How many hats do you wear at your business?
No matter how well you perform as the main salesperson for your business, there will always be certain key salespeople available who can communicate the benefits of your products or services better than anyone.
Are you recognizing and rewarding these important people?
Are you encouraging them to reach out to as many prospects as possible?
Are these key salespeople loyal to you and your business?
Do you even know who these critical salespeople are?
You should. They are your customers.
Customers are the most overlooked and under appreciated marketing assets a business has. And just like regular sales employees, your customers need to be motivated to sell on your behalf.
Aside from answering a specific question from a friend or family member, people rarely start up a conversation about a positive experience they had with a business. It just doesn’t often happen. Customers will tell an average of nine people about a bad experience with a business and no one about a good experience.
If you sit for an hour in the waiting room at the doctor’s office you will tell people about it. If the waitress brings you a roast beef sandwich and you’re a vegetarian you will be sure to mention it when you go home. But when the doctor sees you right away and the waitress brings you your salad it doesn’t cross your mind to say a word about the experiences to anyone.
So if good service and reliable products don’t motivate your customers to spread the good word about your business, what does? Have you tried asking your customers to sell on your behalf?
It’s like asking someone to dance.
Take a deep breath
Work up the nerve
And Just Ask!
Ask your customers to mention your business to their friends and family. Ask your customers to share with you their friends and family members who could benefit from your services. If your customers are pleased with their experience then they may be willing to share some names and numbers with you.
There are more organized ways to request the assistance of your customers as well. Implement a formal referral program. Every time someone comes in and mentions that a current customer referred them, reward that current customer. Keep track of referrals in your customer database and enable customers to accumulate significant discounts. Provide the business-generating customers with free services as a sincere thank you. Recognize them with a hand written thank you note. Heck, reward them with cash.
Present each customer with an offer to meet with, give guidance to, or advise anyone important to them who might have a need for your services or products. Mention that there is no expectation of purchase, but a desire to offer the value that your customer appreciates to his or her friends, family, and coworkers.
A loyal customer who brings in new customers is incredibly valuable to your business. You are spending a specific amount of marketing money to bring in one customer, except now with referrals you are acquiring more than one customer. With a successful referral program you are slashing your marketing costs per customer.
Implementing a successful referral program is the highest leverage marketing tactic that you can carry out.
What is Blackhat SEO and how should my business handle it?
Blackhat search engine optimization (SEO) is an area that generates lots of interest from website owners the world over. While many webmasters despise the techniques by black-hatters, just as many website owners feel that black SEO techniques are the best way to get ahead in the enormous sea that is the internet.
“Illicit techniques that manipulate search engines to try to rank a site higher are considered blackhat techniques that violate our Webmaster Guidelines. Do not pay for links pointing to your site to be placed on the internet with the intent of passing PageRank and manipulating Google Search. These links may be called sponsored links or paid advertising, hidden in HTML, or inserted as optimized anchors in articles, comments, and footers.”
My personal opinion is that blackhat SEO is only good temporarily or for projects that you can spare to loose. Websites using blackhat SEO techniques will eventually be banned by the search engines. However, used properly, blackhat SEO techniques can be very effective for a fairly long time.
Since search engine optimization, better known as SEO, is all about getting one’s website listed at or near the top of various search engines (Google being the most important search engine of the bunch), it behooves every website owner to understand and use all tools available to him to accomplish this. Blackhat SEO techniques, despite how some webmasters feel, are effective SEO tools that should at least be investigated by webmasters. Even if a webmaster does not agree with, nor want to use blackhat SEO techniques, he must understand such techniques.
What are some Black Hat SEO Techniques seo companies are using that you NEED TO AVOID?
- Keyword stuffing – “Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or out of context (not as natural prose). Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.Examples of keyword stuffing include:Lists of phone numbers without substantial added valueBlocks of text listing cities and states a webpage is trying to rank forRepeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural, for example:We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at [email protected]
- Automatically generated—or “auto-generated”—content is content that’s been generated programmatically. Often this will consist of paragraphs of random text that make no sense to the reader but which may contain search keywords.Some examples of auto-generated content include:Text translated by an automated tool without human review or curation before publishingText generated through automated processes, such as Markov chainsText generated using automated synonymizing or obfuscation techniquesText generated from scraping Atom/RSS feeds or search resultsStitching or combining content from different web pages without adding sufficient value
Sneaky Redirects – Redirecting is the act of sending a visitor to a different URL than the one they initially requested. There are many good reasons to redirect one URL to another, such as when moving your site to a new address, or consolidating several pages into one.
However, some redirects deceive search engines or display content to human users that is different than that made available to crawlers. It’s a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines to redirect a user to a different page with the intent to display content other than what was made available to the search engine crawler. When a redirect is implemented in this way, a search engine might index the original page rather than follow the redirect, while users are taken to the redirect target. Like cloaking, this practice is deceptive because it attempts to display different content to users and to Googlebot, and can take a visitor somewhere other than where they expected to go.
Some examples of sneaky redirects include:
- Search engines shown one type of content while users are redirected to something significantly different.
- Desktop users receive a normal page, while mobile users are redirected to a completely different spam domain.
4. Hidden Text – Hiding text or links in your content to manipulate Google’s search rankings can be seen as deceptive and is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Text (such as excessive keywords) can be hidden in several ways, including:
- Using white text on a white background
- Locating text behind an image
- Using CSS to position text off-screen
- Setting the font size to 0
- Hiding a link by only linking one small character—for example, a hyphen in the middle of a paragraph
When evaluating your site to see if it includes hidden text or links, look for anything that’s not easily viewable by visitors of your site. Are any text or links there solely for search engines rather than visitors?
5. Doorways are sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries. They are bad for users because they can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination. They can also lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.
Here are some examples of doorways:
- Having multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page
- Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s)
- Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy
If you are involved at any level in search engine optimization or even internet marketing in general, do yourself a huge favor and at least understand what blackhat SEO is.
If you’re a small business owner, chances are you’re on limited funds
You know there is a need for marketing to bring in customers. It tends to be a Catch-22, need customers for money, but need money to appeal to customers.
There are resources out there for either free, or cheap marketing to drive customers to your business. You just need to know where to look.
- Press releases in your local paper are generally free. You need to let everyone know that you just added a new product or service, or even if your business is involved in a charity event. Talk about how your business will benefit customers. You can also have a professional agency write and distribute one around the county.
- Join organizations and network. Usually there is a minimal cost, but what better way to get out and meet people? Try checking out your local Chamber of Commerce, Women in Business organization or even an organization related to your hobbies. Most cities have a Meetup community. You can register on the site then select which groups you would like to join. Here in Fort Lauderdale we have a suprisingly active start-up community. You can also join some online communities on Reddit. https://www.reddit.com/r/smallbusiness/ is a good place to start. Get to know people and you’ll be on their mind when they need your services!
- Donating one of your items to a raffle or for sale in a charity auction is a great way to get your name and product out there. You’ll be remembered for your good deeds as well.
I use handwritten notes to reach out to prospective clients and to say thank you to vendors and clients. Email is too easy to ignore. Phone calls can be invasive and are more challenging to schedule for me. Letters are hard to ignore and not invasive.
- Send personal notes to everyone you can. There is a lot of power in a personal note. People will open up the envelope and read what you have to say, as opposed to throwing out a postcard or flyer. It will show you care; I’ve done this and have been amazed with the results. People have remembered me, even a few years down the road when they needed my service.
- Seriously, Just Ask. Friends, family, neighbors- anyone for referrals! You need business, ask for it! If you’re uncomfortable approaching someone directly and asking for a referral, you can do it subtly. However you decide to do it, just do it!
- Write an article about your business, even if it’s not about your business. At the end, throw in a brief description of yourself, and the owner of “such and such business” People will remember. You’re reading this article right now arent you?
- Use the signature line on your email to promote your website, and with a brief tag line. Every time you email someone, your name and business will be there! With email usage at an all time high, it’s free and easy to get the word out constantly to everyone you know.
Running a small business is difficult as it is, and there is always the budget hanging over your head on where to spend money, and how to do it efficiently. Try some of these steps, and it will help keep your name out there.
DS9 SEO Fort Lauderdale on Unique Selling Propositions
Your USP is your “Unique Selling Proposition”. It’s your number one reason why a potential client or customer will benefit from your business. If you have not thought of a USP yet, take a look at some examples below.
“A Shoe for a Shoe, And a Smile”
Toms Shoes are inexpensive and offbeat. This isn’t enough to make them stand out in the competitive shoe business. Their killer USP is that with every purchase they send a brand new pair of shoes to children in need.
“We’re number two. We try harder”
Avis, the budget car rental company also has an interesting USP.
They were able to spin their unfortunate position as the second largest car rental company. With the help of Doyle Dane Bernbach, this campaign helped moved Avis’ market share from 11% to 35% in just four years.
“ You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s free”
Moving our agency from New York City to South Florida has brought us closer to Domino’s Pizza. Its’ no Brooklyn slice but it fills the pizza void in between business trips. Their USP is direct and to the point
This does not roll off the tongue but is an amazing unique selling proposition. It spells our their guarantee in a clear and concise manner. A side note on why this is no longer used, apparently the drivers were having incidents with car accidents trying to deliver within the time period.
How do I create my own USP?
Step 1: Describe Your Target Audience
Before you can even start marketing your services, you need to know who you are targeting. In this step, you want to be as specific as possible. For example, if you are a Web developer with a CMS expertise, instead of targeting anyone who needs helping building or modifying a CMS, you may identify your target client as a small business owner who is looking for a developer well-versed in MODx to customize his/her site.
Step 2: Explain the Problem You Solve
From your prospective clients’ perspective, what is the individual need or challenge they face that your business can solve for them?
Step 3: List the Biggest Distinctive Benefits
In this step, list 3-5 of the biggest benefits a client gets from choosing to work with you that they could not get from someone else (i.e., what sets you apart from your competition). Again, thinking from the clients’ perspective, these benefits should explain why your services are important to them and why they would choose you over another provider.
Step 4: Define Your Promise
A big part of a successful USP is making a pledge to your clients. While this can be implied instead of spelled out in your USP, write down this promise you make to your clients in this step.
Step 5: Combine and Rework
Once you’ve completed steps 1-4, take all of the information you listed and combine it into one paragraph. There should be some recurring ideas and thoughts, so you’ll want to start merging statements and rewriting in a way that flows and makes sense.
Step 6: Cut it Down
In this step, take your paragraph from step 5 and condense it even more into just a sentence. You want your final USP to be as specific and simple as possible.
Take your time while doing this exercise and do several drafts over the course of a week until you arrive at your final USP. A fresh mind and perspective is essential, so I would recommend doing this at the beginning of your day versus at the end when you are tired. You also may want to come back and do this exercise again, once you try out your USP for a while, or if anything changes with your business.
To see what the final result should look like, Wikipedia has some good examples of successful USPs.
Do you have a USP? If not, do you think you’ll take time to create one?
So you’ve decided to take your business to the next level, and invest in a website that will generate sales for you 24/7.
The decision in investing in your business could be tough at first, but when you look at the numbers you’ll find that Online Shopping is set to increase by 62% in 2016.
The truth isn’t just in the numbers, when was the last time you’ve made an important business choice without Googling it first?
The confusion often sets in, with all the choices for setting up or upgrading your website. What will get you the most “bang for your buck”?
If you’ve read our past posts on the Squarespace/Wix Case, you’ll know that having a properly developed website that generates sales can’t be done overnight or with a generic website. Why would you want your site to look like 100,000 other ones?
Non-Tech oriented (and even tech savvy folks!) have all heard or experienced the beautiful world of being taken for a ride in billable hours. Let’s be honest, you probably felt ripped off the last time you took your pc to a repair shop, or your car to a mechanic.
The reason for this is simple, there is no way to “Prove” how long your project actually took.
The same is unfortunately true in the field of webdesign.
In this article I’m going to discuss some things to not only improve the quality of your projects, but lower the cost of your website.
1) Prepare: Before meeting with your web designer, think about what you’ll need for your website. Do you have your logo already made or do you need one to be designed? Do you have all the text and content for your website or do they need to do copy-writing? It’s even more helpful to bring 5 examples of sites you like, and 5 examples of websites you don’t like. This step will save hours in the designer process, and will result in a higher quality website.
2) Ask: Schedule a meeting with your web designer of choice, and review their portfolio. Find a project similar to what you want, and ask how many hours it took them to complete it. If a brochure website for a local business took 60 hours, and you’re looking for a simple display website for your main street shop, why would the estimate read 100 hours?
3) Plan: After presenting the information you’ve prepared, your web developer should be able to work up a time estimate, with each item itemized. A bad web designer will lump everything into one item, assuming you have no idea what it is. This is where their “fluff” billing will kick in! Ask a lot of questions, and have them explain each part of the design process
4) Review: Some web developers will choose to review half way through the project, some will just present a final project. We prefer to take a more interactive approach and allow the client to view the project as we build it. We’ve developed a client relation portal called “IO” which allows you to review, request edits, and approve project files live as we are building. A support ticket system is also integrated for an issues that you’d like to bring up.
If you have a new startup or business, then one of the best things you can do to gain exposure and increase the number of sales is to create a professional website that will represent you in the online world. There are multiple ways you can do this, as you can either opt for a custom website build that’s more professional or a generic WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) builder such as Wix or SquareSpace that will use templates and other pre-fabricated designs.
While the latter option might seem more convenient because of the lower costs that it implies, the reality is, as with anything in the design field; You get what you pay for.
When a person comes to a business site, he/she wants to see something different or unique that will represent that business. This is why you need to opt for a custom built website that can be developed for your unique specifications. In addition to that, a custom build website will increase sales conversions and increased bounce rate.
On the other hand, pre-fabricated websites created by SquareSpace and Wix provide you with a multitude of templates that are already used by tens of thousands of other people all over the world. While this may work for personal sites, your website is the face of your business. It is important to stand out, and have an automated sales man to showcase your products.
Would you want your product to be displayed in a bargain bin at TJMaxx, or a display case at Bloomingdales?
Another important thing when it comes to website design is, of course, SEO (Search Engine Optomization). Having your website optimize for search engines is crucial if you want to gain the best results and rank in front of your competitors. How would you like to define the exact demographics (Age, Income, Interests, Location) your website is viewed by? With a generic WYSIWYG site, this is simply not possible.
You need to have an optimized layout that simply can’t be achieved through using pre-built themes such as the ones provided by Wix and SquareSpace.
If your business grows, using a website created with Wix and SquareSpace will cost more in the long run. Upgrading to meet your demand will be difficult and highly limited, which means that you will have to opt for a professional build that will cost you a lot more because of the existing information that needs to be implemented into it.
In conclusion, we recommend any small business owner to opt for a professional, custom made website design instead of opting for a template based website created with SquareSpace and Wix. Not only custom built sites show more professionalism but in the long run your website will be easier to manage and upgrade, which might save you a lot of money. Don’t go with the cheap option and face immense charges in the future, instead opt for the professional way that will help you increase your profits.