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small business

Adapting to Technology Helps Small Businesses Win

It should come as no surprise that more and more of us are attached at the hip, literally and figuratively, to our smartphones. Nationally, over 50% of the population carries smartphones with them daily. That statistic rises closer to 90% in the Washington metropolitan area. Mobile devices allow us to communicate and research extensive information wherever we are, while also reporting our patterns and preferences in real-time. Our smartphones are becoming more and more embedded in our daily lives.

The technologies and capabilities associated with mobile devices are increasing exponentially. Devices in our pockets link with sensors in places where we shop. We no longer have to pull out a credit card to pay when we make a purchase. The shop’s sensor knows who we are, what we bought and how to charge us. Our smartphones send GPS signals that, combined with those from fellow travelers along the same route, accurately depict real-time speed of traffic and enable accurate warnings of delays and arrival predictions. As we grow to expect instant information at our fingertips, small businesses must take advantage of opportunities to reach potential customers on their smartphones and make sure that their information is easily accessible.

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The Alexandria Small Business Development Center (SBDC) recently hosted a Mobile Marketing for Small Business program presented by Ray Sidney-Smith of W3 Consulting. It highlighted how urgent it is for every business to develop a mobile marketing strategy. It’s not sufficient to just have a robust website; we must also streamline our messages into a mobile format. We must anticipate ways to connect with our customers’ changing mobile needs in a way that adds value to our interactions. If you are not sure how to approach this, now is the time to find out.

While there is no single mobile marketing strategy that will work for everyone, here are a few common tactics to help you get started:

  1. Think mobile first in every aspect of your current marketing and communications plan. Alexandria SBDC can point you to recommended websites for help.
  2. Think about the different devices that people use to access your business information, and streamline your message to make sure that important content is prominently displayed in a way that will be visible on a laptop, tablet, or mobile device. It may also be worth designing a separate mobile version of your website.
  3. Consider offering a special discount or deal to customers who use smartphones to share information about your business through Facebook or Twitter.
  4. Determine how you might be able to use QR codes to increase traffic to your website.

Getting started with mobile marketing may seem intimidating, but the Alexandria SBDC is here to help. We offer insights on mobile strategies, as well as social media in general. Visit www.alexandriasbdc.org to learn more about SBDC education programs on marketing and social media. We also schedule monthly one-to-one social media clinic sessions with Ray Sidney-Smith, Digital Business Strategist. As always, our resources and services are provided to Alexandria businesses without cost. For more information, contact Alexandria SBDC at 703-778-1292 or [email protected]

Bill Reagan is the Director of the Alexandria Small Business Development Center. Bill contributes to a monthly column in The Alexandria Times to discuss issues impacting the City’s small businesses. This piece was originally posted in The Alexandria Times in March 2013.

 

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