Technology can be a pain, no doubt. It used to be, when people could not reach you by phone, they just called back. And if you missed your favorite television show, you just waited for the re-runs. And if you had to do your banking after-hours, then you were probably a safecracker.
Technology provides a competitive advantage when you are trying to get your message across.
Home on the Web
Having a Web site, for example, is an excellent way to pitch your business or service 24-7. And when your prospect needs more than an elevator speech, but does not have time, your Web site can provide descriptions, samples, testimonials, prices, terms, and contact information. And it’s cheap. A do-it-yourself Web site can be had for nothing but the cost of your time, if you are willing to spend a few hours learning some free tools. If you pay a professional, you can get a very nice-looking customized site with special functions, usually for less than $2,0000.
Haven’t gotten around to building one yet? Your competitors have. Just search online, and you will see.
It is nice to spend a week or two incommunicado on some sunny foreign beach, but it is not a practical way to run your business these days. Even if you do not choose to use it, you need the ability to check in with your messages, email, fax, and voice mail, while away from the office. You may be just across town, or halfway across the world, but being unavailable will, one day, cost you money.
In the late 90’s, I traveled to southeast Asia for several weeks to visit friends, and do some consulting work. There was a 17-hour time difference between Singapore and my business clients in the UK, and an 11-hour difference between Texas, where I was also consulting. Mobile telecommunications were not as sophisticated as today, and I only had access to dial-up Internet connections.
I signed up with a service called Jfax (now J2), which provided a number that I gave out as my main business number. Clients left voice mail, or sent faxes as normal, and J2 converted those to email, and sent them to my inbox. I used a Web-based mail client (like Hotmail or Gmail), and accessed while in Asia. Sure enough, I received important business faxes and emails related to work. I was able to respond in a timely fashion, and close the sales, and respond to my existing clients with needed information.
In today’s hyperconnected world, that may seem like child’s play, but it’s not. You still need to think about your needs, and set up an infrastructure which gives you that flexibility for the future.
Part of effectively communicating your message is having the tools in place to broadcast it, and receive feedback. Otherwise, your customers may be talking, but nobody is listening. Or vice-versa.