Next week (Thursday, May 13th), Pacific Business News will host a breakfast tech seminar for managers, executives and business owners. I will be one of the panelists and we will discuss how your business can leverage technology to stay competitive.
As part of my presentation, I will explain a checklist of items every business can adopt and implement right away with little or no upfront cost. The point is to get-going on the latest market trends to ensure your company’s mid to longterm viability.
By the way, it’s not too late to join the event. I am confident you’ll find it relevant and useful. For more info: http://bit.ly/bdM9Rv
Here’s my checklist for making your business tech-ready:
- Nuke your website. If you’re like most businesses, you spent a good chunk of money on a nice website…a few years ago. Well, times have changed and as a result the site is probably dated in terms of design and features. Your website is your most important face to the world. It should also be your best salesperson. Enhance your site using WordPress, which is a free, open source, content management system. WordPress is easy to use, fully featured and search engine friendly. It will also give you everything you need to start blogging.
- Use analytics for everything. Knowledge is power. You need to know how many people are visiting your website. You need to know what interests them. The more you mine the data, the better you can serve your clients. Add Google Analytics to your site. It takes just a few minutes. I will gladly do it for you free of charge. Also, go to bit.ly and create an account. It costs nothing. You can use bit.ly to create smart URLs, so you can measure what’s popular and what’s not. The link in the third paragraph of this column in one of those smart links. It will tell me how many people clicked on it and from where.
- Poll your customers, employees and vendors. I wish I had learned this one in high school. If you want to know something, just ask! Too often we business owners feel we must operate on instinct when the truth could be just a click away. Go to SurveyMonkey.com, create an internal survey, and ask your employees what they think about you. The survey is anonymous, so fasten your seatbelt! Equally important, solicit feedback from your clients. You can automate the whole process so every customer receives a thank you note and has the opportunity to give feedback. The info is gold.
- Use Google Alerts. Google offers a free service called Google Alerts. You tell Google which keywords or key phrases interest you, and Google will email you a report every day summarizing where those keywords and phrases hit the internet. Use Google Alerts to monitor your brand, market trends, your competition, and new opportunities. Brilliant.
- Socialize your business. This is the boat you don’t want to miss. Social media is here to stay. Create accounts for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Use TweetDeck.com, HootSuite.com and Ping.fm to help you manage all those accounts. You don’t have to understand social media, you just have to start using it. You’ll ‘get’ it soon enough. Don’t let your competitor eat your lunch.
- Use a reader. In the old days, newspapers printed what they considered news and we took what they gave us. Now, you can create your own ‘channel’ of news and selected topics of interest. Using Google Reader, you choose the content you want to read everyday and Google Reader will pull it all together for you into one convenient stream of info. You are in the driver’s seat. Google does all the work for you. Free. You will need to stay on top of market trends so you can make blog posts and interact with others.
- Do webinars. I absolutely love GoToWebinar.com. From the convenience of my home, in my pajamas (!), I can give timely, relevant online presentations to my staff, to my clients, and to potential customers. It’s a terrific way to keep your base informed and it’s a very effective sales tool: http://bit.ly/bcc35I
- Start a Wiki. Our mission in business is to make a difference, to make the world a better place. This is what drives us. Ultimately, though, we also want quality of life. We can work hard when we’re in our twenties and thirties, but at some point we value freedom from schedule, the ability to affect change through philanthropy, etc. If you run an organization, your most important tasks is to capture on paper your wisdom and knowledge. In other words, you want to map out critical operational issues like policies, proceedures, and expectation, so in the event you get hit by the proverbial bus, your business has a playbook to use a guide to keep things going. I highly recommend Zoho Wiki.
- Use Google Docs. This one is a no-brainer. Microsoft Office is expensive; Google Docs is free. using Google Docs, you can do Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. You can import ‘old school’ files from colleagues who haven’t yet migrated to Google Docs, you can work off-line, you can store everything online, you can share the same doc with others so it becomes a dynamic file, always getting updated, always current, etc. The sooner you move to Google Docs, the better.
- Do targeted advertising. There’s been a neat shift in the way we capture leads and convert prospects. Conventional advertising like display ads and direct mail, for example, is alive and well. We do it religiously at SuperGeeks. But we also use new weapons, like click-thru online advertising. What’s really powerful about new media is I can target a very specific demographic, say engaged, college educated women living in Hawaii who speak Spanish, and I can present that well-defined group with a very specific advertising message. Moreover, I can send that click-thru prospect to a custom-tailored webpage, full of analytics, so I can measure how many people actually purchase or take some kind of action, like request a free consultation. This has completely reinvented the way we advertise and has given us extremely valuable metrics on what works and what doesn’t. It’s both effective and a lot of fun!
To learn more about these and other tech tips, join us on the 13th: http://bit.ly/bdM9Rv