FBN’s Charles Payne, Heritage Capital President Paul Schatz, Tea Party News Network News Director Scottie Nell Hughes, small business expert Susan Solovic, retail analyst Hitha Herzog and Penn Financial Group founder Matt McCall on Uber’s mounting PR woes.
Often when we’re introduced to a killer app, we ask ourselves, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
But that’s not the right question to ask. A far better question is something like, “Why didn’t I take that cool little idea I had some time ago and keep working on it until I turned it into a killer app?”
The initial idea that evolved into what is now MarketMeSuite wasn’t much to look at, but today, thanks to originators Tammy Kahn Fennell and Alan Hamlyn, the social media management platform is poised to make major inroads with small businesses everywhere.
Making social media easy
The platform greatly simplifies how a small business manages its social media presence and gives it a lot of tools to do some terrific marketing without spending a lot of time and effort—attributes that are always appealing to small business owners and managers. One key component of the platform that I especially like emulates an email “in box.” That gives users a tool that they’re already familiar with and helps make MarketMeSuite more intuitive.
TIP: When you’re creating something new, finding a way to incorporate an interface users already understand solves a number of problems before they even become problems!
The journey started outside of London—more on this chapter of the story in Part II—where Tammy (a marketing professional) and Alan (a tech guru) worked together on projects. But when Tammy encouraged Alan to leverage social media to grow his web design business, Alan wasn’t immediately on-board with the idea.
Help for the unsocial
“He said, ‘I’m an engineer, that means I’m not a social person, so I’m not sure how I could use social media,” Tammy recalls laughing. She took over his social media accounts and started to manage them “the old fashioned way.”
It helped Alan build his business and as they realized how well it worked, they started to wonder if there could be a better and more convenient way to work with social accounts. They aimed to create a proof of concept and the result was DeskTweet, which enabled Twitter users to tweet straight from their desktops.
“That was the first iteration of what we built. It’s still kind of special to me because it was our first stage. It wasn’t even a product. It didn’t cost money, we just wanted to see if we blogged a little bit about it, would people start downloading it, and how can we help small businesses,” Tammy recalls a bit wistfully.
Build it and they will download
“And it worked, because people started to download it!,” she adds. They quickly included a cool feature that allowed businesses to add their business location to their tweets. Alas, since then Twitter has stopped putting locations in tweets. But at the time, it was a great little feature for businesses.
Tammy says they have always had vocal users and have welcomed their comments. They have helped them guide the development of their platform. When they really got serious about the project is when they decided that the goal should be to create a platform that would do everything Tammy had been doing for Alan “the old fashioned way.”
That led to adding Facebook and LinkedIn and eventually all the other major social media channels, in the order that made the best sense for their customers.
Made for small businesses
While there are social media management systems available, they tend to be geared toward larger companies and are used by social media specialists. They are not “small business friendly.” Avoiding that pitfall was important to Tammy and Alan.
Currently they have a system that allows users to:
* Manage and monitor their existing social media followers and channels,
* Easily engage in new conversations, which creates new social media followers, and
* Find and publish great content to keep followers coming back for more.
Today, I’ve taken you through the technical development side of what Tammy and Alan did. Next time we’re going to look at how their company grew, how they drew on resources and creative talent to keep their vision moving forward.
It’s a story worth hearing.
Earlier this year, I predicted mobility would be one of the major trends for small businesses in 2014. The reason — there is a mobile app to do just about anything you can think of these days. And if you don’t believe me, then get a load of this. There is a new mobile app for quitting your job. I’m not kidding. It’s call the “Quit You Job App” and it helps you compose a resignation text message to your boss. The app prompts your to select one of three reasons your resignation: I’m sick of the corporate world, I want to get rich or I found new job. That’s all you have to do. Technology takes over from there and the dirty work is done. I’ve heard of jerks breaking up with their significant other via a text message, but I thought for sure there would be one bastion of civilization left hat would require a face-to-face resignation.
So now that mobile technology has invaded every single aspect of our lives, it’s time for small business owners to wake up and follow suit. You can’t ignore the facts — mobile technology is a way of doing business. The statistics from this past holiday season illustrate the growing importance of mobile commerce. CNBC reported the top 20 retailers experienced an increase of 55.4 percent in the number of online sales via mobile devices this holiday season. Forty-five percent of smartphone users and 69 percent of tablet users made online holiday purchases according to information released by Deloitte LLP.
Mobile technology is increasingly affecting all your business operations. Mobile apps can be used for managing your business, collaborating with employees who tele-commute and of course for marketing to and staying connected to your customers. Is you small business prepared?
“Your customers will expect, if not insist, on being able to buy your goods or services online and you will need to consider how you manage that and your business being open 24/7 from a customer service perspective.” notes Greg Nixon, co-founder and managing director EzPSA.
“Mobile extends far beyond websites. More and more small businesses are utilizing mobile apps to improve the customer,” says David Hernandez, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at lotus823. “A mobile-friendly experience is not only what customers love, but is also what they’re expecting.”’
““If your website isn’t mobile-optimized, you simply don’t exist to what will soon be the majority of users, if it hasn’t happened already. It’s a harsh reality, but there’s also a huge opportunity to get ahead,X “ adds Wayne Flint, founder and director Phenom Apps.
Smart phones can do almost anything these days, from tracking your caloric intake and monitoring your tax return to entertaining you with a game of Scrabble. Entrepreneurs are embracing mobile device applications as resources to run their businesses better, smarter, faster and more profitability.
The emergence of applications which run our lives is overwhelming. Think about it. When Apple launched the App Store in 2008, it had approximately 500 applications. Today there are more than 400,000.
With today being Earth Day, it occurred to me, if smart phones are doing so much to make our lives easier, there must also be tools to help us go green. With a little research, I found I was right. There are numerous applications which can help you manage your sustainability efforts.
For example, there is an application for the iPhone which permits you to scan in a bar code and receive information about the product’s social responsibility from the application’s database. There is also the Greenpeace Tissue Guide which is a reference to help you make green buying decisions on items such as tissues, toilet paper, paper towels and paper napkins.
Are your employees worried about the affect of rising gas prices on their paychecks? You could suggest an app called Avego. It’s a ride-sharing app that lets a driver offer vacant seats in his or her car to others, or you can use it to search for open seats if you are looking for a ride. In addition, the app calculates how much gas-money each passenger should pay.
Carticipate is another carpooling resource which consists of a network of participating members interested in carpooling to save gas. Simply input your destination and Carticipate locates others in your network who are headed in the same direction.
If your business requires you or your staff to be out on the road, try an application called GreenDrive. This application helps you increase your business car’s fuel efficiency by providing information on road conditions and real-time driving directions based on the shortest route possible. The app claims it can save you an average of 15 – 25 percent on fuel costs.
Whatever your company’s green efforts are, make sure you communicate them to your employees and stakeholders. Your sustainability initiatives provide a competitive advantage for your business and they make an important statement about your brand.
Mobile applications will continue to change the way we do business — including our green initiatives. In fact, a 2009 report issued by Juniper Research found that downloads of green mobile applications could exceed 400 million by 2014. Make sure you are taking advantage of these applications to help your sustainability efforts.