“Have a bias toward action – let’s see something happen now. You can break that big plan into small steps and take the first step right away.”

- Indira Gandhi

Click Open Your Bible App and Swipe to …

I forgot my Bible yesterday. The book, not the app.

YouVersion Bible App The group of folks we gather with on Sunday mornings are all over the map demographically, and pretty much everyone is there for worship and some form of inspiration, invitation, or instruction. 

We gather in a large building in a strip mall. Looks like it could’ve been a grocery store at one point. There are rows of chairs near the stage area and folding tables well behind those rows.  I like to sit at one of the tables so during the message, I can spread out my book and paper to capture thoughts.

As soon as we got in the car yesterday, I realized I left my notepad and Bible on my desk. But I knew I was covered. I always have YouVersion in my pocket. I’m not the only one.

Maybe it’s because I was relying on my mobile yesterday, but I noticed a lot of devices being used. A visitor from Illinois snapped a picture on the way in (he was “checking in”). During worship, one person used an app to find out the name of the song being sung. When the message started, I saw laptops, tablets, and handhelds clicking and swiping to the passage being read.

By using the app, I was able to highlight, take notes, and cross-reference easily. I shared some of what I gleaned with family using social apps.

The use of mobile devices, whether you use one or not, is becoming more pervasive in all areas of life. Shopping. Health. Connecting. And churching.

In recognizing this spread, we can better prepare to serve the use of these devices. Are you recognizing these growing opportunities?

 

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Desktop Display Advertising is Dying [Guest Post]

Guest post by Caleb Page

In a world where you can monitor emails, update websites, and play games with mobile, it’s questionable how much time you need to spend in front of a desktop or laptop computer. You can even check airfares, make plane reservations, and then use your smartphone as the boarding pass.

As a small business owner, I love the ability to check bank balances (and make that once in a while transfer) from the comfort of my couch, car, or bed. At day’s end, it’s great to make the deposits using photos of the checks received.

With JPMorgan predicting a ¼ – ½% fourth quarter GDP increase due to the release of the iPhone5, all small business owners must pay attention to how they invest their online advertising spend.

Small Business and Mobile Customers

But the above examples are about your convenience, the business owner. What is it your customers are doing on handheld devices? There are quite a bit of studies that have already been done with Google leading the way.

For a fun afternoon of reading, look at thinkwithGoogle. Here are some points that should get your interest:

  • 77% of the time viewers watch TV, it is with another device; 49% with a smartphone, 34% with a laptop. My three year old has watched more Netflix on his mom’s Android than her PC. We don’t even own a TV. This makes commercials kind of difficult.
  • For those that are curious about who is buying using smartphones, look at the infographic below – 35% of handheld device owners make purchases using their smartphones:

mobile-consumers

A September 2012 Pew Internet & American Life Project report update on smartphone ownership finds “45% of American adults own smartphones. They are particularly popular with young adults and those living in relatively higher income households; 66% of those ages 18-29 own smartphones, and 68% of those living in households earning $75,000 also own them.” Here’s their infographic:

Smartphone-consumers

For more trends information, look at this presentation by Tim Peter:

 

Small Business and Mobile Marketing

In one of my businesses, I recently compared our desktop and mobile Adwords campaigns and found that the cost per click of mobile keywords was nearly 30% less than those in the desktop campaigns:

mobile-adwords

A quick check of Analytics data showed over 23% of traffic was coming from handheld devices – here’s a snapshot from that business over the same period:

mobile-analytics

 

What are small business owners doing? Web.com’s infographic shows 61% of small business owners are not currently promoting their site through mobile search:

mobile-businesses

Small Business Mobile Action Plan

What can you do right now?

  1. Get a smartphone. If you want to attract customers, you need to start shopping like they do. It’ll cost you a couple of hundred bucks and a two year commitment. The insights you’ll get about your customer base are easily worth the investment. If you prefer (or if you think your kids or significant other will prefer), get a tablet. It will make you feel like a hero at home and it should be a business expense, although I’m not an accountant.
  2. Look at your website on a smartphone. Try calling your business, requesting a quote, buying something, whatever it is you want your prospective customers to do. Think about how the experience felt to you.
  3. Get your website optimized for smartphone. Mike’s Small Biz Tracks are just the solution. You’ll be surprised at how inexpensively you can get your website converted. There are free options, paid do it yourself options, and paid full service options. It’s all a matter of how you like to spend your time. Personally, I’m going to get back to taking more deposit pictures of checks.

About the author: Caleb Page is a business strategy expert who owns multiple service businesses. You can read more insights at his small business blog.

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Adapting with Curiosity: It’s Attitudinal, Not Generational

Generation Attitudes The crutch that is, “But these kids today, they grow up with this stuff,” still happens too frequently. Some are growing old leaning on this excuse.

Let me invite you back to your own past, to your toddler years. You probably played with every button and dial you could find.

Maybe it was that old Fisher-Price toy that spoke back to you in a, “Moooo” or a “Baa-a-a-a” sound. Or your dad’s 10-key adding machine that spit out paper if you hit the right buttons.

Or the television dial. Buttons on the car radio. Keys on the typewriter. Magnets on the fridge. Imagination plus imitation.

I’ve had people younger than I say they don’t get this stuff like the kids do. And when we ask the kids how they know this stuff, they shrug their shoulders.  They’re comfy with technology, not savvy. Get likewise.

The savvy will come when you adapt with curiosity.

“You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you.” – Barbara Sher

Happy (and Curious) Learning

photo credit: tasslehoff84 via photopin cc

Looking at Your Business from a Customer Perspective

Window-Shopping “That doesn’t matter to me, I don’t use a smartphone or tablet.”

That was his response when our talk turned to what users saw when looking at his website on a mobile device.

In asking how many of his customers or prospects might use a mobile device, his answer was predictable: “Not Many.”

How about within the next year or two?

It can be difficult to look at your business through the eyes of your customer, but you must look through the Customer Perspective often:

  • Is that window display compelling enough to bring them into the store?
  • Are my ads convincing or just corny?
  • Do my website visitors have a clear path to find what they are looking for?
  • Can a mobile user click on my phone number to call?

Looking over your business – and all its touch points – as best as you can, see with a sort of bifocals, if you will: One from your own perspective, another from your customer’s eyes.

As for our friend who doesn’t own a mobile device, his website is built using WordPress. With the Jetpack plugin’s new Mobile Theme, we were able to quickly, painlessly, make his site readable on a mobile device.

 

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Whistle Stops (10/07/12): A Fistful of Resources

Hare are some of this week’s resources I’ve shared on Twitter (see Why and How I Use Twitter):

 

 

#BeTheResource

*Note: All the links above are working links and you can interact with them as they are “live” on Twitter using the Twitter “embed” feature to bring these directly to this post.

Capturing Conversation Using Skype and Snagit

Ginger Johnson and her WEB mobile I was visiting with Ginger Johnson of Women Enjoying Beer yesterday as she was packing things up and going to the Great American Beer Festival ’12 in Denver, and we decided to shoot some video.

Keep in mind that Ginger is in Oregon, I am in Nebraska. We visited via Skype. I turned on Snagit to capture the conversation audio/video.

I asked a few questions (and then edited my voice out) and now we’re uploading snippets (edited in iMovie) to her site and YouTube.

“Face to Face” yet not “Belly to Belly”. The latter is better, but not always possible.

If you’re looking to shoot some video, have some video edited and uploaded, or just want another voice to coach along during your recording – it’s one of the new SmallBizTracks offerings we provide.

If you’re going to the GABF12, make sure to visit Ginger and her team (look for the T-Shirts).

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“Face-to-Face” May Not Be “Belly-to-Belly” in the Near Future

Skype Business Calls Is one-on-one Video Conferencing transactions in your company’s future? Or how about one-to-many webinar or small group meetings?

Maybe it’s time to start thinking about using this “face-to-face” technology.

Upon reading the headline, iPhone, iPad Video Banking Could Spell The End For Branches, I thought it was just another sensationalist piece at first. At the least, a story about testing of such tools. But it’s being put into play in some parts and close-at-hand with some large institutions.

“If customers can get face-to-face service over the internet, why would they ever need to step foot in a branch again?”

Though I don’t think branch banking will end any time soon, how will other businesses – large and small – begin to adopt one-on-one Video Conferencing technology.

My own use of Skype and Google Hangouts is growing, increasing revenue and reducing costs. And for my customers, it’s great to be able to meet quickly – even if we’re two time zones away.

Want to see if Video Conferencing is right for you? Schedule a free complimentary discovery session. We’ll use Skype or Google Hangout and talk about using this type of tool in your business. (Plus, it will be great practice for you).

It’s “Face-to-Face”, just not “Belly-to-Belly”.

3 Simple Guidelines for QR Codes

Sample QRcode Questions about QR codes (Quick Response) are frequent and in many cases, more advanced than simply “What’s a QR code?

Even if the question is about how QR codes work, I interpret the question to be “How will a QR code help my business?” or “What’s the best way to use a QR code?

There are three guidelines I offer in using QR Codes:

  1. Point to something besides your home page – If you’re just going to point to your “www” spell it out so everyone can read it. Better practice is to create a unique “landing page” to welcome your mobile visitor or send them to a page within your site targeted for the specific audience you’re trying to attract. An example might be a restaurant pointing to a menu that is good to grab-and-go (remember, visitors will be on a mobile device).
  2. Don’t be a moving target – Have you ever seen a QR code on a billboard or the side of a vehicle. Tough to capture if either the QR code or the mobile user is moving. I could see it work on the back of a vehicle if it’s often parked in a public place, such as a job site or in an area with heavy foot traffic.
  3. Track results – Always test and track. You can use unique URLs or shortened URLs to help track where your mobile visitor comes from and if they took an action. QRickit has a terrific guide on tracking QR code traffic.

The are so many ways to use QR code, but two important questions remain: Do they point to or provide value to your customer or visitor? Will they help you reach your business goals?

Wonderful Story: One company is now developing brass QR codes for headstones so grieving families can attach to the after-life memorials of their loved ones.

Setting up QR codes, Landing Pages, and ways to track your traffic are each one of the small steps a business can take towards bigger results. They are what I’ve been calling “SmallBizTracks” – small steps, simple, affordable.

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Whistle Stops (9/29/12): A Handful of Tweets

Hare are some of this week’s resources I’ve shared on Twitter (see Why and How I Use Twitter):

*Note: All the links above are working links and you can interact with them as they are “live” on Twitter using the Twitter “embed” feature to bring these directly to this post.

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