Everyone wants to sell more and work less. Intrinsically this statement infers greater profits, less labor and a more efficient operation. The Internet has changed the way businesses sell and market, or at least it has for some businesses. The days are coming to a close that organizations are more concerned with the facade of their building than they are with their website, or at least those days should be coming to a close.
Today, businesses large and small, should embrace web marketing plans and inexpensive cloud based solutions to optimize their efficiency and improve profitability. These tools range from Sales Force Automation and Contact Management to eMail Marketing and Social Media Marketing tools. Web meeting tools from the likes of Microsoft, Adobe and Citrix are powerful and inexpensive, and video calling from innovative products such as Skype allow real time face to face communication with employees, contractors, clients and prospects. Of course all of the above presupposes a business has an up to date website. Let’s review ten important tips business owners need to accomplish to create a more profitable and virtual operation.
1. Website – It all starts here with a professional, current, Web 2.0 (as of this writing) website. Your website should have an easy to understand value proposition, prominent above the fold call to action, large social media sharing buttons, on page HTML, SEO, blog and video. Today these are the basics and every owner, principal, partner or sales executive should assume that every prospect, partner, client and prospective employee will visit their website. If your offices look great but your website doesn’t, your priorities are inversely proportional in this regard.
2. Web Meetings – If your business has yet to embrace web meetings over traditional meetings, particularly for initial prospect meetings, you’re missing a great opportunity to leverage an inexpensive web selling and marketing tool. Qualify your prospects before driving 60 miles round trip for an initial meeting.
3. Webinars – If you’re thinking about eMarketing, leverage webinars to offer an educational call to action. Succinct, content rich, educational webinars provide a superior platform to showcase your knowledge, or your partners’ knowledge. Remember, you should educate as opposed to “sell” on your webinars.
4. eMarketing – Leverage eMarketing to reach out to highly targeted prospects with a very specific and measureable message. Your marketing message should be clear, concise and compelling, with a call to action which benefits the registrant, as opposed to yourself. Offering white papers, case studies and webinars which educate your prospective client (or client) should be your mantra.
5. Video Conference Calls – Borrowing the circa 1965 Bell Telephone slogan, “It’s the next best thing to being there”, Skype Video (or similar VOIP) offers a much closer approximation to this classic advertisement. I use Skype calls frequently for face to face communication with contractors, clients and prospects. Basic Skype PC to PC calls are free, or for a few dollars a month you can get multiparty video conferencing and screen sharing. Or, if you have GoToMeeting (or similar web meeting solution), you can offer video conferencing with greater screen sharing capabilities.
6. Virtual Employees and Contractors – When you think about profit margins, think in terms of virtual employees and contractors. The more virtual your operation, the greater the benefit to your bottom line. And virtual employees or contractors can often be more productive, unburdened by commutes or other distractions, they can optimize productivity by delivering services in a more flexible working environment. Management of these types of employees and contractors needs to focus on measureable results.
7. Outsource – Where and when possible, outsource non critical operations. For example, if you are a smaller business, it’s easier and more cost effective to host with a well recognized hosting provider (like 1and1 or GoDaddy) than to operate your own in house server. It may be less expensive to outsource marketing activities than to staff internally. Before hiring an admin, consider outsourcing with a virtual assistant.
8. Web Marketing – If you’re thinking of attending a trade show or offering an on-site seminar, reassess your priorities and extend your budget by leveraging web marketing activities. Utilize eMarketing, Social Media Marketing, Web Seminars, Case Studies, Blogs, SEO and other digital marketing efforts as opposed to traditional marketing methods.
9. eCollateral -Use eCollateral not traditional print collateral. Printed collateral is expensive, difficult to distribute, challenging to measure (who actually received it, read it, and did something with it).
10. Video – Video is digital and virtual and ties in nicely to your virtual goals. Offering a message about your value proposition, a recorded webinar, Skype recorded interview or even voice over PowerPoint vlog will help extend your web marketing and virtual reach.
Businesses leveraging these ten tips can become more virtual, more efficient and more profitable. Focusing on web centric, reusable solutions helps improve economies of scale and invest in a web centric foundation to improve the operational efficiency of any organization, regardless of size. If a business lacks the skills or resources to accomplish all of the items above, consider selective outsourcing as an option. Outsourcing doesn’t connote offshore outsourcing, rather an alternative to permanent internal staffing of the activity.