Managing Your Web Presence In The 21st Century
Since the 21st Century began we have seen an enormous acceleration in the use of the web by consumers and the tools available to business owners to promote their businesses online. If I was to write an article covering all the things that website owners need to do to have the “perfect” website, it would quickly turn into hundreds of pages. So rather than focusing on the micro detail, I want to give a more macro overview of what I believe are the 5 key things that you need to work on to maximise your web presence.
- Put Your Website At The Centre Of Your Business
More prospects and customers will view your website than any other promotional material you create and in many cases it will be the first and only element they see. Give it the respect it deserves and dedicate some time to managing it and promoting it at least monthly.
- Update Your Website – Preferably Weekly
Visitors like seeing plentiful and useful content, but more importantly Google loves it! This in turn improves the visibility of your site online and therefore brings more visitors and ultimately more business. Create special offers, write an article, update the news, add some testimonials, add a case study, update your portfolio and add content to your Facebook/Twitter/Blog – the choice is yours.
- Focus On Creating High Quality Content
Poor content is unacceptable to many people and if your spelling mistake is in a keyword, then Google will not reference it properly and you’ll also lose visits. Be sure to check spelling, punctuation and grammar and ALWAYS use original content.
- Get A Mobile Website
Good marketing is about making your customers’ experience as pleasurable as possible and without a mobile website visitors will have to overcome numerous issues when trying to browse your website and that’s just plain frustrating. So with the phenomenal growth in Smartphone and tablet usage it just makes plain sense to provide them with a mobile website to view.
- Do What You Can – Outsource What You Can’t
Most business owners suffer from a lack of time and funds. However, before you sacrifice your precious time to save some money think carefully about whether you would be better off outsourcing. You could create that Adwords campaign yourself, but do you truly understand what you are doing? If not you could waste more than you’ll ever save. Instead you could use your precious time to create more content.
Click the link to read the full On-line Marketing Article
How Search Rank Beats The Brand
In the old days you had to spend money on marketing your business in order to have people find you. Therefore, by definition, your success was almost directly tied to brand recognition. Think about the Yellow Pages (Golden Pages in Ireland). In its heyday you open it up to find a specific company and you would be hit by full-page ads. You would flick through page after page of full page ads and then the half-page ads would appear, followed by the quarter-page and then the line listings. The bigger ads would typically get the most calls, but they would also be the most expensive. It wasn’t unheard of for companies to hand over €20,000 or more for one ad!
Then Google came along and something interesting began to happen. Slowly at first and then with increasing frequency Google’s search rank began to replace the need for us to buy from recognised companies. In other words, Google’s search rank became a de facto brand identity for unknown brands.
You might disagree with me and in some instances you’d be right to. However, the fact remains that these days most start-up businesses will spend more on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) than they do on brand marketing. Obviously the ideal is to have a well recognised brand backed by a first place, or at least first page, rank in search results. When you look at the Google search results, the listings are all the same. You might be on the same page as a major brand and visually you are both on a par. The Yellow pages approach of “bigger is better” is meaningless in Google’s listings. So, the question is ‘can having a good search ranking can be more valuable in this “search-engine” age than brand?’
Click on the link to read the complete marketing article.
Great Marketing - The Million Piece Jigsaw
I was just listening to the radio and came across a business discussion in which a branding expert was talking about marketing. I know the guy and he is a very knowledgeable and eloquent speaker. He was talking about how important perfection is in marketing. The importance of focusing on fonts and not using lots of them or choosing and sticking to a specific colour or colours for your branding, etc. Everything he said was correct but as he spoke, something struck me like never before.
Marketing is like a million-piece jigsaw and most people think that to be successful in business you need to finish the whole jigsaw.
The fact is that “finishing the jigsaw” is only possible for large corporate companies with hundreds of staff and huge budgets and even then they rarely get beyond the 900 thousandth piece! The reality for the rest of us is that we have to make do with completing a fraction of the jigsaw. So how can SMEs be successful without completing the jigsaw? Quite easily actually - stop worrying about the whole picture!
Just like a jigsaw, marketing is about the pieces. But each form of marketing is not a single piece, but a cluster of pieces that make up a small part of the picture. Therefore, don’t worry about the million pieces and simply focus on the 50 pieces that make up one recognisable part of the whole picture…
This is just a small portion of the Marketing Article on our main website.
Starting A Business? Research Before Spend
If you are thinking of starting a business or a new service within an existing business, it is extremely easy to get carried away in the moment. Everyone knows that you start with a business plan, but that might just be your first and quite fatal mistake. As you write your plan a strange thing happens; you start to believe your own hype! It is easily done, everything sounds so plausible and the numbers you include in your forecasts and projections seem easily achievable.
Of course we also know that research is a big part of writing a business plan, but few people at this stage truly ”listen” to what the research tells them. They want the answers to be what they want to hear and that’s a very dangerous thing. Before they know it they have spent tens of thousands on a business that never had a chance!
The answer to this dilemma is four-fold:
1) You need to gather as much information as possible. Look at every possible angle, from target market to price points, competition and need.
2) Don’t dismiss any data that contradicts your belief in this new venture.
3) Take all positive data with a pinch of salt. Be your own hardest critic and don’t accept data at face value.
4) TAKE YOUR TIME! Don’t rush this process, it takes time to cover your bases, but you will literally pay the price if you rush ahead.
In summary, you may find that the data dissuades you from going beyond business plan stage, but don’t see that as a failure - you just saved yourself a ton of money and heartache!
This is just a short summary of the main New Business Research article on our main website.
Have You Heard About QR Codes?
Innovation is amazing! Just when you thought allowing people to find your business and contact you couldn’t get any easier, along comes a new innovation that makes it easier again.
Take QR Codes for example. They were invented in 1994 by a Japanese company(Denso-Wave) and like so many technologies now used for marketing businesses, QR Codes were originally used for tracking car parts through the manufacturing process. There’s a good reason for their initial use and it’s in the name – “Quick Response Codes”. They were designed to allow equipment to read them faster than traditional bar codes; a very important requirement in a manufacturing environment where time is money.
Fast forward about 15 years and some bright spark realised that these clever little codes could be used for marketing purposes because now literally everyone can have a QR code reader in their hands. No, I don’t mean that we would all walk around with those supermarket checkout readers in our pockets. QR Codes don’t need lasers to read them, just a simple camera – just like the cameras now built into virtually every mobile phone.
So the hardware problem was solved but you still needed QR code reading software and that problem was solved with the introduction of the IPhone and other smart phones. If you have one of these devices you can now download a free QR code reader app and once installed, you are free to scan every QR code you see!
Are you still with me? Because this entire preamble was important in setting the scene…
Read The Full QR Code Article Here
Attraction Marketing vs. Pursuit Marketing
I think every business owner would agree that it is far more pleasurable picking up the phone to someone who wants to do business with you than it is to make a phone call to try and convince someone to do business with you. It sounds like Nirvana to have customers ring you and say the magic words “can you help me with…” or “can you provide me with…”, etc. But actually it’s not impossible, it just takes thought, time, effort and in some cases a little money (but not as much as traditional marketing).
We all know what Pursuit Marketing is even if we’ve never heard of it before. You sell widgets, so you decide to run an ad to promote them. Being a smart business owner, you create a great design and include a compelling message plus an attractive offer. But here’s the problem; The vast majority of people who see the ad are not interested in buying widgets that day and the reader of the ad who is interested doesn’t know you and so doesn’t trust you. So even if he/she calls about the ad, you still have to “sell” to them! In short, pursuit marketing is every form of marketing and selling that pushes your services/products without giving knowledge or trying to build rapport and trust.
So in simple terms, attraction marketing is the exact opposite. Forget about directly promoting your products/services, forget about selling and simply focus on building trust and getting your customers to know and like you. The web is the easiest platform for attraction marketing, with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Blogging and E-Zines, you have plenty of opportunities to “connect” with your customer-base. But attraction marketing can easily apply to our everyday, offline world too.
Read the rest of the article and find out why you should implement Attraction Marketing and how.
Social Media For Business Owners - Get Friendly To Get Found
If you’re reading this then you fall into one of two groups of people; those who have been blogging and tweeting for some time and those who have just started or are dabbling. If you fall into the latter group then this piece is for you.
I am often asked, by clients who are mostly in their late 30s onwards, (younger people just get it) what place social media has in the business world and especially in the world of small business. The answer is that it has a huge role to play, but only if you can commit sufficient time to it. There are two benefits to your business:
- You create a network of “fans” and “advocates”
By supplying useful information, tips and updates about your business to an interested group of people, they begin to take an interest in what you do and the products/services you supply. They start to share this information with friends and relatives and before you know it you have hundreds or even thousands of people “following” your updates.
- You create regular fresh web content that the search engines love
Search engines love two things: fresh content and links. Social Media sites give business owners the ability to deliver both and this helps to increase the visibility of a web site.
However, be warned! Social Media is not like an advertising campaign. You should not expect instant return from your efforts and it’s not all about selling. In fact the rule to follow in this regard is that only 20%, at most, of your social media content should be aimed at trying to sell to potential customers. The other 80% you’re just giving useful information.
For instance, if you run a clothing retail outlet, you might blog about the best clothes/colours to wear for the spring, how to dress to impress, etc. For every 10 blog entries you make you might include two that inform the readers about special offers you are running or end of line products that you have.
Your type of business and what you really want to achieve will dictate which social media tools you use and how to use them. But your best strategy is to pick one and do it well. The undeniable truth is that business owners who engage with their customers through social media tools see a steady increase in traffic to their websites and an increase in brand awareness. Both of which ultimately leads to more business!
Click the link to read the whole Social Media For Business Owners article.
Advertising Agencies - Not Just For The Big Guys
When you think of advertising agencies, your mind immediately jumps to names like Coca Cola and other big corporate companies spending millions of advertising campaigns. Small business owners naturally think that they are therefore forced to deal with handling the media buying for their adverts themselves and more onerously, they have to deal with the many phone calls from the media sales people too.
So what if you were told that there are companies out there, geared up specifically to handle the media buying needs for small to medium businesses? Furthermore, what if I told you that this company wouldn’t even charge you a penny for their services? It sounds incredible, but these companies exist and if you advertise your business in print anywhere, then you need to think about using them.
Find out more about how you can save on advertising costs here.
Work Backwards Into Your Marketing Budget
I am sticking to my New Year marketing budget creation theme (as per my last blog).
When working with clients on their marketing budgets I always work backwards into it. You start at a macro level (look at the big picture) and work backwards until you are looking at a micro view (looking at the many small details). The steps are as follows:
- Decide on your target revenue - the most critical macro element.
- Identify your customer.
- Write down all the relevant potential marketing activities you may want to run.
- Plan out your spend per quarter - take into account any seasonal impact on your business.
- Now match up your activities to your spend per quarter
Think “consistency”; don’t run a single expensive ad if you can’t afford to run a series of them, at best it will deliver a small uplift in business with no long-term benefit.
Click the link to read the whole Marketing Budget Planning article.