5 ways to make tech trends work for you

What tech fads has your SMB recently written off as silly and not worth your time? 3D printing, internet of things…Pokémon GO? Juvenile as they may seem at first, these trends helped to make a lot of businesses a lot of money. Navigating the quickly rising and falling auspices of the tech world may seem like a lost cause, but with the right know-how, you can make, connect, and catch profits by exploiting the tech trends of the day. Let’s take a look at five strategies to make that happen.

Get in early

One of the biggest indicators of how successful your SMB will be in making big gains off of a new trend is how early you get in. Fads, especially in the tech world, can come and go in no time. Be careful not to invest in resources with a long-term commitment like new logos or graphics, but instead in low-cost workarounds like special promotions and social media campaigns that put you front and center immediately. Once the popular kids have moved onto a fresh fixation, you’ll be ready to move forward without skipping a beat.

Use existing tools

How can you get up to speed quickly without investing too much in permanent resources? The trick is to hijack existing opportunities and strategies for your own message. For example, John Deere has been selling farming equipment for over 150 years, with no signs of slowing down. But with a creative combination of existing GPS technology and mobile devices, they quickly jumped to the forefront of the “Internet of Things” craze by connecting their vehicles to crop planning practices.

Participate in the narrative

So you’ve identified a trend you want to cash in on and you’ve commandeered existing tools to help sell your product. How else can you gain momentum? Social media is everywhere nowadays, and it doesn’t seem to be a dying trend. However, it’s no panacea; simply posting “We’ve got a promotion on all seasonal products #inserttechfadhere” won’t bring obsessed customers to your doorstep. Take a minute to understand the mechanics of what pulls everyone away from work, friends, and family, and show participants you’re one of them. Is it competitive? Polarizing? Take a stand or pick a team and invite customers who are “on your side” to get a discount.

Merge the fad with your business model

With a little creative brainstorming, most business models can actually integrate their product or service with a passing trend. Chatbots have been shoring up the “deep learning” revolution, and clothing retailers have come up with a really creative way to employ them to drive sales. By simply providing their chatbots with a fashion tree, the bots can ask basic questions which whittle down clothing recommendations to those that align with customers’ tastes.

Address difficulties presented by the fad

What if you can’t find a way for your products or services to directly interact with the blazing new trend? The next best thing is to provide solutions to problems presented by it. Does interacting with the popular app or activity eat up a lot of mobile device battery? Remind passersby your outlets are available for customers, or that you sell mobile battery packs. Does it require driving all over town? Remind customers of your latest car rental promotion. Sometimes just associating yourself with the trend is enough.

Not sure how to integrate your business with the latest fads? We’re the experts on all things technology related, from the most recent to the ancient. As a small- to medium-sized business owner, getting the most value out of your technology investments is crucial to getting your foot in the door and working your way toward bigger profits. From machine learning to Pokémon GO, no question is too trivial — ask us today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Live video: a free way to reach new customers

Having direct access to customers is a gold mine for SMBs and with the increasing popularity of live video services it’s just a matter of deciding what to broadcast. The strategies for live broadcasting are very different than pre-recorded video and it’s important to reevaluate how you’ll present company information in this medium. Keep reading for six of the best types of videos for live broadcasts.

Business Introduction/Behind the scenes

If your company is new or suffering from low visibility, one of the best things you can do is give customers direct access to your staff and your product. A great use of live video is to take viewers on an office tour, show them how a product is made or even broadcast your business’s launch event.

Make sure to invite as many viewers as you can, but remember that most live broadcasts can be saved and viewed later. This is a video you’ll likely want to keep available after it’s finished.

Ask Me Anything (AMA)

Depending on your product or service, you may be getting a lot of conceptual questions about innovative ways to use it, what direction the company is heading and so forth. There’s no better way to address these questions than to do so in a personal and unscripted AMA segment.

If there’s a good turnout make sure to keep questions and answers moving in relevant and interesting directions. There’s nothing wrong with updating everyone on what you had for breakfast, but addressing service bugs or product feature requests is going to be a lot more beneficial for wider audiences.

How-to

Whether it’s a soon-to-be-released product or simply rehashing an existing one that’s getting lots of support requests, there’s no better way to guide customers through a ‘how to’ process than step-by-step, face-to-face.

Not only does this help to show existing clients the best way to use your product or service, it also allows potential consumers to see both your product and your customer service philosophy in action. Saving these videos can be invaluable as you continue to get questions on the product or service outlined in these videos — it’s an easy way to build a video reference library for sales and support.

Webinar

Although all of the previous uses can be categorized as ‘customer service’, there’s no reason you can’t simply open a help desk broadcast and invite viewers to join with their support questions. If you advertise this as a customer service broadcast and steer clear of any conversations that deal with non-support related questions, you may be able to tackle more than one client’s questions at a time and no one can ever complain that contacting your support line is frustrating or tedious.

Announcements

All of the live broadcast services are deeply integrated with social media. Whether it’s Twitter or Facebook, post updates about an upcoming announcement along with a scheduled time and take the chance to make your product or service announcement far more interesting and personal than a press release or faceless status update.

Text based announcements and pre-recorded videos severely limit how you address the ‘fine-print’ questions from customers. Think of this as a chance to hold your own personal press briefing and address questions after your scripted announcement.

Promotions

In the same vein as live announcements, use social media to promise a special promotion to anyone who tunes in to a live broadcast. Before it begins, create different thresholds for how big the promotion will be depending on participation. Once you begin, check how many viewers you have to decide whether to augment or reduce the scope of what you want offer. In addition to being a more dynamic method for releasing promotions, it will create motivation among your customers to interact more directly with your company.

Socialmediatoday reports that Facebook users spend three times longer watching live broadcasts than pre-recorded video. Combine that with Facebook’s announcement that live videos are more likely to be promoted to the top of news feeds and you’d be crazy not to utilize live broadcasts.

However, there are a handful of different services to use for live video broadcasting and deciding which one is the best for you can depend on a lot of different variables. Call us with any of your questions and we’ll be happy to assist you in adding value to your business with today’s best live video services.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

LinkedIn tips for the SMB

As a small business owner, you may be a bit perplexed how to gain the most value out of LinkedIn. You may have already spent countless hours trying to leverage the platform with little success. So what are you doing wrong? And how can you make the most out of your time on the platform? Here are a few tactics any SMB can follow to gain more value from LinkedIn.

Know LinkedIn’s purpose

Simply put, LinkedIn is not a content marketing platform. Yes, people do publish articles and posts, but if you have a small budget and are short on time, you will get more bang for your buck on social media networks that are more content marketing friendly. For example, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are all far better options in this scenario. Many users are on these platforms to view content in one form or another. On LinkedIn, content can undoubtedly be viewed, but people are primarily there to make connections. Of course that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t post an occasional article on LinkedIn. It just means don’t make it the main source of your content marketing efforts.

Another way businesses misconceive LinkedIn is in terms of lead generation. Basically, you shouldn’t expect your LinkedIn page to generate a large amount of leads. As an SMB, your marketing budget is limited, so you’ll be better off using your advertising budget to drive leads to your actual website or even a Facebook business page. Your LinkedIn business page should be used instead to validate your experience, credentials, and professionalism. With that said, make sure your page is polished and updated with all this information.

Double down on business trips

We all know that LinkedIn is a great platform to connect with business colleagues. If you’re active on the platform, you likely have hundreds of connections. So when you make that next business trip, why not tap your network to book additional meetings in the city you’re traveling to? Ask yourself, which of your connections could help you extend your sales in that region or benefit your business in some other way? You don’t have to stick to business colleagues you know personally. You can create valuable new relationships by tapping your current LinkedIn network. To do this, search first and second degree connections using the geographic search option, and filter your results to job titles, industry, and company size of your ideal prospect. Once you’ve found potential contacts, see if you can get an introduction from one of your first connections, or simply InMail them and reach out yourself.

Your page is about your business—not you

A very common small business mistake on LinkedIn is making your company page about you, not your business. You may mistakenly create this page like your personal profile, listing accolades and job experience. What you should really be focusing on, however, is something much bigger: the story of your business or brand. A story will help engage your prospects, creating an impression in their minds, and also give you an opportunity to touch on the value your business provides to customers. Your profile should also include some of the top brands your business has helped. If one of your clients is Target, The Gap, Whole Foods or another big name, make sure to mention it, as it proves your credibility as a business or service provider.

Find talented hires

While big companies have the budget and time to post job openings on LinkedIn, as an SMB, there’s a good chance you’re lacking both. Fortunately, there’s an alternative way to find top talent on LinkedIn. Simply search for them yourself.

Before you get started, you need to know exactly what kind of hire you’re looking for. Think about people you already know who would be perfect for the job. While you may not have the ability or budget to hire them, look them up on LinkedIn and see their career path. What kind of roles did this person previously have? What kind of experience did he or she have before their current position? With this information in hand, now you can search for people who are in or have held similar positions, and will likely share qualities of your ideal candidate. Once you have a pool of potential applicants, reach out to them through InMail or a shared connection to see if they’re interested in your job.

Ask for help, and be helpful

Like all social media platforms, if you don’t engage with your connections, you’ll see little value generated from your time using it. However, with LinkedIn, the type of engagement you participate in can be extremely valuable for your business. All it requires is for you to ask for help or feedback. For example, if you have several logo designs for a new product and are unsure of which is best, share some of them with your network to get feedback. If you’re curious about a new productivity tool and wonder if it’s worth investing in, ask your network if anyone’s used it before. Oftentimes in the business world, people are happy to help you if you just speak up. However, don’t forget to return the favor. If you become the person who seems to only be taking advice without giving any in return, it can have a negative effect on your reputation.

If you’d like more ideas on how social media or technology can create value for your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our IT solutions can help you overcome challenges, and create an even more valuable business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

More to social media value than meets the eye

When it comes to social media, figuring just what, if any, value it offers your business can be complicated. There is no exact science when it comes to figuring it out and even experts disagree as to just what is and is not important when measuring the value of your company’s social media. The reality is that there is no tried and true method to solving this enigma, but we will offer you some advice on how you can uncomplicate the mystery.

ocial media is important for your business and it can have a great deal of value for your company if utilized correctly. Of course measuring this value is an imperfect science. While we don’t have a magic formula to help you figure it out, we do have a few things for you to consider when it comes to estimating it for yourself.

Followers matter but…

…they are not the end all be all when it comes to your social media efforts. When social media first started, it was all about how many followers you had. In the eyes of consumers, more followers equaled more credibility. However, that sentiment is no longer a prevailing thought among consumers and the number of followers you have won’t make or break your organization.

However, having a lot of followers does still reflect well on your business and it also gives you an easy way to reach your target audience directly. This is where it becomes important to monitor things like average clicks, the number of clicks the page you shared got, and conversion rate – the number of people who clicked on your share that turned into a sale or lead. If you have 100,000 followers but don’t get clicks, then your social media doesn’t hold a whole lot of value. The next point comes in handy if you’re having trouble monitoring all of these.

Simplify the way you monitor social media

A lot of businesses make a simple mistake that convolutes the way they estimate the value of social media. That mistake is failing to create unique campaigns and contact points for each social media channel. Doing this can make it difficult to determine just what leads and sales are coming from which media. Here’s an example for you. Your business shares a link on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to a page on your website where people can download a free report. You get 150 people to download which is good but it can be hard to determine just where everyone came from to download the report unless you have advanced tools like Google Analytics at your disposal.

That’s why for every promotion or pitch page on your website that you share via social media, you should create a distinct URL for each one so you can easily monitor where people are coming from. This will help you understand what kind of value each of your social media channels has. You might also want to consider creating a separate phone number for each social media channel so that way when a person does call, you will know where they came from. This option is especially easy and cost effective to implement if you have a VoIP phone system in place.

Set social media goals

Without goals in place, it’s pretty hard to figure out the value of anything including social media. If you already have social media goals established, then these are probably the place to start in determining the value of your company’s social media. If goals have not been set up, you are going to want to create some and see if your company is able to reach these. That’s because the easiest way to determine if something has business value is to establish if it can help your company reach its goals. If you see that social media isn’t doing this, then you’ll need to reconfigure your strategy accordingly. If social media is adding value, then you will want to dig deeper using different tools to get a better idea of just what that value is.

If you aren’t using social media to add value to your business, then you are losing out. And if you aren’t utilising technology to assist in these efforts then you are really falling behind. Talk to our experts today to see how you can get started.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.