If you get frustrated because you are trying to run a small business and stay on top of advertising and customer service trends and offerings, don’t despair. You are certainly not alone! And don’t think you can or have to implement every single tech option. That would be impossible on the average small business budget. In our next post, we’ll look at your marketing strategy to make sure you have a routine plan in place to determine what’s working and what isn’t. If something isn’t working, switch it out! Try something new. Here are some samples of the newer technologies and trends for small business:

Live online chat: it isn’t new but you’ve probably noticed that an increased number of companies are offering customer chat in addition to their phone and email customer service. Google “online chat for business” to find a ton of companies offering this service, many with 30-day trials. If you have a business who has a dedicated customer service team, it can be worth it to install a chat software. (Here’s a tip: when your customer service reps are on the phone with customers or returning emails, have them ask customers for 60 days if they would use chat if it was offered).

Apps: Whoa. Apps are changing EVERYTHING. BUT not every business needs an application for smartphones or tablets like the iPad. They can be very cheap or very expensive to have developed. If you are considering it, ask yourself why and then develop a team of employees, managers and a few key customers to make sure it makes sense before paying for development. (Here’s another tip: go to Elance.com to let developers bid for your business if you do decide to build an app). Instead of an app, it might make sense to go for a

Mobile-configured website: If you look at Amazon.com on your computer it looks different than it does on a smartphone. It has been configured to be more user-friendly on a phone and this makes sense for every small business who has decent traffic on their website. Graphic design firms and freelancers worth their merit are learning this technology so check around.

Mobile advertising: I’m less enthusiastic about this. I think it is like most banner advertising on a computer and will be ignored by your customers on their smartphones. Instead, let them sign up for mobile coupons (check with your email service for this) and go the geo-local route instead.

Video: I’ve talked about this extensively. You are using it, right?

Remember, you don’t have to pick them all. Pick one and monitor the heck out of it! You’ll figure out quick enough if any of these cutting-edge technologies are right for your small business.


by Steven Schlagel