Category Archives: Mobile Strategy

Are you an Internet dynamo or a dinosaur?

Sometime during the spring of 1995, you and I were given access to the Internet for the first time.

Since then, related innovations have produced a new marketplace where businesses of all sizes turn prospects into customers in a virtual, parallel universe. Here is a short list of the significant innovations:

  • E-commerce – the ability to buy and sell online
  • High-speed internet replaced dial-up
  • Search engines indexing a gazillion online offerings
  • Mobile computing from convergence of mobile networks and smartphones
  • Social media transcending websites by connecting participants in online communities

After 10,000 years of the traditional marketplace, these innovations have at once produced unprecedented opportunity and disruption in less than 20 years. But here’s good news for small business: Part and parcel with the new capability is the incrementalization of virtual resources, which means they’re available in units and pricing that fit our focused (niche) applications and diminutive budgets.

We wanted to know how well small businesses are adopting the handy and affordable virtual marketplace tools, so in our online poll we asked: “How much of your sales can you attribute directly or indirectly to your online strategy?” Here’s what we learned:

Only 5% of our sample reported that 100% of their business resulted from an online strategy, while double that percentage said they did “more than half” of their business in the virtual marketplace. Just a few more, 12%, allowed that they got “about half” of their revenue from the Cloud, while our big group, 55%, said “less than half” of their business came from the Internet. And finally, almost one-in-five said the Internet produced “zero” business for them.

It’s good news that 81% of our respondents are experiencing some business from their online strategy. Twenty years after the telephone was introduced in 1877, I wonder how many businesses had adopted that proto killer app?

But another way to look at small business’s virtual marketplace adoption is that almost three-fourths of our folks still associate less than half of their business in any way to an online strategy. Sadly, that troubling news could foretell the unnecessary extinction of way too many small businesses.

After almost 20 years, customer expectations are increasingly evolving in the direction of more virtual interaction. Which way is your business trending?

Don’t act like a dinosaur – execute an online strategy.

“Follow me home” – a gift from customers

First, let’s establish two maxims: one classic, one new.

Classic: The cardinal rule of customer acquisition – it’s not your customer’s job to keep your business top-of-mind, it’s yours.

New: Your website is becoming less of a destination and more of a distribution center – develop a strategy that doesn’t depend upon prospects and customers returning to your homepage.

Every business owner knows it’s easier to keep a customer than find a new one. But with all of the online options and commercial clutter, keeping their attention is getting harder.

The good news is for every example of how technology makes business more complicated, there is a corresponding tool or application that increases efficiency and productivity.

The best example for how to stay on the radar screen of people who already know you – users, prospects and customers – is to practice what I call the “Follow me home” strategy.

Once someone determines they like your business, they’re increasingly willing to give permission for you to “Follow me home” with digital information and content, by email (newsletters), texting (updates), social media (useful content), etc.

“Follow me home” supports three critical elements in 21st century customer relationships.

Emotional: At the heart of “Follow me home” is trust that a business won’t abuse this privilege. This is a gift – value, protect and perform on this.

Practical: “Follow me home” conveys that you understand people have other options, are very busy and want help staying connected.

Technical: Elements on your website that make “Follow me home” easy (“Subscribe to our free newsletter”, “Follow us on Twitter, etc.), score the online hat trick: values, thought-leadership and technical capability.

“Follow me home” is good for your business in four ways:

  1. You’ve been invited to connect with regular, useful content and appropriate marketing messages.
  2. Since it’s a natural law that a prospect has to see several impressions before converting to a customer, “Follow me home” becomes an effective and efficient conversion practice.
  3. “Follow me home” is one of the best ways a user pre-qualifies themselves as a prospect.
  4. New technologies make delivering on “Follow me home” easier than ever.

Make it easy for users, prospects and customers to give you permission to, “Follow me home.”

“Follow me home” is a buying signal waiting to happen. Are you listening?

Are you hidebound or visionary?

Since 1995, control of the three major elements of your customer relationships – product, information, and buying decision – has been shifting from business to customer. As you may remember, I’ve identified this shift as a marketplace transition from the original age to the new one – the 10,000 year-old Age of the Seller is being replaced by the Age of the Customer.

As this shift plays out, two types of businesses – Hidebound Sellers and Visionary Sellers – currently exist in parallel universes, but not for long. Which one are you?

Hidebound Sellers

These companies are so invested and entrenched in the old order of control that they deny the reality in front of them. They can be identified by the following markers:

  • Misplaced frustration: As performance goals get harder to accomplish, frustration makes those who deny the new realities think their pain is caused by a failure to execute.
  • Bad strategies: It is said that armies prepare for the next war by training for the last one. So it is with Hidebound Sellers. Not only do Age of the Customer influences make them think they’re being attacked, but they persist in using Age of the Seller countermeasures.
  • Destructive pressure: Convinced of execution failure, pressure brought to bear by management results in an employee casualty list instead of a growing customer list.
  • Equity erosion: Defiance in the face of overwhelming evidence sustains the deniers only until they run out of Customers with old expectations, and/or equity and access to credit are depleted.

Visionary Sellers

These businesses are adjusting their plans to conform to the new reality of more control by customers. Visionary Sellers are identified by these markers:

  • Acceptance: They accept that the customer is now in control and make appropriate adjustments to this reality.
  • Modern sales force: They hire and train their sales force to serve increasingly informed and empowered customers.
  • Technology adoption: They offer technology options that allow customers to find, connect, and do business using their preferences.
  • Relevance over competitiveness: They recognize that while being competitive is still important, today it’s just table stakes and is being replaced in customer priority by the new coin of the realm: relevance.

In the Age of the Customer, Hidebound Sellers are dinosaurs waiting for extinction. Visionary Sellers are finding success by orienting operations and strategies around a more informed and empowered customer.

So what’s the verdict? Are you Hidebound or Visionary?

“Follow me home” – a gift from customers

First, let’s establish two maxims: one classic, one new.

Classic: The cardinal rule of customer acquisition – it’s not your customer’s job to keep your business top-of-mind, it’s yours.

New: Your website is becoming less of a destination and more of a distribution center – develop a strategy that doesn’t depend upon prospects and customers smartphones-5-650x0returning to your homepage.

Every business owner knows it’s easier to keep a customer than find a new one. But with all of the online options and commercial clutter, keeping their attention is getting harder.

The good news is for every example of how technology makes business more complicated, there is a corresponding tool or application that increases efficiency and productivity.

The best example for how to stay on the radar screen of people who already know you – users, prospects and customers – is to practice what I call the “Follow me home” strategy.

Once someone determines they like your business, they’re increasingly willing to give permission for you to “Follow me home” with digital information and content, by email (newsletters), texting (updates), social media (useful content), etc.

“Follow me home” supports three critical elements in 21st century customer relationships.

Emotional: At the heart of “Follow me home” is trust that a business won’t abuse this privilege. This is a gift – value, protect and perform on this.

Practical: “Follow me home” conveys that you understand people have other options, are very busy and want help staying connected.

Technical: Elements on your website that make “Follow me home” easy (“Subscribe to our free newsletter”, “Follow us on Twitter, etc.), score the online hat trick: values, thought-leadership and technical capability.

“Follow me home” is good for your business in four ways:

  1. You’ve been invited to connect with regular, useful content and appropriate marketing messages.
  2. Since it’s a natural law that a prospect has to see several impressions before converting to a customer, “Follow me home” becomes an effective and efficient conversion practice.
  3. “Follow me home” is one of the best ways a user pre-qualifies themselves as a prospect.
  4. New technologies make delivering on “Follow me home” easier than ever.

Make it easy for users, prospects and customers to give you permission to “Follow me home.”

“Follow me home” is a buying signal waiting to happen. Are you listening?