Thursday, June 16, 2011

Putting your business on the digital map

With all the tourists visiting the Seacoast this summer, it's a safe bet that many of them will touch the screen of their smartphone to find a local eatery that offers fresh seafood rather than flip through the local phone book.

Many of the attendees are also participating in the lobster TAA.

Shane Bradt, geospatial extension specialist for UNH Cooperative Extension, presented information on how to put businesses on the digital map, giving fishermen and small businessmen the opportunity to reach new clients who are increasingly tech-savvy. Approximately 30 fishermen and small business owners attended the Fisheries Roundtable discussion on June 13th from 6-8 p.m. at the Portsmouth Public Library, co-hosted by the Northeast Consortium and N.H. Sea Grant.

For many business owners, marketing products and services to the public in the digital age can be confusing due to the increasing number of options and that pace at which they are changing, explained Bradt.

He said that while there is still value in traditional forms of advertising--in newspapers, flyers, phone book listings or roadside ads--the trend is turning away from these and is focused more on computer-based information via the Internet on your home computer, your car's GPS system, or on the new smartphones that you carry with you wherever you go.

"It's important to get your business listed correctly on online maps so people can find you," Bradt said. "Even if you personally don't have a smartphone, many of your potential clients may have one."

Bradt said that as of July 2010, there were approximately 53.4 million smartphone users int he U.S., and projections estimate that smartphone users will outnumber "feature" cell phone users--those without Internet access--by late this year.

"This represents a seismic shift in the way people find and access information," he said.

Smartphones take advantage of GPS devices and online map databases to provide suggestions for, say, restaurants that serve lobster, and then provide directions for you to walk or drive there. For the technologically savvy, this on-the-go information is handy to quickly and easily find what they're looking for. For fishermen looking to connect with new markets and dealers, this is an easy way to get their business information listed with little or not cost to them.

For the small business owner or fisherman looking to direct more business through his or her door, getting business information into the most relevant databases is imperative. Taking the time to list your business online ensures that your clients have accurate information about your services and how to find you. And, Bradt added, it's best to list your business information in a variety of databases to ensure it shows up in the myriad computer devices available to the public.

At the end of Bradt's presentation, he suggested nine databases in which to enter business information for free: InfoUSA, Localeze, NavTeq, SuperPages, TeleAtlas, Bing, Google Maps, Yahoo Maps and MapQuest. Computers were available for workshop attendees to begin listing their business information with help from Bradt and Erik Chapman, a fisheries extension specialist for N.H. Sea Grant. Bradt and Chapman are pictured here helping out Scott Bailey from Port Norris, N.J.

For more information about listing your business online, please contact Shane Bradt at 603-862-4277 or

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