Smartphones and the Digital Divide

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Tweet Button How smartphones are closing the digital divide and what that means for your business #mobilemarketing
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With new technologies come, at least at first, newer gaps between those who can afford the new technologies and those who cannot. With the smartphone, this gap is rapidly closing. It is also offering cheaper internet access to those who would otherwise not be able to afford it.

In the United States, the number of people who own a smartphone is, as of this year, at 64%; additionally, 10% of Americans rely on their smartphone for internet access as they do not have broadband access at home; and of households making less than $30,000 per year, 13% are smartphone dependent in this regard.1

Those dependent on their cell phones for internet access use them for innumerous important tasks, including job searchers, healthcare, schoolwork, banking, etc.2 And studies have shown that, contrary to what some may believe, the digital divide (a gap in information technology availability between affluent and less-affluent populations) seems to have shrunk in response to smartphone emergence.3

Thanks to the mobile phone, the world is now a far more interconnected place. Although mobile phones still lag greatly behind laptops with regards to certain features, namely storage space and size, the internet access they provide to such a large percentage of the U.S. population has and will continue to be firmly entrenched in our lives. It is now imperative to adapt to this trend to ensure future relevance, as well as to reach as wide a breadth of people as possible, including those who may not have access to broadband in their homes. Mobile apps and optimized websites are not just a luxury; at this point, they are increasingly becoming the norm. Ask yourself this: When is the last time you have logged onto your website using a mobile device? What you see is probably not easily navigable, and, as such, you may be alienating a large portion of your clientele. Luckily, however, you never have to feel as if you are alone in the endeavor to keep up with technology. Web developers who specialize in mobile apps and websites can help. Contact one today!

          1Aaron Smith, “U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015,” Pew Research Center, April 1st, 2015, http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015/
          2Ibid.
          3Wookjoon Sung, “A Study on the Effect of Smartphones on the Digital Divide,” In Proceedings of the 16th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research (2015): 276.

 

Why Mobile Apps are a key to success: Part 1

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Tweet Button The road to success begins with mobile apps #mobilemarketing #startup #nonprofit
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Mobile apps are all the rage: but you knew that already.

We’re living in a world where tech savviness is a must. News, weather, email, and social interactions are all accessible with a swipe or tap of a finger, and through this constant flurry of high-speed information, have you ever thought about the role of mobile applications in the digital landscape?

If you’re trying to connect with peers, promote an organization, or just gain ground for a cause, the obvious solution would be to look to an information source that can be broadcasted through mobile applications. Why? With smartphones, on-the-go research is accessible in the palm of your hand, and a business or establishment can build customer relations anywhere.

In any given populated place, it’s guaranteed that you’ll see a fair share of people with their heads buried in their phones. If you thought driving and mobile phones was a bad combination, you’ve got another thing coming. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost run into someone who wasn’t looking where they were walking because we were on our phones.

The entertainment factor of mobile apps are virtually endless. The instant-gratification of information, color, and quick interaction on a mobile app is purely enticing. It becomes a part of a daily routine—health and fitness tracking for how many steps taken in a day, ordering a product or service without having to leave the home, personal productivity tools, etc.

Harness the power of mobile applications! Through increased customer and donor engagement, promotional content, and brand recognition, it’s a given that this is the next step for your small business enterprise.

Check back next week for more tips on how to use mobile apps to your advantage!

 

Bad Business Advice to Avoid

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Starting a small business can be a precarious venture, so entrepreneurs are often given to self-doubt. This usually leads small business owners to seek advice and fail to differentiate the good from the bad. As people are all too willing to offer their two cents, the following five pieces of bad advice should serve as red flags:

  1. “Hire people you know.”

The mantra, “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” contains a similar theme: Working with someone you know is a safer bet than employing a random name on a resume. This advice ignores the baggage that generally comes with hiring intimate connections (e.g., the unwillingness to terminate a toxic work relationship in order to preserve the personal relationship). Instead of trying to accommodate your friends, envision the skill-set of the position that needs to be filled and pursue that individual.

  1. “There’s no room for you in the market.”

This statement grossly overlooks the potential for you to carve out a niche market. No market is perfect and thus able to satisfy all consumers. Carefully analyze your target market and position yourself to meet their particular needs, which, consequently, will spell out who you are.

  1. “You have to be cheaper than the other guys.”

Going toe to toe with the established players in a market can be daunting. The clearest strategy would be to start a pricing war, undercutting the competition with outrageously low prices. This cannibalistic pricing strategy assumes that other firms can’t price below you—they can—and there’s no need to test that theory out for yourself. Instead, focus on the value you can provide for your customers and price accordingly.

  1.  “Social media is free.”

Social media is not free. After accounting for the amount of human capital required to maintain a healthy media presence, the costs become very tangible. That said, utilizing social media shrewdly can reap dividends for your business, enabling you to take advantage of social media’s low startup costs.

  1. “You have to spend money to make money.”

This age-old adage is true to a degree. However, when entrepreneurs misinterpret it to the extent that they believe throwing enough money at a problem will magically solve it—decisions become costly. Instead, rely more on creative solutions and keeping costs to a bare minimum. To read the original article, click here: http://mashable.com/2013/09/05/business-bad-advice/

Helpful Tips for Growing and Maintaining Your Small Business

Starting and maintaining your own small business can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some helpful, and inexpensive, tips that can have a high impact in the success of your small business.

1. Use Customer Feedback Wisely. Change is good. If something about your product or services just isn’t working, then take customer feedback into account. Your product is out there to be used, so the user opinion is important. However, their feedback should never harm the integrity of your product or service. Use your best judgment, but definitely read reviews and emails.

2. Have Good Customer Service. As a consumer, the worst thing that can happen when having a problem with a product or service is for your complaints to be ignored or fielded by cranky and rude customer service people. Bad customer service can be a huge turn-off to working with a company in the future. As a small business, be cognizant of how you handle customer service situations and do your best to be courteous and quick in response time. It’s a very small effort, but it can make a huge difference to any consumer, and will keep them coming back to your business over someone else’s.

3. Network! Sometimes, it comes down to who you know, not what you know, that can give your small business an advantage. If you have contacts that can help you, then use them! If you don’t have contacts, try joining some kind of small business organization. If you are in the Connecticut area, look up CSBNG, the Connecticut Small Business Networking Group (csbng.com). Groups like this connect small business owners in the area with each other. They help each other out and are a great way to make contacts if you don’t have many in your field.

4. Use Social Media. Social media is essentially free advertising for your small business. Having multiple social media accounts for your small business is important for reaching a larger audience. The majority of people are on social media, so your possibility of those you can reach is almost endless. Take advantage of everything that social media sites have to offer, like hashtags on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and the like and comment features on Facebook. This will get your small business in the search when people are looking through hashtags. Liking and commenting on pages relevant to your company will allow other pages to see yours, and potentially attract new customers. You can see your reach and chart your progress on Facebook, which can provide insightful statistics for your company. Social media is taking over, and this is one trend that is very important for any small business to jump on.

Tips for More Efficient Meetings

Weekly meetings can sometimes cause feelings of anxiety or disdain from employees. Consider these tips to make your meetings run more efficiently, while still covering everything you need to convey.

  1. Only include the most important information. If it can be sent out in an email while still achieving the same efficiency, then do that instead. Save meeting times for issues or projects that require group discussion.
  2. Try setting a shorter time limit. Instead of hour-long meetings, try limiting them to 30 minutes or less. That way, you’re forced to get out the most critical information first, before the 45 minute mark hits and attention is focused more on the clock than on you.
  3. Change up the location. Instead of having your weekly meetings in the same boardroom, try taking employees outside for a meeting if possible. Sometimes changing up the surroundings can do wonders for creativity and lead to livelier discussions.
  4. Allot time blocks for each topic–and stick to them! While it’s important to let creative discussion flow, try limiting the amount of time spent on topics that don’t need as much discussion. By sticking to time limits, you can efficiently cover everything on your agenda, then go back to topics at the end if it’s necessary.
  5. Get creative! Think of new ways to present information that will keep the attention on the presentation during the meeting, instead of on the food truck outside. If employees are engaged in the information, then they will be more likely to soak it all in and remember it.

Original article: http://mashable.com/2014/09/15/no-more-meetings/

 

It’s Nothing Personal, It’s just Business… (Paul George’s Injury)

Here’s my take on how Paul George’s injury might affect the NBA:

 

First off, the Indiana Pacers, the team that Paul George plays for, will be the most affected. They will lose their best player for possibly the whole year, and, on top of that, will still pay him his eight figure salary. Just recently, the Indiana Pacers received the Disabled Player Exception, which grants them $5.3 million to find a player to replace Paul George. Whatever player they secure in free agency, now, will not compare to the skill-set of Paul George. They will also be playing in a tough division where championship-caliber teams, such as the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers, are in.

It’s rather unfortunate, as the Pacers, prior to the injury, were an elite team seeking an NBA title.  For the NBA league, the injury might affect them in a positive way: As repugnant as this may sound, Paul George’s injury has generated a lot of media discussion, providing the NBA with free publicity. In keeping with the proverb ‘all publicity is good publicity’, having people talking about you is always good. The undefeated boxer, Floyd Mayweather, espouses this view with, “Whether you like me or hate me, you’re still going to watch me.”  

Regardless of how Paul George’s injury will affect the Indiana Pacers and the NBA, we should focus on his health and how to improve players’ safety in the future–instead of financial gain. As Kevin Zimmerman, a SBNation writer, suggests, maybe we should just address a more important and immediate question as to whether there should be changes to safety regulations that could prevent future injuries, rather than discussing business.

But as much as we enjoy playing and watching professional basketball, let’s face it–being a billion dollar industry, professional basketball is nothing personal, it’s just business.

Which raises the question of how small businesses can garner their own free publicity. Many fledgling firms struggle initially to adequately advertise their brand–which is how many fail. Given the economic constraints many small businesses are subject to, their marketing departments are often overlooked and underfunded. However, Marc Davis of Investopedia.com lists 9 tips for getting free publicity for your business, and it, too, involves leveraging the media. Tips: Inform your local media hub of promotions or retirements, new products or services, renovations, company sponsorships or charity events, scholarship programs, product demonstrations, free services, contests, and special events. Furthermore, with the advent of social media, there are a myriad of opportunities.

It’s Nothing Personal, It’s just Business… (NBA players involved in FIBA and Olympics)

Congratulations to the USA Men’s National Basketball team for winning FIBA Gold this weekend. It brought back to mind the injury sustained by Paul George at the USA basketball scrimmage, reigniting the debate about NBA players being involved in international competition. Some claim that George’s incident is evidence that NBA players should not be involved because the risk of injury could cost teams and the NBA a lot of money. Some team owners believe the risk is just too high from both a basketball and business perspective.

Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, tweeted that NBA and players don’t make a dime, but that the revenue generated by them, all go to the International Basketball Federation, Fédération Internationale de Basket-ball (FIBA)and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Further, Cuban claims that, “the greatest trick ever played was the IOC convincing the world that the Olympics were about patriotism and national pride instead of money…” All this might or might not be true, but Mark Cuban has open a whole new perspective.

It is true that the NBA players participating in FIBA World Cup and the Olympics don’t get anything in return. They play to represent their country and compete at the highest level to win, but they do make money for FIBA and the IOC. Money is generated by charging admission to games, selling merchandise, and other promotional incentives. This is where NBA player’s national pride becomes tricky. NBA teams whose players play at FIBA World Cup and/or the Olympics are at risk of getting injured at the expense of their teams. Those teams have spent a hefty amount of money on those players and since contracts are guaranteed, even if they get hurt, they are still obligated to pay them. Usually, player who play in those competitions are the best player on their team who each make roughly, $10-20 million per year. If one of them gets injured, it can hurt  a franchise drastically. Not only will a team pay a player who will not be playing for them, but also have team that is not very good. Having a bad team means fans are not going to watch, and when fans don’t watch, a franchise loses money.

 

Fundraising and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Charitable giving is a noble cause and everyone from large companies, small businesses, to everyday people do it. The benefits include: support for a worthy cause, that warm sense of satisfaction that comes from doing good, and depending on who you are, a nice tax deductible. However, despite all the commotion these days about the ALS Bucket Challenge for Lou Gehrig’s disease, there are still some hiccups to the system.

An article by the Wall Street Journal states that, “Foundation practices today are too bureaucratic, inflexible and cautious, and too focused on short-term objectives.” It focuses on a host of ways to improve charitable giving but here I’m only going to focus on two.
1. Increase the Distribution Percentage
2. Improve Public Accountability
In terms of a Distribution Percentage, foundations simply have to give more money annually. A study has found that, “An increase in the payout rate to 6%, all in grants, would eventually add about $10 billion a year to the coffers of nonprofit organizations” which should not be too much to threaten the foundations themselves.

Secondly, (and this is where the Ice Bucket Challenge comes in) we need an increase in Public Accountability. Call its methods crude if you wish however, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has raised over $40 million dollars since July 29th. Not only can the public be galvanized behind a worthy cause that today’s social media can spread like wildfire; they help keep foundations honest. Yet, this can only be established by, “convert failing or at-risk newspapers into nonprofit organizations.” and with great coverage comes even greater scrutiny. You can be sure that the ALS will be under a very close watch as millions of Americans wonder if their “cold” hard cash, (no pun intended) is indeed being put to good use.

Source: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748704500604574481773446591750

How to gain attention for your small business: 3 ways

Small business owners do not have the luxury to hire public relations professionals who would strive day in and day out to get the maximum media publicity for the company, nor do they have enough resources to help them navigate day to day business. But just like any other company, even small businesses need visibility and the right kind of attention from its target audience.

Forbes online magazine contributor Nicole Leinbach Reyhle talks about three ways by which small businesses can easily gain attention for their business. In her article on Forbes titled 3 Ways to Gain Attention for Your Small Business, Nicole urges small business owners to partner with like-minded people for business, to work with the local community and seek media attention. The points she listed out in the article has been summarized below –

Partner with like-minded people

It helps to partner with like-minded people who can be of help in the business. If you have an event management business, it definitely helps to have friends who are in the flower, bakery or catering business. The influx of new customers is certainly a perk, as are the opportunities to continuously work with businesses that have the same goal in mind of gaining customer attention and succeeding in being a small business owner.

Work with the local community

Sponsoring local events or indulging in charity work for the development of the local community helps to gain visibility for your business. Additionally, when offering your expertise in select situations on a volunteer basis, it’s ideal to make sure you gain business awareness in return. Often this may be with your logo inclusion in community or charity marketing pieces, other times this may include a formal press release about your participation. Be sure you clearly identify in advance what you expect in terms of visibility in exchange of your services.

Seek media attention

Don’t share stories that media expects to hear, share something that is unique. Instead of reaching out to the media with the idea of simply featuring your business, give them a reason to want to feature your business. As a small business owner, you know more than anyone the value in gaining attention for your business. The key is to consistently seek attention while making sure it’s both quality and deserved.

To read the original article click here http://onforb.es/1kUslFJ

 

Masterful Marketing in the “Digital Age”

In the past, marketing channels were limited to television commercials, radio ads, outdoor signage and print. Today, companies and organizations are able to communicate and build relationships with their customers or members through a multitude of channels. Although traditional media outlets like TV and radio are still relevant, social media marketing is captivating both consumers and businesses. Since we are now living in an era known as the “Digital Age”, it is not surprising that almost everyone has some sort of social media account and most likely spends a significant time on it. With that being said, businesses are eager to place advertisements on these platforms and build an intriguing page to attract a large public following. No longer can businesses devote time to just one element of marketing because the increase in channels calls for integration.

A brand’s message must be consistent across each medium in which it interacts with consumers. This is why marketing in today’s ever-changing, instant environment requires more consideration than ever before. Companies and organizations are investing heavily in marketing and advertising departments to take on the task of promoting and building their brand through the endless channels that are now available; however their execution of the marketing plan doesn’t always pan out.

Here are some ways that masterful marketing can be achieved in the digital world:

  • To engage consumer interest on social media, published content must be creative and engaging. Brands who want to draw a large following must provide the public with unique information that simply cannot be found elsewhere.
  • Because the average adult attention span is 2.8 seconds, content must be made so that it can be absorbed quickly. The most effective way to do this is by utilizing visuals to present the public with what you do rather than explaining it through text.
  • Customers want to know brand’s latest updates, news or promotions, however, they do not want that information exclusively. Companies that utilize social media marketing best mostly publish content that relates to enhancing the lives of their customers instead of product/service offerings.
  • With such short windows of opportunity to grab attention, it is crucial for company websites to open in Internet browsers quickly. Not only is it proven that people will abandon sites that take longer to load, slow sites have even been found to rank lower in search engines.

With all of this being said, it is easy to see that the “Digital Age” has brought many new opportunities for marketers, however the difficulty in fighting for consumer’s attention has only increased.

Source: http://mashable.com/2014/07/31/marketing-mistakes/