It was over 80 years ago that a car manufacturer first installed a radio into an automobile. It was another 40 years before cassette players appeared in cars. And finally in 1985 the first in-dash CD players were installed into the humble automobile. These incredible milestones in automobile history set into motion a trend that has evolved into in-car entertainment centers and informational hubs. These hubs take several forms, including GPS devices, on-board computers, and dash mounted smartphones. These platforms not only play music but also provide valuable information to the occupants of the car; such as weather, traffic updates, driving directions and nearby points-of-interest (POI).
Now-a-day, when a driver wants to travel from point A to point B they no longer consult a heavy road atlas, but instead tap a button on their console and simply speak their destination. This results in instantaneous directions being pushed to their interfacing device. When they need gas they no longer pull over at the closet gas station, but instead ask their car where the cheapest gas station is. When they are hungry they ask their phone for the location of the closest sandwich shop. Simply put a computer is now making recommendations for your current and future customers to either do business with your company or to not do business with your company.
What is the computer saying about your business?
All-right, to be fair it is not just a computer making the recommendations, but rather a computers interpretation of other customers experiences with your store. Either way it is becoming increasingly important to manage your companies digital presence, because more-and-more it is affecting your companys very real bottom line.
Over the next few minutes I am going to highlight several digital databases that store your companys information and influence buyer interactions with its information.
Control Your Business’s Digital Presence
To start of the list off, I choose the internet giant “Google”. While Google is most famously known for their website searching tools, they also have a number of useful applications that are integrated into a number of 3rd party programs and devices, such as GPSs, smartphones, tablet computers and more.
One such service is called “Google Places”, simply put Google Places is a database of businesses and points-of-interests that exist in the real world, not the digital world. Google uses the information from this database in many of its internal and external services such as Google maps, Android OS, and search results. When a user (customer) pulls up a map of their current location, Google will overlay the map with area businesses that may be of interest to that user. This means that if I am visiting an unfamiliar city, all I need to do is open a Google map (either on my smartphone or on my GPS device) and area businesses instantly appear on the screen.
Information that Google Places collects about your business include your location, phone number, hours of operation, business type, pictures of your business, reviews about your business, and more.
The two best things about Google Places are that:
1) You do not need a website to be placed on Google places;
2) It is 100% free.
Remember how I said Google Places has reviews about your business? These reviews are pulled from a website called “Yelp”. Yelp is a business review website that shares customers experiences with a company and rates that experience on a scale of 1 star to 5 stars. Yelp is a very important website to manage your customers experience because it shares your business ratings with many other websites and applications including Google, Apple maps, GPS devices, internet phone book listings and more.
What makes Yelp extremely helpful is that you, as a business owner, can interact with your customers. This means if someone gives you a bad review you have the opportunity to correct the problem and increase your companys ratings.
Like Google Places, Yelp is a free service and requires you to verify yourself as the business owner before interacting with the review services. On occasion there may be no record of your business on Yelp, if this is the case I highly recommend you create a (free) business account because like Google Places, Yelp shares company information with 3rd party programs that communicate with your customers.
This website is specifically for conveniences stores that offer gasoline.
Gas Buddy is a gas price tracking website that lets customers, or business owners, report the daily price of gasoline at area gas stations. Gas Buddy takes the information provided by its users and pushes its information to many GPS and other similar devices so that users can find not only the closest gas station, but also the most affordable one.
Because all of the information provided to Gas Buddy is crowd-sourced, the website often times has either missing or inaccurate information listed. As a convenience store owner, it is vital that you report your gas pricing to this website because many other digital services make recommendations based off its information.
Bonus: As an added bonus, Gas Buddy “rewards” you for submitting data to its service in the form of “points” you can then use the points to win prizes – such as fee gas!
Social Media Website:
To cover the topic of Social Media would take several blog posts to just partially overview; however I included it in this list because social media offers you, as a business owner, the opportunity to interact with your customers in their private lives. This increases the value of your business for these customers. Also social media allows your companys loyal customers the opportunity to tell their friends about you. Make sure that you have a social media presence, and that you constantly update your social media connections. Services to consider include Facebook, Twitter and Four Square.
Are you a Hibbert & McGee Partner?
At Hibbert & McGee we value our partnership with Vermont and New Hampshire small businesses. We do not see you as just a customer, but rather a valued partner. Because of that we do everything we can to further your success. If you are reading this post and want to know more on how to increase your digital presence online, please contact our marketing department and they would be glad to walk you through the process of controlling your businesses digital presence.
Not a Hibbert & McGee partner? Contact us today and find out how Hibbert & McGee can revolutionize your distribution needs including partnering with your business to increase your success.