By: Jeffrey L. Wilson
Drawing from the real-world experiences of six our PCMag.com's recent SMB Innovators, here six great technology tips for growing your business
Facebook. Formotus. Twitter. Venmo. Vimeo. Zendesk. Some of these names will sound familiar, others may not, but they all have one thing in common: they can help you grow your business. Spanning social networking to mobile payments to customer service care, these services can give your company the extra pop that it needs to succeed. Drawing from the real-world experiences of six our PCMag's recent SMB Innovators, here six great technology tips for growing your business.
#1 – Upgrade Your Customer Support Software
Featuring clientele who produces more than 4,000 episodes a day, Blip.TV, a small, 30-person company, discovered that taking care of its customers' needs would be no easy task. Realizing that it needed assistance in managing customer care, Blip.TV turned to Zendesk, a help-desk company that serves more than 5,000 businesses, including MSNBC and Twitter. Learn how Zendesk has helped Blip.TV smoothly tackle customers' issues, and how it can help you, too.
#2 – Make Payments Mobile
Aaron Blanco, owner of The Brown Coffee Company (a tech-savvy cafe in San Antonio, Texas), uses multiple means of communication to reach out to customers. Blanco uses Twitter to inform them of when he's switching brews, Google Places to offer clients a free drink, and the most innovative tool, Venmo (a free, easy-to-use, SMS and Web-based payment network based on a concept of mutual trust) to deliver mobile payments. Find out how how mobile payments can benefit your company.
#3 – Use Social Networks Services to Engage Customers
Many restaurants offer freebie discounts to FourSquare and Groupon users, but if you're catering to a high-end crowd, you may want to go a more high-end route. Kittichai is one such business; it uses Facebook and Twitter updates to promote sales, and a Web site that gives visitors a virtual tour of the location. The result? A restaurant that sees 60% of its reservations come from the Web. Free Wi-Fi, a forthcoming iPhone app, and a Village Vines partnership looks to promote additional growth. If you've considered dabbling in social network, but have yet to make the jump, Kittichai's story may prove intriguing.
#4 – Don't Overlook an E-mail Campaign
E-mail may no longer be seen as cutting edge, but it can prove a valuable tool. Croft Global Travel, a tech savvy travel agency, sends out monthly e-mails to over 600 subscribers describing upcoming trips, and its proven to be an effective motivator (other than repeat customers), to get potential travelers to book trips. Read on to discover how a simple e-mail newsletter, when used properly, and net big results.
#5 – Engage Customers Using YouTube and Web Forums
Bolstered by affordable software, Web forums, and online video, Mark Mankiewicz's String Theory YoYo has carved out a successful niche selling premium yo-yos. Mankiewicz' unveiled two new yo-yos on String Theory YoYo's Facebook page, mixes it up with fans in online forums, utilizes YouTube and Vimeo to spotlight his sponsored yo-yo team's skills, and occasionally uses Twitter to make announcements—although he's admittedly not much of a fan of the service. Check out how to communicate better with customers using video and forums.
#6 – Save Money, Time, and the Environment by Going Paperless
Bayview Plaza Pharmacy is moving toward a completely paperless business, and in doing so, is saving time, thousands of dollars, tons of trees, and maybe even a few lives. The company uses Formotus and SureScripts to create custom forms and send them over an e-prescription network. Not only does this eliminate the need to rifle through 6 to 8 cases of paperwork (totaling 30,000 to 40,000 sheets every couple of months), but it helps Bayview Plaza Pharmacy stay competitive with big guns like CVS and Wal-Mart by offering free delivery to its customers.