Thursday, January 9, 2014
Forget The Techy Jargon Get Good At What You Do
The digital age. What is it? We read so much blather about digital this, digital that . For many business owners, 'digital' meant either your fingers or that clock radio. So what does it really mean?
Does "The Digital Age" mean anything useful?
Once upon a time someone developed a way to show different locations electronically as 'pages' and share information over distance. This was great and opened up a whole lot of useful and some silly things we could do with computers that we were not able to do before.
Then came Web 2.0 Of course nobody talks about that now it would be a sure sign that you are living in the past. So now we have The Digital Age. Well what is it really? It's really just how things are now. Let's stop talking about the Digital Age and start talking about what you're doing now to get the message out about your business.
That's new. That's old.
Different fleas. Same old dog.
So What Do We Do?
It's not "optional" to know how all this works now. or perhaps more correctly, not optional to know how to use it effectively. Getting across this learning is a simple cost of doing business in 2012 and beyond. And by the way, anyone can learn this, with the right help. Yes even you.
It's as basic a skill as learning to make a telephone call once was.
And it is time for businesses to get cracking and learning how to get the best results they can for the least amount of effort, cost and aggravation, using new tools to save money, get far better product exposure and really show off the stuff of which they are made.
We hear about e-business. What's that? Well hello, e-business is just any - or every - business now. It is a capability you acquire. Want to run a nail and beauty centre? Well you can't do that online. But you can use online tools to draw customers, showcase new ways to get creative, new designs, new ways to book in, new ways to generate referrals.
You have a bricks and mortar business? Great. Sell from there, and see what else you can sell not from there. This idea that we are stuck in a location waiting for some customer to wander past our door during those hours we are open is over. Just as customers go looking for information about products at any time of the day or night, we have the ability to be there where they looking, with all the answers they need and the steps to let them buy when it is convenient, and assure them that we know our stuff when it comes to our core business. Pretty much like we used to do - but without the locality restrictions, and without having to keep staff on the clock 24/7.
The more that new products come into the digital space the more there is to learn. For business that's not new. Dynamic businesses have been weathering change forever. This is a new one, just like the old ones were. Those who are flexible and open to learning will do well. Those who don't will fall by the wayside. Just like always.
Change ... is Gonna Come
We see a lot about 'digital literacy' well that's not enough either. We need our businesses to be digitally competent and learning centres. Testing to see what works and being willing to adapt as the market changes.
Perhaps the biggest change - the only change that matters is developing an attitude that embraces change and commits to learning how to make new technology improve what we do and make it easier to do better with fewer resources. This is what The Digital Age is all about. And just as in the past, skills building and training is required.
You don't need to know the ins and outs of every terabyte of information around the technical aspects. You do need to learn how to ask the right questions of those who do know that stuff. And how to determine if they know what they are talking about.
You do need to know why your business needs a blog.
You do need to build a great customer database full of useful information.
You do need to know how to use an email program.
You do need to know that sending newsletters as a pdf is pointless - or worse.
You do need to know how to get all those great photographs off your camera and onto your blog, your website and your social media platforms.
You do need to know how to create content that you can share that tells the story about your business and that will interest existing customers and bring them back to you for new business and attract new customers.
There are many things you need to know.
And quite a few you don't really need to know.
Especially important is for local business to stop looking for excuses and start taking positive action to be relevant.
What Do I Need To Do?
But mostly, as a business, you need to know your basic business numbers, really know your customers and what they want (no, not just guess), and encourage and empower your employees to get behind your vision and help customers feel wanted again.
The Digital Age?
For small business that's The Customer Age.
That's a bit old fashioned isn't it.
You still need to sell more things to more people, and have them come back and buy again more often. Digital tools are just resources you can help you do exactly that.
Local business needs to be cool - tech savvy - with a bit of Retro thrown in.
Customers love that.
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