Modern businesses are expected to be tech-savvy, plain and simple.
And heck, some might even argue that businesses are only as good as the technology that’s propping them up.
From productivity and marketing software to hardware and beyond, there’s a ton of potential to spend big on technology for any given business.
The problem? Many businesses fail to understand how investing in such tech will ultimately result in any sort of ROI. With an endless array of SaaS products and hardware out there to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and likewise spend needlessly if you aren’t careful.
So how can your business build a smarter tech stack that will actually result in returns? Here are five tips and principles to follow, especially if you’re working with a smaller budget.
Emphasize Outbound Marketing
First thing’s first: let’s talk about marketing.
The boom of inbound marketing has resulted in a massive flux of automation and intelligence tools which can certainly be enticing for new businesses that want to attract some customers.
The problem? Such systems can be costly and likewise time-consuming in terms of an actual ROI.
Businesses shouldn’t neglect the power of good, old-fashioned outreach. Rather than assume that press or links are going to fall into your lap, going after prospects and publications directly is a smart move. No marketing tool is going to do all the legwork for you.
“When you’re a nobody without any money in the budget to spend on PR, it’s tough,” notes Ajay Goel of GMass. “But it’s not impossible.”
Until you have a significant customer base and traffic, paid investments such as CRMs and automation systems can be put on hold. In other words, don’t put the cart ahead of the horse.
Use Social Media as a Research Tool
On a related note, there’s a ton of hype surrounding social media.
While it’s true that social ads can be incredibly effective, modern social media can be a massive time and money-sink for new businesses.
There’s an expectation for businesses to at the very least have a social presence, there are smarter ways to use Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn beyond ads. Social media can be a fantastic research tool for next to nothing.
For example, there are tons of free tools to analyze your social media competitors to understand how they’re appealing to your target audience. You can easily see what sorts of content they’re creating, products they’re pushing and what their unique selling proposition is. These data points can better influence your own marketing strategy without spending a dime.
Get Thrifty with Your Video Tech
Video marketing is exploding in popularity right now and businesses are expected to be on board.
Of course, many businesses are rightfully concerned about the cost associated with video equipment.
However, consider that video marketing doesn’t have to translate into a massive investment in hardware or software. For example, a modern iPhone boasts fantastic quality for simple vlogs and off-the-cuff videos. Also, consider how putting together slideshow videos is a cinch if you already have written content on hand.
If you want to get serious about video, building a low-cost YouTube studio is likewise easier than ever if you know what products to look for.
Find Freebies That Work for You
Don’t neglect the power of “free.”
The idea that you have to pay for software that’s worthwhile is totally misguided. Many of the best applications for businesses out there are totally free and will remain that way. For example, consider some of the top SMB apps of 2019 including…
- Slack, allowing for swift communication within the office or for collaborating with teams beyond your own
- Trello, helping track the progress of projects and hold your team accountable for their day-to-day activities
- Expensify, letting businesses track their expenses and not have to constantly second-guess their budgets and spending habits
And this only scratches the surface of what’s available for free. The takeaway here is that a big budget doesn’t necessarily result in better results.
Step Up Your Team’s Tech Training
Last but not least, consider how training your team on technology has a huge impact on whether or not the tools you invest in actually get used. What’s the point in paying for something if not everyone understands how it works? Getting your team on board with your tools from the word “go” and knowing their practical applications is an absolute must-do that’s easy to overlook.
Coming up with a robust tech stack for your business doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to break the bank. By sticking to the principles above, you can better ensure that your business is equipped with the tools that it needs regardless of your budget.