“I’m a technophobe!”
“Can you just tell me over the phone? I don’t like email.”
“Everything happens online nowadays! Does anyone actually bother to talk to people in real life?!”
The above are a quick glance through some of the more bizarre statements that some people make. Their case is always the same: technology is bad, they can’t keep up with it – and they don’t even want to.
Perhaps you’re like that; those statements above might sound a little bit too familiar. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being anti-technology. You can celebrate doing things the old fashioned way; with pen to paper rather than finger to keyboard. That’s fine; it’s your decision.
If you’re a business owner though, it’s not fine. You just can’t afford to be a technophobe when it comes to business.
There is now a realistic possibility that if you don’t get social media right, customers will avoid your business. Your online marketing strategy could make or break your success, even if your product or service is entirely online. You might not be on board with changing trends, but everyone else is going to be. The result is you left behind in the dust.
It’s almost certain you know this. It’s impossible to have looked for business advice and not seen how much of it focuses on the online world, even for offline products. It just can’t be something that you continue to ignore.
The Change Is Coming – For Every Business
Let’s take a friendly, reliable, old-as-time business such as a plumber. Once upon a time, if you had your own plumbing business, you might have distributed flyers or gotten listed in a directory. Customers would call you for a quote; you’d go around, agree a price and they’d pay when they received the bill. Simple and analog.
A plumber in 2016, however, has a different experience. Now, quotes come through tradesperson websites. Or a business has its own website, and the first time you speak to a customer is when you arrive at their house, with the job already agreed. You may carry a card reader so they can pay with a credit card on the day. As for advertising, you’re as likely to invest your time in social network marketing as bother with flyers. The core nature of the business – fixing plumbing – has stayed the same, but the method of it has changed beyond all recognition.
If you’re still thinking you’re in a niche that is going to be digital proof, it’s a thought you need to end right here and now. “Pillar of the community” services are going through the same change, so why should you be different? That’s no flippant statement, either. Legal advice can be obtained online, and cloud telemedicine technology is going to reduce the need to see a doctor in person. Nothing is safe.
You Don’t Have To Be Comfortable With It
There is no way someone who has previously dismissed technology is suddenly going to become a convert. You don’t have to discover a new love, abandoning the old ways. Say you’re a GP and you flinch at the idea of not being able to actually touch a patient to examine them. That’s probably not going to change; you can’t just get over the mental hurdle if it doesn’t come naturally.
You do, however, need to see the reality of it. In the above scenario, people still need help, and it’s your responsibility to do it. If there is a demand for a new service or a new way of doing things, it’s your job as a businessperson to meet that need. It might not be something you agree with or would prefer to do, but you still have to do it.
Don’t Rely On Others Like You
You may be thinking that it’s all well and good for a new generation to want everything to be online, but some will still seek out the old ways. You can even position yourself as a bastion of the way things used to be – it’ll be a good thing!
Not going to happen. Remember the days when no one would shop online as they assumed it was unsafe? That your credit card details would be hacked every time? That it would never catch on compared to shopping in a store?
Now, everyone is totally okay with it. Online shopping is standard; celebrated; threatening retail outlets that once stood against it. People change; their habits change; they become more accepting. So while you may be okay for the moment, the same can’t be said for 12 months time. If you run a clothing boutique, for example, you’re going to actively harm yourself if you don’t also offer online options. This is the way things are going – and it is happening in every niche.
So What Can You Do About It?
Research is the only answer. Rather predictably, it begins online. Go and look at your competitors and the tech solutions they are offering. Look at the sites that might be shortening the process of getting customers into services. Then sign up for them and join in the crowd.
If you don’t already, you need a social media presence. Customers want to be able to feel like they can check and verify a new company; social media is the best way to do that. You don’t need to be sending Tweets every day, but just an active presence engaging in your chosen area will suffice. This won’t just help an existing customer base, either – do it right, and you’ll bring new eyes to your business as well.
Finally, if all of the above sounds a bit too much, consider hiring in someone for whom it comes naturally. If you’re swimming against the tide of what you’re comfortable with, then don’t force it. Acknowledging it’s an area you need to focus on is the most important thing – you don’t need to become a guru overnight. It’s a worthwhile investment to bring in an expert, so don’t hesitate to do it.