To Increase Sales, Small Businesses Must SEE the Future
Increasing sales in 2013 is likely one of the goals of every small business owner. But, as consumer buying habits and trends change from year to year, often times what worked last year will not work again the next year. This is especially true in today’s world where technology has reshaped the marketplace drastically in only a few short years – plunging retailers headfirst into cyberspace, and then once there, quickly and constantly redefining the landscape in which potential customers inhabit. For small business owners to compete they must be able to “SEE” the future and embrace the new consumer landscape.
S = Social Media
The first step to seeing the future is to embrace social media. Small business owners should already be familiar with social media, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, to name a few, and should be taking advantage of the opportunities they provide to connect with potential customers. But, to be competitive in the foreseeable future, familiarity will not be enough. The fact is social media is a part of the everyday lives of the majority of the consumer base for nearly all types of small businesses. Thus, to not maximize your engagement with social media is to cut-off a major artery of potential sales to your business.
The trick, however, for those who have not mastered social media interaction, is to avoid the temptation to simply dip your toe in the shallow end and spread a little of your business over a lot of social media spaces. Instead, to be competitive, you must own your presence in those social media environments that will give your business the “most bang for your buck,” so to speak. This means that the first step for small business owners to take on the road to owning their social media presence is to educate themselves about the business benefits of each available social media option and become an expert on how to put those benefits to work for their brand.
The best place to start is Doctoc’s Online Business Courses. Docstoc has in depth courses for small business owners on dozens of topics, including social media. These courses are taught by experts and go far beyond simply introducing the student to the course topics. To take your first step toward owning your business’s social media presence devote some time now by taking these courses – Social Media For Business, Facebook Pages For Business, LinkedIn Tutorial & Tools and Twitter For Small Business – and you will have your social media marketing machine running at full strength for all of 2013.
EE = E-commerce, Especially Mobile
There is no sense in denying it, e-commerce is a growing force that small businesses need to embrace to survive. And, if your business is not already offering an online purchasing option to its customers, you are at a major disadvantage. The fact is online e-commerce is already becoming old news because mobile e-commerce is already here. Moving into 2013 consumers expect that they can research, review and purchase any product on their computer or laptop, and by the end of 2013, that expectation will be firmly entrenched in their minds with regards to their smartphones and tablets. Thus, if your product is not already available online, and is not available on a mobile device in 2013, for many consumers, that product might as well not exist.
As shown here, “[a]ccording to the June 2012 Mobile Content Study by Magid Associates, tablet use by American consumers increased from zero to 34% in just the past two years. Moreover, Magid predicts that by the end of 2013 ‘the tablet audiences will more than double, from 40MM in 2011 to approximately 100 million’. This is in addition to an ‘increase from approximately 100 million users in 2011 to 140 million users’ of smartphones by the end of 2013. Another research study, this one from ABI Research, predicts that mobile-commerce will account for nearly a quarter of overall e-commerce market revenue by the end of 2017.” We said it back in August, and we’ll say it again now, “If you are … not optimized for mobile, you’ve been warned – the clock is ticking.”
Fortunately, setting up an e-commerce website, and optimizing it for mobile, has never been easier. There are numerous easy-to-use options available for small business owners with any level of website building experience. Shopify, Volusion, and BigCommerce are a few of the most well-known options.
If you can SEE the future, increased sales in 2013 are sure to follow.