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SCORE Outer Banks: Accurate information and business growth

Outer Banks vacationers, rental homeowners and full-time residents alike all look at websites and search for information about your business using their phones and computers. Setting up and managing the e-commerce part of your business differs depending on the specific type of business. As the season gears up, make sure you are ready. We have all heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” and the same is true concerning accurate information and reviews on your own website or on myriad other search generated sites and social media platforms that paint a picture of your business in response to a consumer inquiry. The following are some basics that can help you with your marketing efforts, customer satisfaction and increasing new and repeat business:

  • Accurate operating hours for every day of the week, current telephone numbers, as well as correct addresses are essential.  Case in point – a local tour company, a common endeavor in the Outer Banks, advertised incorrect times for their tours, resulting in a large group of both vacationers and residents being very unhappy and inconvenienced. While they enjoyed the tour when it finally happened, waiting for an extended time in wilting heat was not a pleasant experience. It was, unfortunately, what they all talked about later – not how good the tour was. So, your business could be hurt by the simple mistake of not keeping correct and current information on your website and other public pages. First impressions are important.
  • Referral business is important. Google users look at many different sites to determine whether they want to do business with you. Monitor Yelp, Trip Advisor and YP among others as these sites purport to have the facts about local businesses. Make sure you monitor and respond factually and appropriately if information on your business is incorrect. Stay on top of and manage how your business is presented to the public.
  • Again, referral business is important! Reviews of your business will be both positive and negative. Negative reviewers tend to be more common as they are disgruntled. Imagine the comments or ratings that some of the tour group clients may have left on Yelp or Trip Advisor. Again, monitor and respond factually and appropriately to information about your business. What you don’t know can hurt you! So check regularly. And take a moment to thank clients that have given you a positive review! Invite them back!
  • Facebook is a popular platform used by businesses on the Outer Banks, but your business also needs a website. There are many website designers; interview and pick the right one for your business. For example, if you are a business with online shopping, you will need to change your page(s) frequently. You may want to find a website designer who will show you how to make your changes or who will do it for you for a small monthly fee rather than charging hourly rates. Also, don’t assume that a webpage you payed big bucks for must be a good and effective product. If you are not getting the hits and clicks that are bringing you business, find out why. A local owner went from his own website design to a professional designer and reported that his page hits dropped almost ninety percent. Make sure you are getting your money’s worth and that the page designer listens and responds to your business needs and challenges.
  • Domain names are not expensive and are renewed annually or every few years. Your own domain name lends credibility to your business and can help it grow. Your domain name can also be your email account rather than using Gmail. Use your Gmail account for vendors you communicate with regularly if you want; but having a domain name is important for a growing business. Your website designer and SCORE can assist in determining the registry and domain name.
  • If you have a website, make sure it is mobile friendly. Your website should present effectively on both Android and iPhone devices. Keep your business right at the fingertips of potential customers!
  • We also have visitors from other countries and welcome the business. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which went into effect in May 2018, standardizes data protection law across all 28 European Union countries and includes and applies to all organizations and businesses holding and processing EU resident’s personal data, regardless of geographic location – the USA included! Understand the impact this may have on your e-commerce. Even on the Outer Banks, we operate in a global economy.

Have questions? You can reach out to SCORE. Mentoring from Outer Banks SCORE is free and it can help you during all phases of starting and growing your business. SCORE has open hours (walk-ins welcomed) every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at their office, located upstairs at the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce off Colington Road in Kill Devil Hills. If you prefer an appointment, email mentor@scoreobx.org or call the office at 252-256-9717.

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