For small businesses, the corporate misalignment of digital and social media to marketing campaigns has levelled the playing field. The opportunity to get ahead has never been more exciting.
Using all the free and low-cost social media and internet tools and apps, along with a nimble nature and an entrepreneurial spirit, means you can outmanoeuvre the biggest player in the market.
As consumers we are becoming far more comfortable trading with smaller online entities than ever before. There is evidence that we prefer to. We get better customer service and there is a feel-good factor about helping out the smaller fella.
For SMEs, the social web has proven its ability as one of the stickiest marketing channels in the world. Social media lets small business create strong and personal customer relationships across the globe in a way that bigger businesses struggle to replicate.
Here are five easy ways for small businesses to get ahead in the digital business today:
1. Set up shop
- Set up a website. Templatemonster has a huge selection of easy to download website designs to make building your website as easy as 1,2,3.
- Open an eCommerce store using Openstore or Shopify, both provide low-cost instance stores for the web, mobile and Facebook.
- Get your own mobile app. Ever wanted to have your own mobile app, but thought it was out of the question due to cost? Appinabox is a quick, easy, low-cost builder for your very own mobile app for your business.
2. Promote your business
- Get blogging. It is so easy with WordPress to set up your own blog and also to to self-build your own website, with very easy instructions and a Word-like interface. Check out the latest themes to self-design without the cost.
- Go social. Connect to Facebook and Twitter to promote your business and open up a new marketing avenue.
- Mobile SMS. Get a free trial with SilverStreet and see if SMS marketing works for your small business.
- Email newsletters still have a high conversion rate and Mail Chimp is a great free or, for a more premium package, low-cost tool to use for email marketing. There are free templates and easy ways to import your database of contacts.
3. Hire staff
- Interns and graduates can be a brilliant solution for small business owners who need to manage employment costs. Try Pedestrian TV or your local university job board. The posts are free and the results are of high quality.
4. Keep your ears open
- Post and track your social media using HootSuite. You can organise all your social media accounts in one place. You can set up posts and schedule them to appear in Twitter, on Facebook and on your blog, without having to do it at that particular time yourself. You can track responses and organise your follower lists. A great time saver for social media!
- Google Alerts – easy monitoring of topics online and of what is being said about your business online direct to your email inbox.
5. Just plain useful
- File transfers – I use Dropbox and YouSendIt all the time. There are free versions and also low-cost premium packages. It makes transferring large files and photographs easy and safe.
There are plenty more tools out there too. Add your own in the comments below to share.
Fi Bendall is the managing director of digital and interactive consultancy company Bendalls Group. With over 20 years’ experience, Bendall has worked with global brands including BBC and Virgin, and is an expert in how businesses can approach strategy in the digital world. You can follow her on Twitter at @FiBendall, and can contact her through Bendalls Group.