Last Updated on July 1, 2020
As a small business owner or manager, you’re in a strong position to take advantage of new technology. Small equals agile and that means you have the opportunity to try something new and have it not work out.
Yet, it also means that when something does go well, it can change your entire workflow, planning strategy, or quality of customer care, and put you on an even footing with your larger competitors.
Whether your company offers consumer products like clothing, electronics, or housewares, or business services like accounting, website design, or software testing, you’re in the perfect position to try the following technologies. Some of them have been around for a while but will become even more essential in 2020.
Social Media Marketing
There’s no question that there are plenty of eyeballs on social media to receive your company’s messages. There are now approximately 223 million social media users aged 12 and older in the U.S. Social media has always been leveraged for promotional purposes through advertising and user engagement.
In 2020 it will have even more power with the rise of:
- Ephemeral content – offers available for only a limited time
- Niche social platforms – social media targeted to specific interests
- Social commerce – the ability to make purchases directly from social platforms
- Social media influencers – users with a large following who can potentially promote your products or services
Using one or more of these aspects could very well pay off with increased revenues, especially if your target market is Gen Y or Gen Z.
If you’re unsure of how to proceed with a social media strategy, consider hiring a social media consultant. Previously a perhaps frivolous expenditure, a social media consultant may now be one of the best investments you can make, given that so much of your reputation depends on how you present yourself online.
User reviews are key to helping customers decide what products and services to buy. Some won’t even consider potential purchases with low star ratings.
For customers, this makes complete sense. If many people have tried something and liked it, it must be trustworthy. For businesses, however, it can be tricky when you know you have good products, but perhaps they haven’t yet gained enough traction to become “highly rated.”
User reviews, along with the higher-level activity of social listening (that is, monitoring your brand’s reputation based on feedback from reviews, social media posts, and other online content), are a critical tool for discerning your company’s reputation.
This factor will only continue to strengthen in 2020. Therefore, it’s more important than ever for small companies with limited marketing budgets to collect and promote good user reviews. Here are a few tips:
- Make it obvious where on your website customers can go to leave a review.
- Respond to all reviews, even negative ones. With negative reviews, try to make things right.
- Encourage social-media-style reviews in which customers can post photos of themselves with your products.
- Send review requests following each purchase.
You’ve likely heard the term “big data” floating around for many years. But what does it mean for your business? It means using the data you already have to get information that can help you run your company better.
For example, say you collect the names, addresses, and other bits of information of people who sign up for your monthly newsletter. That’s great for many reasons.
You can let them in on “subscriber-only” deals or pre-sale days, give them rewards for sending friends your way or provide opportunities to offer feedback on your new products.
But did you know you can also use their information to segment them into groups based on location, income, interests, and many other factors?
You can then use those sub-groups to market more specifically, making these customers feel understood and well-served, and ensuring their continued loyalty.
Work From Home
As early adopters of work-from-home options for employees have discovered, this approach can improve employee satisfaction, lower overhead costs, and even increase productivity. Not to mention the added benefit of cutting down on fossil fuel use as commuting is reduced.
Some businesses, such as content development or graphic design firms, could be based entirely on a work-from-home model, which is enabled by technologies like cloud storage, collaboration tools (see below) and video conferencing.
Of course, others may not be able to take it to this extreme, but you should at least examine the possibility of allowing some employees to work from home some of the time.
With distributed teams becoming more the norm, collaboration tools are essential for keeping everyone on track. Even when you all work together in the same space, you need a way to make sure everyone knows what they should be doing at all times.
Tools like Slack enable teams to keep in constant communication with a message-board like an interface that can be used to share information and have impromptu online meetings.
These communications serve as a jumping-off point for additional electronic or offline meetings. Wrike and other similar project management tools help teams track project progress.
This list only scratches the surface of how technology can help small businesses in 2020. Whatever obstacle you’re facing, there may be an app, software program, machine, or online tool that could help.
Take the time to research various options and try those that seem appealing. Unlike large companies, you have the ability to quickly change course if something doesn’t work, especially considering the low cost of many solutions and try-before-you-buy offers. Make 2020 your year of really making tech work for you.