Dell's head of small business asks how you differentiate your business.
Erik Day knows what it takes for small businesses to succeed. As the vice president and general manager of North American small business for Dell Technologies, Day has a keen insight into what small businesses are doing right and what they're doing wrong.
As the keynote speaker during the inaugural business-to-small-business B2SMB Summit, Day shared his advice on what he believes it takes to rise to the top in today's competitive small business marketplace.
Day said small businesses have to find ways to separate themselves from the crowd.
"What is your differentiation," Day asked. "What are you going to do different in the organization or the industry you service?"
Day told the more than 250 in attendance that in addition to figuring out your differentiator and getting a good understanding of who your customers are, there are several other key steps small businesses should be taking in order to succeed:
- Website: Your website has to be the center of your business. Day said it needs to look good, have good content and, possibly most important, have a commerce component to it.
Day said it is so vital that your customers can not only go to your website to learn about what you're selling, but that can purchase what you're selling online, too.
- Search: Google plays a critical role in how people find your business. With that in mind, Day said investing time and resources into organic and paid search strategies to ensure you are among the top search results must be a top priority. "That is by far the [biggest] way you are going to break through in your community," Day said.
- Retargeting: Instead of focusing all your energy on landing new customers, you need to put a lot of effort into making sure your existing customers stick with you. Having a CRM infrastructure that keeps track of your current customers so you can continue engaging them after their initial purchase is critical. You need to make your customers feel like you understand who they are and what they need so they remain your customers moving forward, said Day.
- Social: Having a strong social media presence in order to interact with your customers is a must, according to Day. "This is the way that we now communicate and this the way we talk to our customer base," Day said.
- Email: While some people may think email is a dying breed, Day said it still remains an important channel for engaging with your customers. "We use affiliate partners through email to make sure our customers feel they can get the best opportunity to buy value based technology from us all the time,' Day said.
Other advice Day offered included partnering with analytics firms to get the best research data available, establishing yourself as an industry expert by getting yourself published online via blogs and other websites and making sure you get your customers to look at the big picture and not just one individual purchase.
Following his keynote, Dell Technologies was awarded the B2SMB Brand of the Year award.
Among some of the summit's other first-day highlights were a presentation on quantifying the B2SMB marketplace by Charles Laughlin, a lead analyst with the Local Search Association and Martin Schmidt, lead of business strategic development with 1 & 1. The panel was moderated by Stu Richards, CEO of Bredin.
There was also a forum on scaling B2SMB services and fostering SMB innovation. The panelists included Mark Cannon, CEO of Boomtime, Cesar Keller, an investor entrepreneur and former Microsoft executive, Randy Parker, CEO of Brevi and Annette Tonti, CEO of The Innovation Scout. The forum was moderated by Peter Krasilovsky, a principal analyst with LocalOnliner.
The summit's second, and final, day will feature keynote addresses by Carrie Jacobson, vice president of tech services for Office Depot, Jonathan Cherins, executive vice president at Yext and Brett Tolbert, vice president of SMB marketing and data science at Comcast Business.