The last couple of years have embraced many interesting and unique trends. From pastel overcoats, plaid shirts and fake glasses to Vampire movies to businesses going local, the last few years have been a buzz of trends. Some of these trends are great, like the recent effort of many businesses to connect directly to their customers through social media. Other trends are neutral, like the obsession of many to dawn wizard robes and cloister around a cinema until midnight. Some trends, however, can be detrimental, even dangerous. An example is the trend of some small companies to ignore the role of technology in business.
The introduction of the Internet, email, social media, texting, SEO, and Google Places has all but shattered the traditional small business landscape. A small landscaping company can no longer depend on word of mouth to grow business. It now has to consider what customers say about their work online. So much of the customer facing aspects of business is now being done online (everything from customer acquisition to customer follow up), those businesses left out are doomed to irrelevancy until they make a change.
Below is a list of the top 5 ways to embrace technology and make it a resource rather than an unrealistic burden or a competitive disadvantage.
- Use the right tools
- Know when to walk away from a trend
- Make technology your tool, not your master
- Make time, but not too much time
Don’t waste time trying to manage multiple social media accounts or code a company weekly email newsletter in HTML when there are tools out there to make the job easier. Hootsuite, TweetDeck and GrabInbox are excellent resources that help users manage multiple social media accounts. MailChimp is an email newsletter service that is not only free if you have a list of less than 2,000 contacts; it is also painfully easy to use.
Not every technology is worth pursuing. The companies that make technology a resource know how to be selective and focus on the most potent and applicable resources. Consider, for example, foursquare. Foursquare is a powerful social media technology that allows users to interact via location. While many small businesses have grown by embracing the foursquare market, many more have tried and failed. Companies located in rural areas have little to gain from this location based social network, and should focus their time and attention in other areas.
A new technology has to jive with your company’s culture, budget, and resources. Do not start pressuring your company’s different departments to create and post exciting videos just because someone told you video is key to getting your company noticed online.
Tools like SEO, social media, email marketing, and text advertising can require a significant investment of time. Given the huge return these tools can provide, it is worth investing time into adopting them into your company. Beware, however, the temptation to invest all of your time into these tools. Remember, at the end of the day these things are just tools to make it easier to reach your customers.
You don’t have to do everything. You are an expert in your industry, not in Internet marketing. There are many aspects of Internet marketing that you can outsource to those strange souls who eat, drink, and breath PPC, SEO, and CTR. You can hire an expert to build your website, manage your social media accounts, or run your company’s blog. Focusing on your area of expertise is always a good policy.
Technology is nothing new. It has been changing business since the beginning of time. Businesses have always had to adapt, and that is what has made business the most dynamic, enduring, and influential practice in the history of the world. Businesses today that hide from these changes will fail. As Charles Darwin states, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
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