Small businesses can, and should, take advantage of mobile technology


It should come as no surprise that more and more of us are attached at the hip, literally and figuratively, to our smartphones.

Nationally, more than 50 percent of the population carries smartphones around with them daily. That statistic is closer to 90 percent in the Washington metropolitan area. Mobile devices allow us to communicate and conduct extensive research wherever we are, while also reporting our patterns and preferences in real-time. Our smartphones are becoming more and more embedded in our daily lives.

The technologies and capabilities associated with mobile devices are increasing exponentially. Devices in our pockets link with sensors in places where we shop. We no longer have to pull out a credit card to pay at the store. The shop’s sensor knows who we are, what we bought and how much to charge us. Our smartphones send GPS signals that, combined with those from fellow travelers along the same route, accurately depict real-time speed of traffic and enable accurate warnings of delays and arrival predictions.

As we grow to expect instant information at our fingertips, small businesses must take advantage of any opportunities to reach potential customers on their smartphones and make sure that their information is easily accessible.

The Alexandria Small Business Development Center recently hosted a mobile marketing for small business program presented by Ray Sidney-Smith of W3 Consulting. It highlighted how urgent it is for every business to develop a mobile marketing strategy. It’s not sufficient to just boast a robust website; we must also streamline our messages into a mobile format. We must anticipate ways to connect with our customers’ changing mobile needs in a way that adds value to our interactions. If you are not sure how to approach this, now is the time to find out.

While there is no single mobile marketing strategy that will work for everyone, here are a few common tactics to help you get started:

• Think mobile first in every aspect of your marketing and communications plan. The development center can point you to recommended websites for help.

• Think about the different devices that people use to access your business information and streamline your message to make sure that important content is prominently displayed in a way that will be visible on a laptop, tablet or mobile device. It may also be worth designing a separate mobile version of your website.

• Consider offering a special discount or deal to customers who use smartphones to share information about your business through Facebook or Twitter.

• Determine how you might be able to use QR codes to increase traffic to your website.

Getting started with mobile marketing may seem intimidating, but the Alexandria Small Business Development Center is here to help. We offer insights on mobile strategies, as well as social media in general. Visit to learn more about our education programs on marketing and social media. We also schedule monthly one-to-one social media clinic sessions with Sidney-Smith who is digital business strategist. As always, our resources and services are provided to Alexandria businesses without cost. For more information, contact the development center at 703-778-1292 or

The writer is the director of the Alexandria Small Business 
Development Center.