Growing up in Western North Carolina prior to 2000 was painful when it came to technology. I received my first computer (an IBM (cr)Aptiva) in 1996. Shortly after getting the computer I upgraded my modem from a 14.4k to a 28.8k. Sadly, the closest internet service provider could only accommodate up to 21.6k. It took years for them to finally allow me to access the Internet at 28.8k. It is safe to say that no Western NC businesses were on the Internet at the time. While things have changed, there is still a lag when it comes to businesses growing on the Internet in this part of the state.
Most small towns are the last to evolve to the changing economic landscape. To this day, there are still people in my hometown that have never used an iPhone nor searched on Google. That being said, areas such as Asheville, Waynesville and Hendersonville are starting to adjust. Whether you are looking for Asheville Pest Control or a used Honda car in Waynesville, you are likely going to do most of your research online before actually making a decision.
There is still a very large percentage of the population that goes by word of mouth in Western North Carolina, but online reviews and a presence on Google definitely matters more so now than ever. If you own a rafting company on the Nantahala River or rent a cabin near Fontana Lake, you need to have some type of Internet presence. Whether that is a Facebook page, a listing on AirBNB or a website, it is very beneficial to allow the “city folk” to find your business from the palm of their hand.
In the next 10 years, Western North Carolina, and most small parts of the United States, will slowly catch up to where most college towns were in the early 2000s. This means they will finally accept that Google is trustworthy and that Facebook is a place for drama and unreliable news. When this day arrives, it would be smart to make 100% certain your business is online and ranking at the top of Google search. You will find that other businesses are trying to play catch up and it will be too late.