They say there’s no school like the old school, and while your business may pride itself on an old fashioned, traditional sensibility, you do it a disservice by keeping it stuck in the past. In today’s fast paced, technologically driven climate in which the digital marketplace seems to take precedence over brick and mortar it’s understandable that veteran small business owners may feel resistant to the change in business practices. They may be tempted to dig in their heels and cling to their time honoured techniques upon which they’ve relied for years, resisting new technological advances or failing to see how they can positively impact your business. There’s comfort in the familiar, to be sure, but while your practices may be time honoured and traditional, be advised that the marketplace is changing rapidly, and while you may be resistant to change, your competitors certainly will not.
Even the smallest businesses can benefit from harnessing the power of technology to facilitate growth, and even if you’ve never incorporated anything more technologically advanced than a pocket calculator into your business practices, you can phase technology into your operations to make your days easier and expand your operations beyond the realms of what you may previously have thought possible.
When tech meets tradition
Whether you want to believe it or not, the world is changing at an exponential rate, and failing to adapt to new technologies is one of the most common causes of business failure. That said, you may have built your business to great success using techniques and a degree of craftsmanship upon which you pride yourself. While this is commendable, there are many ways in which businesses of all kinds have been able to marry technology with tradition. It’s also worth remembering that the legislative constraints on small businesses are also changing. As this article on salon promotion tips from Phorest attests, when the GDPR comes into effect later this year even businesses like salons (which tend to be slow to incorporate digital technologies) will be legally obliged to store their data digitally to ensure compliance.
Since the matter may be taken out of your hands, why not get in on the ground floor by embracing these technologies which have been proven to assist small to medium sized enterprises of all kinds.
If you’ve been in business for some time now, you likely know many of your customers by name and have the kind of easy rapport with them that keeps them coming back time and again. This does not mean, however, that your operation is too small to invest in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.
Even though you have a great relationship with your customers, CRM is about so much more than having easy access to your customer’s details. No matter how small your business CRM is probably a worthwhile investment. It can give you a more macro perspective on your customer data, helping you to track what they buy, when they buy and in what quantities. This will enable you to concoct special offers tailored to their needs. Here is where technology can help you to provide the individualised level of customer service upon which your small business prides itself. You can also access the data for lapsed customers quickly and easily and try to lure them back with special promotions and offers via targeted email, which brings us to…
If you already have a strong customer base, you may not feel the need to invest in digital marketing, since you have all the customers you need. You might see digital marketing as just another overhead cost which should be driven down to a bare minimum lest it impinge upon your profit margin. This mode of thought can be counterproductive, however, and in a fast paced and ultra competitive market, you can’t afford to take your customers for granted.
Digital marketing grows your brand, introducing you to legions of new customers while helping your existing customers get to know you better. For example, investing in a professional looking website can help potential customers to get know your business better and increase your chances of converting a lead into a customer. Keeping that website updated with quality content regularly can help to establish you as an expert in your field while giving your business a sense of personality in which your customers can invest. This will ensure that your business continues to draw customers rather than relying on your ‘usual suspects’ while at the same time helping to ensure that loyal customers don’t defect to your competitors. If you have the time and expertise to dedicate to it, you can even do all of your own marketing, but if you choose to defer it to an outsourced company, you can do so safe in the knowledge that digital marketing costs tend to yield up to a 500% return on your investment.
How productively do you spend your time on the premises? Could you make more out of the hours you spend attending to your business? How do you know that the activities that fill your daily operations can’t be made more efficient, leaving you with more time to focus on the strategic running of your business?
EPOS (Electronic Point Of Sale) software is used in all sorts of small businesses as an alternative to the traditional till or cash register. While it has the obvious advantage of reducing human error so that you and your staff don’t spend hours waiting at the end of the day to account for imbalanced books, it also enables you to inventory your stock quickly and easily so that those long hours spent stocktaking become a thing of the past.
The promotional power of apps
You may well think that business apps are the sole domain of multinational corporate giants, but the exponential rise in app development means that even the smallest of businesses can use apps to make their operations more efficient and facilitate growth.
An app can be a powerful promotional tool, expanding your reach beyond the confines of your locality and potentially exposing your brand to an international market. You can use your app to drive customer loyalty by offering exclusive discounts and promotions to those who use it. You can also grow your reach by encouraging customers to introduce their families, friends and colleagues to the app by offering a discount or special promotion to both parties. If it’s good enough for Uber, it’s good enough for your business!