Bringing Your Business into the 21st Century
Staff Writer/ Marketer
Nobody wants to buy an "old" car or an "old" home. But would you consider a "pre-owned vehicle", or "a historic home with character?" Truly, word usage makes a difference. Your products and services need to enter the 21st century. Even packaging has to be trendy and up-to-date to compete in the modern world. Think about your existing product or service and consider whether it has what it takes to survive and flourish in the today's business environment.
No one would argue that things have changed in recent years due to the Internet. Most small businesses in the 21st century cannot hope to succeed without using on-line resources. Customers now look for everything on the Internet, replacing the paper directories of the past. According to a global study conducted by the Nielsen company, over two-thirds of the world's on-line population has made a purchase on the Internet. This is an increase of 40% in two years-- and it shows no sign of stopping!
If your product or service does not have a website, don't delay any longer. Your site will allow potential clients to find you globally, provide 24-hour access to your business information, and increase consumer confidence. Statistics have shown that more and more people now do an on-line search to find the products that they are looking for. There are free web-hosting sites available, or you can hire a web designer who will look at your unique needs and tailor a site that will attract clients and help your business grow.
Without a doubt social media networks like Facebook and Twitter have permeated modern life. Individuals use social media to keep in touch with family and friends and to spread the word about events and other things. However--should your business incorporate social media into its advertising venue? First, consider your audience. Who are you trying to reach and what are you trying to tell them? A good product to include on a social media site, for instance, would be a magazine, an event, or entertainment-related product. A popular method for advertising your product on Facebook has been their "Become a Fan" feature. According to a Nielson survey, there was an increase in ad recall among clients who became fans of the businesses. Good candidates for social media are sites that are updated frequently, or that offer clients different products periodically.
Going green-- not purple, red or pink-- is the trend now. Green is synonymous with the environment, eco-friendly, and helping the world to be a better place. As this interest increases, more people will be looking at how your small business contributes to helping sustain the environment. Clients may choose your product over a competing one for this reason. Do you have an alternative to chemical cleaners, pesticides, or hygiene products? Maybe your company operates in a way that promotes the idea of sustainable resources. A great way to show the world you care is by shipping your products in environmentally-friendly containers. Let your customers know exactly how your company or your products promote the notion of helping the environment. Some possible business ideas might include using recyclable paper in packaging and advertisement, using earth-tones in your advertising, and promoting non-polluting alternatives. Include links to eco-friendly products or articles on your website to let your customers know that you promote and are aware of the need for environmentally friendly products and services. Avoid outdated terms in your products. Substitute words like green, natural, eco-friendly, environmentally safe, and sustainable.
Modern consumers and clients are looking for products and services that offer value along with quality. In an uncertain economy, clients are more aware of, and will try to reduce costs, without substituting quality. If you have an expensive or upscale product, you may want to offer customers a less-expensive alternative or option. For example, if you have a product that you normally sell in units of 12, consider selling in units of 6. It sounds less expensive to the consumer and they are more likely to purchase it. Offer a convenient payment plan to your clients, so the upfront cost does not seem out of reach. Always accept credit cards. It is hard to do business without offering your clients this payment option.
Just as people are looking for products and services that are environmentally friendly, they are looking for healthy products. People are exercising more, eating healthier, and incorporating this thinking into their current lifestyle.
Businesses that cater to this need will flourish in the future. Some good products might be DVD's, or fitness programs can help people stay in shape.
Also, people are looking for vacations and leisure activities that offer an active component. Gone are the days of merely looking out of a tour bus window on vacation. Offer your clients an active experience full of adventure and healthy fun. If you are selling food products, include nutrition facts so people know exactly what they are getting. Promote the healthy aspects of your products. Clients want to know how it will benefit them. Products that also allow older people to stay at home and be more independent will also be big sellers. Emphasize wording such as independence, healthy, active in your marketing and advertising and you will be one step ahead of the competition.
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