Over the past few years, businesses have seen a tremendous increase in the functionality of digital technology. What used to be web pages that “listed” products for sale are now fully integrated networking communities where friends, family, colleagues and customers can interact just like they were standing next to each other while being thousands of miles away. Even email has emerged from a simple “send & receive” application into a multi-use platform that can now post blogs, track project development and measure message performance. There is little doubt that digital technology has changed the way we live, work and play – over 400 million people worldwide use the internet. What is however doubtful is whether business can figure out how to use the technology effectively before going out of business.
Small Business Has Big Opportunity
One of the biggest problems every small and medium size business (SMB) owner has is learning how to compete in a global economy. Gone are the days of the independent grocer or the local pharmacist. Even the specialty machine shop that makes specialty products for specialty suppliers is now fighting tooth and nail with global manufacturers for the same sales that have kept them in business for generations. These are the types of small businesses that are at the greatest risk of losing the global trade war with developing economies, but they are also in the best position to take advantage of emerging technologies to defend their position and maximize their business.
As a SMB, it’s all about your customer. Whether you’re a screw shop or a law firm, or even that local grocer that’s managed to stay in business – when you run a SMB, customers are always number one. Successful SMB’s understand that less than 20% of buying decisions are based on professional expertise – most sales are based on relationships. This is where SMB’s have the most opportunity because if there’s one thing that all this new technology has done is make it easy to connect and communicate with other people.
Don’t Just Contact – CONNECT
Connecting with your customers has never been easier, but it takes more than spam to get and keep the attention of your target market. This is where most SMB’s fail – signing up for a Facebook account and posting a bunch of messages that don’t mean anything – and then doing it over and over and over every month. Think about it – would you call your customer and tell them the same thing every single Tuesday at 4:00? Would you do it 8 times a day?
Here is another question – if you could personally talk to every person that walked by your restaurant, what would you say?
Building relationships with customers is the single biggest opportunity SMB’s have in the digital age, and too many businesses are missing out. To build relationships, you have to know what is important to potential customers; you need to know how customers define success. You have to let them know your business provides product or service that is valuable. You need to know what to say, before you say it.
If you’re trying to build a relationship – whether it’s a personal or professional one, the extent to which your target is engaged relies entirely on the level of interest you provide. It’s not just about telling a mass audience what you’re selling – it’s about connecting with a target audience by letting them know you have something that meets their needs. Engaging with potential customers online and building relationships is the best way SMB’s can remain competitive in a global market. Making the latest advances in digital technology work for your business is the best way to meet the digital demand of today’s internet consumer.