Yesterday I had a phone call from a company regarding my wife's website. She's a Garden Designer (www.chrisbarnesgardens.co.uk) and they were offering a very specific service - adding her website to Google Places. I have been on the Google Places bandwaggon for some years, but this is the first time I have been aware of a company offering a dedicated Google Places service.
Formally known as Google Local, Google Places is designed to put your website clearly in the local community and Google likes it very much. In the USA they are pouring resources into it and it's gaining in importance. If you run a business serving your local area you have to be on there. My wife's business does target the local area so she's already listed.
As can be seen from the listings the Google Places results take pole position - above the other organic listings - and there is also a map pinpointing the business locations. This isn't always the case, if you don't add a location keyword to your search Google Places listings won't appear.
So should you have your company listed? The answer is an emphatic 'Yes' - even if your market is national or worldwide. The reason being that it helps your PageRank, targets your local market and it's free. And if your business relies in any way on it's location Google Places is an absolute must. There's the opportunity to add photos and video, contact details, categorise your services and pinpoint your location on Google Maps.
You shouldn't need a specialist company to do this, your SEO agency should be adding and editing your Google Places entry as a matter of course.