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On George Bernard Shaw and Becoming Digital

Nearly a century before the advent of the Internet, George Bernard Shaw famously said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it had taken place.” /wp-content/uploads/2016/06/shaw2_979059.jpg

Shaw’s profound words resonate with perhaps even more clarity in today’s digital age, particularly since there is so much noise out there that can blur messaging. He believed that harnessing the potential of “Life Force” meant being mindful of both the power of contemplation and the power of communication. Complicating matters is the fact that since the days that Mr. Shaw wrote Pygmalion and Major Barbara, the world has gone digital. So what’s an entrepreneur to do?

Well understanding that just because a message from a business is posted or tweeted doesn’t always mean it reaches its target audience is a great first step in understanding what Mr. Shaw was getting at with his assertion that communication can actually be an illusion. Therefore, “always on” small businesses are wise to take a closer look at the methodology of how they attempt to reach their customers on social media today.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners have always carried the weight of their company, with precious few days off and no mega-corporation to hide within. Furthermore, in today’s digital economy, the pressure to “mind the store” is literally always on. Customers are online 24/7 from every device and location, and 74% of customers now use social networks to share experiences to help them make better buying decisions.

Therefore, how can the newer, smaller players retain their uniqueness yet use social selling, digital decision tools and E-commerce solutions to compete with those that Coffee Break with Game Changers Radio host Bonnie D. Graham refers to as “the big behemoths?”

The second installment of a two-part episode dedicated to providing answers to this question recently aired on SAP Radio and it opened with the above quote from Mr. Shaw. Both segments featured expert insight from thought leaders including Lil Mohan, a faculty member at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and former GM for Amazon’s Mobile Platform business unit; Max Dower, tee-shirt artist whose business was launched on social media, founder of “Unfortunate Portrait” and frequent contributor to NPR’s Marketplace; and Susan Reynolds, Global Vice-President of Partner Ecosystem at SAP, who focuses on digital selling and has been named a CRN “Woman of the Channel.”

The show offered valuable insights into how small business owners can bravely go head-to-head with the big boxes within the new digital reality. Important questions for small businesses were also addressed including:

  1. How much technology does a customer expect from their “corner store”?
  2. How can business owners who pride themselves on personal touch avoid losing their way?
  3. Is digital selling offense or defense for small businesses?
  4. Does a small business need an IT expert to go digital?

Entrepreneurs and small business owners can find opportunities to succeed while staying “authentic.” And invariably Shaw himself would have advised them to tap into the untapped potential of their own “Life Force” as they strive to achieve more effective communication with both existing and soon-to-be customers.

Link to hear the full program

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