Top 9 Investments Your Company Should Make

Topics: Branding, Business, Ideas, Innovation, Motivation, Sales, SEO, Social Media, Technology By: Jackie Ta
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Why are investments so important? They are what drive your goals to reality. Determine what investments make sense for your business and monitor them to ensure that they still meet your business needs and financial goals. Investing in your company is the most important investment you can make. Know how to use these investments to maximize your ROI.

Here’s a checklist of nine investments that your company should consider:

  1. Technology. Be clear on why you and your company invest in technology. Ask yourself, “Do we invest in technology to…”
    • Grow revenue?
    • Manage costs better?
    • Be strategic in a competitive market?
    • Transform how we operate internally?
    • Consider or transition to outsourced or hosted solutions?
    • Streamline operational processes?
    • Migrate from legacy systems to newer technology?
  2. Optimization. Know how to effectively market your worth and your company’s value. Ask yourself, “What do we need to do to be successful? Do we need to…”
    • Have our website optimized for mobile users?
    • Sell online?
    • Have a website that’s search engine optimized?
    • Offer products/services via buying/selling sites such as Groupon or other group?
    • Track and analyze behaviors of visitors to your site?
    • Improve online visibility?
  3. Social Networks. Know how you can use social networks to add to your bottom-line. Ask yourself, “Do we…”
    • Use multiple social networking sites? Which ones?
    • Have “Facebook for Business” page?
    • Use discussion forums?
    • Have blogs?
    • Have podcasts?
    • Advertise with social networking sites?
  4. Online Visibility. Know the resources to use to establish and maintain online presence. Ask yourself, “Which ones of these online resources or technology will help us?”
    • 1&1
    • GoDaddy
    • Intuit/Homestead
    • Microsoft SB Live
    • Register
    • Verisign
    • Web.com/Website Pros (Network Solutions)
    • Yahoo Small Business
  5. Paid Advertising and Marketing Services. Invest in the right services to advertise online. Ask yourself, “Which ones of these services should we advertise with?”
    • Adbrite
    • Amazon
    • AOL Listings
    • Bing (Microsoft)
    • Doubleclick (Google)
    • Facebook
    • Foursquare
    • GoDaddy
    • Google AdSense
    • Google AdWords
    • iContact
    • LinkedIn
    • Mobile Ads (e.g. Google AdMob, Apple iAd, etc.)
    • MySpace
    • Twitter via sponsored tweets
    • Yahoo
    • Yellowpages.com
    • Yelp
    • Other paid (and free) advertising sites:
      • Bebo
      • Blackplanet
      • Cafemom
      • Classmates
      • Flixster
      • Friendster
      • Hi5
      • Livejournal
      • Myyearbook
      • Ning
      • Reunion
      • Tagged
      • Xanga
      • Yuku
  6. Free Advertising and Marketing Services. Invest in social media that you don’t have to pay to use. Promote your business online using any of the following sites. Ask yourself, “Which ones will serve your purpose?”
    • Blogger
    • Facebook
    • Foursquare
    • Google +
    • LinkedIn
    • MySpace
    • Path
    • Pinterest
    • Reddit
    • StumbleUpon
    • Twitter
    • Tumblr
    • Windows Live Space
    • WordPress
    • Yelp
    • Other blogging sites
    • Other social media sites
  7. Enterprise Social Software (Internal Social Networking Site). If you’re interested in becoming strategically more social and embedding social into your business operational processes and practices, consider investing in an enterprise social software solution for your business. Use it to improve efficiency, collaboration, communication, and other process streamlining. Ask yourself, “How do we utilize technology to connect and collaborate with others globally? How can we use it to maximize our ROI?” Here are some examples of how social software tools can help you and your company:
    • Find people and get answers to your questions quicker than ever before.
    • Form or join a community to connect with groups of interest. Emphasize diversity in content and members and an openness to opinions and suggestions.
    • Follow colleagues.
    • Leverage the collective wisdom of the community.

    Here’s a list of some enterprise social networking platforms:

    • BlueKiwi
    • BroadVision Clearvale
    • Cisco Quad
    • Communispace
    • Huddle
    • IBM Connections
    • Igloo Software
    • Jive Software
    • Lithium
    • Microsoft SharePoint (in conjunction with NewsGator)
    • MindTouch
    • Moxie Software
    • Mzinga
    • NewsGator
    • Qontext
    • Saba
    • Salesforce.com Chatter
    • SAP SuccessFactors
    • Spigit
    • Socialcast
    • Socialtext
    • Telligent
    • ThoughtFarmer
    • TIBCO Tibbr
    • VMWare Socialtext
    • Yammer

    IBM recognizes the importance of incorporating social into the business world. Check out this article where IBM’s director of social software shared her view of the enterprise social software world. It’s a worthy read.

  8. Other Online Tools. Invest in other online tools that get you online visibility. Determine what you want to accomplish and the mediums to use to enhance customer’s experience. Ask yourself, “What online capabilities do we need to invest in to better ourselves in the marketplace? Should we also use:
    • Blogs/weblogs
    • Microblogging
    • RSS feeds and activity streams
    • Web Content Management System (CMS)
    • Wikis
  9. Social Responsibilities. Depending on your industry, invest in activities or causes that show your company is being socially responsible. As a company providing a product or service, you have a social responsibility to the public at large to behave and act in a responsible manner and inform them the potential impacts that your product or service and business practice may have on the environment, consumers, communities, and employees. You would want to demonstrate to the public that you have a clear strategy, plan, and measure that visibly communicate that your company places consumers’ interests ahead of your bottom line. Ask yourself, “How do we want to show our existing and prospective consumers/customers that we’re behaving responsibly, locally and globally?”
    • Online initiatives aimed at informing them about how we’re behaving responsibly
    • Advertising practices – advertising to target group:
      • Demographics
      • Market spaces
      • Communities
      • Activist groups
      • Others
    • A clearly articulated Mission Statement promising to demonstrate responsibility for the impact our activities and actions may have on the consumers, environment, and communities.
    • A detailed report of our company’s environmental impact, if applicable
    • Public/service/community outreach
      • Public education/awareness
      • Public announcements
      • Offers of grants or scholarships
      • Tips/guidelines
      • Sponsorships of events, fundraisers, and other community-focused initiatives
      • Changes to our operations that show us being more responsible and their impacts
    • Labor practices
    • If applicable, disclosure of whether our product is made in the USA or aboard
    • Donation to charities and how much
    • If applicable, distribution methods that indicate origin of travel of product to its designation

    Depending on your industry, you may also want to consider the following actions that will have a positive impact on your reputation as a company:

    • Support local businesses
    • Be involved in the community
    • Promote awareness or initiatives for social worthy causes (e.g. healthcare, animal rights, crime prevention, education, poverty, censorship, senior rights, children rights, etc.)
    • Promote human rights
    • Promote environmental causes and protection
    • Promote safe and ethical practices
    • Promote waste reduction
    • Promote other products or practices that are good for the environment
    • Participate in causes related to your industry
    • Partner with other organizations for a common goal
    • Promote community involvement
    • Be a mentor and positive role model

    Everything that you do as a company displays your level of social responsibility or lack thereof. You’ll be held accountable for your actions. What you do and don’t do speaks volume. Act responsibly and the world will take notice. Act irresponsibly and the world will scrutinize you.

Decide what investments are most important to your company, why they are important, and steps you are taking or need to take in order to meet your business objectives. Consider your customers while making these decisions.

What initiatives are most important to your company? What investments have you or your company made that proved to be a good ROI. I’d like to hear your experience.

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