If you stop and think about how much marketing has changed in even the last year, take a moment to consider the evolution of marketing as a whole. Remember the last time that you opened the newspaper and checked the help wanted section when you were looking for a new job? Or opened up the phone book to see who was the first name of someone to fix your dishwasher? No? There’s a good reason for that: It’s outdated technology. Nobody doubts that print marketing has a time and a place in the world of advertising, but if you are brutally honest with yourself then you know that marketing online is the way of the future. Make use of the best modern technologies to get your small business up to snuff with the 21st century not only when you advertise, but in how it functions as a unit.
Streamline the Way Your Business Runs
Marketing automation is a powerful tool in the corporate world these days. It sounds complex, but the idea is simple: Take a series of tasks and put them into an automated form. This helps you as a business owner in a number of ways: You can quickly see data in one cohesive place, take note of trends and changes and best of all, manage your marketing processes in a simplistic format.
How Does Marketing Automation Help Me?
Market research is a vital ingredient in the health of any company, yours not excluded. Automation can help to gather customer data from all corners of the internet:
- Your website: How many visitors per day you’re averaging, the pages that rank the highest in search engines and how well your use of SEO is working.
- Social media platforms: Who are your customers following and what are they liking, reposting and hashtagging?
- Emails: If you’ve got an opt-in system that allows you to send marketing emails to your clients, how are they responding to them? Are they trashing them, marking them as spam or taking the time to read them thoughtfully?
Best of all, you are ultimately creating a customized experience that is tailor-made to suit your customers. The data that you collect can be used as a powerful tool to help you develop a new marketing campaign.
Create a Client-Focused Website
Free tools like Wix and WordPress make it easy to at least open the door for a company website. Although it’s generally encouraged that you purchase your own domain (for many reasons, mainly to appear more professional and legitimate), there is no harm using these free options. Don’t forget who your end-users are as you build your site — you have plenty of data gathered on your audience thanks to your automation tools, now’s an opportunity to use it. Who are the people that frequent your business? Drill down to the specifics so that you really know who they are:
- Into what age range does your typical customer fall?
- What does their family dynamic look like: Are they empty nesters, young families, students?
- Which values do they seem to hold most dearly? This is an important one since it helps you to identify with them and speak in a marketing language that they understand.
What Should I Include On My Website?
Think for a moment about what you find valuable on websites for other companies. You already know what you don’t like: Flashing, distracting imagery; a cluttered, confusing mess of a navigation bar; information that is buried and hard to find or worse, nonexistent. Avoid all of that and turn it on its head:
- A clear, attractive design with a color palette that is pleasing to the eye
- Navigation located in the top center of all pages, as industry standards dictate
- Content that is clearly labeled and easy to navigate to, with a search tool enabled
Again, think about your customers as you design (or redesign) your website. What colors, images, and content would they find the most appealing? Be creative and think of ways to attract the most attention. Some fun ideas might include:
- Support local pride if you have found that most of your clients are hometown residents. Post pictures of you and your team rocking football jerseys for the town’s high school team.
- Make simplicity your goal if stressed-out first-time parents are the ones who frequent your business the most often. Clean, flowing lines and gentle colors might help them to associate your business with a calm atmosphere in the madness of their new roles.
- Are most of your orders from college kids who are trying to save money? Promote your awesome coupon codes on your welcome page so that it’s the first thing they see upon arrival.
Promote a Green Environment
Technology doesn’t always mean fancy computer equipment and digital apps. In a world that has begun to embrace a green culture, it makes a difference to clients if they see that you’re trying to do your part to help. As green technology becomes more affordable, make the most of it in your office environment.
It wasn’t so long ago that writing or printing all documents onto paper were necessities in the business world. With the ease of writing emails, sharing documents and video chat software it is easier than ever to start going paperless. Why print things like the meeting agenda and the user guide for the copy machine? Make use of sharing things electronically to instantly save money on paper and more importantly, save more trees.
Don’t forget about your accounting sector as well. Is it necessary to write paper checks for your employees or can you use direct deposit? Do W2 forms need to be printed when you send them or can they be downloaded? The more that you decide not to print, the less necessary it becomes in all corners of your company.
Look for Energy Star Technology
Energy Star certifications are a mark of pride when a product bears its logo. This means that the product is using less raw material to do the work: Less electricity, water, and energy. Some amazing ideas for an office setting include:
- Kitchen appliances for the staffroom: Refrigerators, dishwashers, and microwaves.
- Windows and doors. A special film placed over the glass helps to prevent hot air from sneaking in during the summer and keep cold air out in the wintertime.
- Electronic equipment — yes, even computers and copy machines. Most often these will go into power-saving mode after an allotted duration of time to save energy.
Install Automatic Lights
Alleviate the worries of leaving unnecessary lights on and save on your electric bill. Lights with motion sensors detect if someone is using a room or not, so if the room has been quiet for a certain amount of time then the lights will automatically shut off. Although this can be annoying if you’re working at a desk or not moving much, the long-term effects are worth it.
Wear Your Tech
There was a time not so very long ago that it was okay to leave the house without a cell phone — because chances are you either didn’t own one yet or it was too expensive to use regularly. Today, it seems insane to get as far as the welcome mat without your cell phone, but oh, how the times have changed. Equipping yourself and your staff with wearable technology can make the workday flow much easier since you’re always connected in different ways.
You already know the brand names, but no matter which you prefer you can’t deny that smartwatches are a game-changer. They offer a way to view and respond to texts and emails without needing to barely interrupt your current task.
Company Phones With Wireless Ear Buds
When employees are on the clock, they need to be easier reached in case you or a customer needs them. By equipping staff with a company phone, you are giving them an instant route of communication without counting on them to pay for minutes or data. Wireless earbuds are an added bonus so that they aren’t fumbling around with those spaghetti-thin wires of traditional earbuds.
Though technically your smartwatch could do this job too, fitness trackers are a less complex tool that does nothing but their intended purpose: To track fitness. This can be a great motivator for your team and encourage a healthy lifestyle and a little friendly competition. This can also serve as a team-building experience, a way to help your staff bond over a shared goal of getting into shape.
There is no doubt that the business world of 2020 is drastically different than the one of 1920, but look at how much has changed even in the last five years, the last year alone. As the world goes digital there is less need for hands-on items and more demand for electronic solutions, digital technologies to help the business run more efficiently. Pair those with an office that supports healthy, greener earth and you’re on the road to catering to your unique audience. Take advantage of technology in all its forms as it has evolved over the years to help improve your small business.