Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The future's so bright I've gotta wear welding goggles!

Nothing like a trip to forward-thinking San Francisco to remind me that we are headed in the right direction and everything will be okay. If you've never visited this fine city, please, please put it on your list of vacation destinations. Being there is both literally and figuratively a breath of fresh air. Beautiful scenery, architecture and public artworks abound. The streets are clean. I'm talking really clean. People do not toss their garbage or even their cigarette butts on the ground. Many of the municipal trash bins — visible on nearly every city block — have separate compartments for trash and recyclables. The public transportation system is impressive, affording citizens and visitors to choose from among the famous streetcars, the municipal railway (both sub and above ground), buses, taxicabs and car sharing services. Cars actually yield to pedestrians, too. The leisure and learning activities seem endless, and surprisingly many are free or low cost. And the food! Oh, the food! San Francisco offers such an array of culinary delights, one could probably live a lifetime there and never have time to taste them all! This was my third trip, and I've yet to scratch the surface.

I think what I love the most about the City by the Bay is its harmonious spirit. People of all walks of life — all ages, all nationalities, all economic brackets, all religious affiliations, all sexual orientations and all levels of eccentricity — seem to coexist in relative harmony. I don't mean to paint an idyllic picture. I'm sure San Francisco sees its share of crime, violent and otherwise, but the general feel of the city is pleasant and, well, gay! Given the trendsetting nature of the California coast, I hope it offers a glimpse at what we can expect as a nation somewhere down the line, sooner rather than later.

Now, as a salesperson of internet marketing tools, I'll tell you what excites me career-wise. San Francisco "gets" the Internet. QR codes are commonplace in storefront windows, on billboards, buses, brochures and business cards. Restaurant and retail websites are standard, and there are local mobile apps aplenty. The business community and ordinary citizens alike embrace Internet technology. In fact, they integrate it into their everyday existence — something that I see making its way into the less cosmopolitan pockets of America, including the city where I live. While the younger generations here seem to understand this, at least to some degree, I marvel all the time at how hard I have to work to convince some would-be clients that the Internet is where it's going ... where it's at.

Google searches and mobile apps aren't going away! In fact, they've only just begun! If your business isn't showing up when consumers and other business professionals search their computers, iPads and phones, you are missing opportunities. This is becoming more and more true with each passing day. To reach new customers, retain your existing customers and, at the very least, to keep up with your competitors, you need a strong online and mobile presence. If you don't have an official business website, you are behind the times. If your business website does not show up when potential customers search the 'Net for your services, you are losing business to those who do. If your business website is not readable and navigable on a mobile phone, you are at a disadvantage. If you don't have a mobile app for your business, it is only a matter of time before your competitors will, so why not beat them to it?

Make it easy on yourself and me, your friendly Internet/mobile marketing tool salesgirl. Accept and embrace the changing way Americans and people the world over search for business information. Don't get left behind and become irrelevant in this age of technology. Be a forward-thinking marketer and position your business for success!

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