HOW TO MAKE THE RIGHT TECHNOLOGY INVESTMENT.
How to make the right Tech Investment?
The rapid pace of digital change has made it challenging for small businesses with limited budgets to decide what to invest in, and when. Some so-called digital innovations can turn out to be passing fads or at the worst, an expensive mistake.
However, the right technologies can bring on a return on investment, drive customer satisfaction and retention, increase business efficiency, even provide a competitive advantage in a crowded, fragmented marketplace.
So how do you, as a business owner with a finite budget, know what to test or to invest in?
If you, like me are easily distracted by that next new shiny toy, or feel that you’re being pulled in different directions by sales people pressuring you into buying something you may not necessarily need now, ask yourself these questions when considering a digital marketing investment:
Does the marketing investment...
1) eliminate or alleviate the customer’s pain and if so, how?
2) enhance customer service and create a unique personalised customer experience?
3) get you and your team closer to realising your company’s mission?
Eliminating Customer Pain
What are your customer’s biggest pain points? Start by identifying those, and then use digital technology to alleviate them.
Audit the customer buying experience and all customer touch points, including suppliers, employees, hardware/software, physical locations where you meet customers.
The assumption here is that you have a product or service your customers actually want or need.
Auditing the buying experience applies regardless of whether you are a professional services provider with a loyal client base, selling business to business, retail products or services.
If you're a business coach, consultant or professional services provider, using an online appointment booking system on your Instagram or Facebook page will allow your customers and followers to book appointments with you whenever and wherever on their mobile phones, whilst they are on the go. Setting this up will enable the customer access to your business on a 24/7 basis, at the same time ensure that your business will not miss an opportunity to get a new customer. There are many appointment scheduling software to use, some allow you to plug into your social media pages and your website. I use Setmore which has a free subscription and allows you to easily plug into your Facebook, Instagram account or your website. Or YouCanBookMe which also has a free subscription and very easy to use.
Enhancing Customer Service
Use digital technology to materially improve customer service. How this can be applied will depend on the type of business. The introduction of technology should enable better delivery of the main components that your brand promises to deliver. Even if your customers do not regularly need your product or service, chances are they will remember the experience they had with your business and would have made a conscious or unconscious decision to:
1) buy from you again
2) not buy from you again
3) recommend or engage with your business, positively or negatively.
Use digital technology to create a buying experience that is unique to each customer, delivering real, lasting value to the customer as a result. A key to long-term success will be data mining and matching consumer data to products and services that meet each consumer’s specific needs in a way that other competitors are unable to do.
If you have an app for your business, you are able to track which of your push notifications with your specific offer will generate the most responses from your followers or customers. App platforms can allow you to schedule push notifications to specific user groups that you set up, and at the same time, generate the same push notifications on your social media posts.This means that you are able to monitor which content within each user group of followers or customers will fetch the most engagement on your social media and your app. Once you know this, you will be able to laser target your content and offers specific to that user group and easily schedule them on your app, in a matter of minutes. In short, what you’re doing is quite the opposite of bombarding customers with offers they don’t want or need. Instead you’ll be sending your customers more of the content that they have responded to, in a positive way.
Your Team, Your Mission
Is the tech that you invest in aligned with your company’'s mission, and how can you get your team involved from the outset so that they are able to support you? This is a whole new topic in itself. Essentially, you will need to have done some research to get a clearer understanding of the type of customers you are inviting to engage with you via the tech. Ask yourself, your team or your customers questions such as:
1) Will this group of customers be inclined to use that tech, and why?
2) How can you involve your team in designing, developing and implementing this tech in your regular marketing activities?
3) Realistically, what sort of results would you like to see and how can you track them?
An example of what not to do will be to fall into the trap of the “shiny new toy” syndrome – when I started out, I received enquiries from business owners telling me they want an app without much thought about how this tech will work for their business, their team and their customers. 6-12 months after the app was developed, the business owner realised the app hasn’t worked for them in the way they expected. So what went wrong? Unfortunately the business in question hadn’t factored in the time, effort or set aside a budget to take the app to market, and to consistently integrate the tech into their regular marketing activities. In many cases you would need to set aside a marketing budget of at least 30% to 50% of your app investment – this is over and above the initial investment you put in for design, development and project management of the app. A marketing budget in this case is essential to see the results that you want.
A Final Note
Stay focused on your digital investments, give them time to take root, get your team on board right from the beginning, make that commitment of time and effort, regularly track and review results, discard those activities that ultimately do not work for your business.
My mission is to help non-techie business owners, both young and old, use technology to help their businesses grow. I run Marketing Tech, which provides cool clever customisable apps, websites and landing pages, as well as app marketing training and consultancy to help ensure businesses generate results from their app or web investment. Marketing Tech, together with technology partners, focuses on delivering customer loyalty and events-based app and web solutions for businesses and non-profit organisations. Our clients include startups, Kingston Chamber of Commerce, TEDx, other service based SMEs and Non Profit Organisations. We focus on enabling events-based organisations to lead generate and enhance member / customer engagement at their events in a cost effective way. I have a lifetime of marketing and project management experience working for large corporate brands and small businesses in Asia and Europe. A regular guest speaker at the City Business Library in London, my insights are regularly featured in technology, marketing and business publications. In my spare time, I'm a VP Public Relations for a Toastmasters chapter, and act as Trustee for a North London charity supporting disenfranchised young people and their families.