Let me ask you a question. Have you found a way to separate your small business from your local competition? Do your potential customers understand your competitive difference? Standing out is a major challenge for most small business owners.
When I was in the carpet business, we sold the major carpet brands, Shaw, Mohawk and Belieau. The problem, so did every other carpet store. We tried to distinguish our business by our brand of customer service. This gave us some repeat business. But every business promises the best customer service in the world. How were we different!
As a small business owner, if you cannot make your business stand out from your competition with unique products or services, you will be forced to compete on price. Few small businesses succeed on price selling!
Let me suggest another alternative. In 2013, you have the opportunity to separate your business from the competition by making your business “Mobile First.” Mobile First means you view every aspect of your business operation from a mobile access perspective. You are not just accommodating mobile friendliness. You embrace the changes mobile access brings. If you make your business Mobile First, you will separate your business from your competition.
Let me show you how and why Mobile First can accomplish this for your small business.
Mobile First Means Customer Control
Mobile First means you recognize that mobile customer controls the business relationship. Mobile customers choose how they will learn, where they will learn and when they will learn. 91% of smart phone users keep their phones within three feet. 51% of the mobile users continue to access the internet with their devices at home. They control the business relationship.
Mobile First Means Mobile Friendly Websites
The starting point for Mobile First means you change your internet presence to make your website mobile friendly. Try accessing your competitors on your smart phone. 80% of their websites cannot be read on mobile phones. The images are too big. The text is too small. It takes too long to load on the phone screen. The buttons are too small to navigate with your thumbs. Websites that maybe brilliant on a desk top computer, maybe useless on a mobile phone.
In previous posts, I showed how to test your website for mobile accessibility and the ways you can modify your website to make it mobile friendly. You can go to these posts for more details. If your website is inaccessible on a mobile phone, you online commerce will be dead.
Mobile First Means Different Content
Making your business mobile first is more than fitting things on a smaller screen. The real challenge is that Mobile searchers want specific pieces of information. Since they often view the information on the fly, they don’t have time to try viewing long streams of irrelevant information. Business owner need to ask the question, “What information is most critical for my customers?””What are the core items in my business offer?” “ How can I use text and limited images to express a simple version for my customers?”
This means you have to examine every piece of information you are using so that it is concise and to the point. It is what your mobile customer wants.
Mobile First Means Catering to a Different Shopper
Mobile searchers are more immediate shoppers. They want to see their buying possibilities quickly. They use their devices to price compare their purchases. Mobile ads and coupons have already made an impact on the mobile user. Ads and coupons feed directly into the immediacy and price comparisons, two elements that mobile searchers bring to the market that are traditional website shoppers do not make a priority.
Mobile First Means Changing Your Emails
Mobile First means that you have modified your email processes to become mobile friendly. Any email subject line more than 5 words becomes unreadable on most mobile phones. Over 1/3 of today’s customers open their emails with their phones. Here is the post on making your emails mobile friendly.
Mobile First Means Changing Your Sales Process
A traditional sales process might look like this. On their home computer, a potential customer goes online to identified potential products and businesses that could solve their problem. Using the information from their online search, they select one or two businesses to investigate and compare potential solutions to their problem.
The use of mobile access in the purchasing process changes this sale dynamic. What do you do with the customers who are in your store and use mobile access to check prices and options from your competitors?
Experts call this “showrooming.” Almost half of the mobile users use their phones inside the stores to check prices and competitive options. Where does “showrooming” fit in your sales funnel?
Just this afternoon, my wife was in Barnes and Noble looking for a graduation book. The clerk could not find the book. My wife, used her phone to access Amazon with all of the information about the book. The clerk used this information to find the book.
Will you or your staff need retraining in light of mobile searches? 73% of the smart phone users say they would rather use the phone than talk with retail staff.
Mobile First Means Different Business Hours
Mobile Access Surveys Show…
- 42% of customers with mobile access expect a response to their questions within 60 minutes.
- 57% expect the response nights and weekends the same as daytime hours.
If your mobile access customers have these expectations for your customer services, how are you going to meet them? What are your new business hours?
Mobile First Means More Customer Complaints
If a customer dislikes their experience with you, their smart phone becomes an instant weapon to satisfy their negative experience. It’s not unusual to see people sitting in a restaurant, tweeting negativity without speaking to customer staff. Hotel managers report they see more complaints on Trip Advisor than they do at their front desk.
Most customers do not like to complaint. They would rather avoid the confrontation and disagreements that are involved in the complaint process. With mobile devices, people do not need to call out a business face to face. They use their smart phone and put their negative experiences directly online. They get personal satisfaction without the person to person confrontation.
Beyond these elements, you have mobile apps, mobile advertising, mobile text messaging and new forms of mobile payments processes. Mobile has become the new desk top. The changes mobile access brings are more profound than dealing with smaller screens. Mobile access is forcing businesses to create a different experience with customers from first contact, through showroom experiences, to new payment processes.
You have the opportunity to be one of the first small businesses in your niche to fully embrace Mobile First. By embracing mobile and its ramifications, you will clearly separate yourself from your competition. It will position your business for a very bright future.
Share your ideas on how mobile first can set your business apart from the competition…