Growing up in the Brainerd Lakes area I know exactly what to expect when visiting a local business. I can expect longer lines, additional traffic & more overall people during the months of May through September, and sometimes a bit earlier or later depending on the weather. This is an area of true beauty and charm, but only when it’s warm enough to be outdoors with freezing your face off. Many small businesses struggle through the winter months, with the summer months revenue keeping them afloat for the year. If your seasonal customers are that important to the success of your overall business, then you need to be accessible to those customers.
Your seasonal customers are likely coming from a metro-focused area where tech & online presence is their go-to for everything they need. They have things like Uber & Lyft to transport them around, Bitesquad, Grubhub, Doordash & many others that deliver them restaurant-quality food and Shipt & local grocery stores that offer a grocery delivery service to save them time and energy when it comes to shopping. They are using their mobile phones to service just about every single aspect of their life — do you think that intuition just disappears when they come up north? Sure, many of them prefer to step away from the devices keeping them from enjoying the outdoors, however, when they need information, they are still seeking it out on their phones. Is your businesses online presence ready for the summer season?
Does your business have a website? What type of information do you think your customers are looking for?
If you do not have a website, you need to change that ASAP. Your website is the one place online that you can 100% control and make changes to in a matter of minutes. Customers are looking for your website to learn more about your offerings. If you are restaurant, they want to know the type of food you have, cost range, hours of operation and the atmosphere they can expect to see. If you are a store, they want to know what they can find there, when they can shop & what sets you apart from all the other stores. Depending on your business model, you may have different content needs that your customers are looking for.
If you do have a website, is your website responsive? Meaning does it provide a beautiful experience on mobile phones & tablets. If you are seeing the same experience you would see on your computer screen, then it is not responsive. You need to ensure that your website is clean and easy-to-use. Most visitors are looking for those few key points — make sure your website has a mobile presence that convinces them that you are their next stop.
We can create a one-page website with a clean, professional appearance with the key information your customers need for less than $500. Turnaround time is about 1 week — you still have time before the busy season truly begins.
2. Social Media
Most people are on social media of some kind. Depending on your business model and your target customers, you need to decide which social profiles make sense. Most customers have Facebook — not everyone enjoys Facebook, but it’s a pretty standard place to have a business presence and your customers expect it. I see a lot of businesses do Facebook wrong. I see businesses create personal profiles or groups — these are not correct. Personal profiles require people to friend you before they can see anything & groups allow your customers to openly communicate with your other customers. You need a Facebook Page that is targeted for your exact business type.
I personally have a love-hate relationship with Facebook, but even if I Google search something, Facebook is going to pop up in the top results.
Instagram is popular with younger generations, 40 & below, and has amazing photo filters that make your images really pop and when you truly love the view you are currently seeing, why not share it with the world? If your business strives on appearances & beauty, you need to be on Instagram. Businesses like resorts, recreation, stores, restaurants — places where they can see your product & services and think “I want that!” need to be on Instagram. Unfortunately, Instagram requires you to have someone who is willing to post regularly. If you are not able to give this responsibility to someone on your team, then do not commit to setting this up. Lack of photos & content on Instagram will do more damage than good.
Being a techy person myself, Twitter is my go-to place to communicate with other tech nerds & people like me. If your target audience is folks that spend a lot of time on the internet either using it, building it & monitoring it, then your business should be on Twitter. However, much like Instagram, a quiet presence on Twitter can hurt your business more than it can do good. If you opt to have a Twitter presence make sure you are actually tweeting.
If you decide to commit to having social media profiles for your business, you can use tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to help you post to multiple social profiles at one & pre-stage posts when you have the time versus in-the-moment.
We can create your social media profiles for you by obtaining vital business information & creating design assets to ensure you have a fabulous looking social presence. We even offer content-creation services for businesses who want the social media presence but do not have the time to post.
1. Business Directories
If you can only commit to doing 1 of these 3 steps, then this is the one you should focus on. Your business information is likely already on places like Google Places, Apple Maps, Yelp, Trip Advisor, etc. However, is that information 100% correct & accurate? Are there bad reviews that you haven’t responded to? Have you ever searched your business and seen what comes up? It can be shocking if this is something you have never done in the past.
Things you need to keep up-to-date online
- Business Information like phone, address, hours, website, social profiles, etc. Most of this information won’t change, expect your hours. Odds are you have limited hours during the non-busy season. Make sure that your hours are always up to date!
- Photos — people want to see what they can expect when visiting your business. If you are restaurant, photos of your key dishes can bring in a group for dinner. If you are a store, photos of your top selling item could bring them into your store.
- Reviews — it is VERY important that you stay on-top of reviews from your customers. Enough bad reviews and your business will have an overall bad rating, causing potential customers to go somewhere else. Respond to your reviews and make sure that people see that if something doesn’t go right, that you are willing to correct it.
Places your business needs to be listed
- Apple Maps
- Google Places
- Trip Advisor
Other places your business could be listed
- Better Business Bureau
- Yellow Pages
- Yahoo Local
- Merchant Circle
- Your local chamber of commerce or visitors bureau
We can create 5 online business profiles (Google Places, Apple Maps, Yelp, Bing & Trip Advisor) for you with vital information, imagery & your first positive review (after we visit your business, of course) for $200. Turnaround time is 1-2 days + time to visit your business & write a review.
I want to see your business succeed
As someone who lives here full-time, I want to see every business in this area succeed. I recently moved back, and I am still not used to our lack of shopping, restaurants, services & other offerings. I want to make sure that our towns & businesses thrive even when we do not have those extra summer customers.
Please reach out to us if you need help making sure your business is accessible to your online customers. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 612.900.3365.