Guest Post: A Glimpse Into the Future: The Essentials for Business Entrepreneurs

This is a guest post from Mark Kirkpatrick, an experienced writer in mass communication in its relation to business globalization.

guestimageIn the business world, it pays to stay ahead of the curve. Marketing, technology, and basic business tactics evolve all the time; and if you aren’t keeping up with the newest thing, it’s easy to get pushed aside. Here is a look at where the business world seems to be going, and what tools will be essential for entrepreneurs in the near future.

Network Advertising

Gone are the days of cold calling and blind elevator pitches. Today’s businesses are taking advantage of the growing power of social networks.  Sites like Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn can help businesses expand their reach and influence.

Cloud Sharing

Sharing documents, reports and other files with coworkers is a cinch when businesses utilize cloud storage. What’s more, one cloud system allows the integration of office, mobile and home storage options, streamlining how data is compiled and shared.

Wireless Printing

Companies like Canon, Lexmark and Hewlett-Packard introduced web-enabled printers that offer businesses the capability to print documents directly from a mobile device or tablet. Rather than having to carry around a ton of printed documents,professionals can now keep their needed documents on their devices and print them when they are needed.

Touch Enabled

Since the introduction of smart phones with touch screens, the technology has constantly expanded. Now computers and printers are touch screen enabled. Also, as the technology grows and spreads, the price of such devices has started to drop. Technology that was once only available to high end customers is now easily accessible for even the smallest startup business.

Zero-Clients

Companies that require many desktop computers but don’t necessarily need the additional operating system are turning to zero-client PCs. They are smaller and more cost-efficient than their larger desktop counterparts. Zero-clients come with a fast onboard processor and speedy boot up times. An added bonus? They can’t get viruses. Because they are simplified computers: they require minimal maintenance and don’t need regular updates like other systems. They are great options for business that want to provide basic computers for multiple employees for a smaller investment.

Voice Control

Voice control has grown leaps and bounds since it was first introduced. Though it won’t completely replace a keyboard, or an actual human, voice control technology is useful for dictating short notes while you are driving or just too busy to write something down. Along the same lines is voice recognition. Software, like Dragon Naturally Speaking, types your spoken word as you speak it. One word of caution on these tools, they aren’t always 100% accurate and do take some getting used to. Take some time to practice with them before completely converting to them for business use. Nevertheless, they are very useful for certain tasks and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Go Old School

Email and social media have changed the way we communicate. To really get someone’s attention, send them a letter. Even better, make it handwritten. Emails tend to get deleted; tweets get buried in a busy social stream. But a mailed letter to someone isn’t as easy to ignore. It’s a forgotten communication method that still packs a big punch.

As technology and marketing strategies evolve, the business world evolves with it. Adopting new tactics as they come about can really help businesses succeed.

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Today’s guest blogger is Mark Kirkpatrick, an experienced writer in mass communication in its relation to business globalization. In addition to writing for 1800-number.com’s blog, he also enjoys covering business finance, technology and online networking.

Social Media Marketing – is it REALLY all that new?

new2Let’s be real – Social Media Marketing isn’t really all that new…

We were clicking, viewing, commenting and sharing, long before the term ‘social media’ was coined.

The world of business is going mad for social media, with a recent study suggesting 92% of businesses in North America are using it in some way.

This is exciting of course, but in this excitement, many seem to have forgotten that while some of the technology may be new, the phenomena is not.

In fact, this interactive methodology has been at the core of internet marketing since its very inception. Web pages are, after all, interactive and multimedia by their very nature. We were clicking, viewing, commenting and sharing, long before the term ‘social media’ was coined.

In fact, ‘social’ has always been as aspect of marketing. So, how can the lessons of the past inform the way we approach social media marketing today?

Mistaken identities

What is new to many businesses trying out social media for the first time is the idea of anything other than direct selling. On your website, if you want to you can say what you do, why you are the best at it, ask people to buy and no one will bat an eyelid. The same goes for advertising, of course. But in the social media space, this is not so. Or at least, it can’t make up the majority of what you say.

If you’re familiar with networking in the real world, this will come as no surprise, but if you’re not and you try to use your social media profile as advertising space, you’ll be sorely disappointed at the results. Put simply, your social media profile should be more akin to your whole business persona, not just the advertising part of it.

In real life, you wouldn’t just sell, sell, sell (I hope), you would be informative, knowledgeable and helpful. Knowing the value of word of mouth, you would build connections, have conversations and generally get involved in your community. You would take an interest in others and sometimes, your conversations would be with a view to selling, but sometimes they wouldn’t.

Once you think of it like that, your social media strategy should look a whole lot clearer.

Same game, new pitch

So once we accept that social media goes beyond simple advertising, what else can we learn from the marketing that went before? What can we do to ensure it’s not just chat for chat’s sake?

Three techniques that can work wonders in the social media space are: offering free information, helping promote others reciprocally, and giving exclusive offers to others in the online ‘community’. But, again, these techniques are much older than the space they now inhabit.

Ever given out a free fact sheet to anyone that visits your office? Or helped out a person you meet at a conference by passing on the details of a third party? Or offered a ‘buy on get one free’ deal via your shop window?

These classic promotional techniques existed way before social media, so what’s the lesson here? A lot of social media marketing isn’t about reinventing the wheel, it’s about taking what we’ve collectively learned from other marketing activities (in our offices, at networking events, on our websites) and looking at how these can be carried through to our social networking personas.

Making it work for you

The beauty of social media is that the initial outlay is exceptionally cheap compared to many other forms of marketing. Get yourself a profile and then listen carefully to the buzz that’s happening around you. Follow people you’d like to emulate, and those you’d like as customers. Engage as a useful resource long before you begin to add straight sales techniques to the mix, and above all, keep it up. Again, just like any other form of marketing, social media is about keeping a consistent presence. Drift away, and so will your audience.

Need some help with your Social Media Marketing strategy? Give our Mentoring tryout package a try!

 

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What's all the blogging fuss about?

So, Coca Cola ‘rented’ the blogs of 9 prominent bloggers in Brazil to promote the launch of their new product i9 Hydrotonico in Brazil.

And the Blogosphere went mad….

Bloggers came from everywhere to state they were “not to be bought” and derided not only the ‘rented’ blogs but also Coca Cola themselves.

There was even a new manifesto developed:

“A blog is a personal page, is a time logbook, is expression, is someone saying what they think/reckon/believe for those who want to read it. There aren’t bloggers’ union, wages, holidays, but we do lots of overtime. A blogger is not a journalist or an advertising agent: they can be everything and nothing, teenager or mother, hairdresser or CEO. Each one has the audience they deserve, the credibility they have conquered.”

(Thanks to Trendsspotting.com for this)

Whatever the reaction, Cocal Cola got some great (and not so great) publicity, the blogs in question got far more hits than they would have recieved already, and bloggers worldwide hoisted their petards and chose their side.

Well all I have to say is – Oh purlease…..

Show me a Blogger that doesn’t have affiliate links on his or her site? Google Adsense? Yahoo ads? Get my drift – all PAID ads, PAYING you to PROMOTE the products. So what’s the difference?

I’ll tell you my take on the difference – the Cocal Cola sponsorship was OBVIOUS sponsorship – it was loud, open and and left no-one in any doubt that something had exchanged hands for this to happen (as it happenes it was a mini fridge – hardly a million dollars).

The affiliate links that spring up all over blogs aren’t always so obvious. We don’t always know whether a blogger will be paid if we click on that link or donload that product and do you know what? We don’t care! If you make 5pence or a free ebook or whatever you make from something I click on on your blog – well the best of bleedin’ luck to you is what I say! You’ve spent time and effort giving me something to read – why SHOULDN’T you benefit from that?

See that Get Clicky link there on the left of this blog? That’s an affiliate link – if you download the product and like it after the 90 day trial, I get about £12 if you sign up to the full service. Is that going to stop you reading this blog? I happen to use and like GetClicky and promote them when I can – in most cases I point out it is an affiliate link, but in the ad on the left I haven’t. (The links i this paragraph are, by the way).

Does that make me a rent-a-blogger? Oh goodness, surely not?

So what’s worse? An in your face very openly obvious marketing stunt by Coca Cola and 9 bloggers, or a more subtle and not obvious affiliate link in a blog or advert on a blog?

Personally, I couldn’t care less either way – the blogs that I read deserve the income they can make from their writing (just so you know, this blog makes money from selling its eBook, 299 Steps to Website Heaven).

I really don’t see the fuss. But i bet Coca Cola are rubbing their hands with glee.

 

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