In a competitive market, small businesses are always looking for creative ways to give them an edge with consumers. Google has devised two services that businesses should immediately take advantage of in order to help drive traffic to their websites and physical locations. Any business with a physical office space can easily add their location to Google Places at no cost which also integrates with ease to other free Google services such as Google Plus Business Pages and Google Maps.
Google experts suggests that businesses registered with Google services are ranked in search results higher than unregistered businesses. For a more established business that may not have registered, Google also offers the ability for businesses to claim their Google maps listing to encourage them to register for Google Places and create a Google Plus Business Page. Once you have successfully added your business to Google, you may be interested in adding Google’s Virtual 360 Tours to help you stand out even further in search results.
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview private practice therapist E. Kelly from Norwalk, Connecticut. She shares her experience in implementing a virtual tour to help engage potential clients to choose her practice, and here is our discussion.
SWH: Tell us a bit about your background and your practice?
EK: I am a Connecticut licensed marriage and family therapist in a private practice. I achieved a Masters Degree is in Marriage and Family Therapy from Fairfield University in Connecticut. My undergraduate B.A. degree is from Hunter College in NYC with a concentration in biology and psychology.
As both an intern and extern, I worked within many not for profit organizations. I learned a lot about myself during that time which fostered strong desire for independence and continuing to create my own vision of helping and healing. I had done it with my past career and was determined to do it again which led me to take a leap of faith in creating my own private practice.
SWH: How are you using technology to market and promote your practice?
EK: In my early days of private practice, I paid money to a well known host of a commercial therapy website provider. They were and still are the most well known. I do not regret hiring them then as their template was helpful and many clients suggested that they chose me because of the exposure and the professionalism of such site.
However, it is a monthly fee and once you are established and/or have enough notoriety in your local area, you can create your own site for less than a third of the monthly cost. After a few years of such hosting costs, I decided to again take a risk and hire someone to create my own unique site.
I googled a local restaurant in my area because I was never there, and I saw the restaurant had an option to see inside. I quickly learned how to take a virtual tour. I never been to the restaurant, but I loved looking around to imagine my experience there – and, yes, It was indeed just perfect for my needs. It was then, at that very moment that it dawned on me:
If patrons of restaurants want to see where they may intimately dine…THEN why wouldn’t chance to LOOK and SEE a practice area where they are going to share an intimate story?
I thought about it for a while, and I searched more local sites to see what was happening. I saw interior shots of dentists offices, retail shops, dog groomers, hair salons, automobile shops, etc. and, I thought WHY am I waiting to show clients my space?
Really, why not give my clients a chance to see my space too? After all, I proudly created a space with lots of light and one that was conducive to positive thinking – so, if the GOOGLE guy could do a tour of MY space – well, maybe, just maybe – it’s the best way for potential clients to decide if they like my space tool
SWH: How difficult was implementing Google Places and the Virtual 360 Tours?
EK: Not hard at all. I search for Google certified photographers who did Virtual 360 Tours. Buyer beware, if they aren’t listed by Google, they are not approved. It’s that simple, and you can also use this link to find a certified Google Photographer in your city.
Prices may vary, but total cost to me was $500. Once you purchase the shoot, you have the right to use it in any promotional material you want including your own website and/or social pages as you own the rights to all photos.
This is a service that Google offers 24 hours a day/7 days a week at no cost. No click charges, no monthly charges, no annual charges.
AND, if you want to see my tour – GOOGLE THIS “E. Kelly, LMFT Norwalk CT” and see how Virtual 360 Tours work.
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