With the recent launch of its new Business Photos service, Google has created yet another useful tool that small business owners can use to drive sales by bolstering their geographic and demographic exposure. This deceptively simple concept is already paying dividends for the early-adopting small business owners who have taken the initiative and signed up to use it.
In this economy, your operation needs every competitive advantage that it can get. Even if your business is doing fine currently, Business Photos may enable you to unlock key areas of hidden potential. If you’re interested in positioning your storefront, or practice, out in front of the fast-changing landscape for bricks-and-mortar businesses, take a moment to learn more about this exciting new tool.
The idea behind Business Photos is simple: It’s basically Google Street View for public interior spaces. Instead of simply displaying an easy-to-manipulate exterior “street view” of residences, businesses and institutions in certain population centers, Business Photos invites Google Maps users into the customer areas of its client businesses. In a typical view, interested users can clearly view product displays, whiteboards, checkout areas and other publicly accessible points of interest. To ensure consistency, Google contracts with professional photographers and subjects them to a rigorous program of standardized training before turning them loose in the businesses that it serves.
So far the response has been impressive: Business Places has attracted the attention of medical clinics, tattoo parlors, toy shops, juice stands and full-service restaurants from Utah to Japan.
Of course, the service doesn’t display private or “employees only” areas. It also doesn’t invite users behind the counter or display any sensitive information. In order to guarantee the privacy of its clients’ customers, Business Places also blurs out patrons’ faces.
Like so many other online marketing tactics, Business Photos offers tangible rewards without exposing its users to excessive risk. Let’s take a look at some of the obvious advantages of this exciting new service.
Giving Locals and Regulars an “Inside Look”
It can be helpful to think of Business Photos as an easy way to provide your customers with a free tour of your shop or practice. In doing so, you can encourage clients to “visit” your store without going through the trouble of leaving their homes or offices. In effect, you can use Business Photos to help your customers plan a future trip to your doorstep.
If they’re reluctant to venture out in the snow or rain or simply find themselves too busy to make a special trip right away, the comprehensive inside look that you provide them will whet their appetite for an eventual in-person visit and keep your operation fresh in their minds. By enabling them to view your on-display products and plan their purchases ahead of time, it might shorten the duration of their trip, brighten their in-store experience, and encourage them to return in the near future.
Casting a Wider Net
Of course, Business Photos can also introduce your operation to customers who wouldn’t otherwise be aware of its existence. A recent report from the Twin Cities’ NBC affiliate highlights the service’s dynamic and unexpected benefits. According to the report, a Minneapolis toy store owner with extended family in India was able to provide her relatives with an inside look at her growing business without forcing them to hop on a plane. If you’re thinking about expanding to other markets or hoping to attract the attention of investors, it can be useful to have a comprehensive visual catalog that’s available to out-of-range individuals.
A Very Profitable Fusion
On top of its clear ability to help time-crunched clients plan their trips to your store, Business Photos can also help soothe the natural apprehensions that many shoppers feel upon entering a new shop for the first time. In other words, this service might just help you break the ice with careful consumers by showing them that your store is attractive, well-run and relevant to their needs.
What’s more, Business Places might help your business break the ice with clients who have no intention of visiting your store. If you’re like many small business owners, your operation already has some kind of e-commerce presence. By showing that your brick-and-mortar business is on the up and up, you’ll allay the suspicions of customers who might be apprehensive about doing business with your e-store and grow this increasingly important slice of your sales pie.
With so many tangible and intangible benefits, Business Photos is a no-brainer. If you’re interested in increasing your business’s exposure and driving organic sales growth, you owe it to yourself, and your employees, to give Google’s latest business-friendly service a closer look.