Headache free Computing

 Almost every traditionally in-house IT service can now be handled via the could. There’s dozens of articles, technical papers and reviews on Cloud computing.  Most articles, including the one in the November 2011 issue of HBR, focus on a few key factors; cost & reliability.

Whilst these are certainly important factors, there’s something more fundamental about cloud computing that really appeals to me. It’s less headache.

Most small to midsize businesses typically have a very limited IT budget, but they also tend to have a shortage of good people, time and headache-capacity. You really shouldn’t be worrying about whether your email server is working properly, if it’s connected to your blackberry, what version of which licence you have, or how you’re going to cope when your current server-admin leaves.

Get on with your business and leave everything else to a company that can deal with it more effectively. Even if it costs you 200 dollars more, you’ll still make a saving in asprin & stomache salts. Personally, I’d like to see more cloud computer marketing of this sort:

Cloud. Headache free servers.

 

Digital Partnerships

Offline, we see a lot of marketing partnerships, from tent cards in a restaurant promoting a nearby theatre, flyers in bar advertising taxi companies, through to more subtle referral relationships. This type of promotion is the main stay marketing for many small companies, and even a few very large ones. And there’s no reason why it can’t work for you online.

There are already online agents & lead generators for many industries (real estate, video conferencing, hotels), but outside of the obvious there’s plenty of opportunity to experiment with the new online relationships. For instance, chocolatiers tying up with florists for value-add or a post purchase promotion for all online sales, hotels providing coupons (post purchase) and the address & details of a local spa in it’s “nearby amenities” section. A particularly impressive, and now very mainstream, partnership is where airlines up-sell the planting of trees to counteract your environmental impact – there’s no reason any other business can’t do something similar.

If you treat local websites, like traditional local businesses, you may be able to forge partnerships that work small wonders for you.

Listening to Customer Feedback

Are you listening?

Businesses spend a lot of money on polls, customer surveys, satisfaction reports and other forms of market research. Which is why it’s surprising that so few invest (a comparatively small amount) to use social media tools to analyze customer feedback. Listening & understanding client opinions should be the first stage of any marketing campaign, and with social media, it’s possibly one of the easiest campaigns to implement. Unlike other mediums it’ll also get you real-time feedback.

I’m not going to go into the details of how to listen, Chris Brogan, and many others, do a good job of providing tips on which tools to use – whatever your budgets are. Be warned though, the old rule of garbage in – garbage out still applies! You still need to know where to look, whom to ask your proverbial questions to (prospective clients, dell evangelists vs the dell-hell group), what questions to ask and most importantly you’ll need to be able to interpret your findings into meaningful information, which can be harder than it looks.

The skills you’ve developed from traditional marketing still apply, and you’ll need to use them regularly. Social Media is just a medium, not a substitue for analysis, interpretation and applied intelligence.