The idea of “going mobile” is attractive to many business owners because it represents freedom — from overhead, from a limited audience, and even from the competition. However, the move can also be a scary one, particularly if your company has built its presence through a bricks-and-mortar storefront.
Why risk it? Greater mobility can afford you greater access to new customers, markets, and growth opportunities. Here’s a bit of advice to consider before going mobile.
1. Invest in the right technology — and learn how to use it. Moving your company’s data to the cloud isn’t complicated or expensive; apps for accessing your files on the road abound. But, just as you likely noted the operational differences when you switched from a PC to a Mac or from a BlackBerry to an iPhone, you’ll want to spend some time learning how to perform key business tasks on a mobile device.
Before you go anywhere, experiment with different options and familiarize yourself with mobile apps like GoPayment which you’ll rely on to conduct business transactions. This will help to ensure your comfort level with — and efficient use of — these tools, which can make the difference between a temporary hiccup or major outage on the road.
2. Know your “X factor.” Every successful business has at least one unique trait that helps it turn prospects into customers. Marketers call this your unique selling proposition. How well you communicate and deliver on it sets you apart.
Your USP is also a key factor in taking your business mobile, acting as a compass of sorts that guides you in staying true to your brand, even when its backdrop is constantly changing. Not sure what your USP is? Choose a clear, concise message that solves a problem your customers have. Take a cue from Domino’s Pizza, which positioned itself in the 1980s as a pizza place that delivered fresh pies in 30 minutes or less. Although that promise ended in 1993, two decades later the company is still associated with speedy delivery.
Identifying your USP can also help you pinpoint why your storefront is a success and reduce the risk of losing that appeal when you take your show on the road.
3. Make repeat appearances. Familiarity breeds trust; the more you can establish consistency with your mobile presence, the more you’ll become a “fixture” in customer’s lives — even if your location is anything but fixed.
For example, whether you’re a personal trainer or food truck operator, try to frequent the same locations. The more you become “expected” in a specific place, the more you’ll build a rapport with customers and other small businesses. They’ll be more likely to seek you out, become fans, and boost your business through word-of-mouth marketing.
4. Embrace opportunities to change. Your brand and USP should stay consistent regardless of your location. But that doesn’t mean your company shouldn’t evolve. The beauty of taking your business on the road is its unparalleled flexibility: If a given market isn’t profitable, you can move on to greener pastures. If your hours aren’t suitable, you can switch them up.
Experiment with pricing, coupons, special offers, advertisements, and new products. If these “trials” don’t work, you can abandon them quickly. But the freedom that going mobile gives you to prototype new business strategies (without the risks associated with implementing permanent changes) may prove invaluable to growing your company.