By Don Williams
Local businesses have a hard time these days competing with the corporate giants. In many areas of the US, all the mom and pop stores have been wiped out and out-muscled by big chains. That’s the bad news – but you already new that. The good news is that the internet, social media, and smartphone apps have leveled the playing field.
Let’s tackle 5 ways your small local business can benefit from this tech emergence.
#1) Web Presence
No matter how big your business is, your website can look just as good as your next door monster. The same goes for the rest of your internet dealings. If you have a twitter and an app, you just need to have good content and there is a way that your potential customers will see you.
Gone are the days that you need to have millions in the marketing budget to put ads all over TV, radio and the newspaper. Yes, it costs time and money to upkeep your internet activities, but substantially less than it used to cost, and easier to implement.
#2) Smart Systems Partnerships
Everyday I hear about a new startup or service that optimizes business one step further. Yes, these tools are obviously available to everyone, but you need to be aware of these ideas, because if you aren’t up-to-date, your competitor will be, and you’ll be left in the dust.
#3) The Cloud
The cloud is getting a lot of buzz nowadays, because of its great potential to serve businesses worldwide. I do use services such as Evernote and Dropbox, but I’ll warn you to be cautious when putting sensitive information on either of these. I certainly don’t. The thing is, its not on your hard drive, so if they screw up, your data could potentially be available for all to see.
If you want to utilize a cloud service but don’t want your info on a random server, there’s a few cool options that have come out of Kickstarter. One is called Plug. It’s a device that gives you a personalized Dropbox. Check it out, it’s pretty cool!
#4) Smartphone Apps
This one is huge. Local businesses everywhere are taking advantage of the fact that most people have smartphones, which in turn gives them the opportunity to communicate with them on a mobile, ongoing basis, have live conversations via social media, and increase their popularity.
These apps help people stay connected to the brand of a local business and increase their brand loyalty. In addition to the business’s website, apps allow the 24/7 nature of the internet to continue, now not only at a computer (which a growing number of households have), but in the palm of consumers hands. Consumers are using more and more mobile devices, which means more buzz with mobile apps.
#5) Online Learning Sites
Universities are losing their power. More and more reputable, professional online businesses are popping up that allow anyone to learn almost…anything! Yes, the internet as a whole is a great place to learn stuff, but these organizations are taking online learning to a serious new level.
You, as a small local business owner could browse the available course material laid out by these sites and could find yourself 10 minutes and $10 later learning how to use current social media tactics being employed by all the mega companies. My favorite site is Udemy.com for this. You can sign up for a course and download all the material to your smartphone and/or tablet to watch anytime, anywhere.
Obviously the key is not found in just these tools, but it involves an enigmatic marketing campaign, a great product and great people. As a local business owner, you’ve got to be flexible and know that these tumultuous times offer great opportunity for massive wealth gain AND loss, and staying on top of these things will increase your chances of succeeding.