The iPad is a great marketing tool for small businesses. By virtue of the buzz the iPad generates, and considering how new it is, you get attention by simply having one.
A lot of businesses hold contests to win an iPad, but I like the way my orthodontist ran his. While I waited to see him, his assistant handed me an iPad with their Facebook Page up. She explained that making a comment on their Wall would enter me to win an iPad (I’m sitting there anyway). If you visit their Facebook Page you’d see I wasn’t the only one who bit.
Here are a few ways small businesses are making the most of the iPad…
To Pitch Services
This is an obvious opportunity, and one you hear the most about – an iPad is an ideal platform to demo products or services. For example, Nadanu use an app to support a good cause. Their iPad app helps them increase donations. People use it to donate to their favorite charity. Their team also has iPads so they can present and demonstrate their offerings at everything from a fundraiser to a casual gathering.
The CEO and co-founder of My Wedding Concierge, Phyllis Cheung, uses an iPad both to add value to his vendors and to show brides options for their wedding. Their wedding search engine aggregates wedding blogs and has an iPad, iPhone and Android app. They’ve also tied it to locations so a bride can search to find nearby vendors. One tap on the pin on a map, and she will see the vendors work and contact information. It also shows blog posts about the vendor, which helps her make an emotional connection (here’s a blog post showing how it works for vendors).
Comedian and actor Dan Nainan uses his iPad for auditions and in meetings with potential clients. He can show them videos quickly, without having to wait for a computer to boot up. He also has his iPad set up on the table with his products after shows. He either has a flashy video playing, or a banner scrolling which reads "CDs and DVDs." People can fill out their name, address and e-mail address to be added to his mailing list.
To Build an Email List
That brings me to an another way small businesses can use an iPad – to collect email addresses for your newsletter. “A bolted iPad at the front register could replace the "sign-up-for-our-mailing-list" sheet says PC Magazine. Combined with a data management app like Bento, you can create mailing lists cross-referenced by customer purchases. Or you can create a "mini-kiosk" for in-store customers to find information. I wish every bookstore did this!
To Take Applications and Go Paperless
Any company that has forms or applications can just about go paperless with an iPad as well as use it to educate clients. Rather than printing MLS listings, an agent could save them as a pdf file and pull them up as they visit houses. Anyone who does in-home demos or door-to-door sales should have an iPad – it just makes it easy to close the deal on the spot.
To Increase Productivity
Philip Chang of Carbon Publicity uses the iPad for their contact database. "Whenever we need to look someone up, we use the iPad instead of turning to our computer. It's been a productivity boost because we recognized this was an application we were constantly using. So, we gave it its own 'screen' via the iPad."
How many times have you had someone train or teach you something new and you wanted to try it right then? An iPad is a great way to introduce interactivity into training because people can actually try what you’re showing them as they learn. Property Solutions does this to educate new tenants how to pay their rent online, fill out a maintenance request and use other features of a properties website. When people see how to use a service, you increase the chances that they’ll actually use the tools (and save you money).
Has your small business used an iPad as a sales or marketing tool? Please share!
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Janet Meiners Thaeler is an Evangelist for OrangeSoda Inc. and the principal blogger for their corporate blog and Twitter account. She regularly advises clients on blogging and social media strategies. Her own blog is Newspapergrl.com (and Twitter account @newspapergrl). She is passionate about online marketing and is always looking for new insights, resources and trends to help her clients.