Thursday, November 12, 2009

Small Businesses on the Web - Or Should Be?

Small businesses can thank Tacoman Scott Loughran for a better understanding of small businesses and their use of the web for marketing.

Loughran is in the Masters in Communications and Digital Media program at the University of Washington. His project, only available for a few days, is open to you.

Loughran is studying digital media and communications. You can learn more about the program here. The Flip the Media blog (work of the faculty and students here) is also a great resource for the Chamber and those businesses we serve.

Loughran's research is specifically investigating if micro (0-4 employees) & small businesses (5-25 employees) have websites, and if so, how they are using them to communicate and market their goods and services. His theory is that these businesses strongly rely on hiring out the construction of websites, and may not understand how popular tools like social media, blogging and pod casting could help customer retention and word-of-mouth advertising (the two most trustworthy forms of business growth to this sector.)

He hopes his research will accomplish two things:

First, consumers who want to shop local, some reports say 90% of them have started by searching for local businesses online. Other reports are saying that as little as 44% of micro/small businesses even have a website. With the health of our local economy largely being supported by the success of local business, we need to find a way to close this statistical gap.

Second, there are people in the community wanting to help local businesses. If we find there is enough of a need in the community, we can educate local businesses how this technology is beneficial to business. This could be through the Chamber for example, as a workshop, in service or part of a regular meeting.

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