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The Three Stages of Digital For Small Business

If you own or manage a small business, it’s likely that you fall into one of three camps when it comes to your use of digital technology to help your business performance.  And where you fall among these groups gives a pretty good sense of how you should be approaching next steps when it comes to investing time, effort and money in improvements to your small business digital performance.

#1: The True Believer: You control your business with today’s leading technology and data-driven practices and it shows. Elon Musk has nothing on you.

#2: The Inconsistent Dabbler: Your business has a website, really just an online brochure, maybe built by your nephew a few years ago. But maybe it doesn’t look great on your smartphone. You know you need better understanding of techniques like social media and SEO, but don’t have the time or inclination to really focus on it. You have set up a facebook page and a LinkedIn profile, but don’t know what to do next. Technology doesn’t scare you, but it’s secondary to your focus and you’re not sure it’s going to help you.

#3: The Nervous Avoider: You’ve built your business to date without anything but hard work and excellence in what you deliver. “Digital” sound trendy, you don’t understand technology and getting started is intimidating.  Marketing to you means newspaper ads, yellow page listings and maybe a trade show now and then. You keep meaning to get that website built.

We won’t even discuss type 4, of which we’ve met a few:

#4: The Cynical Detractor: You’re old school, and when it comes to your business, you don’t care about the internet, technology, data, or fixing what ain’t broke. And furthermore, you aren’t reading this article since it didn’t arrive in the US mail or in a newspaper insert. ;)

What Should You Do Next With Digital Technology?

Depending on which camp you fall into, we believe you should be focusing your digital technology efforts appropriately. One size does NOT fit all, and nothing will discourage you from successfully deploying digital practices more than overstepping your technical, educational and emotional readiness.

For the Nervous Avoider:

  • Commit to take accountability for your digital technology efforts. Without a small business owner’s engagement in the process and endorsement in its importance, any digital efforts are bound to fail.
  • Take a deep breathe and try a little. Opportunities for you to dip your toe in digital waters has never been easier, less expensive and more user friendly to the non-technical among us.
  • Start with a simple facebook page for your business. It takes no more than five minutes, it’s free, and it will allow you to build confidence.
  • Next, look at investing in a basic website with a description of your business, what you offer, how you are different and better than the competition, and how they can do business with you.
  • Accept that the vast majority of your customers and prospects depend on digital every day for information, commerce, and so much more.  You owe it to them to provide them at least with a digital window into your business, of your values and of your difference. Otherwise, they’ll feel ignored at best and disrespected at the worst.

For the Inconsistent Dabbler:

  • Guarantee that your website is as visible as possible, both to people interested in or engaged with your business, and to search engines. Key requirement: Your website needs to be optimized for use on mobile devices.
  • Personally commit to writing down something about your business and sharing it with the internet once a week. This can be as simple as sharing an opinion on an article you found interesting and reposting. It’s called content curation, and it is appreciated by your customers.
  • Embrace updating your digital presence regularly and become a scientist who experiments. “Test and learn in small bites” needs to be your mantra, and learning how to tap into the data that your efforts result in will allow you to make smarter decisions.
  • Learn how much it costs to get a new customer using online marketing. With careful planning and monitoring of digital ad spending and website usage data, you will become intelligent about how to efficiently grow your business.

For the True Believer:

  • Translate your brand into regularly produced content that educates, compels and delights your prospects and customers
  • Make sure that your customer data is accessible, analyzable and tells you where to focus your energies
  • Optimize how your team uses digital technology and tools for collaboration and information sharing
  • Integrate subscription-based digital tools into your internal business processes
  • Consider how to better support your customers with digital access to your business

So, no matter which group you find yourself in, committing to improvements in how you use and benefit from digital business practices is as simple as taking the first step. We deal with all three types described above at Hewson Group, and would be happy to help you take whatever next steps are best suited for your situation and comfort level.

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