Sign up for our Newsletter
Keep up to date with the latest IT news, tips and guides from Dragon IS and sign up here:
They may lack the resource and budgets of their larger competitors but as the global pandemic has highlighted, with the right technology in place, small businesses now have a chance to level the playing field like never before.
Traditionally, companies with the greatest spending power would also command the largest market share. Able to ‘splash the cash’ on advertising campaigns and marketing promotions that smaller businesses simply could only dream of, these companies would ensure their brands stayed firmly front of mind.
But the modern business landscape is no longer so cut & dry. Advances in technology, for example in relation to search engines, 5G and social, have caused a fundamental shift in the way we consume information and navigate our day-by-day lives.
Businesses can now engage with consumers anywhere in the world, without having to go through a middleman, and traditional paid advertising is competing with direct marketing methods that cost businesses very little.
For small businesses in particular, this has been a game changer, allowing them to close the gap and entice customers away from larger, better known brands. A shift in working patterns and the closure of physical stores and offices has also created opportunities for small businesses to leverage technology to their advantage.
Here are just some of the ways technology is helping small businesses to level-up.
For any business operating today, a website is a must-have and for many small businesses, it is likely to be their primary sales and lead generation tool.
Now, thanks to technology, even small businesses with very limited budgets can quickly create a very professional website with minimal capital outlay, using sites such as FourSquare and Wix. They can also access decent, free stock imagery from sites like Unsplash, while working on building up their own photography bank.
If branding and logo design is required, multiple online platforms now provide a make-your-own, or low cost design solution, which can support businesses with their creation. One popular example here being Canva, which offers templates for all sorts of marketing materials, many of which are available for free.
If there’s one technological advancement that has really enabled small businesses to thrive it’s the ability to make sales and bookings online.
We saw just how powerful an online retail presence could be during the closure of non-essential retail stores in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unable, or unwilling, to leave their homes, consumers turned to the internet to purchase necessities such as food, clothing, beauty products, entertainment, fitness, and DIY items.
As a result, online sales soared, with grocery purchases in the UK increasing by 94% and homewares by 65%, compared to pre-pandemic levels.
This provided a perfect opportunity for businesses with no physical high street presence to capitalise on an audience who, faced with staying in, were finding themselves both with more free time and in some cases, more disposable income too.
At the same time, consumer sentiment towards small businesses was growing, creating the perfect climate for smaller brands to convert new customers and steal market share from their larger competitors.
With a working from home order in force for many parts of the world in 2020 and 2021, businesses had to quickly adapt to moving their operations online. Technology such as email, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom, replaced in-person meetings, allowing businesses to continue operating as usual, with the ability to communicate virtually, and in real time.
While initially this was viewed as a mitigating tactic to protect lives and stop the spread of COVID-19, some companies were ultimately inspired to pull the plug on their permanent offices and become fully remote businesses.
For small companies in particular, not having the overheads of renting, heating, and powering an office presents a great way to cost-save when budgets are already tight. Money saved can then be funneled into revenue-generating activities that benefit the business’s growth and bottom line.
Another huge advantage of remote working is the ability to attract a wider pool of talent. Not restricted to candidates who are able to commute to a physical location, small businesses can cast their net further afield, with technology giving them the freedom to make hiring decisions based wholly on skills and experience, rather than locality.
In any business, regardless of the industry or audience, marketing is essential for generating sales and bookings. As we touched on at the start of this article, it used to be that traditional print and broadcast advertising, such as commercials placed in newspapers, magazines, or on billboards, and TV, were the key ways to go about this. Fine for companies with big budget, but very difficult for new or small businesses.
Today, however, technology has turned traditional advertising on its head and made it possible for any company, of any size, to reach millions of consumers without having to fork out hundreds of thousands of pounds in advertising spend.
For small businesses, for whom every penny counts, this has helped to level the playing field by enabled these companies to compete with big businesses in a way they never could before.
One of the key technologies small businesses are using is social media. Instagram, one of the most widely used and influential platforms, currently has an estimated 30.6 million unique users in the UK, whilst its global audience is predicted to reach 1.2 billion in 2023. Facebook, currently ranked first in the world for active users, recorded 2.912 billion monthly users in January 2022.
Both platforms offer small businesses a captive audience of potential consumers to market to.
Another easily available technology that small businesses can use to generate customer engagement is direct email marketing. According to Hubspot, marketing to consumers via email generates $42 for every $1 spent, making it one of the most lucrative marketing technologies, with an ROI of +4,200%.
You may also be interested in:
About Dragon IS
At Dragon IS, we make it simple. No jargon. No surprises. Just expert advice you can trust, backed by superior technology and outstanding customer service.
Whether you’re a growing business thinking about upgrading your IT system; you’re concerned about cybersecurity and data protection compliance; or you need specialist support with a specific IT challenge, we can help!