With less staff, resources and money compared to large corporations, small businesses have always been the stereotypical underdog. However, thanks to several technology advancements, these small businesses now have the ability to bring their companies up to match the larger competition.
From online project management tools to marketing automation software, modern technology allows small business owners to effectively run their companies and promote services, all while staying out of the red. These new tools are shaping the way the 28 million small businesses in the U.S. are keeping up with larger organizations in a competitive market.
As a small business owner, it can be hard determining what technology you should invest in, the options are endless. Here are just a few advancements in technology that we think help small businesses compete:
1. Marketing Automation
Marketing automation is one of the keys to giving your small business a competitive edge against larger companies. On average, 49% of companies are currently using marketing automation, as it drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity. Marketing automation provides small businesses the tools needed to streamline the most time-consuming processes of marketing. It is a one stop shop to automate repetitive tasks such as email, social media and other website actions. Through one service, small businesses can send eNewsletters, post Tweets, create subscriptions lists, write blogs and so much more. A few examples of marketing automation services include:
These services help small businesses stay in front of their audience through multiple platforms. With more content distributed, small business can create more touch points with their audiences, increasing brand, service and product awareness.
Marketing automation also provides small businesses the opportunity to nurture leads effectively and efficiently. The software allows the sales team to focus on hot leads and send leads not quite ready to commit through a pre-determined sales pipeline. In addition to increasing sales productivity by chasing qualified leads, you can better target your audiences with appropriate messages through the information you’ve collected via your marketing automation software, helping you move customers through the sales pipeline.
2. Digital Advertising
Before the creation of the internet, marketing and advertising platforms consisted of print and broadcast, and was reserved for large companies with hefty budgets. Today, small businesses can leverage digital advertising – banner and search ads, search engine optimization (SEO) and social media advertising – which often reaches your target audience, but at a lower cost.
Digital advertising is not only cheaper than traditional advertising, it also allows you to easily track who is engaging with your ad. It reaches your audience through multiple platforms, allowing you to target a specific demographics and measure the effectiveness. You can track how far your ad is reaching, who is viewing it, how many clicks it receives and average return on investment. From there, you can dissect the data to see who is most interested in your product or service.
Some examples of digital advertising include:
- Display advertising (banner ads, video ads)
- Social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
- Search (SEO, paid search)
Through digital marketing campaigns, small businesses can spread brand awareness, target specific audiences and compete with large companies, with a smaller budget.
3. Project Management Software
Employees working for small businesses tend to wear many hats; juggling multiple roles and responsibilities. Planning a large project can be difficult with employees constantly shifting job functions. An online project management tool can help organize tasks and responsibilities, all on a collaborative and real-time platform. It provides organization and direction, without the price tag of hiring a project manager.
Some project management tools include:
With these tools, small businesses can delegate tasks to individuals or teams, get an overview of all activities and track time spent on projects.
4. Invoicing Software
To successfully manage and operate small businesses, owners depend on receiving payments from customers on time. Invoicing software allows small businesses to generate professional invoices quickly and efficiently. Having a professional invoicing software can help increases your chances of getting paid on time and minimizes the risk of having a payment lapse. The software can track who has viewed and paid your invoices in real time, giving small business owners the information they need to stay in the black.
Some examples of invoicing software include:
These services allow small business owners to track employee-time, request online payments and create reoccurring invoices. With web-based invoicing, small business owners can also cut costs such as paper and postage expenses.
5. Online Payment Services
Going hand-in-hand with invoicing software, online payment services allow clients to pay invoices easily, quickly and efficiently. With the development of online payment services, clients can make payments with a click of a button, taking the stress out of the payment process for small business owners and their customers.
A few examples of online payment services include:
Online payment services allow customer payments to be directly deposited into a designated account. Customers can pay online or on mobile devices with credit cards.
Need help competing with large businesses?
Contact Evolution Capital Partners at (216) 593-0402