The latest Verizon Small Business Commercial features Susie’s Lemonade Stand where we find our next young entrepreneur, Susie, quickly growing her lemonade stand into a thriving enterprise, using her dad’s mobile phone. The commercial is a little far-fetched but Verizon is trying to tell small business owners something very important: They have a customer generating and loyalty business machine at their fingertips.
"By 2015, it’s estimated that shoppers from around the world will spend about $119 billion on goods and services bought via their mobile phones,” according to Mobile Marketing and Technology. That speaks to how integrated mobile devices have become in our lives. Smartphones have a unique ability to connect your target market to your product or service. The only thing missing is figuring out all the cool ways you can use these nifty mobile devices to grow your business and your brand.
1. Create QR Codes and offer coupons
Two dimensional codes are a growing trend. You’ll see these black and white squares on printed ads and in store fronts. All you need is any of the free apps that you can get with your device. NeoReader is one of the most popular for iPhone, Android and Blackberry.
2. Take payments
Unless you’re in the retail business, accounts receivables and collecting payments could chew up hours, if not days, of a small business owner’s life. PayPal has a terrific app that you can use on your Android, iPhone or Blackberry, which allows you to bill and pay customers while you’re on the go.
3. Run surveys
New mobile survey platforms like SurveySwipe have an interface that’s almost game-like and combines the interaction of Facebook with the analytical power of an online survey platform. Companies can commission benchmarking and branding surveys that are triggered when SurveySwipe app holders enter a specific store. After spending a minute taking a survey, respondents are rewarded with points they can redeem with Amazon or for participating iPhone Apps.
4. Customer service
If you’re using any of the common online CRM tools like Salesforce.com or even if you are working inside a larger system like Oracle or SAP, you may have access to a variety of customer service app extensions that will help you manage customer service and will help your customers and field service representative connect with you at any time.
Create an app with how-to instructions that provide access to YouTube videos or Camtasia screen capture videos that will walk your customers through some of the most common processes or functions.
6. Marketing, advertising and buying
eBay has been one of the most successful mobile marketers in the last couple of years. Their apps allow users to browse auctions, and be notified of specials, and alerts on the products that they are bidding on. eBay’s success comes from their ability to stay connected to their customers while they are on-the-go and shorten the selling cycle. You can do the same thing without using a fancy app. Start by using simple text message notifications. Companies like Fanminder make it easy for small businesses to take advantage of this mobiletrend without breaking the bank.
The majority of consumers choose to be persistently connected and to multi-task during those small slices of down time while they wait in lines or for appointments. The data shows that they choose to spend that time interacting on a mobile device. The easier you can make it for customers to interact, learn, share and buy from you—the more they will.