22/06/2017 by Jillian Als 0 Comments
DIFM is still the true model for service providers #SFSNYC
With temperatures in the high 90s, it made it easy to enjoy the air-conditioned sessions that centered around current challenges for SMBs, AI and automation technologies and of course the latest research and trends affecting the market. Let me share with you some of the key take-aways.
DIFM is still the preferred model
The challenges SMBs are facing, as well as the companies who provide solutions, were addressed and celebrated by much of the content at the summit. The discussion among solution providers is figuring out how to best help SMBs succeed. YP.com’s CEO, Jared Rowe, talked about their core belief in providing a high-touch sales model in order to support small businesses effectively, establish trust and maintain their business over time.
Even in a DIY-dedicated discussion the theme was clear, SMBs need help and DIY is only a cheap temporary option if they have the time and resources to dedicate to it, which most do not. If DIY isn’t the answer, how does everyone get a piece of the pie? Well Sharon Rowlands from ReachLocal argues that “you can’t be everything to everyone,” and that companies looking to service SMBs need to segment and focus to find success.
There is no doubt that the Do-It-For-Me (DIFM) model is still the best way to service the small business, but the challenge for service providers is to take into account the fragmented need of SMB audiences and base their offerings on market data instead of intuition and perception of where the market is moving. Because the market is developing rapidly and every year we see changes in needs and expectations from SMBs seeking to strengthen their online visibility.
Don’t fear AI and machine learning - embrace it
It wouldn’t be a tech conference without some serious discussion around the future of the industry in relation to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning technology. Specifically, Chatbots were discussed in a session with Closely, TGI Fridays and Microsoft Bing. While it’s still very early days, the takeaway is that bots are already great, helpful tools for brands. They ultimately will allow companies small and large to understand their customers better but only as part of the entire equation that is good customer service.
I attended NextM a few months back in Copenhagen, a media conference for companies selling at the enterprise level, and the theme was the same. AI and machine learning will not completely replace marketing technology. They will, however, go a long way in helping automate some parts of the customer journey to make the companies more effective, across not only marketing, but other areas of the business like customer service as well. Let’s not be afraid of this technology ‘disruption’, rather let’s start identifying the opportunities it has to offer in making business more effective!
The latest research brings good news for SMB service providers
To a more immediate term and tangible effect, there was some great recent research presented throughout the conference. The prognosis for digital marketing providers is good. 63% of small businesses are looking to increase their digital budgets (Borrell) and both Borrell and Street Fight research show that the biggest winners of budget allocation are going to social media and email marketing. Customer relationship management (CRM) is also on the move which makes sense when you consider it goes hand-in-hand with email marketing.
I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to chat with the leaders in this space but also our partners about many of these topics. If you haven’t already heard about Mono CRM be sure to get in touch with us, it’s a fantastic opportunity to add value to your current product stack and help establish ROI with your small business customers.
Next up: SIINDA’s Media Tech Conference
We are already looking forward to the coming Media Tech Conference in Valencia, Spain this fall, where you will find the Mono Team on and off the stage. Hope to see you there!