Posts Tagged ‘ Main Street ’

A new world for bringing information to customers and business partners

There’s no secret that I’m a fan of the idea that ‘virtual worlds’ have a serious place in business. ‘problem is, most pushback against these immersive computing environments is that they’re too weird, too difficult to learn, too much overhead, too.. too.. too…

Maybe that’s about to change. Take a look at a product – still in Beta – that really seems to be an ‘inworld experience’ meant for real business people.

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a trillion… as in a Million Billions??? AND what to do about it

Last year, American’s cell phones transmitted a trillion text messages. A TRILLION. Take a million and muliply that by 1,000,000,000.  Like they say, a trillion here, a trillion there, pretty soon you’re talking Real Numbers…

It’s almost possible to dismiss this – truely – astronomical number as a LOT of  the argot that tends to run heavily to the layers of meaning in comments like: “supt?” “and “I was like OMFG.”

I say *almost* possible. For good or for bad, text messages (OK, technically’ SMS ‘messages) still grab people’s attention with an immediacy that’s breathtaking.

So, the question you need to be asking is, “How is my business reaching out to customers and clients with text messages?”

Here’s a dirt simple case study. Neighborhood Chinese restaurant had the misfortune of opening next to a *booming* inexpensive, friendly, inviting more-than-pizza-and-Ragu Italian restaurant. The food at the Chinese place is – fine – for what it is: easy, convenient Cantonese fare. Business started slowly and went down hill from there. Entrepreneur owner got the bug of an idea that he could collect the cell-numbers from some of his clients and in exchange for that bit of information, he sends out daily messages on limited-time menu options and dining coupons. NOT ONLY did he notice a 15% increase in revenue, he’s starting to get local newspaper attention – with articles along the lines of  “A New Wrinkle in Chinese Restaurants.”

Now, in fact, he did this one step smarter. He doesn’t send out 100 text messages each evening -he sends one Twitter message — because he took the time to ask his customers how they’d like to be notified.

This boils down to something that barely rises to the level of ‘hi tech.’ Each late afternoon, the restaurant owner types in one or two ultra-short Twitter messages (called “tweets”) , presses _send_ and off it goes – to everyone who’s asked to be contacted. Seconds later, a message as simple as “Won Tor rest’rnt special tonight: Shanghai Soup Dumplings – FREE for 1st 10 cust’mrs, 6$/plate-of-8 therafter. WON TOR – Your OakmoreGlenn place 510658321.”

A couple minutes of keypad typing and a significant revenue increase.

You’re doing this…. right?

microlending for small businesses?

Micro-lending is something we’ve all heard about in stories about developing countries. The concept is a good one: you loan 50 or 75 dollars to a woman with a sewing machine in Quito, a similar amount to a farmer in the hills overlooking Karachi, or a leather worker in a Lagos slum — and the entrepreneurial drive of those people will help them pull their families out of poverty.

Somewhat similar in concept are micro-lenders in North America. Here, though, the clientele is  two or three-person companies with owners with high credit ratings but who *still* can’t get a bank loan.

BusinessWeek Online has an article about these microloans.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/bw/20090216/bs_bw/0962s0902018039571

a handful of tips for keeping business healthy – in the current climate

There’s a blog I’ve been following, called Bizick.com — written by Scott Berkun — and an article seemed thoroughly appropriate as Main Street entrepreneurs contemplate the eternal stay-or-sell decision.  

Basic, sound advice :  looking at your immediately local customer base, polling them to find out what *they* need, knowing your financials, making efforts to lock in future customers…

It sounds like one of those endlessly tiresome bromides to say there _are_ opportunities in the current marketplace.  ‘truth is, in every downturn in our economic past, there have been people with innovative thinking that have done very well.  There’s no reason to believe you won’t be one of those success stories in The Great 2009 Recession.

Please take a look at How the financial crisis affects small business, at http://biznik.com/articles/how-the-financial-crisis-affects-small-business