Cost Effective Small Business Marketing Strategies and Tips – Part Three

In this Part 3 article on Small Business Marketing, I am going to explore Marketing Research and Target Marketing. Both are very important in marketing your small business, and the quality of the market research process will define your targeted marketing. See my previous article for information on Marketing Methods and Strategies.

MARKETING RESEARCH

Questions to Ask:

– Is a combination of goods and services a better, more competitive offering for the market than just a product or service?
– What is your advantage? Price? Superior Product or Service? Timing? Barriers to entry?
– What should you emphasize? Quality, Selection, Location, Service, Your Expert Status or the History of the business?
– Can you effectively compete?
– Define your Competition. What’s their Edge?
– Who are your best customers? Why?
* What are their Demographics? Psychographics?
* Why do they buy?
* What media do they interact with?
* What is their spouse doing for a living?
* What is their purchasing outlook for the next year?
– What are the best aspects of your business in the customer’s view?
* What improvements do customers want?
* Do they want more free interaction like a Newsletter, E-book, Articles, Forums, etc? Customers, whether current or prospective, offer the very best marketing info. Prepare a questionnaire for them! Put surveys on your website. These are excellent ways to fully define your “best” customer, and what makes them decide to buy.
– Gives invaluable information on your competition and how you stack up. Marketing Research Bonanza is the Wide World Web!
– Use multiple Search Engines.
– Use Chat Rooms and Forums. They can search as Focus Groups and provide invaluable Marketing Research. Determine your Marketing Appeals or your customers’ hot buttons.

At the conclusion of your initial Marketing Research, ask yourself:

– What customer needs, wants and niches translate into “x” amount of profitability?
– What improvements are needed for your biz?
– How can your competitors hinder your growth?
– How can you lose current customers?
– What measures need to be taken to ensure your Products and Services don’t become obsolete?
– What changing Trends affect your business?
– Who do you need to advise you about running your business? Spark new ideas?

Remember: The Quality and Source of your Marketing Information define the efficacy of your Research. You need High Quality and Reliable Information, and these two variables are the key to your future success.

TARGETED MARKETING

Targeted Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, rather, it is the focused and personalized nature of inexpensive Targeted Marketing which make it worth considering. Some examples include:

– Email: Opt In
– Online Boards and Groups
– Free Offline & Online Ads
– Increase response rates with Toll Free Numbers
– Newsletters
– 900 Numbers
– Inexpensive Regional Magazine Editions: great credibility builder!
– Newspapers offer low-cost targeted geographic zones and neighborhoods.
– TV Ads are much cheaper and targeted now.
– Home Shopping Networks can be highly targeted and great to advertise around.
– Cell phone text messaging: Opt In only!
– Video Brochure: the paper brochure is a harder sell now days. Bring your Business, Products and Services alive with Video and/or Audio.
– Look at targeted media like airplanes, airports, taxis, buses, checkout counters, restrooms, banks, etc.
– Marketing messages on a Telephone “Hold” Session.
– Use low cost special effects to appear to have a bigger look on TV advertising.

Targeted Marketing Methods

Canvassing/Cold Calling: I am not a huge fan of Canvassing or Cold Calling but it can be effective/required in the early stages of your business, especially when money is tight. You can enhance your method by:

– Putting out flyers/mailings prior to initiating contact
– Go to Networking Events (i.e. Chamber of Commerce or a Professional Network Group) as a Guest of a member for free and make it count.
– Be direct; look people in the eye; and most importantly, offer value. Never hesitate to respectfully ask for the sale.
– Free Demonstration, a Sample or leaving a Product behind for free use can be very effective, if your product is highly effective and can sell itself.
– Try to quickly qualify the prospect and always ask for a Referral regardless if a sale was made.
– Look for ways to reference another mutual relationship to warm up a cold prospect
– Make the prospective customer feel important
– Educate your prospects; empower them and they will buy from you
– Identify your unique benefits and advantages, giving the prospect a great reason to buy
– Do your homework prior to contact and tailor your presentation for a particular prospect
– Mention your current customers, show testimonials and talk about your past successes.
– Show pride in your product/service offering
– Know the prospect will buy from you and always try to close at different points in your presentation
– If the sale isn’t consummated, ask why. Use the answers to tailor your presentation, rework your product/service offering or alter your pricing/credit structure
– The presentation should be brief and engage the prospect along the way.

If you follow the above pointers, Canvassing can be very effective and inexpensive. However, it demands a lot of time, discipline and consistency.

Biz Cards: Use both sides of your card, and it should sell something, offer something and point to your website for a special offer. It is a Sales Tool – use it as such!

Letters: Personalized letters are a thing of the past, but an art form which is worth using today. Why? Simple: no one else is and you will appear unique. The letter should solve a prospective customer’s problem or point to a website presentation that does. Use online or offline questionnaires to capture valuable information which you can use to sell the prospect – it sets up your sale. Some tips:

– Follow up the first letter with a second letter and then a phone call. All this should be done in 10 day’s time. Follow up letters and calls should offer new information.
– Always ask for the sale! Often, the third time is the charm.
– Include personal references, people you know in common and testimonials in your letters.
– Combine a letter with a Questionnaire, which asks a prospect to provide an Opt In Email address. Send all further communications via email for cost effectiveness and immediate yet convenient to the prospect contact. Remember, an email can be a Newsletter, Audio or Video Recording, a Power Point Presentation – the sky is the limit!
– Remember: Confidence, Quality, Selection and Price. Address all four in your contact; a sale is eminent, provided the prospect is qualified.
– Letters are an easy, cost-effective way to stay in contact with customers whether you make a sale or not.
– Personalize it: Address to a particular person, hand sign it and write a personal P.S. by hand. You can even follow a sales letter with a hand written note in a second mailing before or after a follow up phone call. This can be very effective!
– Your letters should not ask the prospect to respond. Rather, it will tell the prospect when you will call to set up an appointment and/or answer questions leading to a sale. Either way, on the phone call, Always ask for the sale.
– Stick with just a short letter. No other enclosures. You have a better chance to be read. You can always email (save postage) a brochure once you have retained the interest.
– If the prospect cannot wait for your follow up phone call, have a website address with an exclusive offer that points to a well crafted Sales Web Page (see my Online Marketing Article for more details).
– Sign your name in Blue color, along with the P.S. The Reader will read the P.S. first so put some thought into it.
– State your offering’s benefits to the specific prospect without really saying what it is. This will drive the prospect to check out your Sales web page.
– Include a short Customer Testimonial with the Customer’s contact info. Let your current Customers do the selling for you!
– The numbers: Mass Mailings are deemed successful with a 1-2% Response Rate. If a personal letter is done right, a 10-20% sales rate (not Response Rate!) can be achieved!
* If you do Mass Mailings, a Personal Letter as stage 2 to your responses can be highly effective as well!
– On your Online Sales Page always give the prospect the opportunity to Opt In their email address so you can automatically send them Newsletters, Articles, Special Offers, Bonafides and the such.
– How to get a sale? Simple: Eliminate all risks of doing business with you and make sure the prospect understands the benefits and value of your offering. Pair that with passion and straight forward ethics and you will close again and again. You will have to ask for the sale at a minimum of three times on average; so ask!
– Partner up with other ethically sound business people to pair your offering and make a truly unique offering and/or tap the partner’s customer base. An experienced partner can add a lot of credibility to your offering.
– Ask for Referrals from the beginning, whether or not the prospect buys from you. If they don’t, make sure you offer them an Opt In so you can continue to stay in front of them with Specials, Newsletter, Company News and Events, Articles and the such.
– If targeting businesses, ALWAYS send you letter to the President and then follow up with a phone call after you sent a hand written note two days later. Two things will happen, you have his/her attention, and your initial call will be routed to the right decision maker in the company.
– Remember, letters are all about psychology so keep the emotional sale in mind when preparing the letter.

Note: A lot of these methods and strategies described under “Letters” can be applied to many different marketing tools – use them!

Telemarketing: I am not a huge fan of cold calls (and this coming from someone who built initial sales and companies on cold calling). Now, a professional telephone campaign linked to a mailing of some sort (letter, brochure, marketing piece) can be quite effective. In-bound telemarketing can be profitable if done properly. The bottom line: 51% listen to telemarketers when called, so it can be a worthwhile strategy. Here are some keys toward running a successful telemarketing campaign:

– Research the prospect: know the important things about your prospect and how they relate to your business.
– Link your telemarketing with a personalized letter so your call is a follow up from an expected source, verses a pure cold call.
– I hate scripts. Your telemarketing should come naturally and lead to pre-planned destinations and decisions (i.e. more info, website link, a free analysis, newsletter or article, or a sale).
– Know your hot-button words, such as, “profitability, increase profits, lower costs and expenses, increase cash flow, money and time savings, competitive advantage and edge, market share” and so forth.
– Remember, an Objection is a faster way to a yes. Address an Objection adequately; you are one objection closer to the sale (typically 3 objection average per sale).
– Keep it simple: Contact, Warm Up, Present, Answer Questions/Address Objections and Close (try to close twice before your final close).
– Ask the prospect questions and clearly understand his or her issues/problems so you can provide a solution.
– When you close and ask for the sale, always state the benefits prior.
– A close doesn’t have to be a sale. It could be you ask for the sale and the prospect isn’t convinced. Do not destroy your sales opportunity by trying over and over for a final close. Rather, set up an Appointment and send follow up information and a Sales Webpage link. Stay in front of the prospect (I am assuming this is a well qualified prospect).
– Keep a Special Offer in your back pocket and only use it if you think the prospect is more motivated by price than your value added benefits.
– The hard numbers:
* 100 calls to close a sale
* 5 minutes average per call = @ 8 hours for a sale
* 5 sales = @ 40 hours of time
* The average call transaction when one business telemarkets to another is @ $550, which means telemarketing can be quite profitable
– You can certainly increase the before mentioned odds/percentages to the better by developing and implementing a warm-up campaign that involves a personal letter, other type of mailing, email, etc. Warming up the prospect really pays off for the follow on Telemarketing.

Fliers/Circulars/Brochures: Fliers and Circulars are a short, concentrated, single message, specialty piece while a brochure is more detailed and longer. I am not a big fan of any of these business promotion mediums, unless they are used in a well thought out, targeted system. Here are some tips to draw clarity on what I mean:

Fliers & Circulars:

– If you need to distribute a large volume, in conjunction (as a follow on) with a Mass Mailing, use Circulars.
– Gets Instant action if implemented correctly.
– Clear Offer
– Urgency
– Straight to the Point
– Instruct Prospect what to do Next
– Clearly Ties in to a Previously Established Identity
– Content is very important, as well as, Process.
* Factual/Explain
* Inform
* Sell
– Help a Prospect visualize your Content with a Picture
– Use Headlines & Bullet Points
* List the greatest benefits for the particular audience
– Test out your Brochure with a Circular/Flier for cost effective Test Marketing
– Use Action Words
– Learn Desktop publishing and produce your own materials at a fraction of the price. Get a Graphic Design Student intern to create your Artwork for a small fee.
– Color and Gloss are expensive. If you aren’t selling a luxury, premium product, consider colored ink and colored stock to bring your piece to life. However, if you self produce, I prefer Gloss and Colored Pictures – it is worth the added cost but mitigated when self produced.
– ROI: One Sale/one job should handily pay for your entire creation and distribution costs, otherwise, reconsider your campaign.

Brochures: More expensive, more detailed, larger pieces which instill confidence and credibility. Moreover, it provides a more finesse, elaborate sales process. As a mailing, I prefer a Circular. For customer location placement, I like a Flier. Brochures are great for in-house advertising; give to existing clients with a referral section; perfect to use online in combination with Website Marketing. I like all my referral sources to have a replenishable stack of brochures that contain a referral section. Also if you don’t make a sale, send a few brochures and ask the prospect to give out for a referral fee (and to stay in front of the prospect).

– The best use of brochures in my opinion is online and as a PDF product, as well as, a Video and/or Power Point product.
– Color is good. It increases your retention rate by over 50% and affects the buying attitude by 40%.
– A brochure that costs a $1 to produce can have 8 pages, so use them wisely. Tell a story, build credibility, make it personal and keep a professional, clean look.
– If you have products that change rapidly, consider using a pocket brochure for product update inserts. Great for price lists too!
– Customer testimonials are a must.
– Have the brochure point to specific web sales pages for more information.
– Call for Action in your brochure. Direct the prospect.
– A low cost way of producing a brochure is having a magazine, which you advertise in or publish in, produce the ads / story as a brochure for you.
– A great combination if money is a premium (it always is with a small business, isn’t it?) is to run small print ads in many publications which point to a FREE Brochure, which could be an Online Brochure. Give people a reason to request the FREE Brochure.
– You can personalize a Brochure Request by including a handwritten sticky note on it (this can be done digitally as well).
– Be sure to follow up with the Brochure Requester within five days.
– Brochures should only go to interested prospects. Circulars can be more mass market. Brochures should bring you a closing rate of about 30%.
– An Online Brochure can have links to Video, Power Point and Audio Presentations. These really increase your chances to make a sale.

Classified Ads: These types of ads can be low cost, cover a specific region or even neighborhood or take you national and international. For a targeted audience, concentrate on Magazines. An important stat: 60% of Americans read a magazine entirely but from back to front. So, your ad has a good chance of being read.

– Consider Classified Network for targeted, multimedia ads at a great price.
– Use a short Headline in all CAPS. Only use abbreviations people will understand.
– Personalize it
– Direct the reader to a Web Sales Page
– Consider putting your phone number
– Read the other ads in your advertising section and write an ad that contrasts
– A great way to sell a Book, offer a FREE E-book or Article
– Use Facts in the AD
– Create momentum and call the reader to Act
– Accentuate benefits
– Classified Ads are short and sweet but you need quality of message. Start with a bigger AD and cut it down to the lines you need for the small Ad. You need very tight copy. Study competitors Ads to spark ideas and angles.
– I am not a fan of online classifieds. I think they get lost on the websites which they are displayed. For this reason, I recommend Print. If you find a Classified Online Forum or Service or Directory you like, the downside is you have to resubmit the Ad daily to keep visibility.
– Offer something FREE!

Gift Certificates: This can be an overlooked area for many businesses. Promote your Gift Certificates on the Home Page of your website. Do not have an expiration date. Specialize for Holidays. Put a link in your email address highlighting your certificate offerings. It is a great way to Brand your name.

Signs: Signage can be quite expensive so pick a business location which requires minimum outdoor signage exposure. Indoor or Sidewalk Signage is much less expensive and can be quite effective. Be sure to keep your signs consistent with your logo, meme, advertising message and branding. Consistency in identity and image across the board in all the media types you are employing is paramount to converting a Prospect to a Customer.

– Keep the sign short, concise and use persuasive, action words. Have a visible, identifiable logo.
– Sidewalk signs should be designed to stop the pedestrian, for that person to pause. Then a sign and/or merchandise in the window has a chance of pulling that prospect in to your business. Better yet, put your best priced merchandise outside your door. It can cause an impulse buy and/or create an invitation to visit your business.
– Promote Cross Selling Opportunities

Use Brochures, Biz Cards, Gift Certificate and Coupon Displays with your signage. At the very least, a non-buying prospect can leave with something, if not a Gift Certificate. This creates great viral based, inexpensive advertising.

– Remember, Ads can become a sign – just blow it up!
– Use point of purchase signs to get the instant gratification sale.
– Check out your competition and see what they successfully use.

Free Bulletin Boards: Depends on your type of business. For instance, if you deliver pizza to a college, then Bulletin Boards can be your best advertising. Bulletin Boards are very time consuming as you need to check the board and refresh your offering at least twice per week. Hire a part time student to manage your Bulletin Boards so you can spend your time more wisely.

– Everywhere has a Bulletin Board. Try to choose those that are well maintained (so you remain visible) and have the right prospect traffic.
– You can use your Circulars to post on the Bulletin Boards. Always have precut strips or peel offs for prospects to take your information with them.

Yellow Pages: One question: Why? Print Yellow Pages are expensive, and in the Internet world, hold much less influence and utility. If you feel that you must advertise in the Yellow Pages, put tracking devices on the Ad so you can measure its effectiveness. Moreover, one Ad may not do it as people may search in more than one category to find you.

– Is the answer online Yellow Pages? No! Consider Google Local with Google Maps verses using the online Yellow Pages.
– The largest Ad wins in Print Advertising. So, instead of paying the extra bucks for one large Ad on a page put two smaller ones to prevent being overshadowed by a large ad
– Color pays. Spend the extra bucks for it.
– Offer something for FREE
– Make your AD personal – address that person looking at your Ad

Use the Power of Desktop Publishing: Learn to use graphic design software and design your own logo, brochures, circulars, ads, business cards for a fraction of the cost. Take a class on the software you will be using so you can create professional looking materials. Then you can always hire a pro to clean up your designs. There is no need to spend thousands of dollars on your designs using a graphic designer – you can use a pro when you are successful and the cash flow is there.

In my next blog post I will discuss the Power of Mass Media. Stay tuned!

 

Government Hands Out Billions In Corporate Welfare and Then Gives Loans to Small Business

I always think it is funny when our politicians tell us that they are working to help small businesses. Whenever I hear a politician in one of the districts where I am tell me such things, I challenge them right away and ask; “exactly what have you done to help small businesses in this district.” They talk about such things as putting together small business loans, about collaboration projects with businesses to create jobs. I just shake my head and laugh – it’s as if they don’t get it.

You see, funneling taxpayer money into special pet projects with small business owners who happen to be friends with politicians and also duly support their campaign war chest for reelection does not appear to me to be helping local entrepreneurs much, rather it is helping the politician himself or herself feed at the trough. Secondly, offering more business loans to little companies at the bottom or top of the business cycle only puts local business people in debt. All the while our politicians are giving out lucrative contracts to large companies and corporations; corporate welfare.

There was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal on March 20, 2014 titled; Loans Are Flowing Again, But Not In All Sectors,” by Julie Bennett which was featured in the Focus on Franchising section. One franchisor was said to have stated; “You can’t grow a franchise company without the SBA,” and whereas, this may be somewhat reality based it begs the question of why?

Now then, as a former franchisor or I’d like to say; “the hell you can’t.” You see, I have franchised my company and I can remember only a few SBA loans of all the franchises we ever sold. Those SBA loans were difficult to get, they were time consuming, they had too many stipulations, and the paperwork was a nightmare. When I went into new territory or region I wanted to sell the franchises quickly to dominate the area and increase our market share as rapidly as possible and get our brand name out there. I didn’t have time to wait to do the paperwork or help a franchise buyer get SBA secured financing which might take 60 to 90 days.

I wanted those businesses up and running within 60 to 90 days, but we could not even sign the franchise agreement until they had the money in hand but the SBA made that process come to a complete halt. Worse, the small business administration wanted all sorts of paperwork, business plans, and other information which I was not willing to divulge to a new franchise buyer until I was sure he was qualified, but they aren’t qualified until they have the money, but they can’t get the money unless I divulge information to the SBA.

To add insult to injury, if I did divulge the information to the SBA, they wanted to put those business plans online, on their website for other future franchise buyers, unfortunately that information would also be available for my competition.

Therefore, I conclude that the SBA never helped me in my business, and yes, “I did build my business, and I didn’t get much help from the government thank you very much.” Please consider all this and think on it.

 

Mobile Business Apps Are the Next Best Marketing Tool for Small Businesses

A lot of words and statistics can be used to build the case that mobile devices have grown and continue to grow into one of the most popular technological advancements. Just looking around would convince the most skeptical among us. And as with all new developments, the speed with which these new developments are improved and made more accessible, is directly proportional to their popularity. As a result, mobile is changing and improving… FAST!

For business marketing, an online presence is an ongoing evolution from the days, not too long ago, of just having a website, which developed into a mobile website, to developing an online social presence, and to now developing your own mobile app. Many large businesses have been in the mobile app marketing arena for some time. They realized the many benefits and conveniences mobile apps provided their customers and, with proper management, the increased revenue and customer loyalty they would gain. They also had the resources to fund the exorbitant development costs required to create a custom native app for all the mobile platforms and were able to still do it cost effectively.

Technology marches on! Today, mobile apps are no longer within just the reach of the largest corporations. For the purpose of this article, we will not get bogged down in the technical difference between custom native apps, mobile web apps, hybrid apps, mobile websites, etal. The focus is going to be on what appears to be the best option for small businesses. The target… an exceptional User Experience (now commonly referred to as UX), easily managed content and affordability.

There is no one best solution for every type of business out there. There are advantages and disadvantages to all the mobile options. The key is selecting the best fit, ie., the option that provides the greatest number of benefits to the business and their customers, at the best price. After doing the research, it’s difficult to present an unbiased presentation of these facts when the best choice for most small businesses is so clear. In short, the engaging customer features available, the ease of complete control of the content and the affordable price, the native mobile app built using a template (NMAT) is the next best marketing tool, to improve the bottom line and increase customer loyalty.

To be clear, custom built native apps that are built from the ground up, require hand coding for each app on each mobile platform, Apple, Android, etc. This is a very expensive process. Coders are very well paid and the end result provides a great, custom, UX. The new alternative, NMAT, is building an app using an already coded template system that can be customized in appearance, function and content. This option provides similar features as the custom app, to choose from, at a fraction of the cost, with a very similar UX and can be totally controlled on-line.

Here is a quick look at the comparison of benefits between mobile website and native apps.

Device Features – Apps have full access to all of a mobile devices capabilities including camera, GPS, data storage, etc. for the best UX. Mobile websites currently have limited access.

User Installation – No installation required for mobile websites. A bit of motivation is required to search and find a mobile business app. In the gaming industry, this should not be an obstacle. Most customers will be motivated to find your app to benefit from the content including offers and discounts.

Speed – A mobile app is much faster then a mobile website creating a better UX.

Owner Maintenance – The maintenance of a NMAT is much simpler these days with the app hosted in the cloud. Online Content Management System Dashboards (CMSD), allow clients to change the content of their app and send messages 24/7. Custom native apps are much more complicated to update. Mobile website are updated as easily as a web page.

Offline Functioning – Without a wifi or cell service connection, mobile websites are not accessible. Native apps have offline accessibility giving them the edge in this category.

Development Costs – Custom native apps are extremely expensive. Both Mobile websites and NMAT’s involve the least cost and are very affordable. Possibly with future technological advancements, mobile apps for small businesses may go the way of betamax, and mobile websites may overcome many of their current shortcomings and become the dominate mobile format. But for now, and probably for the foreseeable future, native apps are the best marketing tool available for small businesses. For maximum benefit, your app can be used in conjunction with your mobile website and gain additional user benefits such as the ability for customers to log in to their personal accounts.

Now to the good part. Here’s a look at what benefits a mobile app can bring to your business and your customers. The power of the mobile app to engage and communicate with the customers, is in it’s features.

Mobile App Benefits

The features currently available that can be built into an app is what ‘powers’ the benefits and makes it such a perfect fit for small businesses. In addition to the traditional listing of your businesses’ general information including facility amenities, specials, event calendars, contact info and directions, etc. that you would find on any standard mobile website, apps offer features that better engage customers and fully utilize their mobile devices capabilities making for a very personal and fulfilling UX… that they will want to share. To be clear and further illustrate the benefits of an app over a mobile website, this summary of features will include only those that are available in a mobile app format, and not a mobile website. There are dozens of features available for businesses to choose from to use in their app. We will look at just a few of the more beneficial ones here.

1. Content Management System Dashboard (CMSD) – This gives businesses complete control over the content of their app 24/7. Managing an app is very much like managing your social online presence. It requires daily attention and creative management. The CMSD makes it easy and efficient to make changes to your apps content and appearance, and an easy to use preview feature allows you to view your changes instantly.

2. Push Notification keeps your customers well informed – This feature allows you to send graphically attractive, instantaneous messages to your customers with offers to encourage their immediate or future attendance in your facility. The geo-fencing targeting option within this feature makes targeting your customers more like using a scalpel then a sledge hammer. Strategically used, push notification can keep your customers well informed, connected to your business and continually coming back.

3. Offer QR Code Coupons – This feature requires customer attendance a predetermined number of times before unlocking the value of this coupon. With attractive offers, this feature has the potential to increase customer attendance and increase revenue. QR codes are easily created within the CMSD and available for printing on any and all marketing materials that can be placed in the various departments around your facility.

4. Offer Loyalty Cards – This feature is a virtual stamp card designed to reward your current customers for multiple purchases or actions. It is a simple task using the CMSD to design the number of customer actions required to redeem the offer. This helps remind your current customers that you appreciate their business and helps solidify their loyalty.

5. Offer GPS Coupons – GPS coupons are made accessible when customers are within a predetermined distance of your facility. The number of check-ins required to redeem these coupons, and the time frame, is created using the CMSD. Creative and strategic thinking will make this feature very useful.

6. Detailed Analytics – Be completely informed on all aspects of your customers usage of your app. See what’s working and what’s not and make adjustments. The analytics available directly on the CMSD provides valuable information to app managers.

7. One Touch Calling – A simple feature that makes calling more convenient for your customers. A good customer service.

8. Event Attendance – Want to highlight a special or recurring event to your customers and get a sense of how many customers will be attending? This feature will provide that benefit and also help get the word of your event circulated by allowing users to notify their friends and family of their plans to attend.

9. Third Party Integration – There is a wide variety of 3rd party websites that can be integrated into any app. customers can sign up on your email list directly into services such as Constant Contact, iContact, Get Response and others. Also, integration of all the popular social media and advertising web sites is available.

One other very big benefit of having a well managed and informational rich app, is that it will cut down on the time currently required to give out the same information to customers calling on the phone. Another is the directions feature. One touch and the app will guide them to your location from wherever they are. An app is like every other online presence channel that you currently manage… you do get out of it what you put in. When the decision is made to create an app, a plan should also be in place for the personnel and time required to manage it to reap it’s maximum benefit. It will make your business better.

Mobile apps are now like where websites were 15 or so years ago, you had to have one to keep up. In another 5 years or so, every serious small business will have a mobile app. Now’s the time to get a jump on the competition and lead the way.