If you are a small business, you know that you need to keep up with technology and incorporate it into all that you do. Failing to do so is a sure way to lose money.

But technology can be overwhelming for many people. Are you a small business owner who has no idea how to move their business online? Does the prospect of crafting a social media strategy seem completely unnerving? Does technology in general make you feel completely inept? Don’t worry—you are not alone.

No matter why you have been unwilling or unable to embrace technology, the fact remains that if you don’t embrace it, you are missing out on customers and ultimately, profits. Knowing you need to utilize technology doesn’t make it any easier to do so, however.

Technology can be downright intimidating, especially for someone with no background in IT. And before you decide how to implement technology, you need to know what type of technology to implement. Here are the first steps to take in your journey toward moving your business into the digital age:

  1. Go Mobile. You must have a responsive website. In other words, your website must work well on all types of mobile devices, from tablets to smartphones.
  2. Get Social. Today, engaging with your customers online is as important as engaging with them at the cash register or on the phone. You don’t need to be on every social media site but you do need to be on at least a few of the major ones.
  3. Embrace Big Data. You may be a small business but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to take advantage of big data. If you are not collecting information about your customers and prospects by tracking their purchases and online habits, for example, you are missing out on huge opportunities to increase your sales numbers.

The next thing you need to understand is how to implement technology. This can be especially difficult if you have no background in IT or run a small business that cannot afford one IT staffer, let alone an entire department.

First and foremost, if you know nothing about technology, you need to find a partner that does. In almost all cases, that means an IT outsourcing firm. Most small business owners are surprised to learn how affordable such firms are—especially when they consider the return on their investment.

The right outsourcing firm will design a responsive website for your business. It can even manage this website. Further, such a firm can get you up and running on social media and take care of day-to-day tasks, such as posting on Facebook and tweeting. Finally, an IT outsourcing partner will make sure you are getting the most out your data.

Technology is a big deal. Implementing it doesn’t have to be if you know where to turn for help!

Happy Employees, Healthy Profits

If you are a business owner in the unenviable position of dealing with unhappy customers you are likely working hard to find out why your customers feeling are this way. One place you might not be looking to as the source of your customer satisfaction issues—but should be—is the happiness level of your employees.

According to several studies, businesses whose employees are happy, motivated and engaged have almost twice the amount of revenues as those whose employees are unhappy, unmotivated and disengaged. It is not hard to understand why. After all, when was the last time you were motivated to do business with someone who seemed miserable?
So how can you make sure that your employees are happy and engaged? Many business owners believe higher salaries and better benefits will do the trick, but this is rarely the case. Instead, making sure employees understand the important role they play in customer satisfaction is often the key.

The happiest employees know their customers well because they have a great deal of information about their customers. This helps them to better understand their customers and feel more in control. They also are able to better relate to them. It makes sense. Helping someone you feel as if you know is much more satisfying than trying to please someone you know almost nothing about.

It is also important that specific customers are always directed to the employees that specialize in what these customers need and have a specific knowledge of the products and services they require. This allows employees to better do their job which leads to a satisfied customer. And satisfied customers are more likely to provide positive feedback. Positive feedback is a great motivator so employees who receive such feedback will work even harder. When this cycle continues to repeat itself, everyone wins—the customer, the employee and the business owner.

If you still aren’t convinced that happy employees are the key to increased profits, consider this: Profits at companies that were recognized by Forbes Magazine in 2014 as one of the top 100 companies to work for saw an increase in profits of over 22 percent from 2014 to 2015.

Investing in the happiness of your employees can send your employees’ spirits—and your revenues—through the roof. And that gives everyone something to smile about!

Mobile Advertising Critical to Connecting with Customers

Mobile advertising allows businesses to connect with their customers anywhere and anytime. Despite this fact, many businesses have yet to capitalize on this booming trend.

While most businesses have made their websites mobile friendly, many have yet to make the leap into mobile advertising. This is unfortunate since mobile ads make connecting with customers and prospects fast, simple and effective.

Recent marketing studies show that 70 percent of consumers will contact a business after conducting a mobile search. A study by Google also shows that more than 80 percent of smartphone users will check competitor prices before making an in-store purchase.

To illustrate how far mobile advertising has come, consider that many brick-and-mortar stores are now incorporating mobile services into their physical stores. For example, interior GPS tracking allows retailers to offer promotions and information based on what aisle an individual is walking through at any given time.

If you are taking a wait-and-see approach to mobile advertising, don’t! Experts say that the use of mobile advertising is skyrocketing and will continue to explode in the very near future.

If you have yet to formulate a mobile marketing strategy, fear not. Listed below are some of the most essential mobile marketing techniques that you need to implement as soon as possible. By doing so you will be able to grab the attention of current and prospective customers wherever they may be!

  1. Create a quality app. Apps allow customers to interact with your business without having to access the internet. Plus, when your app is on their phone or mobile device, they are reminded of you every time they use that device.
  2. Add value. A great looking, easy-to-navigate app is important, but make sure it offers something of real value. Does it make a customer’s life easier? Solve a problem? If an app is all show and no substance, people will quickly tire of it.
  3. Get personal. Apps can collect a great deal of user information but if this data is not collected and analyzed it is useless. Take full advantage of user insights to personalize the mobile experience for individual customers and sales leads. Collected data also can be used to make sure that you are capitalizing on your most effective marketing efforts.
  4. Integrate. Make sure your mobile marketing strategy follows your customers and prospects wherever they go—from their laptop to their phone to the social media sites they visit the most. Today’s consumers expect a seamless experience no matter where they are or what device they are using. If you aren’t providing that type of seamless experience you can be sure that someone else will.

Implementing a successful mobile advertising and marketing strategy that evolves with your customers can be challenging but the payoff is huge. Likewise, failing to implement a mobile strategy can have equally devastating consequences for your business.

Emotional Intelligence and Authenticity the Keys to Succeeding at Work

One of the factors critical to your success in the workplace is your emotional intelligence (EQ). Researchers have found that people with high EQ perform better and make more money than those with low EQ.

EQ is defined, in part, as the ability to recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others. In order to reap the benefits of a high EQ, however, you must be genuine, as well. In fact, as Travis Bradberry writes in his article, 12 Habits of Genuine People, EQ on its own won’t do anything at all when it comes to your job performance.

The article cites a recent study from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington that found people are skeptical of EQ unless the person with EQ is authentic, as well. When it comes to farmers and ranchers, this is particularly true.

Farmers and ranchers have little time for slick salespeople who aren’t genuinely interested in what they need to succeed. While Bradberry’s article doesn’t touch on the Ag industry specifically, it is an important reminder for those who work in that industry.

It’s not enough to just go through the motions, trying to demonstrate qualities that are associated with emotional intelligence. You have to be genuine.

It is easy to see why farmers and ranchers are attracted to salespeople who have a high EQ but are also genuine.

Genuine people know who they are. They are confident enough to be comfortable in their own skin. They are firmly grounded in reality, and they’re truly present in each moment because they’re not trying to figure out someone else’s agenda or worrying about their own.

Bradberry lists the 12 habits of genuine people, including they treat everyone with respect; they are trustworthy; they aren’t driven by ego; and they aren’t hypocrites.  If you want to be the best marketer or salesperson you can be, you would be well to develop these habits. Whether you are selling irrigation systems or electronics, without these habits it is unlikely that you will be successful doing it.