Four simple, no-frills digital tips for small businesses
Here are four simple, jargon-free ways to get your business started in the digital world
The world of tech and digital can be dizzying for small businesses.
I’ve worked with hundreds of thousands of UK independents, and there’s a clear disconnect between their daily struggles to make ends meet, and the ‘tech hacks’ that they’re constantly told will solve all of their problems.
Will a strong presence on Instagram change the fact their corporate clients take three months to pay them? Can AI lessen the impact of an 80% rise in their business rates? What can they really learn from the ‘uberfication’ of services that will allow them to compete on price?
Tech is changing and disrupting all business, rapidly. But a huge proportion of small businesses still don’t even have a website.
So here are four simple, jargon-free ways to get your business started in the digital world. They require no real investment of time or money, and there isn’t a ‘tech hack’ in sight.
Get your social media sorted with Hootsuite
For some small businesses, social media is a very useful untapped resource. For others, it’s just a nice-to-have. Either way, it’s worth having a presence, even if it isn’t worth spending your valuable time managing it.
There is a simple solution here. Hootsuite is a really easy platform to use, and it lets you manage all your social media accounts in one screen. Better still, it lets you schedule all of your posts in advance.
So, find a spare hour one evening and you can share content, respond to comments and schedule your posts, all at once. It keeps your social channels moving with minimal effort.
Launch your account at Hootsuite, and choose the free service – it’s more than adequate for most companies.
Get recommendations through Trustpilot and TripAdvisor
In a recent survey by Zendesk, 90% of respondents said their buying decisions, online or offline, were influenced by online reviews.
The good news is that getting online reviews is incredibly simple. Setting up an account on Trustpilot or TripAdvisor is simple, and between them they cover every industry type. Once set up, simply ask customers when they’ve finished a meal or you’ve finished repairing their car, to leave a review.
Of all the tech tips that could transform your business, this is not only the simplest, but possibly the most important.
Get found with Google Maps
Given how important getting listed on Google Maps is, a staggering number of businesses don’t do it – or at least, don’t do it properly.
First and foremost, it’s vital to ensure you get found. But nowadays, a Google Maps listing can even ensure potential customers find you when searching for your services – and not just your business name. It also lists contact details and your website, and will even highlight Google Reviews.
The secret is not to assume that it just happens. Follow Google’s own simple tutorial, and in no-time you’ll have a professional listing, completely free.
Get your emails organised with Mailchimp
Mailchimp is perfect for busy and digitally naïve small businesses because it’s easy to use and does everything you need it to.
Essentially, it lets you create very professional-looking email campaigns, organise your email contacts and automate certain processes. With a minimal amount of your time, it offers a good chance of actually selling your services and building your business through email. And a free plan will, for most small businesses, cover everything you need (up to 2000 subscribers).
…And a tip for digital marketing professionals: know your audience
I can say from experience that digital changes consistently outpace business’ capabilities – we’re constantly playing catch-up. But I can also tell you that the small business landscape is far more nuanced than many of us assume.
Two million small businesses don’t have a website – but many of them are still doing very well. And for those small businesses, implementing AI into the sales process or utilising visual recognition technology is at best irrelevant, and at worst an annoying waste of time.
As always, let’s always consider our audience and their needs. In many cases, they need to walk before they can run.