Social media sites like Facebook, Yelp or TripAdvisor are critical for marketing and promoting small business. Not only do these sites provide free advertising, their “shareability” allows a business to expand its reach and visibility to audiences far beyond their local community. Built-in analytics, consumer ratings and direct messaging also give businesses valuable feedback and insights on what their customers want.
For businesses trying to attract out-of-town visitors, digital marketing becomes even more critical given that 75% of travelers these days use Internet searches to plan and book their travel. Likewise once travelers are on the ground at their destination over 50% depend on their mobile devices and user-review sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor to find places to eat, visit and stay (Source: Google Travel Study, June 2014, Ipsos MediaCT, p.10).
Yet despite the benefits of social media platforms and digital marketing for small businesses only a small percentage in the local region employ this free technology. Of the 169 tourism-related businesses I’ve reviewed across the three Letchworth Gateway Village communities, only 64% have a website and only 57% have actively managed Facebook pages. Less than 30% have a verified listing on Google Search, Yelp or Tripadvisor which are key platforms used by travelers to determine where they want to eat, visit and stay.
These types of digital platforms provide huge growth opportunities for small businesses that can learn to use them strategically. According to a recent survey by the Boston Consulting Group, businesses that took advantage of Yelp saw, on average, an annual increase in revenue of $8,000. For businesses that paid to advertise on Yelp, that annual revenue increase jumps to $23,000. (Source: BCG Perspectives "Unlocking the Digital-Marketing Potential of Small Businesses")
Consumer review sites aside, just having an accurate and visible presence online can make all the difference to travelers using GPS on their Internet or mobile devices. This is why, at a minimum, businesses should have a verified business listing on Google and a basic website with up-to-date information about their business like location, store hours and contact details.
Another reason why it’s important for businesses to make digital marketing a strategic priority is shifting demographics. Millennials, the generation born between the late 1970s and late 1990s, are now the largest living generation in our history. In 2017, millennials will have an estimated annual spending power of $200 billion and by 2020, millennials will account for 50% of the workforce (Source: Forbes "How The Millennial Generation Could Affect The Economy Over The Next Five Years")
The size of this demographic paired with its spending power and representation in the workforce makes them critical to any business’ customer engagement strategy. As the first generation of “digital natives,” traditional marketing methods such as print and television have less influence with Millennials. This is an important consideration for local businesses interested in reaching the 5000-strong student market at SUNY Geneseo. (Source: Goldman Sachs "Millennials Coming of Age")
Where to Start
To help local businesses navigate the digital space and keep up with key trends, Letchworth Gateway Villages has teamed up with SUNY Geneseo's Adopt-a-Business Program to provide one-on-one coaching support for businesses in Perry, Mount Morris and Geneseo. The program is now taking appointments through December 1st. To register for an appointment or learn more visit: https://www.geneseo.edu/cidd/adopt-business
Prefer a training workshop with other businesses?
In preparation for the holiday season LGV and the County Chambers of Commerce have teamed up with Google, Facebook, Square and Constant Contact to host a FREE livestream workshop to help you grow your business online in time for the holiday season. The workshop will be held November 1st in the following locations:
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