Wait…the City Of Philadelphia Is More Tech Savvy Than YOU?

City government discovers the smart phone. Has your business?

The City of Philadelphia is planning on rolling out a mobile app.  Let me repeat that in case you missed it:  The. City. Of. Philadelphia. Is. Planning. On. Rolling. Out. A. Mobile. App.

And what about you?  Does your business have a mobile app?  For God’s sake, do you mean to tell me that the City of Philadelphia is going to have a mobile app and you don’t?  This is a city using applications and servers built back in revolutionary times, a city that couldn’t get a wireless network up and running, a city whose parking meters can barely be deciphered by even those of us who speak English and have college degrees.  And you don’t have a mobile app?

Wait…is your website even mobile friendly?  Here’s one way you can stay ahead of City Hall.  That’s because the City of Philadelphia’s own website isn’t mobile friendly.  If you don’t believe me try clicking on the link from your Droid or iPhone (which, like so many millions of Americans, is probably your source for reading a lot of stuff nowadays, right?).  The City’s normal website comes up and it’s pretty impossible to navigate.  For God’s sake, don’t even try this on a Blackberry.  It might melt in your hands.

Making your website mobile friendly and creating a mobile app is so easy today.  And so essential today.

Why essential?  Because according to one study there are almost 330 million mobile phone users in the U.S. (which strikes me as odd because the U.S. Census puts our population at about 312 million, but this is the Internet so I’m assuming all these numbers are absolutely correct).   And it was recently reported that 55 percent of adults in this country use their phone to browse the web.  I’m going to guess a few of these people live in or near the city of Philadelphia and may, just may, want to get some information from the city’s website.  Preferably without going blind in the process.  Good luck with that.

But forget about the city for a minute and let’s talk about you.  And your small business.  You’ve got a website.  Now make it mobile friendly.  No, not your entire site.  Pick a few key pages, like the one with your contact information.  Why?  Because the search engines on your mobile phone (i.e. Google) are designed to look for mobile-friendly sites first.  So if your site is mobile-friendly you’ll be found before your competitor.  And if all those adults are now using their smartphones to browse, this seems kind of important, right?

It’s easier than you think to make your site mobile friendly,  too.  For starters, ask your Internet hosting provider. Many of them will offer this service for only an arm and a leg.  If you strike out there go to HowToGoMo.  That’s a Google site and they’ve partnered with DudaMobile, which specializes in making websites mobile friendly.  They also have no relationship whatsoever to Keanu Reeves.  The cost is cheap and the return is huge.  Maybe someday the City of Philadelphia will consider the same.

And speaking of the City of Philadelphia, can you believe those guys are working on a mobile app?  Good for them.  Someone there does, in fact, get it.  According to the report mentioned above, the city’s mobile app will help us report problem potholes, trashy blocks and broken streetlights on our smart phones.  It’s good customer service.

So think about this:  a mobile app for your customers.  Where they can view their order and payment history or check on the status of an open order.  Where they can access safety specs, brochures and other information about the products they bought from you.  Where they can check on available inventory, place new orders, or request more information.  Where they can have direct access to their own personal customer service person who knows them so well.

It’s not as expensive as you think.  You can hire one of the 18,000 Russian programmers who currently reside in Northeast Philadelphia or go on Craigslist, Elance or oDesk and find a real life Eastern European who lives in Eastern Europe and who will do the work even cheaper.  All in all, you’ll probably spend about $5-7K.  But in these economic times, smart business people are thinking of new ways to keep their existing customers happy and prove that they have more value than their competition.

So go mobile.  You don’t want to be technological behind the City of Philadelphia, do you?