Social Search by Google pushes further forward. Google+ for business is a social experience borne from the inbound marketing concept. The old "interruption" methods will not work here. You business persona online with Google+ is a social place that by virtue of its engagement become more apparent in results pages.
The first step is to set up your personal Google+ account. You use this to set up your business on Google+. You have a number of choices:
That pretty much covers everything. The local business or place fits the bill if you have a physical location that is visited by customers. For the purposes of generating customers this is the best option if you have a location.
Once you have set up and verified your Google+ Business Page you can start to use your page to communicate with customers and potential customers. At the same time you can measure the results you are achieving. As always with permission based marketing there are no short cuts. Your engagement comes at the cost of your time. If you find the time to engage here are some ideas on things you can do on Google+.
You can share almost anything on Google+ - Posts, Images and Videos. You can easily control who sees what posts using the Google+ circles function. With Google hangouts you can communicate with your customers via a live video on any range of topics. The beauty of this is it doesn't matter where your customer is, you can have a face to face video session. One of the most important shares on your Google+ page is the "public" one which can filter into organic search results.
You can simply and effectively promote your page using a range of tools from Google. You can even use the Google+ logo in your marketing materials.
These promotional aspects of Google+ can get pretty involved and you can see from Google that they provide a significant impact into Social Search.
Google has always understood the benfit of measurement and with Google+ they bring a new dimension of understanding to measuring social data to the benefit of businesses. You can use search rsults to understand what people are saying about your brand. You can use your circles to monitor "ripples" who is sharing your content or not. You can use Google Analytics to measure your social reports and your on site activity with the +1 button.