3 Million Views in 3 Years. The West Central ISBDC Story.

How the West Central ISBDC is Providing Small Business Owners with Increased Visibility Online.

Small businesses are the backbone of America. These passionate entrepreneurs step out on a limb, risking everything to create valuable goods and services for their customers. Amazing businesses exist all around our communities, but the biggest challenge is simply getting noticed. The Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC) understands this struggle and is dedicated to equipping these businesses with the resources they need to thrive online. The ISBDC empowers entrepreneurs to leverage their digital presence effectively, fostering growth and enabling them to reach new heights. 

Small Business Owners Juggle a Lot.

Running a small business is a very difficult balancing act. When every business begins, the owner is responsible for all aspects of the business on their own. You’ve got Sales/Marketing, Operations, and Finance, each demanding their time. The Operations hat has to create amazing products and services, the Finance hat to keep the bills at bay, and the Sales/Marketing suit needed to charm their customers. But who has time for a marketing strategy when they are already juggling many things?

The world of marketing itself is vast in its possibilities, overflowing with options that can make even the bravest entrepreneur feel like a rookie. Should they invest in a billboard that would make competitors jealous? Or build a website that is super sleek? What about a newsletter that delivers messages directly to customer’s inbox?

Then there’s the ever-evolving social media landscape, where trends change faster than most can keep up with. YouTube beckons for people to become video stars while the radio whispers promises of successful ad campaigns. 

And who knows, maybe print media isn’t dead after all! And those ads on park benches – are they really a secret weapon, as they say, or just a mirage? The choices are endless, and the questions pile up for the business owner: “Should I be everywhere? Or just focus on my strengths?”

But what about Google Listings?

Google Business Profiles: A Powerhouse for Local Business.

Did you know that…

  • 86% of consumers use Google Maps to find local businesses. (Source: SOCi, 2023)
  • For years, Google has accounted for almost 90 percent of all search queries in the United States. (Source: Justice.gov, 2020)
  • 82% of consumers use Google Business Profiles to research local businesses. (Source: BrightLocal, 2022)
  • Businesses with complete and optimized profiles are 70% more likely to attract local customers. (Source: Moz, 2023)
  • Businesses with 200 or more reviews receive twice as much revenue as those without. (Source: Harvard Business Review, 2022)
  • Consumers are 50% more likely to visit a store after seeing a positive Google Business Profile. (Source: Think with Google, 2023)
  • Businesses with photos are twice as likely to be considered reputable by consumers. (Source: Google My Business Help Center, 2023)
  • Adding a call button to your Google Business Profile can increase calls by 70%. (Source: Google My Business Help Center, 2023)
  • Businesses that respond to reviews are twice as likely to be considered trustworthy by consumers. (Source: ReviewTrackers, 2023)
  • Google Business Profiles provides valuable insights into how customers find and engage with your business. (Source: Google My Business Help Center, 2023)
  • You can track your profile’s performance, including views, searches, clicks, and calls. (Source: Google My Business Help Center, 2023)
  • This data can help you identify areas for improvement and tailor your marketing strategies. (Source: Moz, 2023)
  • It can help businesses improve their online visibility, attract more customers, and drive revenue growth. (Source: BrightLocal, 2022)

The best part is…

  • It is a free and easy-to-use tool that is essential for any local business.

Virtual Tours | Architectural Photos | Object Oriented Photos: A huge difference maker.

When a business owner or a customer posts photos on a Google Business Profile, There is a lot that goes behind the scenes that we may not think of.

Google uses object detection in photos on Google listings:

  • Identifying objects: Google can identify objects in photos, such as products, people, and places. This information is used to improve the search results for users who are looking for specific items.
  • Categorizing images: Google can categorize images based on the objects they contain. This helps them to organize and group similar images together.
  • Generating captions: Google can automatically generate captions for images. This helps users to understand the content of the image, even if they cannot see it.
  • Improving search relevance: Google can use object detection to improve the relevance of search results. For example, if a user searches for “coffee shop,” Google can use object detection to identify photos of coffee shops in its search results.
  • Enhancing listings: Google can use object detection to enhance listings by adding information about the objects in the photos. For example, if a listing for a coffee shop includes a photo of a latte, Google can add a tag that says “latte” to the listing.

In addition to object detection, Google also uses other computer vision techniques to analyze photos on Google listings. These techniques include:

  • Image recognition: Google can recognize specific objects, such as logos, landmarks, and faces.
  • Scene understanding: Google can understand the scene depicted in a photo, such as a street scene, a beach, or a party.
  • Image segmentation: Google can segment an image into its constituent parts, such as the background, the foreground, and the objects in the image.

To demonstrate, here is an example a 360° immersive photo that is object-focused by utilizing the Vision AI tool by Google. We can see through the lens of Google and all the work that goes on under the hood to ensure relevant data and trust in Business Listings on Google.

Delivering to Local Small Business. West Central Indiana Small Business Development Center & Advanced Online Insights Leading the Way.

The West Central Indiana Small Business Development Center (West Central ISBDC) empowers businesses at every stage of their journey, from startups to established companies seeking growth, financing, or even an exit strategy. Recognizing the need for small businesses to build their digital presence, the ISBDC partnered with Advanced Online Insights, a company known for its expertise in Google Business Profiles and professional, immersive photography. This collaboration proved mutually beneficial, leveraging Advanced Online Insights’ understanding of these services and the ISBDC’s ability to translate them into impactful results for clients.

In 2021, Advanced Online Insights was able to connect with a Regional Superhero in West Central Indiana; Regional Director Courtney Richey-Chipol. She serves the ISBDC in many ways, and upon our connection, we discovered a way in which our partnership could help a few small businesses within Indiana. Little did we know a lot more than just a few businesses would gain an impact from this partnership

What was our plan? Our plan was simple in retrospect. Connect government funding through programs passed on to regional directors and then use said funding to give back to SBDC Clients who meet with the funding requirements. This connection brought on our first phase of businesses with marketing packages at no cost to the business owner. Word would spread throughout town of other business owners having taken advantage of the program and would wait in aspiration of another wave to have their opportunity to have their business properly shown off and set up through Google.

Fast Forward to today, Advanced Online Insights and the West Central ISBDC have just completed their 9th phase of work in Indiana. Together, we have impacted over 150 small businesses, and the increased exposure has been more than expected.

Since 2021, we have generated over 3 million views on Google listings throughout West Central Indiana Businesses from virtual tour views alone. This statistic doesn’t take into account the architectural photo views uploaded to listings that are strategically captured in favor of Google’s Cloud Vision. On average, each business that is a client of the SBDC and gets access to this free package gets around 30,000 new views to their listing. 30,000 eyeballs for free!!! That’s a lot of awareness and, in return, a lot of motivation to become a client of the local SBDC.

This impact has brought more ISBDC attention from other regions and is even starting to gain awareness from regional SBDCs in Ohio and Kentucky. This is an exciting moment for our team as we are looking forward to bringing more result-driven performance to listings in our hometowns.

If you know of or are affiliated with a local SBDC, have them reach out to us so we can discuss bringing this impact to your community. We are proud to serve local small businesses.

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