Today’s guest post is brought to us by Ramon Ray, editor of Smallbiztechnology.com
In order to operate your business successfully there are several components that need to work and work well. Below, I have listed some of my favorite technology and resources to efficiently run your small business.
The product you have is important – critical. Is the product the right product that people want? Is it priced right? One way to test the market for your product is to build a web site (low cost) and see if you can even get one buy for the product. Bill Gross of Idea Labs did this when he started Cars.com
2. The Team
The team you have in place for the overall execution of your company is one of the most essential components to ensuring you have the right people in place. I have been pretty successful in using Elance to find members for my virtual team. These virtual team members can then be converted to full-time paid employees when the time comes.
3. Online Content
Marketing your product is essential and there are so many great ways you can market your product at very low cost, and this is the bulk of the insight I want to share with you today.
Email marketing, by some, is being touted as old or out-of-fashion. Trust me, your FIRST action should be to create an email newsletter that you can send on a regular basis to your customers and prospective customers. In fact, you should segment your newsletter (or have more than one) for your various major products and customer types.
These are three great email newsletter-marketing companies.
- Constant Contact – http://www.constantcontact.com
- Vertical Response – http://www.verticalresponse.com
- Mail Chimp – http://www.mailchimp.com
A great web site, as I mentioned before, is the centerpiece to any online marketing strategy. There are many services that let you create your own web site or you can hire a professional to create one for you.
Below, I’ve listed three services that let you create your own web site.
- Jimdo – http://www.jimdo.com
- Intuit Web Sites – http://www.intuit.com/websites
- Word Press – http://www.wordpress.com (web site or blog)
4. Online Marketing
Often times, word-of-mouth is not enough, and you need to find new customers. There are MANY ways you can do this.
See the advertising on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines. You can affordably display your advertising on these sites as well. You’ll only pay when a prospective customer clicks on one of your links.
- Google Adwords – http://www.Google.com/adwords
Facebook and LinkedIn offer small businesses low cost ways to play banner and/or text advertising on web sites, very targeted to the customers you want.
- Facebook Advertising – http://www.facebook.com/advertising
- LinkedIn Advertising – http://www.linkedin.com/advertising
When you market online it is important to measure the results of your advertising. All of the advertising channels provide some level of analytics to enable you to measure the success of your advertising campaign. These analytics can help you measure which advertisement was most effective. The one that said, “On Sale Now. Red Shoes 50% off.” Or the one that said, “Red shoes $49.99. Only Today.”
I’ve produced events for many years and they are a great way to connect with customers and could be a new revenue stream for your company. Eventbrite, Constant Contact, and Vertical Response provide tools for managing event registration. There is more to doing an event than attendee registration, you’ve got to market the event, select a venue, provide refreshments, and have a great line up of speakers and related agenda (content).
6. Customer Segmentation and Relationship Management
It’s absolutely critical that you have a database of your customers. If your database is an Excel spreadsheet, it’s better than not having one at all. But you should consider having your customers in a proper relational database that enables you to manage a variety of contact information and profile information about them, something Excel does not do to well. Databases you might wish to consider include Nimble, BatchBook, Infusionsoft (for marketing automation), and Trackvia.
These are just a few of the tools that I found help make my day-to-day business operations much easier. Ensuring you can be as productive out of the office as you are in the office is also important, hence a mobile technology strategy is also important.
About the Author
Ramon Ray is the Editor & Technology Evangelist for Smallbiztechnology.com and author of Ramon’s Tech Guide for Biz. To learn more about Ramon, or to simply say hello, send him an e-mail at ramon(at)smallbiztechnology(dot)com or drop him a line on Facebook and Twitter.
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