Local businesses like the Wiser Company and Pa Bunk’s Natural Market & Café have incorporated tablet computers into work days, while other companies are using social media to build fan bases and “word-of-web” advertising. (TMP File Photo)
As technology has become an integral part of day-to-day living, companies continue seeking new and alternative ways to reach consumers.
From Instagram to Twitter, businesses large and small utilize social media to reach an audience that is hungry for updates. Other organizations, like Main Street Murfreesboro, create convenience for tech-savvy shoppers by providing free wireless Internet in historic downtown.
When owners of the Wiser Company, a Murfreesboro-based information solutions firm, were exploring ways to invest in technology for its employees, management turned to tablets as the perfect option to enhance the company’s collaborative culture.
“It was important for us to find a solution that made it easier for employees to stay connected and collaborate on projects and ideas,” said Cy Wiser, founder and chief executive officer of the Wiser Company.
“Many of our employees already use tablets in their personal lives, and we wanted to bring that experience to the office,” Wiser said. “Our employees deliver great work but also understand the importance of a work-life balance. Giving everyone a Nexus 7 tablet helps them accomplish both.”
The decision to choose the Nexus 7 was driven by management’s desire to find a fun business solution that would help people stay connected, yet work efficiently.
Being able to do basic tasks like checking e-mail is one thing, but the ability to create and share documents while on the go was also important, he said.
Wiser employees are able to use their tablets to create, access and share documents with co-workers or clients through the cloud service Google Drive.
No more waiting to return to the office to create and e-mail files. Information can be created and shared quickly, making collaboration faster, easier and more enjoyable.
According to a company press release, Wiser employees said they have appreciated the flexibility that tablets provide. Tablets have been used to access and share documents when meeting clients away from the office and during offsite team meetings.
While Pa Bunk’s Natural Market & Café can’t provide tablets to all of its customers, owner Corey Williams said one “generous customer” purchased a brand new iPad for the store to have on hand.
“So, we now offer our customers a way to check e-mail, surf the web, get news and weather updates, read iBook samples, read The Murfreesboro Post online, right here in the store if they don’t have a device with them,” Williams explained. “They simply can ask for the iPad, give us their driver’s license or major credit card to hold until they finish, and there’s no charge.”
As a small business in downtown Murfreesboro, Pa Bunk’s bases a majority of its marketing around its own website www.pabunks.com and social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The store has also invested in an Apple-based point of sales system that allows Williams to track inventory, order from vendors, and pull sales reports online.
By syncing his iPhone with the business computer, Williams said he can seamlessly work at any hour of the day.
“I personally communicate with more than 25 vendors via text, e-mail and Facebook, right from my iPhone wherever I am,” he said. “I do a lot of my local product orders via text.”
Customers are also treated to free Wi-Fi, so that they too may continue working or watching crazy cat videos on YouTube while enjoying a cup of coffee. Those who comment on Pa Bunk’s Facebook page before visiting on Friday will receive a 10 percent discount as part of Facebook Fan Friday.
Word-of-mouth advertising has now become word-of-web advertising, as more writers become bloggers, and even grandmothers are posting Twitter updates. Internet users and readers are as diverse as the world itself, which means companies have to be creative in targeting a demographic.
For the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, this means bringing multimedia into the mix, like putting a greater emphasis on video and photography to cater to this market.
“Each Broadway production or celebrity shows provides its own material, but by adding our creative content to the mix, we have greater flexibility in how we cut ads, create promos, and connect with different audiences,” said Tony Marks, spokesman for TPAC.
He said the company cannot expect every media outlet to cover everything it does, so in a way, his team has become a supplemental media outlet as well, transmitting the TPAC story on its own terms.
“Specifically, with ‘The Attic Sessions,’ we created an ongoing video series in which we interview musicians about their song craft and record acoustic performances in the War Memorial Auditorium,” Marks said. “That entire project is homegrown and steeped in Nashville’s history and tradition as the home of the emerging songwriter. We invest a great deal in the quality of the video, so it serves our purposes and also gives the artists something they will want to share it with their fans.”
TPAC has increased its outreach to bloggers and online outlets because “they bring the added benefits of being easily published and easily shared, so they make perfect partners in creating more in-depth conversations about upcoming events as opposed to placing a one-time mention of what’s happening at TPAC on a specific night,” Marks continued.
While word-of-mouth is still the most effective form of promotion, it hinges on credibility. Testimonials from random people don’t always serve a business well, he said.
“For the Broadway series, we recently created an 11-member Review Crew with a diverse group of people who have some exposure to the performing arts and who are active online,” he said. “We provide them tickets to opening night and additional details, and they provide a more informed glimpse of the show.”
And when it comes to social media sites, TPAC’s presence has evolved.
“We started with promotions, discounts, and on-sale announcements because they are the easy things, and they’ve increased ticket sales and followers, but you can’t stay at that level of interaction without damaging your online identity over time,” Marks said. “We’re working to move away from that strictly promotional aspect and more into engagement.”
TPAC continues its long-standing efforts through direct mail, storefront posters and graffiti on buildings, while adapting right alongside traditional media. However, Marks said, it invests in content worth sharing, “whether it’s a quality review video or a silly meme of the week.”
“People aren’t sitting at home waiting for you to come find them; they’re active, interested and discerning. So, we do our best to be out there in front of them as much as possible and at their convenience,” he said.
“We’re doing everything we can to bring theatergoers into the TPAC community online by having broader conversations each day about what role TPAC plays in Middle Tennessee, (rather) than just worrying about ticket sales,” he concluded.