Familiar with the term Digital Sharecropping? It’s a phenomenon that most people don’t understand. An SEO guru colleague, Heather Lloyd-Martin shared a newsletter email regarding it and got me taking another look.
Digital sharecropping refers to social media channels and how people and businesses interact with them. The earliest concerns about it date back to 2006.
The term derives from the sharecropping, (aka feudalism) that happened after the end of the US Civil War. People had no money so paid to use a landlord’s property with a share of their crops. They didn’t own the land or even the tools they used.
In the game of Monopoly™, when you land on a property that is owned, you have to pay rent just like sharecroppers did.
It’s happening today—digitally. And it can be very risky for your business if you are dependent on it.
Social Media Digital Sharecropping
In the last few years, many businesses, especially B2C, have shifted their marketing to focus completely on social media. Some skip a website altogether, focusing instead on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Simple. Easy. Sweet.
What they don’t realize is they have no real control over what the social channel does. The channel owns the real estate. The channel is their landlord.
So they post lots to get more likes and more fans. They work hard to build a social empire of followers.
So what’s wrong with that? It works great to stay in touch with friends. It’s been a way to stay connected during the pandemic.
However, did you know that once you post pictures the channel actually can now sell the images someplace else without your permission and without compensating you? It’s in the fine print and it’s been this way for years.
Social was designed to be gathering spots, like the water cooler or watering hole. People visit, put up posts, and share for free. In exchange, the channel sells advertising to monetize users. It’s quite profitable, ask Mark Zuckerberg.
However, what if you are a business owner?
Matthew Inman, creator of Oatmeal comics got hit with the dark side of his social media empire.
Inman’s had a website for years where he publishes Oatmeal comics. But to make it easy to stay connected with followers he shifted to build a huge following on Facebook and Instagram. People love his posts.
According to a recent The Oatmeal Instagram post, Facebook has decided if Inman wants to reach more than a fraction of his followers, he needs to pay them $2000 PER POST. And this is content he’s putting up free for his nearly four million followers.
In his Instagram post, he explained the situation and invited people to sign up for his newsletter where they can be guaranteed the full dose of his comic goodness.
He’s also started only sharing part of “something too big for Instagram”, or Facebook, and sending the reader to his website to see the rest.
He is moving away from being dependent on social media. Inman has learned the risks of being a digital sharecropper. Now his focus is real estate he owns and controls. His website and e-newsletter where there are no middlemen charging fees.
Why is digital sharecropping important to understand?
With social media, the rules change with little notice.
Paid posts, or rebuilding a following on a new channel, are expensive.
Inman worked for years to build his following. Then the rules changed. Without paying huge fees, only a tiny portion of his followers would see his posts.
You don’t want your business to be in Inman’s situation.
How would it impact your marketing if you had to pay for every post you put on your business page?
For your business to succeed long term, you need a plan to take control of your social marketing.
I’ve discovered the ways to fight back and I’ll share them with you.
Here’s something most people don’t think of…
Where will you be if a different new social channel becomes the big buzz? Think it won’t happen? Where’s MySpace? Friendster? Google+? MySpace still exists, but it’s pretty lonely there. It went out of favor.
And a recent Social America report shared that for Gen Z and millennials, Facebook has lost favor. Instead, they are using Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. And this will change again, it’s inevitable.
Every social empire you build is only temporary. So if you want to depend on social, get prepared for changes and having to rebuild.
3 ways to offset digital sharecropping
When I work with clients we use social media as part of the mix, but we focus on things they have 100% control over. We focus on enhancing their website, connecting with emails and newsletters, and building a reputation for offering value.
Your website is something you have complete control over. Wherever you market, drive the traffic to your website. Make it the hub of your marketing efforts.
Start a post on social and send them to the website to see the rest. Share a new product or service and direct them to your website to learn more.
Invite visitors to subscribe to your newsletter. You can increase the number of signups by offering something useful or of value as a reward for subscribing.
Send them emails with links to information or products on the website.
Direct mail pieces have gained favor since there is a lot more in our inboxes than in our mailboxes. What you send is more apt to be seen. Use mail as another way to bring people to your website. Drive them to a special report, service, or offer.
Assure your website offers a positive experience and is easy to navigate.
Contact information needs to be easy to find, preferably on every page so the visitor doesn’t have to hunt.
People have become more skeptical. Use transparency to boost trust. Consider putting a contact number in a narrow banner at the very top of each page. It’s validation you are a sound trustworthy business. They may never call, but it makes you seem safer than a business without it.
Newsletters and emails
Using email to connect and share is one of the best investments in your marketing mix. They come from you.
Whether a short post or a newsletter, they can be informational, educational, and entertaining. They can also drive clients back to your website. Introduce an article or blog with a link to where the complete story resides on your website.
Email communications are a great place to share more about your team, your brand story, and your products or services. Share your uniqueness, your visions, and your social conscience.
Emails are bond builders. People love to be part of a group or a tribe. Your emails and newsletter are exclusive for your subscribers—a place they can hear your news before the rest of the world does.
The right emails nurture new buyers. They help them have the best experience with their purchase as well as get to know you as a brand.
According to a recent study by SubjectLine.com, emails that promote a one-day offer get 21% higher opens than if you just announce a sale. Words like “today only,” or “one day sale,” get attention and people don’t want to miss out. They create a sense of urgency and exclusivity.
Use content as a way to share and display valuable information you put out. Content that’s fresh, relevant, useful, and focused on your target audience’s interests and concerns.
Avoid any techniques or content that seems spammy or pushy/dodgy.
Your value content is the reputation your business earns. Quality and value are the keys to attracting and keeping your ideal customers.
So where does that leave social? Social channels are useful tools to support your website…the real estate you own. Use social as a part of your marketing mix. Mix is the keyword. You are using but not depending on channels that you have no real control over.
Judith Culp Pearson is a digital content marketer helping businesses gain and retain customers for a higher lifetime value. Result-oriented relationship building and empathy-based marketing. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Customer experience enhancers create more loyalty, repeat sales, and profitability. The pandemic disrupted the traditional shopping model forcing people to go online. It stuck.
People often now use a blend between the two. The lines between online and a physical store are becoming blurred. More than ever, it’s about what this blend feels like before buying, while making a purchase, and afterward.
A true story of enhancing the customer experience
One of the companies I work with shared how changing a tiny detail made a huge difference. They have an e-commerce store selling both consumer products and professional-only products. But about 95% of their business is professional sales.
To enhance the buying experience for professionals, they set up a drop-down system to validate they were eligible to buy the professional products. The drop-down streamlined the shopping process as they didn’t have to take the time to set up an account.
The shipping manager received an email from a regular customer:
Why is there a note that pops up that says I’m not ordering XXXXX? That’s the only product I ever order?
The manager quickly responded, explained why they had the drop-down process. She also thanked the customer for bringing it to her attention. Then, she told the client she was going to see if they could change the default.
This one tiny change, altering a default, reduced the number of questions the shipping manager got and made her life much easier. It also made 95% of the customer’s lives easier because they now don’t have to change the default.
The company still does random checking to validate that the customers are qualified professionals. But it was an easy fix and win-win change.
Customer Experience Enhancers work.
Enhancing the customer experience is the top proven technique to reduce churn, retain customers and increase profits. The longer you can keep a customer loyal, the lower your acquisition cost. It also raises the Lifetime Customer Value exponentially.
It’s five to seven times more expensive to find a new customer than to keep them. And you’ll increase sales.
The odds of a new prospect purchasing are between 5 and 20%. But with an existing customer, the odds of another sale jump to 60-70%. Retention is smart for business.
I’ve seen this over and over in my businesses and working with clients. Every little detail that makes the customer’s experience better is a significant positive.
Little things are big experience enhancers.
Some changes may be significant, and others, like in the example, are small technical things. However, they all make a difference in the customer’s experience and overall happiness rating.
For maximum success, the entire brand team needs to communicate, share, and look for ways to be better. The team that interacts directly with shoppers often has overlooked information. Keep them in the loop. Listen to them. Empower them to facilitate and stimulate changes that make shopper’s lives easier.
The Three E’s of customer experience enhancers
More than ever before, customers turn to the internet for information. And they are using a blended model of shopping in person and online. If in your store and thinking of a purchase, they may compare prices online. Or check customer reviews.
The experience you offer needs to be seamless and supportive throughout their buying journey.
As they experience your content, your customer support, and your social media connectivity, they form an emotional reaction to doing business with you. Positive, negative, or neutral.
Those businesses that focus on enhancing positive experiences will see the greatest success.
Experience enhance content
Often businesses in the past had more of an online brochure rather than a customer-focused shopping experience. That model doesn’t work today. Your website needs to feature lots of fresh, helpful content and an easy way to find it. They want positive experience content.
The underlying theme of content is how this product or service will make their life easier, better, more fulfilling, and fun. Emotional connectedness. Then the supporting information validates why this is so. They want the proof: reviews, testimonials, scientific studies, what experts say, and more.
They want all of this in an easy-to-access format that makes shopping a pleasure.
Today’s consumer doesn’t want to have to call to get help or find what they need. They want more of a self-service experience. They don’t want to wait days or weeks to get an email response. The longer they have to wait to get answers, the more likely they’ll go elsewhere.
It’s like when you need a service or repair person, and no one calls you back. You go from enthusiastic to neutral to frustrated.
Help shoppers get to know you.
Shoppers want easy access to learning about you and your products—and what makes you unique. They want
- Answers to all the frequently asked questions.
- To read your blogs about how you developed a product or service.
- To understand how you are helping the planet and being socially responsible
- Easy access to resource pages, blogs, articles and to learn about your products and services.
- To know you and your team as individuals rather than just a company.
Consider offering books, e-books, reports, guides, video how-tos, and other valuable resources.
Customer service is always an experience. All too often, it is a frustrating, time-consuming process. It needs to be friendly, knowledgeable, supportive. Phone connections are great, but if they are searching on their phone and can do a live chat, that works.
Experience enhance service
For many consumers, a common complaint is the lack of staffing. Lack of staffing might have been a valid excuse during the early days of the pandemic, but it doesn’t fly anymore.
AI is getting more intelligent, and the interactions with it are more favorable. It just needs to be helpful and able to quickly move the shopper to live chat or a phone connection if the AI can’t solve the problem.
Communicate with customers where they hang out. Often this is social media. Use social as a way to stimulate interaction with customers and potential customers. Invite them to ask questions and respond promptly.
Look for ways to reward customers. It doesn’t always need to be a discount. For example, a free guide on having the best experience with your product would be of high value to a new client.
Develop a customer reward program that makes them feel positive about being loyal to your brand. People love to be part of a group, especially an exclusive group. So invite them to be part of your brand. Treat them like an online family.
Then take the online experience offline. Send new customers or those who have referred new clients a physical thank-you note. Send a reward to be used on a future purchase. When everything now comes to inboxes, something in the mail we view as unique, special.
Blend the experience to connect with them online, offline, and back online seamlessly.
Be sure to give them ample time to use any rewards.
Avoid rewards with a short use timeframe. For example, if you just purchased a printer that touts it has a year’s worth of ink in it, why would you respond to an offer to buy more ink now?
Amazon gives credits when you buy a kindle book, but they are very short-lived. If you don’t use them in a week, they’re gone. That’s not very buyer-friendly.
Experience Enhance Connections
These are all the points where consumers interact with your brand. Website, social media, email, print ads, radio, or even television. Using the formats that make sense for your business, look for ways to enhance the experience.
If you offer AI or live chats, evaluate how well that is working. What does your customer service team hear from customers?
Integrate with the service team to identify and smooth out rough spots in the buying process.
Is your team/system available enough to be helpful? We have a three-hour time difference across the continental US. Consider where your customers are calling from? Can they easily reach you?
Stand in your customer’s place. How would you feel about the service if you were in their location? Think outside the box to find a way to smooth and improve this experience. Consider more online self-support information, so they aren’t dependent on phone calls.
Social posting connections
Social posts need to be fun, friendly, and seeking to engage. Get them to smile, inspire them, show them success.
The most successful posting is frequent and regular. People pay attention to what they see repeatedly. That’s why paid ads pop up after you’ve looked at something. Whatever caught your eye and you looked at is now popping up everywhere you go on the internet. It’s reminding you to look again.
Email personalized experience
With so much in our inboxes, generic transactional emails quickly get filed or deleted. Instead, emails personalized by interest get more attention. Tone and engagement are essential.
When doing a marketing assessment, I look at it from the shopper’s viewpoint. I look for things to smooth, enhance and increase engagement. In today’s world, it’s all about experience enhancers to grow business. www.jculpcreativecopy.com
Last week I talked about the importance of enhancing your business rewards program. I wasn’t the only person talking about the need for this. Customer Experience Futurist Blake Morgan was also sharing.
This year it is more important than ever before to offer rewards tailored to your targeted audience. If your audience includes Gen Z, the positive stats for loyalty rewards jump even higher.
Review of Ms. Morgan’s article
50 Stats that Show the Importance of Good Loyalty Rewards
If you don’t yet have a loyalty program, it’s time to join the more than 90% of companies that do.
52% of American consumers will join the loyalty program of brands they regularly purchase. A surprising 84% have made a redemption from a rewards program.
Not all loyalty programs get used. Most, 65% of consumers engage with less than half of their loyalty programs.
Satisfaction with loyalty programs has dropped to 44%, down from 47% in 2018. People are looking for businesses that offer something better.
Interestingly a whopping 95% of consumers, according to Code Broker, want to engage with more loyalty programs using chatbots, AI, or VR and their smart devices. 75% want them accessible on their smartphone.
Engage with your customers emotionally, and they spend 27% more. Personalization is huge. When you do it well for your members, it creates a 6.4x lift in their satisfaction with your program.
Loyalty rewards increase sales
One stat I didn’t mention, Incentive Solutions, shared that adding a loyalty program to your e-commerce platform can increase average order quantity by 319%.
With the competition becoming more fierce as companies try to capture some of the “rebound spending,” it’s vital to ramp up bonding. The better your rewards, the stronger your fan loyalty will be.
Make sure those rewards are easy to earn and relevant to your audience.
Psychographics can maximize your rewards program.
Psychographics focuses on what and why people respond as they do. And the buying triggers are different for women and men. Since women influence so much of the spending, cater to their reward psychographics to maximize your efforts.
The use of psychographics can be of benefit when considering personalization and relevance. But it’s also beneficial for the emotional triggers of social consciousness.
Here are my 3 key takeaways on the benefits of loyalty rewards.
There are certainly lots of things to consider to create a winning rewards program.`
Keep reward programs simple
The last thing your customers want is a complicated reward system. In the article, stats showed that you’d reduce the number of users if you require a downloaded app.
The days of wallets stuffed with rewards cards are over. Most people don’t want to carry them, and yours is apt to be left on the counter or tossed.
Avoid or give very generous expiration dates. Rewards expiring before use is a frustration for members. Be sure to thank them for a redemption—you’ll be in the minority that does.
Most consumers, 95%, want to access their rewards via their smartphones. They like to use AI, Chatbots, and VI.
Giving gifts increases bonding.
Finding ways to say thank you, even when they make a redemption, holds value for consumers. And if you employ those thank yous, you’ll be in the minority of businesses who take that extra step.
I’ve never met anyone who didn’t enjoy a surprise gift or an unexpected piece of mail that wasn’t trying to sell something…just say thank you.
If you don’t have physical products, there are other options. There are numerous programs available that offer gifts that can be personalized. It becomes a branding opportunity to keep customers thinking of you. Branded items offer a bit of swag, another bonus members love.
Even early access to sales is a gift they like. 46% of customers love this bonus.
Or, send members an incentive.75% of consumers purchased something after receiving a reward.
Willing to pay for upgraded loyalty reward program
Don’t discount an upgrade option. Creating an optional paid upgrade can bond members even more. They paid something, which increases the desire to use the benefits.
Paid membership puts you into an elite inner circle. After a year of being disconnected, being a part of something has enhanced value.
When I work with clients
For new clients, or when we’re doing a review, I put on my “consumer hat.” I put myself in the shoes of their target audience and look for ways to enhance their customer experience and loyalty programs.
A customer who likes your brand and is pleased with your rewards program is far more apt to recommend you to their friends.
Need help? Judith@jculpcreativecopy.com.
You can read Blake Morgan’s Article HERE.
Glicken is a term often associated with receiving a bit of unexpected good luck or a lucky bonus. I once heard it called getting the piece of cake with the extra treat on top. Winning the lottery would be glicken. So would a surprise with your purchase.
People love getting extra bonuses—surprises, add ons, a treat. For a business, giving glicken bonds customers and builds lifetime loyalty.
My husband loves deals.
My husband is from Yorkshire in northern England. Like in Scotland, money is dearly held in Yorkshire. So if he can get a good deal on something he’s already decided on, it’s pure glicken.
Yesterday we attended a vintage motorcycle show and sale. He went to sell some parts and see what was out there.
After two years of doing without, motorcycle enthusiasts showed up in droves. They wanted to show off their bikes, shop for missing “project” parts, and visit. (A project is a current bike you’re working on.)
When things slowed down, he went for a walk to explore for deals while I stayed at the canopy with his motorcycle “bits.”
A while later, he returned with a smile on his face and a gleam in his eyes. I knew he scored a find. Someone was selling off all his bikes. The man had a terrific deal on some parts my husband could use or resell.
This morning I overheard hubby on the phone with the fellow. The guy had sold a motorcycle and dropped the price on what my husband wanted by $400, delivery included!!
For a Yorkshire man—that’s pure glicken.
Glicken can work magic for your business too.
I used these unexpected bonuses with customers for years. They love being surprised, thanked, and rewarded.
When you bond a buyer and become their preferred go-to resource, the relationship can last for years or even decades. I’ve had it happen a lot. It’s how you’re successful in the spa/beauty industry. Repeat loyal customers.
They know you, like you, and trust that you have their best interests at heart.
They refer or bring family and friends because of the trust relationship.
No money can buy that marketing. It takes time and consistency to build this relationship, but the lifetime customer value makes it worth the effort.
Here’s a secret
This loyalty relationship focuses on value as opposed to ongoing discounts. Shared interests, concerns, social values, reliability, quality, performance, and the culture of your business all are part of the value.
Today’s buyer wants far more than a product or a service. They want relationships if you’re going to keep them coming back.
3 techniques to create and share glicken.
A huge percentage of transactions today are online. So you need to capitalize on quick and easy—but often overlooked ways to build the relationship online.
Since online has become more crowded, you can make a massive impact by going offline.
Then top off your efforts with surprise rewards.
Maximize online techniques
Business e-commerce platforms come with built-in systems for communicating with visitors and buyers. Out-of-the-box they are very dull and transactional. They need to be customized to match your brand and your customers. They need to sound like conversations, not stilted text.
Personalize them using shortcodes, so the emails come to them, a person.
Test each one! I can’t tell you how frequently I get an email that includes my name in the header but opens with: Hi [Fname].
You need to know what your shoppers are receiving. Think of it this way—accuracy builds more value.
Statistics show it is worth the investment to have automation set up to follow your shopper through the buying journey and afterward. Coach them past the abandoned cart. Don’t neglect them after the sale. It’s prime time to up-sell, cross-sell, and show them how to maximize the product’s benefits.
Free reports, how-tos, and guides are all glicken to the buyer.
Connect offline for more glicken
In a world of emails, receiving something via mail is a novelty. When was the last time you got a birthday card or thank you note in the mail? It makes the sender stand out like a unicorn in a herd of donkeys.
Your value doesn’t always have to be free. A print newsletter or monthly report could be glicken. People have a higher perceived value for something in print over digital. You might consider a subscription for a monthly print offering. If you have a target market of 55+, this demographic is the most likely to prefer print over digital.
In this value-based relationship model, rewards can be anything. It could be expedited handling and shipping for those over a specific threshold.
You might give your circle of buyers advance notice of a pre-holiday sale event, especially if there are limited quantities. Or let them be the first to hear about a new product launch. As previous customers, they may be ready to buy something relevant—and give you valuable feedback on it.
I had a company that tucked a small, tan, lumpy envelope in every order. It held a stick of cinnamon and a positive quote, plus a hand-written thank you. I loved those little notes.
If you have product samples, those are also great to tuck into the package—and trigger more sales.
How-to-use graphics tucked into the order can also cross-sell and enhance the buyer’s experience.
Even the order itself can be glicken if they see you are making an effort to deliver the item using environmentally friendly packaging.
Online communications. Offline communications. And in-the-box communications can all build glicken and your lifetime customer value.
Need help finding glicken? I can help you discover glicken your customers will love. Message me: email@example.com.
Consumer and business demand are fueling massive growth opportunities in 2021. Get these four business team components in place to maximize your 2021 business growth. It’s all about you and your teams.
When many businesses or marketers think of growth, they focus on new products or divisions. But for real change, you need to start deeper. You need to start with yourself and your business teams.
Consider this business team scenario.
Due to the pandemic, a colleague of mine faced business closure. Kathy couldn’t meet or help her clients. She decided to go online with consulting and offer retail products.
Kathy had a website, but it was a basic brochure about her services. No online scheduling software. No shopping cart or credit card payment system. Oh, and no retail items to offer.
The idea was excellent but needed a lot of support.
The first thing she did was find some retail products that would be useful to her clients during the shutdown.
Like many businesses, Kathy’s website was in a WordPress format. She’d need to either hire someone to add what was necessary for e-commerce or learn to do it herself.
Of course, she tried to do it herself to save money. After all, with the shutdown, she had more time than money.
Everything Kathy tried to add had its own learning curve.
One piece of software didn’t want to communicate with another. I felt bad listening to her struggles.
Finally, she reached out to her webmaster to assist her in sorting it out. Then she found out he didn’t do e-commerce websites. His expertise was service-based businesses.
Back to square one. It took a couple of months for Kathy to get operational.
What went wrong?
As a business owner, marketer, and consultant, I’ve seen this happen many times.
It’s like building a bridge without supports or a house without any foundation. You need your business team infrastructure, the foundation first.
Without it, the product, its delivery, and customer experience won’t be at the successful level.
It’s important to start with yourself.
Start with you. Start by evaluating where you are and where you want to be. Are you equipped with both the business management and business specialty skillsets you need?
Each type of business requires its own unique set of what I call technical skills. These are specific to your business model.
But you also need business marketing and management skills for success. Without them, you’ll struggle. You won’t achieve the earnings or growth your business deserves.
You need to set aside time to evaluate, plan and then implement. Make appointments with yourself on your calendar. It’s the only way you can make sure it happens.
- What areas need strengthening?
- How effective is your marketing?
- Do you need to do market research to look at the next add-on you offer?
- Are your outreaches to new and existing customers effective?
- How long do you retain customers, and what is their Customer Lifetime Value, CLV?
- Are there specialty skills you want or are required to maintain?
Create a short and long-term plan balancing both types of skills. Getting these skills might include self-study, courses, conferences, or workshops either in person or online.
Three business team support legs of infrastructure
I find these legs often get overlooked until something fails. They are all about your business teams. We get caught in reactive mode, and that never gets the ideal outcome. First, you need to think of your teams—who, what, and why.
Then you need the other two legs to support your efforts and those of your team. Regardless of your business model, you still need them in place.
You’ll probably need two teams. You’re going to need your home support team to buy into you and your goals. Without this support, building a successful business is much more challenging.
If you’re the person in charge of everything at home, from cleaning to laundry to shopping and cooking…you need help. Or maybe you and your partner both have careers…you both need support.
Look for ways to get your home team to help out. Build this infrastructure for success, not burnout. Delegate and don’t micromanage. Focus on your big goals. Don’t dwell on tasks not done your way.
Thank them and reward them. It might be designated family time or a date with your spouse. Often non-financial rewards have much higher relationship bonuses in the long term. Your kids and spouse might both build better life skills that will benefit their future selves.
Not everyone may have kids or family they can involve. Then it’s time to look at hired outside support.
In addition to your home team, you need a business team. Evaluate your strengths and what you can hand off so you can focus on those strengths. Delegating has a financial expense.
But how much more could you generate if you didn’t have to handle that task?
The question becomes more of a no-brainer if you can hire someone better at the task than you are. Look for someone who can get it done better and more efficiently.
Employees or business team partners?
Whether you hire employees on a full or part-time basis, they come with significant financial and time commitments. It’s not easy to find the right person with the right skills.
The other option is working with business partners.
Business partners include accountants, lawyers, business consultants, marketers, and your web host. Independent contractors and freelancers also fall into this category.
I always recommend contracting with your web host to keep your website up, backed up, and current. If you’re expanding, you will need web design, graphic work, and a copy/content writer to get your message clearly across to your target audience.
The benefits of the outside team are significant. There is no overhead when they aren’t needed. No payroll-related taxes. And they excel at the task.
Find specialists that understand your business model. For example, an accountant used to working with manufacturers may not understand a small business offering services.
Find people who “get” your business. That is going to make the most successful relationship.
The last two legs are tied together. Hardware and software.
Hardware business team
These are the physical components you and your team will need to function. And the physical elements that make up your business.
A brick-and-mortar business needs different things than e-commerce. Brick and mortar need everything from fixtures, displays, equipment, seating to payment processing—computers to routers to your telephone system.
E-commerce is dependent on computer systems, audio-visual, photography, web content, and responsive customer service. The fulfillment department functions are key to handle the delivery of sales to the customer.
There is nothing more frustrating for operations than a slow computer system, out of date, or needing maintenance. Consider contracting with a support business, something like Geek Squad, so you have help when you need them. I’ve found if you only use them once during the year, it offsets the annual fee.
Software is how you harness your electronic hardware to make it function for you.
I remember when I wanted my home office to be the dominant place for my writing and consulting business.
To accomplish that, I needed my business telephone to funnel to the home office without it ringing on my personal line. The cable company advised me I’d have to upgrade my account to a business account (regardless of the level of use). The price would jump from $60 to $180 per month plus any installation charges.
That was a definite no. So I researched and went with a VOIP service.
VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. For me, it was like cutting the cord with my cable provider.
I eliminated the need for physical equipment beyond my computer and my existing cell phone. I handle calls on my laptop or answer the distinctive ring on my cell phone. The cost? About $30/month. The convenience has been fantastic.
You’ll also need payment processing software, scheduling software, and some sort of client management system. Don’t forget accounting software and backup software, so you never lose your data.
Online automatic backup means no worrying about lost data. A cloud-based accounting program means fewer or no trips to the accountant’s office as you can grant them access.
Then there are those great apps that facilitate marketing, research, and client connectivity—plus Zoom or other face-to-face ability. Some are browser extensions. Others connect one program, so it talks to another and reduces tasks.
Take your time and create a checklist of all the software puzzle pieces. Then make sure they are integrated and ready to work for you. Start with you, your goals, and your dream teams. Then add the hardware and software that help you succeed.
Judith Culp Pearson specializes in marketing and coaching businesses in the wellness sector. Through empathy engagement at every client touchpoint, she focuses on retaining existing clients and building new relationships for growth. firstname.lastname@example.org