Thursday, January 29, 2009

Small & Medium Businesses are Embracing Web 2.0

According to Access Market International (AMI) Partners, more than 40% of small and medium businesses (or about 2.8 million businesses) are using Web 2.0 applications as part of their normal business practices. Web 2.0 is a term that describes interactive web features such as blogs, wikis, and social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, & Digg.

At InsideUp, we believe that the embrace of Web 2.0 by small and medium businesses will continue to grow exponentially as companies find that applying Web 2.0 applications provides a forum for communication and exchange that can lead to a competitive advantage.

Here are some other interesting stats about how businesses use Web 2.0 from the AMI survey:

• More than 400,000 small and medium businesses in the U.S. use blogs and webcasts to promote their businesses.

• 24% of small and medium businesses are using SaaS (software as a service). SaaS applications, such as Backpack, a popular small business organization tool, are hosted on a service provider's computer and offered to businesses for use. This allows businesses to utilize effective tools without having to download, install, or maintain software.

• About 20% of small and medium businesses participate in online communities and portals, such as online chat forums.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Are you using social media to grow your business?

Do you still use the Yellow Pages to advertise to prospective customers? Is this approach working for you?

How about the other traditional methods of bringing in new clients? If you’re not getting the results you once did, it’s likely a reflection of several factors:

Newspaper circulation continues to dwindle, which means no one is reading your ads. Young people continue to gravitate to the Web for online gaming, and increasingly, to view video content. So they aren’t watching commercials. Millions now listen to music and talk shows on their iPods, which means they don’t hear your radio spot. After decades of interruption marketing, consumers have learned to tune out unwelcome marketing messages via direct mail and other vehicles.

None of this is to say that marketing is dead. Far from it.

Marketing is just evolving from a broadcast model into a closer relationship between you and your existing clients -- and more of a targeted hunt for new clients.

If the scatter-shot approach of the past isn’t working well for you, you must now be smarter about how you identify, locate, connect with and engage your prospects. This means going where your prospects and clients are, and speaking to them in their own language, about the things they care about.

If you are marketing business services, you should probably be establishing a presence on LinkedIn, where there are millions of business professionals. If you are launching a hip hop act, MySpace is the place to connect with your future fans. If you want to be viewed as a trusted expert in your field, there’s nothing like the immediacy and intimacy of a blog to establish your credibility in your field.

You don’t have to be absolutely comfortable and proficient in your use of these tools – they’re going to keep changing anyway. But if you haven’t already, it’s time to dive in and get started. And it’s not difficult or expensive. For instance, this blog is hosted at It’s free and you can
easily launch your own blog and start connecting with your customers today.

Likewise, there’s no excuse for not being on
LinkedIn. Your prospects are there now, waiting to connect with you. Get started now!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

How do you select vendors?

When you're the boss, sooner or later you're going to need help from professionals. And we're not talking about that kind of professional help (although many have gone stark raving mad as a result of running their own businesses).

No, the type of help we're referring to is the kind that actually enables you to make more money. Needing it is consequence of success:
When you make enough money, you require the services of an accountant.
If you grow your business unexpectedly fast and don't know what to do next, you might benefit from the guidance of a business coach or consultant.
Once you have real assets, you really should meet with an attorney who can help you shelter them.
Or you might need someone who knows what to do about that swarm of bees that decided to build a hive just above the front door.

These are all good problems to have (any sighting of live bees has to be considered a plus now) and they're the kinds of issues that require strategic action – based on more than your own hunches and the advice of your friends, neighbors and in-laws. When your future earnings are on the line, you want to make the best decisions you can.

So, how do you identify your best options when you are seeking professional help for your business? (This is not a rhetorical question, we really want to know.) Do you:
- Talk to others in the business?
- Comb through Google search results and hope for the best?
- Drive around looking for a sign?
- Riffle through the Yellow Pages?
- Try to remember the ad you saw?

So much has changed in how businesses market themselves to each other.

When you are shopping for a business-to-business vendor, what works for you?