According to the Small Business Center at Sampson Community College, 97 percent of consumers search online for goods and services, but only 37 percent of businesses display correct information.
“They’ve already done their research about you and looked at you in some way, fashion or form,” said Director Amanda Bradshaw. “It’s not just folks strolling around and saying ‘this is a nice looking shop.’”
The days of just using a sign and a building to get sales are gone and the Small Business Center is working to help people become more tech-savvy though an upcoming session titled “Get Your Business Online with Google.”
“They’re using those mobile devices,” she said. “Your mobile devices get information from the Internet. So you need to have a web presence as much as you have a front door presence.”
The session is scheduled for 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan.27 at the Clinton City Hall Meeting Room, 221 Lisbon St. Everyone in attendance will receive a bag or T-shirt. Jeanne Eury, director of member services for the North Carolina Regional Merchants Association’s will work with local merchants in attendance about Google, which is connected to a lot of GPS systems.
“A lot of times folks addresses are not registered with Google,” Bradshaw said. “That’s how a lot of these GPS systems are sending you to these businesses. They’re using a Google-base data base. If it’s not right on the Google map, it’s probably not going to be right on your GPS.”
Through the internet, businesses with complete information online are more likely to be considered reputable by consumers.
During the session, participants will have the opportunity to review information currently on Google; claim and verify the contact person for their business; correct information; and learn about other valuable free business tools from Google to help increase visibility and to gain customers.
“People are also shopping online more and they’re checking out their phones and mobile devices long before they ever walk into your store,” Eury said. “You just need to make sure all of those presences are where they need to be and up to the standard where you want them to be.”
Bradshaw added that this can deter confusion about a service being offered and where to find it.
“They can clearly understand it before they walk into the door for your particular business,” she said.
She noted that many locations are not registered with Google. A lot of rural companies and businesses fall into the same category.
“Within a rural county, if you’re trying to draw crowds off a interstate or major highway, you really need to make sure the address and your hours of operation are all correct in the databases that are being provided by the GPS.”
Bradshaw indicated that entrepreneurs should take the first step towards having a Google establishment, but some are unaware that a Google page may have been created without them knowing.
“We need to make sure they’re getting all the right information the very first time they look it up on their mobile device,” she said about awareness efforts such as working with Mary Rose, Clinton-Sampson Planning Director and Main Street Manager.
Some business owners may be a little stubborn when it comes to linking their business with online world.
“They feel that they may not have enough time to manage a website, social media or the know-all to check out the Google site to make sure everything is correct,” Bradshaw said. “Sometimes they feel that they don’t have the education behind it they need to seek out help, they don’t do it and their losing customers.”
Following the Google seminar, SBC is hosting a Twitter session for business owners from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan.27 at the Clinton City Hall Meeting Room. The class is designed to help business owners establish a Twitter presence online. Some of the topics will include distributing information to followers, finding business partners, marketing and using hashtags to follow trends and to stay current in particular industries.
“Twitter is an opportunity and an option for folks to expand communication beyond the purchase,” she said.
Participants are being asked to bring a laptop or tablet to complete the workshops. If individuals attending are unable to bring a device, hand-outs will be provided to them.
For more information about the Google and Twitter events, contact Bradshaw at 910-592-8081, ext. 2032. Registration is also available at www.ncsbc.net
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.