SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS..DON'T GET BLINDSIDED..
If you think your current marketing methods are going to keep working, you're wrong. Direct mail campaigns? Door hangers? Flyers on mailboxes? Craigslist ads? Just about any cheap way you are marketing now is soon to be completely obsolete and irrelevant. It's not a matter of IF, but only a matter of WHEN.
Why? Simply put...because these ways are a pain in the ass for the customer. And our current consumer mentality is increasingly becoming "I WANT EASY, AND I WANT IT NOW!" When consumers do make exceptions on this mentality, it's begrudgingly and usually because they have no other option.
At the cost of beating the analogy dead horse, let's use the example of the market for getting a ride somewhere. In just over 7 years, what could arguably be the PRIMARY terminology a typical bar patron will use when needing a ride home at the end of the night? "I'm gonna just Uber home." Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, most likely you'll know what someone means when they say this. Yet, 8 years ago, the only thing you'd have heard was "I'm gonna CALL a taxi."
Which brings me to my point - In under 8 years, an over 100 year-old industry with ZERO direct competitors has been brought to its knees, made almost completely obsolete, and arguably irrelevant.
Because someone found a way to make it EASY and IMMEDIATELY GRATIFYING to the consumer.
All it takes is someone in your market to do the same. Uber for Lawn Mowing? It's being developed, I just followed the developer on Twitter a couple months ago. Uber for House Cleaning? It's only a matter of time, if not out there already.
I mean, just think how awesome that would be if you could hail a house cleaner at the end of your big Friendsgiving party, go to sleep, and wake up to a spotless house in the morning. Given a strong enough rating system, it's conceivable. I mean, people let AirBNB guests in their house while they are sleeping by the thousands now.
What do all of these examples have in common? The consumer experience is EASY and NOW...often, it's CHEAPER as well.
THE NEW CONSUMER MENTALITY - EASY AND FAST, OR I'LL FIND SOMEONE ELSE..OH, AND CHEAP TOO.
Like it or not, the more consumers are given what they want by all the businesses they buy from (EASY AND FAST), the more they expect it. Eventually, consumers will absolutely demand EASY AND FAST...it's only a matter of time. Not if...when.
Is all lost? Are corporate giants going to eventually snuff out the traditional small business to consumer relationship to the point small businesses no longer exist? I don't think it has to be that way...but if small business owners don't start acting now, it's a possibility.
So what can you do to compete in the current economy that's increasingly becoming corporate-controlled? There's some key steps you can start to take now, and fortunately, there's an ever-increasing number of tools available to make it happen.
6 STEPS TO CAPITALIZE ON THE NEW CONSUMER MENTALITY
To fully capitalize on the new consumer mentality take these steps in your business to be prepared for the coming increase of mobile buying habits.
1. Create Your Base Systems
To systematize you must first have tools to organize your systems. The System Tools are the foundation of your ability to deliver to consumers EASILY and QUICKLY.
Good tools make it easy to quickly find any information you need for your systems, such as Task Checklists, Spreadsheets, Sales Documents, Email Templates, etc. Through centralized interfaces (like Google Drive), cloud storage, search functions, tagging, and hierarchy systems, systems make it possible to access your systems from any device with an internet connection and to link to other tools for a completely automated business system.
Tools I Use:
2. Automate Your Systems
Once you have the foundational tools in place, you can start to integrate other tools to build an automated business system, which is essentially a network of systems all working together on redundant tasks so you don’t have to.
For example, in my previous business I used Jobber for my customer CRM, invoicing, estimates, and job time tracking. Jobber linked up to my Quickbooks Online and PayPal accounts, so I could email an invoice from Jobber and when a customer paid online, it would immediately credit my PayPal account debit card, record the transaction in Quickbooks, and mark the invoice paid in the customer’s Jobber account. All I had to do was email the invoice, which took maybe 5 minutes. The system did the rest.
Once you get the basics Automated, such as payment and accounting systems, you can move on to more advanced integrations for automating sales tracking, marketing efforts, ad campaigns, and just about anything else you could possibly conceive.
Want to remind your customers that it’s going to dip below freezing tomorrow night? Use the IFTTT app with the Weather and Facebook Page Channels to auto-post to your Facebook Page when freezing temps are forecasted in your area.
Automation Apps I Use / Have Used in Past Businesses:
3. Integrate Systems with an Online Presence
Now that you have your systems and tools for automation in place, you can create your foundation for your online presence - your website.
I’ve used a multitude of tools to create websites for over a decade now. Basic HTML/CSS coding, Dreamweaver, WordPress, and Weebly to name a few. Today, most small business owners will be able to operate a highly systemized, automated business with any decent WordPress or Weebly-created website. The key is a web-design platform that makes fast, easy integrations possible with simple drag and drop site building.
Tools I’ve Used or Currently Use:
4. Tie Everything Together with Tracking and CRM Systems
Finally, tie all of your systems together with tracking and customer relationship management systems that provide you the ability to monitor how your systems are working for you, opportunities for improvement, opportunities for new product or service offerings, measuring the ROI of your marketing efforts, and more.
Good CRM tools such as Jobber or Pipedrive have the ability to integrate tightly with all of your foundational systems so that the majority of what you interact with on a daily basis will be done in only a few places - Foundation tools like Google and Evernote, Web Presence tools like Weebly or Hootsuite, and PayPal or Quickbooks for payments and accounting. These tools also have reporting functions so you can get quick dashboard views of how your sales are converting, how quickly clients are paying you, etc.
Tracking tools feed your central information system such as a Google Sheet or Evernote Notebook so you can quickly analyze how marketing efforts are working, ad campaign ROI, etc. For example, you can download your Google Analytics data to a spreadsheet in Google Drive or save your highest-engagement Tweets to an Evernote Notebook.
Tools I Use/Have Used for Tracking and CRM
Author - Justin Smith
I owned a small service business from 2006-2016, and you could say I'm totally obsessed with automation and business systems. I believe the need to be physically present is the single biggest challenge small business owners like myself face.