Staking a claim in the digital age is very important for local businesses to put themselves in a position to be easily found by visitors making their way up and down the highways.
To keep up with the changing times, a grant obtained by the Mille Lacs County Economic Development Office provided for the first of a number of presentations, allowing members of the Milaca Area Chamber of Commerce an opportunity to jump on board.
The first lunch session, “Roadside Advertising in a Digital Age,” was held March 4 at Milaca City Hall.
Elizabeth “Liz” Templin, an extension educator with the University of Minnesota Extension Service, presented information.
A team of eight educators from the Extension Service have already presented this program to 2,000 businesses throughout greater Minnesota.
A great fit
Nearly a dozen area businesses and officials were represented at this meeting, along with 12 members of Jennifer Taylor’s Small Business class from Milaca High School.
“This is a great fit for what we do, while also for me,” Taylor said.
Rich Melvin, executive director of the Milaca Area Chamber of Commerce, said the purpose of this session is to “develop skills to help the Milaca area prosper and grow.”
At the same time, Templin was very pleased to have the high school business students in attendance, crediting them as a value resource for business owners to tap.
Templin said a goal of the presentation was to raise awareness that businesses need to be listed and able to be found.
With modern day travelers relying more and more on their cellphones, Templin sees being listed as “a must.”
The first step, according to Templin, is to see if you are already listed, check for reviews and, if not listed, take the necessary steps to “get listed.”
Google Maps is considered to be among the top resources for connecting with travelers; however, other sources come into play along the digital highway. Templin also touted the site Yelp as a good source that is growing fast.
To get listed online, Templin referred the group to www.getlisted.org.
“It does matter,” Templin said and referred to a new snow removal business that began with only 18 customers and grew to 118, thanks to being listed.
According to Templin, the best part about being listed is the fact it is “free,” costing the business owner only a small amount of time to make the connection.
Use of phone
Today, travelers use GPS technology to decide where they should go and what restaurants, shops and parks are in their path.
With the enhanced technology in place, this only provides a bundle of new challenges to market a business.
Reportedly, 55 percent of American adults presently have a smartphone; 76 percent of them make an income of $75,000 or more.
The report states 49 percent of adults use their cellphones to get directions, recommendations or other location-based information.
The report concluded that as of May 2013, 63 percent of adult cellphone owners use their phones to go online, and 34 percent of cell Internet users now consider their phone as their main access to the Internet, eliminating the use of a desktop or laptop computer.
Officials also note that more than a fourth of households no longer have a land phone line.
While businesses work to get listed, Templin stressed it is “very important to be listed properly.”
An accurate listing of a business will assure travelers will be able find your business. That includes checking your address so it maps correctly.
Business owners are asked to list some details about their businesses and take time to respond to reviews.
Templin said it is good to offer coupons or specials to track guests. She believes managing an online presence is now an essential business practice.
More to come
Plans call for the Milaca Area Chamber of Commerce to hold another lunch session dealing with mobile e-marketing.
For more information on chamber activities, contact Melvin at 320-983-3140 or go to www.milacachamber.com.