Love it or hate it, one thing about the internet is that it’s fundamentally changed the way we communicate.
Whether it’s sending a text instead of making a phone call or ‘chatting’ online where you once might have sent a letter – the notion of keeping in touch with people has changed drastically and dramatically.
And no sector has been harder hit than the famously time-poor smaller business.
Small business is (paradoxically given its benefits) the slowest adopter of technology. This is because most of their operations are geared towards the provision of their product or service rather than the administration and promotion of it.
So anything that doesn’t revolve around the selling, production or support of its core product is simply an overhead – yet another mouth to feed in an already hungry family.
Get daily business news.
The latest stories, funding information, and expert advice. Free to sign up.
New = Painful
With such little resources allocated to marketing, adoption of new marketing techniques is cumbersome compared to businesses with greater marketing ‘headcount’.
In fact, to all but the most tech-savvy small business, technological change is actually regarded as a pain in the neck. Yet another development to understand, learn, trial and hopefully improve – when all you want to do is pay the bills and hopefully have some left over for yourself.
I know this sounds negative but for the vast majority of small business it’s the reality.
In this time-poor environment, changing the way you fundamentally communicate to your markets can be a major undertaking.
Old-fashioned but low maintenance
It’s fair to say that most smaller business operators aim for a ‘set and forget’ approach to their promotion.
Find your promotional formula, activate it, monitor it and hopefully change it as few times as possible.
This approach of course is the antithesis of the information hungry socially networked world.
In an age where people are broadcasting details of their loo break (or close to it) the notion of setting and forgetting an annual promotional program is akin to a town crier getting around in a sandwich board.
Regular = Painful
But most smaller business operators struggle to put together a quarterly eNewsletter let alone produce an ongoing stream of website updates, tweets, discussions and posts.
Unlike their larger business cousins, who are quite accustomed to planning, preparing and executing short-term promotion or communications ‘blasts’.
Yet those that do are the ones that are making a real go of online success.
The social networking savvy operator understands how to multi-channel a promotional message – put it somewhere prominent on your website, email your list about it, tweet it and post it to your favourite social networks. Some even make a short video and post it on YouTube.
Before you know it, your message has gone out to an audience a smaller radio station would be proud of.
A virtual toe in the water
So how does a smaller business operator get their head around this new way of communicating?
Ideally it’s well worth getting some professional guidance as the return on the investment can be significant.
If not, as crazy as this sounds, see if your kids will let you peer over their shoulders when they are engaged in their social networking. Then when comfortable, start opening your own social network accounts – perhaps personally before ‘representing’ you business.
It shouldn’t take long to get the gist of how many are communicating in this ‘always on’ world.
But remember, once published to the internet it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to remove. So make sure any promises have clear cut off times and dates.
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.