SMALL-BUSINESS OWNERS, what are you doing to stand out from the crowd? Each week, we focus on an entrepreneur who has lessons to share that we think will resonate with other small-business owners.
Shane Neman, founder of mobile marketing service Ez Texting, answers our questions:
What are you doing to stand out from the crowd?
A few years ago, the term “mobile marketing” was a concept far too esoteric and technical for businesses to grasp, let alone attempt to implement in-house. Ez Texting offers a web-based mobile text messaging platform for businesses. Here’s how it works: Clients connect to Ez Texting online, tap out a message and then it is sent out to their intended audience. Customers on the receiving end can choose to either ignore the note or respond to the promotion. When a local sales team from Jostens, the yearbook and class ring company, recently used Ez Texting to remind students in the Puyallup, Wash., area about payment due dates, the number of people who paid for the company’s graduation products ahead of schedule rose by as much as 40%. Because of that success rate this Jostens team scrapped its direct mail campaign, saving it roughly $1,000 in postage.
Name: Shane Neman
Business: Ez Texting, a mobile marketing service for businesses.
Industry: Marketing Services
Location: New York
Year founded: 2006
Number of employees: 12
Web site: eztexting.com
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
We love helping people reach that ” Aha! ” moment. So many clients come to us with ideas they can only conceptualize. It’s rewarding to present them with techniques that can help their ideas evolve into real results.
What’s the biggest challenge of owning your own business?
There is a delicate balance of timing that must be maintained between customer service, research and development and marketing. Knowing when and how much to focus on each of these aspects is an art that can only be mastered through trial and error and a little intuition.
What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve overcome?
Educating customers about what exactly mobile marketing is, how they can use it and showing them what kind of results they can expect. That’s a big feat for a small team of people, but we have managed to help over 40,000 customers and continue to do so every day.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
Underestimating the knowledge and capabilities of our customers. At first, we personally serviced each of our clients, holding their hand through each step of the process. Truth is, we should have realized much sooner that the more we automated our services, the more customers could explore the capabilities of our system and then call us with their questions. To achieve this, we built out our web site with custom software that answers some customer queries and allows them to set up accounts on their own. We also added more questions to the frequently asked questions section on the site. So now, instead of calling right away, customers can simply read about the process and figure out if it’s right for them. That automation has not only saved our customers’ time, it’s shaved hours off our sales team’s workload.
What’s the best business advice you can offer?
Transparency is key. Be truthful and treat every customer — no matter how small — as if they are your most important customer. Be sure to also interact as much as possible with them. Ultimately, this practice will help you identify and understand new challenges so that you may better solve them.
ARE YOU A STAND OUT?
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