smallbiz communication in the age of 4G

4G has arrived.  The world is just getting faster.  But we’re not!  We’re still the same people who hunted for food in the wilderness, had stress-reactions built to warn off (real) danger and were at one with the earth and nature; it’s going to take a while to adapt.

So I had to ask myself the question, what does 4G mean for small businesses’ communication strategy?

My friend recently e-mailed me.  She’d broken her i-Phone and was using a very old and very slow i-Phone 2 to keep communicating.  At least half of the e-mail described how difficult it was to keep across everything without having her whizzy iPhone on hand.

In the next few lines, she apologised for writing the first half just about her phone and for becoming one of those dependant-on-technology people; the exact type of person that she thought she wasn’t.  I was happy to read her e-mail and didn’t need the apology.  Because I realised that I am exactly the same!

We’re all part of the mobile generation

I’ve never actually met anyone who uses their smart phone just as a phone.  No matter who they are and what they like doing, they use it for everything!  Work emails, personal emails, train times, strange games where you turn you phone at weird angles (my view), social networks; it doesn’t matter.  Like it or not, they’ve become a part of who we are that reaches far beyond Generation Y.

The thing is, 4G and mobile communication doesn’t just create innovative apps and on-demand information.  It creates something that we’re not yet accustomed to, as much as we try.  It creates pace.  And with pace comes stress; not the type we’re designed for either.

How should businesses communicate well, without overloading their customers?

My friend wrote to me again last week.  She’s now been without her phone for a while and has once again got used to not being in touch with everything 24/7.  And she’s quite enjoying it!

So when you next look at your communication strategy, bear in mind that even though people are accessing information 24/7 on their multiple mobile devices, it doesn’t mean that you have to fill them up to be heard.  To really stand out, go for quality over quantity and really think about what people need to function in this communication-crazy world.  They may not be thinking it for themselves, but they’ll thank you for it.  And they’ll remember you for it too.

Here are my top tips for communicating in the age of 4G (or any G) without sending your customers running for the hills.

1. Optimise your website for mobile.  Ever had that annoying experience of trying to read a standard website on your tiny phone?  Scrolling here, there and everywhere to find a teeny weeny button to click on is a nightmare.  If your website is a key communication platform for your business, make sure you have a mobile version.  If that’s not possible, look at your layout.  Think about key actions and information and place it strategically – not that dissimilar to standard web design principles.  It’s all about how the customer uses the site.

2.  Don’t go into direct e-mail overdrive!  You may have read my last post direct e-mail:stand up, stand out and be counted!  My point still stands and with 4G it’s even more important.  As I said, we’re not made to digest the volume of information we come across everyday and faster connection means more, more, more!  Only send direct e-mail when you have something (read: useful) to say and plan your subjects and content carefully.  If you really want customers to build a relationship with you, surprise them!

3. Is there really an app for that?  We’re all a bit app-crazy.  There’s an app for most things and there might be one that already exists and can help you, depending on your business.  Do some research and find out.  Don’t look at apps as the answer to everything though, they’re not.  They only suit some businesses and purposes and they don’t get a huge new following.  Maybe there are other businesses like you with the same needs.  Collaborate as much as possible; we don’t want hundreds of versions of the same thing, it’s too much!

4. Become more social media savvy.  Believe it or not, social media doesn’t work for everybody.  Different platforms work better for different businesses and there are more and more new platforms around which could be perfect.  Think about your social media strategy and keep it simple!  You don’t need to spend all day interacting with your community, but you do need to manage it; so really think about the return on investment.  It’s not always the quick-fix people think.

5. Communicate to your mobile audiences’ real needs. You really need to know your audience well.  And not just their demographic.  Think about their personalities, their everyday challenges, what they like and what they don’t.  For example, introverts don’t like to be bombarded with information every day.  They like to observe, but not always take part.  Different types of people behave differently and you should understand that and work with it.  If you’re just building a network of extroverts and you’re a life coach, then you’re probably missing your key market!  Is as much about what you write as the platform you use to communicate it.  You can read more about my thoughts on this in tweet-itis: (have you got symptoms?) and the art of conversation.

So next time you think about communication, think about this post.  Or even better, do it right now!  Small businesses need to work together to create sustainable ways to communicate, whilst growing their customer base; to create an altogether better world for everyone.

If you’d like more information about how I can help with your communication strategy or copywriting, please get in touch.  You can follow me on Twitter or leave a comment via this blog.

About lifeinzuri
Thirty-something Englanderin copywriter and business owner in Zurich ... Blogging about life, love, language barriers and small business on the best journey of my life :)

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