Tag Archive for 'mobile apps'

Are you ready for mobile primetime?

Somewhere in America a small business owner just experienced an anxiety attack that included breaking out in a cold sweat, because he had just discovered two things:

  • Half of the prospects and customers in his market cannot find his business.
  • Half of the calls his prospects and customers want to make to his business never get through.

Pretty scary, huh?! Glad that’s not your nightmare, right?! Well, hold on to that thought as you digest the following information.

Currently, about 100 million Americans own smartphones and that number is growing exponentially. That’s about half of the U.S. population who are likely to own a smartphone sometime in the near future. Here’s the math: 300 million Americans, minus children and others not likely to own a smartphone equals about 200 million, of which half already own smartphones.

So what are 100 million Americans doing on the tiny screens of these magic wands? Besides making calls, texting and sending emails, they are:

  1. Shopping online – making decisions about what they want and who to buy it from.
  2. Navigating to businesses – the one they chose while shopping, or the one previously unknown to them that pops up in their local search.
  3. Buying stuff – using PayPal, credit card, or internal charge in the case of an established account.

But in order to do all three of these things in such a way that makes it easy-peasy for the smartphone owner, the business has to be mobile-ready. That means having all of your business information and resources compatible with the smartphone form factor and technology in at least two ways:

  1. Online information is optimized for mobile search, especially local search.
  2. A mobile website option is available to smartphone users.

By now you get the picture that the anxiety attack of the small business owner mentioned earlier is because his business isn’t ready for mobile primetime. So how dry is your forehead right now?

In The Age of the Customer™, where being relevant to customers is trumping being competitive, a big part of relevance is being fully accessible and high-functioning regardless of how a prospect or customer wants to connect with you. And every day, that connection is increasingly being requested from the palm of the hand.

This will be on the test: Not all small businesses need a mobile app, but all need a mobile website.

Is your business ready for mobile primetime?

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This morning on The Small Business Advocate® Show I talked with Kevin O’Brien, Director of the AppConnect program at our friends, Constant Contact, about including mobile apps in your growth strategy and how to know if your business needs an app or a mobile site. Take a few minutes to click on one of the links below and listen to our conversation — the future of your business could depend on it!

Why mobile apps should be part of your growth strategy with Kevin O’Brien

Does your business need a mobile app or a mobile site? with Kevin O’Brien

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

There’s an app for high tech, not high touch

“There’s an app for that.”

This marketing slogan refers to a mobile app. A mobile app converts content and resources that otherwise would have been consumed through a browser on a computer desktop, to the much smaller and variably shaped screens on the many different kinds of hand-held devices. Mobile apps are proliferating because they are almost always handier and sexier than their website counterparts.

In 1998, broadband Internet connection was in less than 4% of households and almost no businesses. Reporting on this emerging capability, I made the macro prediction that the world would change when broadband Internet became ubiquitous and broadly adopted. Well, broadband ubiquity, today thy name is mobile. The proliferation of WiFi and mobile networks we know as 3G and 4G, has spawned mobile apps which are at once exciting and disruptive.

In 1998, broadband Internet connection was in less than 4% of households and almost no businesses. Reporting on this emerging capability, I made the macro prediction that the world would change when broadband Internet became ubiquitous and broadly adopted. Well, broadband ubiquity, today thy name is mobile. The proliferation of WiFi and mobile networks we know as 3G and 4G, has spawned mobile apps which are at once exciting and disruptive.

A generation before my broadband prognostication, a real prophet, John Naisbitt, published his landmark book, Megatrends, in which he prophesied, “The more high tech we have, the more high touch we will want.” In the 21st century, Naisbitt’s Law, balance technology and humanity, must be the North Star for any successful small business strategy.

So, how does a small business maintain a competitive advantage in the face of pressure from high tech innovation and the primordial human desire for high touch connection? The answer, as with so many 21st century questions, is not either/or, but both/and.

If you want customers to keep your business at their fingertips wherever they are, there’s an app for that. If a customer relationship would benefit from a welcoming smile, there is no app for that.

If a product tutorial video posted on your YouTube channel would help a customer in the field, there’s an app for that. To be able to interpret the troubled look on the face of a customer as a clue that you haven’t yet healed their pain, there is no app for that.

If customers want to check the status of an order they placed with you, whenever and wherever they are, a mobile app can be built for that. If customers do business with you because you remember their face, name and what they like, there is no app for that.

Remember Naisbitt’s Law: Blend and balance the power of high-tech with the humanity of high-touch.

There’s an app for high tech, but there isn’t one for high touch.

Click here to listen to more about blending high tech and high touch.

Check out other great SBA content HERE!

Don’t be a “Killer App” victim

Do you know the term, “killer app?”

Initially coined in the 1990s, a killer app is computer jargon for an application that significantly enhances the value of a larger, host technology. An innovation would be dubbed with this moniker when it became so compelling that the subsequent high adoption rate might literally kill any product and associated businesses that it replaced.

Although no one called it that, perhaps the classic killer app is the internal combustion engine, delivered in its host technology, the automobile. Those invested in the horse-drawn carriage industry – including the proverbial buggy whip – were asphyxiated by that new technology.

Modern killer apps include the Web browser – delivered over the Internet – which changed how we consume media and painfully shifted the paradigms of traditional media – radio, television, newspapers, etc. And ask the U.S. Postal Service about the impact of that little app called the email client – served by the World Wide Web – like Outlook, Eudora, Thunderbird, etc.

Mobile apps – delivered over WiFi and mobile networks – convert content otherwise consumed with a browser on a computer desktop into handy forms developed for the much smaller and variably shaped screens on hand-held devices. Mobile apps are so sexy that they are progressively wounding the personal computer industry. Did IBM see this coming when they sold their global PC business to China’s Lenovo in 2005? Michael Dell, call your office.

In 1998, I began reporting on my radio program about the emerging alternative to Internet dial-up: broadband, aka, “big pipes.” I told my audience then that when broadband Internet becomes ubiquitous the world will change. With the proliferation of WiFi and mobile networks today, the world has changed. Ask any business in an industry that once depended on humans being tethered to a desk, in an office, inside of a building, downtown.

Today, “killer app” is part of the vernacular as a handy metaphor describing any slayer of an entrenched business model. So here are two questions to ask your team in your next meeting: Are we creative and innovative enough to produce a killer app? Or are we so hidebound that we could become the road-kill of someone else’s killer app?

If you’re not trending toward the former you’re slouching toward the latter.

It’s okay to fall in love with what you do, but don’t fall in love with how you do it.

Click on one of the links below to listen or download more about small business killer apps.

Are you an innovator or a killer app victim? with Jim Blasingame

What killer apps are you developing? with Jim Blasingame

Check out other great SBA content HERE!

Mobile apps are in your small business’ future

Recently, a friend said to me, “Apps are everything.” In this case “app” means application.

Webster says an application is something useful. Today, “app” typically means a computer application designed to convert a complicated digital program into a handy but powerful tool that will make life and work more productive.

The hyperbolic reference my friend made was to mobile applications. If you have one of the mobile “smart phones,” like an Apple iPhone or one that uses Google’s Droid software, you know that mobile apps are diminutive digital power tools you can download to your smart phone – Google has thousands and Apple has tens-of-thousands. These apps put a world of capability, information and connectivity literally in the palm of your hand and at the command of a thumb.

According to Google’s CEO, Eric Schmitt, his company expects to be more successful in the future with mobile platforms – smart phones, iPad, etc., than with PCs. However, nothing Schmitt prophesied can happen without the mobile app. If he’s correct – and I think he is – this means mobile apps will become a bigger part of our lives. But more importantly, they will become a bigger part of our customers’ lives. And that possibility is something on which every small business owner must focus today.

Mobile apps, which are too sexy for your desktop, do two very compelling things: 1) They put power in your hand; and 2) They take the cool computer desktop user experience you enjoy to a higher orbit of cool.

Hockey great, Wayne Gretzky, said the key to his success was the ability to skate where the puck is going instead of where it is. If you want to know where your customers are going with regard to how they will find you, connect with you, prefer you to connect with them and even do business with you, you have to start skating toward mobile apps.

Get started by doing these things today: 1) If you don’t own a smart phone, buy one and start using it so you can see what your customers are falling in love with; 2) Hire your web developer to do these two things in this order: a) make sure your online information presents well on mobile platforms; and b) build a mobile app for your business that customers can download to their smart phones.

Whether you’re Google or Grandma’s Diner, mobile apps may not actually be everything, but they are becoming an increasingly essential way for your small business to stay relevant with customers.

Skate to where customers are going: toward mobile apps.

Recently, I talked about movile apps on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen, and be sure to leave your thoughts. Listen Live! Download, Too!




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