Overlooking the obvious


Having grown up in nearby Middlesboro, Ky., the pinnacle overlook at Cumberland Gap National Historic Park is very familiar to me, but I never take it for granted. I’m sure that as long as I live, whenever I am remotely close to this area, I will detour to take in the view. A few years ago, as I was strolling around this spot that places visitors just steps from three states (Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia), I saw this below:


The elevation of the pinnacle is more than 2,400 feet, so if you are having problems reading the roof in the photo, it reports “Cold Beer Here” with an arrow toward the front door of the establishment located in the Tennessee burg of Cumberland Gap.

As you promote your small business or non-profit, don’t forget the obvious: location. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has never before been to your shop, church or charity. Is there sufficient signage? Do you provide clear driving directions on your website and Facebook page?

I was conducting interviews at a non-profit in Appalachia just a few years ago and was delighted to find a clear, detailed set of driving directions on their website. It ended with the bolded message: “Do not use MapQuest to try to find us!”

The couple that operated the ministry knew exactly what their donors and clients would face when trying to find their headquarters, and they knew that the handy mapping programs that were all the rage would only get visitors lost. That is an impressive level of self awareness.

When was the last time you Googled how to get to your business? Never?

Step out your door and take a fresh look at what’s around you. Is there a restaurant, coffee shop or convenience store close by that gets a lot of traffic? If so, get to know the owners and see if they would be willing to let you piggyback on their success through signage, a stack of brochures at the cash register or other means. For street signs, be sure to check local laws as well as with landowners before you post.

And if you decide to paint a message on your roof, please be careful!

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