A wide variety of free and low-cost modern technologies have made it possible for small businesses to thrive in a competitive marketplace where large businesses have traditionally ruled supreme. Small business owners can interact with a significant number of potential and current customers in more engaging, flexible and portable ways than ever before. They’re also more capable of gaining access to crucial marketing, lead and sales data faster in real-time. Consider the following three examples:
Live Video Streaming
Not so long ago, small business owners were only able to promote their brands and engage customers in live ways through expensive or time-consuming offline events and TV advertising and network news program interviews. Sadly, these methods limit brand exposure and engagement to consumers who can afford to visit live events and watch television. Prerecorded, video-only strategies via online video and social media channels have solved part of this problem by reducing costs and reaching an even broader audience, but videos don’t create long-term relationships between business owners and their target audience as well as face-to-face interactions at events. Live video streaming is the best of both worlds. You can extend your reach across the globe and combine traditional instant face-to-face event interactions with attractive visual elements. Additionally, you can save time and money typically spent on offline focus group studies. Live streaming makes it possible for you to effortlessly set up live Q&A sessions and instant feedback polls about products, services, and ideas.
Phone Card Readers
Small business owners no longer have to worry about larger businesses attracting more consumers because they can afford expensive credit card processing point of sale equipment and payment-processing fees. Many financial institutions now recognize that an increasing number of people are investing in small business enterprises. They have redesigned their point of sale offerings to include portable smartphone card readers and reduced credit card processing costs perfect for small businesses to tap into this growing part of the economy. You can typically pick up a free phone-style magstripe reader when you set up a merchant credit card processing account. Processing companies also offer affordable contactless chip card readers so that small business owners can accept even more types of cards. In addition, smartphone onscreen signature capture, and email and text message receipts help attract consumers that want speed and convenience when they make offline purchases.
Business Review Sites
Even though customer feedback is critical to success, many small business owners have previously found it difficult to convince customers to provide them with testimonials. They’ve also found it difficult to afford to offer feedback incentives. Social sharing sites have trained consumers to want to leave opinions about nearly any topic online. As a result, they’re more likely to post feedback on review websites without any prompting or incentives. You don’t need survey postcards, email surveys or focus groups. You merely need to read these reviews to see what consumers like about your business and what they would like you to do better. According to Toby Scammell, founder of Womply, “Online review sites… are the best channel for acquiring new customers if you run a small, local business.” Besides mining the data on these sites for the names of consumers in your industry and local area, you can also attract new customers from the general public by merely replying to reviews with statements of gratitude, discount offerings and comments that use positive language to address complaints.
These are only three of the many ways that small businesses can thrive using new technologies. If you explore other portable options, including apps, virtual offices, and artificial intelligence systems, you can achieve success when competing with businesses that have larger marketing budgets and more employees. The best part is that these inexpensive options can help you grow your business without all of the growing pains and lead generation and revenue delays that small businesses have traditionally faced because of financial limitations.
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