Chamber Corner

Your business online: It’s easier than you think

Everywhere we go people are connected to smart phones, and as so many of us now literally hold the Internet in the palm of our hand the nature of how we do business has changed dramatically. Our phones show us maps, act as GPS systems, and link us to business websites. They show (and tell) us what time the movie starts, where the nearest pizza place is, and how to find a dentist, a plumber, or a hotel.

For businesses, this means a fundamental change in marketing. It used to be enough to have your name in the yellow pages. That is no longer the case. Now you need to have a presence online: a web site, a Facebook page, a Twitter or LinkedIn account, or all of them.

Fortunately for local businesses, the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce is working hard to stay at the forefront of this technology boom. By doing so, the Chamber can now offer an even greater benefit to its members: the ability to be found online even if you currently have NO online presence.

Through the Chamber’s Business Directory, each member can be found in up to three listing categories of their choosing. If a restaurant also features a bar and a banquet hall, they can be listed in all three of those categories, and all three are searchable in our online database. If a web user clicks the link for the restaurant’s name they will be taken to a page with contact information for that restaurant. Google map capabilities are built in to the site, so it is easy for a user to find the restaurant and get directions. The Chamber’s listing will also link directly to the restaurants’ website if there is one.

What does all of this mean for Chamber members? It means they have a unique web presence that comes up in any online search. For a small business, it means they can be found on the World Wide Web even if they don’t have a website. Their web “page” on our site can include a description of the business, business hours, and any specialty services they may choose to showcase.

Sensing the rising demand for Internet search capabilities, the Chamber completely rebuilt its web site last year to improve the way customers find Chamber member businesses. Our site now includes a mobile app, is fully integrated with Google Analytics, and offers a clear look at how viewers are finding information about local businesses. The number of unique visitors to our site is up 30%. Since our new site went live, traffic has spiked dramatically, and people are now able to use the site to register for events, take surveys, update their own business information online, pay bills, and more.

This online advantage is available to all members of the Chamber of Commerce. To learn more, call the Chamber at 366-6200 or 484-1101. Or, better yet, find us online today at www.chautauquachamber.org. You can join directly through our web site. It’s easy and affordable, and you can learn about all of the other great services that are available to Chamber members as well.

Energy seminar for business Feb. 28

A free energy seminar and lunch for business, not-for-profit and multifamily buildings will be held at the Robert H. Jackson Center, 305 East Fourth Street, Jamestown from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 28. The program is designed to help businesses and others learn about reducing utility costs as well as incentives to improve energy efficiency, free energy audits, and how to access low interest financing. This event is sponsored by: Chautauqua County, County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Association, Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Development Center, Jamestown Board of Public Utilities, America’s Natural Gas Alliance, Lime Energy, Piping & Service Industry Coalition, National Fuel, NYSERDA, and CNG for Upstate NY. You can register online at www.renewchautauquacounty.org or call 1-866-495-2959.

SBAP Can Help Small Businesses with Insurance

If you need help navigating your small business through the maze of the Affordable Care Act, the Community Chamber Development Corporation can help. An Affiliate of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, CCDC is helping to provide answers to insurance questions through the Small Business Assistance Program. SBAP is an initiative of the Community Service Society (CSS), a network of organizations across New York State that helps consumers and small business get affordable health care and health insurance. Through SBAP we can provide health reform information and training for employers and one-on-one consultations on insurance options, costs, tax credits, enrollment, regulations, and more. For more information, contact CCDC at 366-6200 or 484-1101.