Earlier this month, I found myself sitting in a crowd at the South By Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas when I overheard a woman talking about a taco that changed her life.

In her own words, “I found a food truck last night and had a taco that literally changed my life.”

I’m not condoning eavesdropping on other people’s conversations.

But if you talk about tacos within 50 feet of me, I’m going to hear it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to turn around to ask her any follow-up questions, but I did overhear the name of the truck.

When the session finally let out, I pulled out my smartphone and searched for the business.

With a simple search I was able to:

  • Find directions, provided by Google.
  • See what the food truck looked like, thanks to photos shared and tagged on Facebook.
  • And read reviews about specific menu items that had changed other people’s lives on Yelp.

Luckily, the truck was just a few blocks away. Minutes later I was enjoying one of the best meals I had ever had, and haven’t stopped talking about it ever since.

These days, you never know how a new customer will hear about your business.

It can be in a crowded conference center with 20,000 people, or it can be in a small café during a conversation between friends. It can also happen online — whether that’s through a post on Facebook, a question on Twitter, or a photo shared on Instagram.

Often times, people won’t be searching for your business name when they find you.

On numerous occasions during my trip to Austin, I used my smartphone to search for answers like:

  • Bar-B-Que restaurants in Austin. TX
  • Coffee near the Austin Convention Center
  • Taxi companies in Austin, TX

Each time, I discovered a new business that I would have never known about without the convenience of a mobile device.

One recent survey of smartphone users found that 75 percent have used a mobile device to get real-time location-based information.

This presents an exciting opportunity for you to attract new customers and do more business. But also means you need to be prepared so that you can keep them coming back!

Here are five things you can do to make sure you’re ready:

1. Make it easy for people to find your business.

Three areas you’ll want to focus on are: search, social media, and listings.

This may sound like a lot, but all of these things work together.

First, find out  why you need to participate on social media.

2. Make sure the information they find is up-to-date.

When people do find your business online, you need to make sure the information they discover is accurate and up-to-date.

This starts with understanding where this information is coming from. (Hint: It won’t always come from you.) Then, putting a plan together to make sure that information is reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

3. Provide a WOW! experience that gets people talking.

When people arrive at your website or come through your door, you need to make sure you’re providing a memorable experience.

I had the chance to try a ton of amazing restaurants during my trip to Austin; there’s a reason why I’m still talking about one of them weeks later.

Providing a WOW! experience will turn first time customers into repeat customers and loyal advocates for your business.

4. Make it easy for people to stay connected.

This could be as simple as hanging a sign telling people you’re on Facebook or Twitter, or could be a sign-up form on your counter for people to join your email list.

This will help continue your relationship with the customer and keeping them coming back!

5. Follow up.

Once people have connected with you, it’s your responsibility to keep the online conversation going.

Make sure you’re actually participating on social media, not just posting when you have something to promote. If you’re telling customers they’ll be receiving an email newsletter once a month, make sure you’re following through.

Look for ways to bring them back into your store with a special offer or in-person event.

Don’t wait to get started.

People are discovering your business every day.

If you want to turn those potential customers into repeat visitors and loyal advocates for your business, you need to be prepared!

Need help getting started? Post your questions in the comments below.