Blog

August 26th, 2016

2016August26_BusinessIntelligence_AIf genie lamps were out of stock before you could place an order for one, the next best thing to manage and grow your small- and medium-sized business lies in CRM. Short for customer relationship management, a real difference is possible, with the right software of course. With the numerous options out there, finding the most suitable one is like walking into a maze without a flashlight or GPS. We spared you the trouble and rounded up the best CRM software options for 2016:

Since every business differs in terms of size, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to CRM. Thus, varying corporate sizes require unique CRM software that best addresses requirements. We’ll be taking a look at ideal CRM software options for the following categories: businesses in general, very small businesses and ones that are free.

Best CRM Software for Small Businesses: Salesforce

Salesforce has long been considered one of the top-tier CRM solutions, mainly due to its cloud-based nature coupled with full-featured capabilities that cater to businesses of every size. Typically, Salesforce is synonymous with larger enterprises, but that doesn’t mean small- and medium-sized businesses are denied the same perks. Enter Salesforce’s small business edition: with it, SMBs can utilize the robust set of CRM tools at an affordable rate.

Salesforce Small Business Solutions offer packages that are tailor-made for small businesses. With it you’ll be able to fully utilize all that Salesforce has to offer. In order for your company to really thrive, your CRM should be equipped with features such as lead generation, contact and opportunity management, sales forecasting, workflow automation as well as collaborative tools -- all of which can be found in Salesforce. Also, the software is cloud-based, meaning that you can access data and files anywhere at anytime via mobile devices.

Best CRM Software for Very Small Businesses: Insightly

Underneath its simple and navigable facade lies a CRM software that is abundant with capabilities, all of which fit the bill for microbusinesses. Aside from the fact that it has the vital components small businesses really look for in CRM software, it’s also highly scalable to accommodate the growth of your company. Furthermore, Insightly is currently one of the more affordable CRM solutions on the market; there’s even a free version if you wish to test the waters. There are also paid plans available at a fraction of the price when compared with other CRM software solutions.

Even with the free version or paid plans that start at $12, Insightly doesn’t compromise utility with affordability. It comes equipped with all the vital CRM capabilities any microbusiness would need. This includes detailed sales reports, opportunity, contact and project management as well. It’s also scalable to meet the needs of your business as it grows. To top it all off, it’s a cloud-based CRM software allowing you to access data anywhere at anytime via Internet-enabled mobile devices.

Best Free CRM Software: Zoho CRM

Not having to pay for Zoho doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t deliver the necessary capabilities required from CRM software. Zoho CRM provides your business with all the core functions it needs. Moreover, it allows you to onboard up ten users for free. Courtesy of Zoho CRM’s mobile app, you’ll be able be access data regardless of time or location. Here are some of the other features that the free version of Zoho CRM has to offer:
  • 360-view - all the vital information is stored and displayed, allowing you to make the best business decisions. This includes contacts, sale cycles, pipelines, and discover trends. It also helps you identify opportunities.
  • Automation - spend less time dealing with mundane tasks by automating tasks such as lead generation, contact management, calendars and even call logs.
  • Collaboration - Zoho CRM doubles as a social media platform integrating with Twitter and Facebook to link contacts to their social media accounts. This allows you to see their updates as well as the interactions you’ve had on social media right from your dashboard.
  • Analytics - you can track sales as well as measure both business and employee performance via a range of reporting capabilities.
  • Security - with Zoho CRM, you are given full control over who can do what with the software. Besides creating individual user profiles, you can assign roles and even restrict access.
Unlike farms, the main component to a company's growth isn’t fertilizer and sunshine. Instead, it’s competent CRM software that allows your business to reach its full potential. If you have any questions on customer relationship management software, feel free to get in touch with us. We’re more than happy to not only provide answers but also be part of your success.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
August 25th, 2016

2016August25_Office_ADid you know that Microsoft’s Office 365 platform provides updates to their online components once every quarter? This is quite impressive because as an end user, you’ll be able to enjoy a more feature-rich and intuitive experience with your cloud productivity suite without having to manually install the updates yourself. So what exactly does Office 365’s update have in store for you this quarter?

Word

This quarter, Office 365’s upgrade will focus on cloud-powered intelligent services, designed to maximize productivity while saving time. And Office 365’s upgrade wouldn’t be an upgrade if there were nothing new in Word, the business application that put Microsoft on the map. To that end, Word is getting two new features called Researcher and Editor. As you may have guessed, Researcher is designed to help you find reliable sources of information by using Bing’s Knowledge Graph to help search and then cite sources in your Word document. In the future, Researcher’s body of reference materials will also include sources such as national science and health centers, well-known encyclopedias, and more. The feature will be available on mobile devices too.

Now that you have Researcher to help you start your paper, you can count on Editor to help you finish it. This new feature builds on the existing spellchecker and thesaurus, and in addition to the wavy red line under a misspelled word and wavy blue line under bad grammar, Editor uses a gold line for suggestions on how to improve your writing.

PowerPoint

Currently, when making a presentation, you’re forced to use the 1-2-3-4 linear method of showing your slides. The problem is that you can’t change your presentation order as needed without having to exit PowerPoint’s slideshow mode, and let’s face it, sometimes you do make mistakes and need to go back or move to a different slide. But thanks to PowerPoint’s new feature, Zoom, you can now present your slides in any order you want at any time without a hiccup.

Outlook

The time has come for Office 365’s Outlook to get the Focused Inbox which has been available for iOS and Android for some time now. If you’re not familiar with Focused Inbox, the feature separates your inbox into two tabs: Focused tab which includes emails that matter most to you and the “Other” tab for everything else. This makes it easy to identify email that needs your attention so you never miss anything important.

Not only that, but as you move email in or out of the Focused tab, Outlook learns from your behavior and adjusts to your priorities. You can also flag someone by typing the @ symbol in the body of the email and pick whoever you wish to flag. This will automatically highlight that person’s email and their email address will be added to the To: line. If you are mentioned, the @ symbol will show up in Outlook so you can quickly find all email where you are mentioned.

For now, Microsoft hasn’t set a release schedule for these new features, but according to Kirk Koenigsbauer, Corporate Vice President for the Office team, you can expect to use them soon enough! And as always, if you would like to find out how you can make the most out of Office 365 or Microsoft Office, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office
August 18th, 2016

2016August18_Security_AEvery time we learn about a cyberattack that has affected so many businesses, we invest in security technologies that will safeguard our systems. This year, however, social engineering attacks have taken center stage in the Rio Olympics. Using various scams, hackers can circumvent network security systems by convincing gullible users into giving away sensitive information. But spectators aren’t the only victims. Without knowing the most common social engineering exploits, your business’s data is also at risk. That’s why we have compiled four of the most frequently used social engineering scams to help protect you and your business.

Phishing Phishing scams are perhaps the most common type of social engineering attack. Usually seen as links embedded in email messages, these scams lead potential victims into seemingly trustworthy web pages, where they are prompted to fill in their name, address, login information, social security number, and credit card number.

Phishing emails often appear to come from reputable sources, which makes the embedded link even more compelling to click on. Sometimes phishing emails masquerade as government agencies urging you to fill up a personal survey, and other times phishing scams pose as false banking sites. In fact earlier this year, fraudulent Olympics-themed emails redirected potential victims to fake ticketing services, where they would eventually input their personal and financial information. This led to several cases of stolen identities.

Tailgating

What’s the best way to infiltrate your business? Through your office’s front door, of course! Scam artists can simply befriend an employee near the entrance of the building and ask them to hold the door, thereby gaining access into a restricted area. From here, they can steal valuable company secrets and wreak havoc on your IT infrastructure. Though larger enterprises with sophisticated surveillance systems are prepared for these attacks, small- to mid-sized companies are less so.

Quid pro quo

Similar to phishing, quid pro quo attacks offer appealing services or goods in exchange for highly sensitive information. For example, an attacker may offer potential targets free tickets to attend the Olympic games in exchange for their login credentials. Chances are if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Pretexting

Pretexting is another form of social engineering whereby an attacker fabricates a scenario to convince a potential victim into providing access to sensitive data and systems. These types of attacks involve scammers who request personal information from their targets in order to verify their identity. Attackers will usually impersonate co-workers, police, tax authorities, or IT auditors in order to gain their targets’ trust and trick them into divulging company secrets.

The unfortunate reality is that fraudsters and their social engineering tactics are becoming more sophisticated. And with the Olympics underway, individuals and businesses alike should prepare for the oncoming wave of social engineering attacks that threaten our sensitive information. Nevertheless, the best way to avoid these scams is knowing what they are and being critical of every email, pop-up ad, and embedded link that you encounter in the internet.

To find out how you can further protect your business from social engineering attacks, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
August 17th, 2016

2016August17_Hardware_ALike new cars and smartphones, new keyboards are also initially alluring enough to elicit everyone’s oohs and ahs. But as their novelty fades, it’s easy to start taking them for granted. Is typing on them slower than before? Is the gaming experience they deliver no longer up to par? Whether for leisure or business purposes, good keyboards really make a difference. Next time you're shopping for one, take these four factors into consideration as well.

Connectivity

If the internet and computer mouse possess wireless capabilities, why should your keyboard be any different? This is debatable, depending on what exactly you use the keyboard for. Keyboards are normally plug-and-play devices that don’t require additional software installation (excluding certain gaming models); wired models draw power from the USB,eliminating the use of batteries altogether. Gamers tend to prefer wired over wireless because they won’t have to deal with lag and interference issues.

Looking to declutter? Wireless is the way to go. With wireless keyboards, data is transmitted to your PC via one of two primary means: either through an RF connection to a USB receiver or via Bluetooth. They might have their pros and cons, but they significantly reduce the number of cables on your desk while allowing you more flexibility to work -- lie down on the couch and type from across the room. Also, most wireless keyboards connect to the PC via a 2.4-GHz wireless dongle that are also used for cordless phones and Wi-Fi internet. Providing connectivity to multiple devices at once.

Type of Key Switches

This aspect of keyboard design is widely mentioned in reviews, yet many people overlook the importance of the type of switches used for individual keys. Although the intricate mechanisms that hide beneath the keys might not excite you, the difference you feel from each type will. The three main types of key switches include silicone dome, scissor switches, and mechanical switches. For example, keyboards that come with a new desktop PC generally use silicone-dome switches, whereby two dimpled layers of silicone membrane form a grid of rubber bubbles that acts as the switch for each key. This type also requires you to press the key right to the bottom in order for a letter to be typed, gradually diminishing its springiness and responsiveness over time.

Why have the newer laptops and ultrabooks ditched silicone domes for scissor switches instead? Scissor switches add a mechanical stabilizer that provides uniformity. Moreover, under each keycap is a plunger that allows for shorter key travel. This causes scissor-switch keyboards to have a shallow typing feel with enhanced durability when compared with silicone dome switches.

What keyboard enthusiasts can’t get enough of are the mechanical switch keyboards. Their intricacy lies in the spring-loaded sliding keypost beneath each key. Several variations are available, and each provides slightly different sensations or sounds. Mechanical switches generally provide enhanced tactile feedback, having more of the “clickety-clack” sound. Thanks to the sturdy switch mechanisms and durable springs, they last longer and are also easily repairable. Furthermore, each keystroke registers shorter travel, making them ideal for touch typists.

Ergonomics

In order to keep carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive stress injury at bay, keyboards are designed to allow your hands to remain in a neutral position while typing. Not only do ergonomic keyboards provide greater comfort, they also reduce joint and tendon stress, sparing you from relentless inflammation as well as pricey surgical procedures. Ergonomic features range from simple padded wrist-rests to elaborate curved and sloped keyboards.

Standard vs. Gaming Usage

Keyboard usage isn’t limited only to typing. That’s why gaming keyboards are designed for competitive usage, which allows for maximum specialization and control. Some are even customized to fit specific styles of game play, considering exact standards of durability as well as responsiveness. Others may also incorporate pulsing backlight and vibrant color schemes that cater to the gamer aesthetic. Certain premium models utilize high-grade mechanical key switches, sculpted keycaps, and numerous customizable features such as programmable macro commands and tweakable backlight intensity. Gaming keyboards are also equipped with the anti-ghosting feature that allows multiple keystrokes to be registered simultaneously -- something regular keyboards can’t do. Other goodies range from pass-through USB ports to audio connections on the keyboard. This simplifies the process of connecting peripherals to a desktop PC.

It won’t hurt to take some time to see if your current keyboard is delivering. Do not settle for anything but the best. If you need any help or have questions regarding the intricacies of finding the right keyboard, don’t hesitate to mail us or drop us a line. We’re more than happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
August 12th, 2016

2016August12_Productivity_AWhile an impressive arsenal of weapons can help you win a battle, you need diligence, perseverance and sacrifice to win the war. But when that war is waged in the arena of calendar management, you’re dealing with a whole other monster. When scheduling meetings, uncontrollable factors like varying schedules and department-specific time constraints mean that the same war strategy won’t yield the same successful results. Allow Microsoft FindTime to lead your organization to victory in the battle of cross-organization meeting arrangement.

Before any meetings take place, you’ll need to download Microsoft FindTime first. Fear not, because this Microsoft Outlook add-in is easily downloadable and is 100 percent free. FindTime was developed to help you and your guests do just that -- find time! Coordinating all attendees’ schedules, FindTime will iron out a time that works for everyone.

Just the thought of having to organize a meeting across your organization can stir up anxiety and elicit a huge sigh... Sigh! Why? On top of handling your own hectic schedule, you’re expected to juggle your attendees’ schedules as well. This would be the moment when telephone calls start to flood in and emails start to go back and forth, rarely heading toward a unified decision.

Bid adieu to all of that with Microsoft FindTime. Simply compose a new email or reply to an existing one and click the New Messaging Poll at the upper right hand corner. From there, choose the attendees, propose a couple tentative meeting times, and let the voting begin! Once a consensus is reached, a confirmation email is automatically sent to everyone attending.

What makes it even easier is that attendees can take a look at the visual summary that tallies all the votes, and who voted for what times. This lets you see what times the majority of people have chosen, giving you a chance to rework your schedule in advance if and when necessary.

Another plus is that to receive a Microsoft FindTime invitation, your friends and family don’t need an email address or even an Internet connection! Participants aren’t required to have Office 365 either; only the organizers need to access Office 365. This means that you can reach out to your friends, loved ones, and colleagues to organize your meetings, set up playdates, and even plan surprise birthday parties -- the possibilities are endless.

For more info about Microsoft FindTime, feel free to send us an email or give us a call! Our experts will gladly answer your questions. We believe that time is money, and money is the last thing you’d want to jeopardize. Allow us to help safeguard your assets by ensuring that all the time you spend on the clock doesn’t go to waste. Every minute counts.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
August 8th, 2016

2016August8_SocialMedia_AFacebook’s most recent monthly active users numbered over 1.7 billion. Billion, with a ‘b.’ Since creating and managing a page for your business is free, there simply isn’t an excuse to put off doing so another day. Whether your page is being neglected because of low traffic or ROI on the time you invest in it, 1.7 billion is too large a number to ignore. Here are our six tricks for making your page a worthwhile endeavor.

Use video whenever possible

Recently, Mr. Zuckerberg himself was caught opining about the value of video in social media. And while there hasn’t yet been any news about newsfeed algorithms giving preference to video, it’s definitely a safe bet when compared to texts and graphics. Facebook Live is an excellent way to engage your subscribers, and there are several ways to leverage it for increased profitability. Whether it’s an Ask Me Anything segment or a promotional announcement, hit that record button more often for more engagement.

Facebook only promos

While we’re on the topic of promotions, make sure you’re creating some that are only available through Facebook. If you’re simply reposting those from your website or e-commerce store, it’s harder for followers to justify maintaining any interest in your page. Use Facebook Live or a pre-recorded video to introduce a better-than-usual discount on your products or services. The key here is getting customers to actually visit your page, so make sure it’s not a coupon code or a link they can just pass on to friends. Ask the first 100 viewers to post their email address in the comments section of the video. If their increased dwelling time doesn’t make a lasting impression on them, it probably will make an impression on their Facebook newsfeed algorithm.

Facebook CTAs: use them and update them

Unbeknownst to most, the ‘call to action’ button on your business page can be edited to display more than a dozen different messages. Experiment with the different messages and where they link to. You’ve probably stared at the CTAs on your .com page for hours, hoping to come up with a hard-hitting sell -- why wouldn’t you do the same on Facebook?

Don’t just link to yourself

The most insightful page will always be the most valuable one. If someone has already liked your page, they know you exist and they have a decent idea of what you sell. Make sure to take a break from posting links to your site, and include relevant news and information that relates to your field. If your merchandise is videogames, inventory updates aren’t going to provide much value to your followers. Post third-party reviews of items you stock or industry news that readers will find interesting.

Pin to top function

When you find the post that keeps followers coming back for more, why bury it beneath more recent and less popular posts? Click the arrow in the upper-right corner of the post and select Pin to Top. This will keep it above everything else and impossible to miss for anyone visiting your page. It could be anything we’ve already discussed in this article: promotions, videos, popular third-party content -- anything timely and relevant.

Be personal

Lastly, use your company’s Facebook page as a place where followers can engage you on a personal level. There are countless opportunities for stiff, formal business language and attitudes, but social media isn’t the place for that. Post fun, behind-the-scenes photos of your business, respond to comments in a conversational tone, make jokes -- anything that sets your page apart from your customer service accounts.

Facebook may be free, but that doesn’t mean a profitable page is a walk in the park. For all the latest tips, trends, and features, you’ll need an expert. Exploiting social media for your bottom line is a slippery game, but it’s one we play every day. For a partner who can turn your ‘Likes’ into dollars, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
August 5th, 2016

2016August5_Office_AThe latest addition to the Office 365 family is Bookings. This online service helps schedule appointments with businesses using software. Good ‘ol pen and paper definitely still work, but given the world’s technological advances, digital appointment management makes sense. Besides never having to pick up the phone to schedule your events ever again, here are four other reasons why you should check out Bookings:

Visibility

Bid adieu to the days of scribbling on post-its and frantically going through your schedule to find out where you’re heading for lunch. Microsoft Bookings provides you with a unique webpage that is compatible on both desktops and mobile devices. Here, customers can select times and dates based on current availability -- simply enter contact information and then book it! The system fully automates the process of managing your appointments.

No more rain checks

Microsoft believes that “Businesses can avoid last-minute cancellations by controlling how much advanced notice is required to make a cancellation.” That’s why immediately after making the appointment, a confirmation email is sent to the customer along with a reminder email before the appointment time. The web page also offers a rescheduling service;simply click on the link on the confirmation email and pick a time that you’re more comfortable with.

Synchronization

Once completed, the booking is then synced to a centralized calendar where businesses are given the option to reschedule, cancel or re-assign the appointment to other staff members as they see fit. If you do decide to re-assign it to staff members, Bookings offers a nifty feature known as “split view.” This shows which staff members are booked at which times, and you can compare everyone’s schedules side-by-side. The appointments are synced not only to your calendar, but to the staff members’ calendars as well. Moreover, this versatile system accommodates Office 365, Outlook.com, and even Google Calendar, so users can keep whatever calendaring service they prefer

Double duty

Appointment-setting might be the primary goal of Bookings, but the system can also be utilized to build a company’s customer list. Once customers input their information into the system, it automatically creates contact entries for those customers. The contact card contains personal information such as name, address, phone number, and email addresses. As companies grow, they can add more staff members as well as create additional booking pages for free. Furthermore, staff members aren’t required to have Office 365 subscriptions to be a part of the service.

Efficient tech resources aren’t enough to maintain a successful business anymore; in order to really stand out from competitors, comprehensive appointment management is required. Feel free to give us a call if you need any questions answered or issues addressed We’re more than happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office
August 1st, 2016

2016August1_Security_AIn computers, as in war, encryption is a way of encoding sensitive information so only authorized parties can make use of it. Unfortunately, computer hackers have developed ways to infiltrate your company's network and systems, take your confidential data hostage, and unlawfully encrypt it. Pay them a ransom and you may or may not get it back.

The way in which these nefarious operators commandeer your information and deny you access usually involves some fairly sophisticated stuff. The ransomware they install on your system is essentially a virus that “locks up” your data, and it can’t be unlocked unless you pay them for the keys.

Some of these data-encrypting viruses are strong, such as the CryptXXX strain. It has been infecting businesses for the past few months, and its latest mutation can’t be quelled by decryption programs found for free on the internet.

Two relatively new types of ransomware aren’t quite as virulent as CryptXXX, but we’d like to bring you up-to-date on them nonetheless. Here’s a look at what they’re called, what they do, and how you can defeat them should your business be impacted.

PowerWare

The first of these recent ransomware varieties is called PowerWare, which also goes by the name PoshCoder. It imitates a more complex ransomware program called Locky, although with less effectiveness.

This spring, PowerWare was discovered attacking healthcare organizations through Windows PowerShell, a scripting application used for systems administration. Fortunately, programmers at hi-tech security firm Palo Alto Researchers were able to quickly create a decryption tool named “powerware_decrypt.py” that unlocks ransomed data with relative ease.

Implementing the fix, however, does call for a bit of technical know-how, so if your IT department is experienced in this area it shouldn’t be a problem. The code that can cure you from PowerWare is published online and is free.

BART

The second new ransomware breed that we should address is called BART. Instead of employing intricate information-encrypting algorithms to take command of your data, BART will stash away your files inside password-protected ZIP folders… and you have to pay for the password.

These infections aren’t hard to identify as the imprisoned files will appear with “.bart.zip” added to their original name (for example, “spreadsheet.xlsx.bart.zip”). Thankfully, not only are they easy to detect, but for antivirus firm AVG, they are easy to decode.

Applying the remedy that AVG has produced requires an unaffected copy of one of the files that’s been locked up. And if you can’t locate one somewhere on your network, a good IT services firm will be able to. The BART decryption tool is also available online at no cost.

The fact is, there are some shady, technologically savvy characters out there who are willing to do us harm. Keeping them at bay takes vigilance. So if your business doesn’t have the resources to stay safe and secure from threats like ransomware - or, in the event that you’ve been hit, you’re not sure how to recover your data without paying the ransom - call us today to talk things over.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
July 28th, 2016

2016July28_Hardware_AHardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) is not a new concept, it’s an old wine in a new bottle. Similar to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), where you pay a monthly fee to a service provider in order to use a piece of software, HaaS lets you do the same and saves you from the nuisance of all the hardware upgrades, maintenance, and management. Here are 5 reasons why you should switch to a HaaS solution for hardware optimization.

1. Save money

The first reason is simple: money. For SMBs, cash flow is a crucial matter. By shifting to HaaS you can say goodbye to the tedious and costly process of having to buy all the hardware outright. By paying a monthly fee to a Managed Services Providers (MSPs), you can turn a big capital investment into a small, manageable operational expense that leaves you money for other urgent matters.

2. Kiss out-of-date tech goodbye

Given limited financial resource, it’s not easy for SMEs to catch up with the latest technology. In a highly competitive business arena, you cannot win the game with your century old CPU while your competitors benefit from the latest technology. By using HaaS, your MSP has a responsibility to ensure that all of your hardware is capable of handling tasks efficiently, and they will achieve that through hardware upgrades and replacements.

3. Better maintenance

Buying new hardware isn’t the end of everything. Like most things in life, hardware needs to be taken care of. And most of the time, SMEs lack the proper expertise, knowledge, or even time to maintain it. HaaS solves this problem by letting your MSP do all the hardware management for you.

4. Better scalability for your business

As time progresses, your organization grows and changes, which means the needs for IT equipment changes too. HaaS solutions allow you to scale up or down as your business needs change so you don’t have to stick with unnecessary tools you no longer use.

5. Improve security

When it comes to security, software isn't the only thing that needs to be up to date -- your hardware does too. HaaS makes it easy to update to newer hardware, which is crucial to ensure adequate security. For instance, if you need a more powerful backup and recovery solution, your MSP will help you obtain new equipment as needed.

Thinking about switching to Haas but not sure where to start? Why not contact us today? We provide a variety of HaaS solutions tailored to suit any business’s needs. Tell us your IT requirements and let’s see what we can do.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
July 26th, 2016

2016July25_BusinessValue_AMore money on less investment, that’s the dream, right? Well, counterintuitive as it may seem, flash-in-the-pan tech fads and trends may be just the way to achieve that. With the right tools, you can associate your SMB with popular new technologies without much investment. These are our five tips on how to cash in on things as silly and childish as Pokémon GO and as technical and trendy as the internet of things.

Get in early

One of the biggest indicators of how successful your SMB will be in making big gains off of a new trend is how early you get in. Fads, especially in the tech world, can come and go in no time. Be careful not to invest in resources with a long-term commitment like new logos or graphics, but instead in low-cost workarounds like special promotions and social media campaigns that put you front and center immediately. Once the popular kids have moved onto a fresh fixation, you’ll be ready to move forward without skipping a beat.

Use existing tools

How can you get up to speed quickly without investing too much in permanent resources? The trick is to hijack existing opportunities and strategies for your own message. For example, John Deere has been selling farming equipment for over 150 years, with no signs of slowing down. But with a creative combination of existing GPS technology and mobile devices, they quickly jumped to the forefront of the “Internet of Things” craze by connecting their vehicles to crop planning practices.

Participate in the narrative

So you’ve identified a trend you want to cash in on and you’ve commandeered existing tools to help sell your product. How else can you gain momentum? Social media is everywhere nowadays, and it doesn’t seem to be a dying trend. However, it’s no panacea; simply posting “We’ve got a promotion on all seasonal products #inserttechfadhere” won’t bring obsessed customers to your doorstep. Take a minute to understand the mechanics of what pulls everyone away from work, friends, and family, and show participants you’re one of them. Is it competitive? Polarizing? Take a stand or pick a team and invite customers who are “on your side” to get a discount.

Merge the fad with your business model

With a little creative brainstorming, most business models can actually integrate their product or service with a passing trend. Chatbots have been shoring up the “deep learning” revolution, and clothing retailers have come up with a really creative way to employ them to drive sales. By simply providing their chatbots with a fashion tree, the bots can ask basic questions which whittle down clothing recommendations to those that align with customers’ tastes.

Address difficulties presented by the fad

What if you can’t find a way for your products or services to directly interact with the blazing new trend? The next best thing is to provide solutions to problems presented by it. Does interacting with the popular app or activity eat up a lot of mobile device battery? Remind passersby your outlets are available for customers, or that you sell mobile battery packs. Does it require driving all over town? Remind customers of your latest car rental promotion. Sometimes just associating yourself with the trend is enough.

Not sure how to integrate your business with the latest fads? We’re the experts on all things technology related, from the most recent to the ancient. As a small- to medium-sized business owner, getting the most value out of your technology investments is crucial to getting your foot in the door and working your way toward bigger profits. From machine learning to Pokémon GO, no question is too trivial -- ask us today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business