Leveraging Technology to Strengthen the Marketing and Sales Process
We live in an increasingly digitized society, and this trend has been accelerated in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. Online shopping is destroying traditional shopping malls, and in-person interactions are being replaced by virtual “contactless” gatherings. All of this has been enabled by rapidly advancing technologies that have revolutionized the way we do business and interact as a society.
For many small businesses, Covid-19 came as a wake-up call. Those who survived the pandemic best were the businesses that already had the tools in place to adapt quickly. For example, restaurants that had an online ordering system for takeout and delivery tended to do quite well during the lockdown last year; and a lot of them actually had better sales in 2020 than they did in the previous year.
CPA firms that were using cloud-based technology were better able to implement an online client onboarding process and transition to having their employees work from home. The ability to do everything electronically and remotely allowed the staff to more easily collaborate and communicate, and they were able to conduct virtual consultations with clients using platforms like Zoom.
One of the major takeaways from the events of this past year for businesses is that utilizing 21st-century technology is no longer optional. Going forward, it is a requirement to survive. Challenges like these come along frequently in business, but if you rise to the challenge, you can come out stronger and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Using Technology to Market and Promote Your Business
When it comes to the sales and marketing process, many businesses are still behind the times. For example, a lot of them are still advertising in the Yellow Pages. If the Yellow Pages isn’t dead yet, it is definitely on life support and it is about time to pull the plug.
According to a Forbes article from 2018, nearly all consumers (97% to be exact) use the internet to find local businesses. If you are still paying for advertising in the Yellow Pages, you should strongly consider redirecting those resources to a medium that will produce a far better ROI.
Billboards and radio ads have better reach than the Yellow Pages, but because a lot more people are working from home and not commuting to the office, these ads are not seen and heard by nearly as many consumers as they were even just a couple of years ago.
While their competitors chase expensive and outdated advertising mediums of yesteryear, forward-thinking business owners are positioning themselves to capitalize on future marketing trends. Technological advancements, particularly in the area of artificial intelligence (AI) are powering breakthroughs that make the digital marketing process far more efficient and cost-effective than ever before.
Online marketing starts with an eye-catching website that is easy for consumers to navigate and makes consumers more likely to do business with you. In addition to a well-constructed website, businesses should consider a number of other online programs, such as:
- Mobile Friendly Websites: A few years ago, the number of web searches that originated on a mobile device (e.g., smartphone or tablet) exceeded the number of searches that are performed on a PC. Websites these days must be mobile friendly, and for some businesses, it might make sense to create a mobile application (aka “app”).
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO is the process of positioning your web pages and posts to be found by consumers when they enter popular keyword phrases in search engines like Google. Local SEO (achieved mainly with an optimized Google my Business profile) is also very important for businesses that cater to local consumers.
- Online Paid Ads: Businesses can pay for space in search engines like Google and other places online with paid advertising. The most popular medium for this is Google pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
- Social Media Promotion: Consumers spend a lot of their time these days on popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and even more so since the pandemic hit. It is good for businesses to have a social media presence where they can interact with consumers in a way that helps positively establish their brand.
- Automated Content Marketing: A lot of businesses produce regular content as part of an automated marketing strategy. One popular way of doing this is by sending regular emails to a list of subscribers using a process called a “sales funnel”.
This is just a sampling of the numerous ways that businesses can market and promote themselves online and increase business valuation. It may seem overwhelming, but you do not have to do all of it. The online marketing strategy you develop will depend largely on the business and industry you are in, and if you are not sure where to begin, it would be a good idea to consult with a web marketing professional.
Considering Selling your Business in the Near Future? Speak with a Reputable Business Broker
Developing a strong digital presence will not only help grow your business in the years to come, but it will also make it considerably more valuable when it comes time to sell. If you are thinking about selling your business within the next couple of years or so, now is the time to adapt your sales and marketing processes so your sales are improved, and you are better positioned to attract a good price.
In addition to upgrading your technology, another step you should take in the near future is to speak with a local business broker. Business brokers work closely with owners who want to sell to get them ready for the business to go on the market, and to navigate the complexities involved with the sales process. By talking to a broker early on, you will have enough time to make the changes necessary to optimize the value of your business.