Business & Technology – Is Rural Business Ready For Location Based Applications?

I have been reading and hearing a lot about location based applications, namely Foursquare and Gowalla. I was even asked recently on Twitter which I felt was going to be the winner for their user base. Foursquare seems to aim most to locations within a City, where Gowalla aims at a larger market, the world with its “Passport” concept for its users. But then I asked myself – Are Rural Businesses ready for Location Based Applications?

Living in a small town and having been involved with helping small businesses in a town without a stoplight get online has had it’s challenges over the years, but also has shown some major benefits. I have created websites that have helped small business in this town without a stop light increase sales up to 800%, with adding a well designed website for their business. I also looked at the members of the local Chamber of Commerce’s in my county and in other areas and noticed that only 10-15% of the local businesses have a website. This is common with Rural American Businesses, they are slipping being the technology curve- they might not be ready for Location Based Applications with the benefits in sales and attracting clients from other areas as many don’t even have a website.

So many small towns and counties truly have very little web presents online in sharing their services or events for the rest of the world to know about. Yes there has been a change in the Digital Divide of more higher bandwidth going out to rural America and the price of computers have come down a lot, but the software prices and just how to use these technical devices for helping business is falling faster and faster behind the technical curve.

I have been a small town Tech person for some time now, over fifteen years, and understand small town views- “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality of small town business and views tends to let them think their local newspaper or tabloid advertisement is the only best way to get people to come through their doors. Problem with this form of advertising is often the subscription or printing numbers of these newspapers or tabloids, they don’t include how many of them are used to house train puppies or line the bottom of a birdcage and have never been read. But a website can, it can advertise their business to a world economy. Often small town businesses don’t seem to understand this and overlook the use of a website to help attract more clients.

So the possibility that the places you might travel to out in the countryside for your vacations or on your travels have new locations via Foursquare and Gowalla might be slim. For users or subscribers of these applications, this is a haven for being the “Location Founder” and please try to write a nice recommendation for these rural business locations. But for the businesses in Small Town America, this could be a future problem, as they often will not have a website or even a blog and are allowing possible clients to just drive by on local routes and highways of America without a clue of the possible services or goods these small town businesses could offer.

They are saying that Location Based Applications are the new POP (point of purchase) display for businesses that use it. That 6% of viewers will stop in to buy something they see their friends use or that the applications show they are close to. This is far larger then the old marketing advertising of about.02% of direct mail advertising or newspapers advertising says they generate.

Added that these services also allow a user to share their location through online social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, it is some of the best “Advertising my mouth” marketing one could ask for- telling all of your friends with one line you like this service or venue. But how much tech is really being used in Rural America?

I have a nice Facebook list and know it is highly used in my town. Past alumni of the high school search is great for finding past class mates and friends in town and a lot are using this. But I also use Twitter, when I do a search using Twitterlocal for local users, I get ZERO- I am the Twitter Elite of my town with there being no competition. So my Twittering of local places or events is only good for helping bring some of my friends or followers to my town events. This is common with small town America, it is quickly falling behind the technical curve, in local business venues not having a website or being online to represent their towns events.

I do believe these location based applications, services or games will be a major up and coming advertising venue for businesses of all kinds, but for now, it seems there is a lot of people and places that need to log-in or highlight places. For example; 34,000 places just in New York City to eat and neither Foursquare or Gowalla have that many locations there, even with Foursquare being located in NYC. When writing this, I looked up Chincoteague Island who receives 35-75,000 people during the Pony round up, but only showed one marked Gowalla location post in Chincoteague and that was in the cemetery. I do believe highly in these great innovations, and they are great plus within cities, but I have to truly wonder if rural businesses and towns ready for it.

I do believe this is a major untapped area for both of these location based applications, and defiantly an great possibility for Website Designers to also gain large clients numbers that might want to take advantage of such added benefit of location based advertising through the use of Foursquare and Gowalla. For now, it will be a challenge to help rural Business get online, and also add these services their area businesses, tourist attractions and events. But without a website, adding location based applications might be a challenge.

With the up and coming mobile devices becoming the norm with today’s users, with more and more people are using Smart Phones or iPhones to get information and using Location Based Applications such as and But is Rural America ready for such great innovations? My answer is NO; they’re still falling behind the Technical curve faster and faster.

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