If you're a small business owner looking for a creative way to attract potential customers inside your store, Google wants you to think outside of the box: let them visit your store without even traveling to your store.
It sounds a bit far-fetched, but through the use of Google's Maps technology, you can now create a virtual tour for your customers that will basically create a Street View experience for people look. In a post on their LatLong blog yesterday, Google announced that they were making their Business Photos pilot program available to all small businesses who want to participate. To get a glimpse of what it can make your business look like, check out the example provided by Google of Spice Market, a business located in New York City:
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As you see, it's literally the 360-degree virtual experience you get when you apply Street View to any Google Maps.
Getting your small business the Street View treatment isn't really all that hard, either. Google has created a website called Trusted Photographers that are basically proxy photographers small business owners can contract to come take photos of their business on behalf of Google. The photographer will then upload the photos to Google, who will then render the 360-degree panoramic interior of your business on Google.com, Google Maps, and on your Google Places listing. Google provided a testimonial video from a small business in Austin, Texas, that took advantage of Business Photos:
As of right now, Google has proxy photographers in 14 U.S. cities and photographers located in the U.K., France, Australia, and New Zealand. Additionally, Google encourages business owners to make suggestions of cities that would benefit from having Google's Trusted Photographers.