Digital mapping workshop helps fishermen & other business owners move into the smartphone era
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.
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 the pace at which they are changing, Bradt told the group.
A seismic shift in the way people find and access information
He says 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 to focus more on computer-based information via the Internet home computers, cars' GPS systems, and on smartphones people carry with them wherever they go.
"It's important to get your business listed correctly on online maps so people can find you," Bradt says. "Even if you personally don't have a smartphone, many of your potential clients may have one."
Bradt says that as of July 2010, there were approximately 53.4 million smartphone users in the U.S., and projections estimate that smartphone users will outnumber users whose cell phones don't have Internet access by late this year.
"This represents a seismic shift in the way people find and access information," says Bradt.
Businesses move into the smartphone era
Smartphones take advantage of GPS devices and online mapping 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 enables them 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 no 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 adds, 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.
Want to learn ways to put digital mapping to work for your business? This page on the Geospatial Technologies website offers information about upcoming workshops.
Photo: Bradt (center) and Erik Chapman, fisheries program coordinator for N.H. Sea Grant, help Scott Bailey from Port Norris, N.J.
The workshop was a collaboration between UNH Sea Grant Extension fisheries and UNH Cooperative Extension GIS programs in support of the retraining efforts of the Lobster Trade Adjustment program funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.