Important, memorable and valuable Web site content should be at the heart of your small business Web site.
But, with tons of information online, it can be a nightmare identifying and producing worthwhile Web site content. Before we get into Web site content specifics, let’s take a quick look at how the Internet is turning traditional media on its head, and what this means for your small business Web site.
Newspapers, TV And Radio Are Dying
Traditional media is dying a slow, painful death in cities across the country. Network and cable television are pumping out more and more reality shows, struggling to find a pulse, while newspapers are being crushed to death by the massive amount of free Web site content online. Who wants to buy a newspaper, when you can check your favorite Blog or RSS feed for the day’s top stories — and for free? And, who wants to watch their favorite TV show when the network dictates, instead of choosing when to watch it online, for free?
The death of traditional media is bringing about a complete sea change in how people find information about the products and services they buy. Small businesses need to dig deeper and further than simply advertising on local TV, in the local newspaper and in Yellow Pages. If you don’t believe what’s coming — stop and watch a teenager for a few minutes.
Teenagers don’t pay attention to the nightly newscast; they read up on the world through their favorite Blogs, on Twitter and YouTube videos on their cell phones. It’s mind boggling to see a teenager simultaneously watching TV, catching up on their favorite Web site, texting a friend, while talking on their cell phone. The above scenario is a prime example of how fragmented media is!
Media Fragmentation’s Impact On Web Site Content
With an abundance of Web site content online and an increasingly fragmented media landscape; it’s more important than ever to produce specific, highly-targeted Web site content to use as a marketing tool for your small business Web site. One size fits all just won’t cut it anymore. Break down your customers into tight niche markets based upon industry, demographics and wants and needs. Then produce specific Web site content that speaks directly to their needs. Use customized Web site content as a powerful marketing tool for converting more sales.
You’re probably wondering, what kind of Web site content you should include on your small business Web site? Services businesses are a bit different than companies selling products, but the following are a few suggestions for honing your Web site content into a sharp marketing tool for your small business Web site.
Web Site Content As A Marketing Tool
Talk openly and clearly to customers and potential customers. They’ll want to know and understand terminology specific to your business. Customers will also appreciate Web site content that helps them make an informed purchase. Such as: cost calculators, detailed product reviews, features and benefits, white papers, research reports, video demonstrations, Podcasts and customer testimonials. Customers will also need reassurances about buying from you. Inform potential customers about your billing procedures and terms, shipping practices, return policies and details on guarantees or warranties.
What Media Fragmentation Means For Your Small Business Web Site
With continuing and rapid media fragmentation, the key to a successful small business Web site is in producing valuable, targeted and relevant Web site content. Customize your Web site content for targeted niche markets and focus on their unique needs. Use your Web site content as a marketing tool to educate customers on how your solutions will benefit them.
1. Inexpensive Publicity
Media attention can be hard for small business owners to obtain. This is one reason you should consider back to school marketing. If you have planned a large community event to distribute free school supplies, that will catch the attention of local media reporters. While the main goal of a back to school event is to get your business in front of customers, you can obtain even more exposure with the media. This could make it easier to get publicity in the future during special events that your business is sponsoring.
It is helpful, especially if you have sent out press releases before and had no response. These documents can be expensive to distribute. A back to school event will allow you to collect contact information of local reporters and contact them again. Due to the school supplies event, you are able to get media attention without paying more money. It is an additional opportunity to gain more revenue in the future.
2. Long Term
Students use school supplies all year round. That means there are multiple chances to expose your business and services to potential customers. Many high school students hang out at their friend’s house and join community organizations. One person that has a notebook with your business logo on it may expose that notebook to dozens of other people during a tutoring session and other activities. That creates long term exposure for your business and more opportunities to gain customers and sales.
3. Repeat Customers
By marketing your business using school supplies, this can create multiple sales from individual customers. The long term exposure mentioned in this article will produce interest in your business. Once you have provided a good service to customers, they will remember that and become a loyal supporter of your business. This chance for continuous revenue is worth hosting one single back to school event for local residents. School supplies materials are in demand and it is important to take advantage of the opportunities that small businesses have in this area.
4. Good Deed
Many parents cannot afford to purchase all of the required school supplies for their children. This is a good reason to provide free items for students. Just because you own a business does not mean that money should always be the primary focus. Good deeds go a long way and exhibits high character. This can help you personally and professionally, as grateful parents will recommend your business to their friends.
Customer service is a key element of marketing mix.
Modern organizations have realized that, to remain viable in today’s competitive market realities, they to have to attract and retain more customers in the most efficient way. Having a professional blog can be an effective marketing tool for a business to promote its products and services to a growing number of consumers in the aim of strengthening customer relationships.
However, it is often difficult for the average business owner to keep all customers on the same page. Especially, if the company needs to adjust its operations to the increasing level of complexity derived from today’s competitive market realities, a business blog can serve as an effective means to communicate the company’s strategies and marketing planning to the target audience.
Here are the top five reasons that a business should have a professional blog:
1. Low to zero cost advertising
In the era of social media, the printing press and paper advertising have become rather obsolete. It takes less than 10 minutes to sign up for an account on Blogger or WordPress and get thousands of free themes to choose from that can give a business blog the perfect aesthetics. It doesn’t require particular technical knowledge to blog and for business owners who are not familiar with web html and cannot afford to hire a web developer, a blog is the perfectly economical method to gain exposure on the Web. As soon as a company acquires voice on the Internet it automatically acquires power: the power to communicate its marketing strategy, product mix and pricing to a huge target audience with particular needs and wants at zero cost.
2. Enhance customer relationships
Regardless of the type of business, savvy consumers visit the company’s blog to get information about new business developments or read other visitors’ comments about the company’s products or services. A professional and well-structured blog may invite customer comments, encouraging customers and prospects to give their opinion for free. This is a very effective way of connecting with consumers in the aim of turning unique visitors into regular customers through the use of blog comments.
3. Maximize SEO benefits
Search engine optimization (SEO) can drive increasing traffic to a business blog through the use of appropriate keywords and keyword phrases that can raise the blog’s popularity in major search engines. Because the weight of each webpage and how high it will rank is subject to the keyword it contains in relation to its product, webpages that are highly concentrated with appropriate keywords rank higher in the rating systems than webpages that use random keywords. Appropriate keywords contribute to the generation of pay-per-click ads in organic search results. Generally, blogs are SEO-friendly and this facilitates the classification of posts under specific categories. As a result, blogs can be better ranked in major search engines.
4. Acquire personality
In today’s competitive market environment, small businesses are looking for ways to equally compete with bigger companies in their industry and improve their positioning. Having a business blog can help a business acquire personality in the market by showing that behind the company there are real people who are carrying out the job and are ready to offer their expertise and services to customers. A professional blog can make a business less impersonal and more interactive, making visitors and customers feeling appreciated and heard.
Blogs offer the prospect to earn extra income through pay-per-click advertisement. Typically, professional bloggers install Google AdSense , Kontera or other forms of advertisement that can help increase income, provided that the blog contains expert information related to the business’s products or services. Another option is affiliate marketing. Affiliate programs offer to a business the opportunity to advertise its products or services through affiliate businesses using a pay-per-performance model. Instead of compensating advertisers in the hope of attracting customers and achieving sales, affiliate marketing programs pay commissions for every actual sale through affiliates. Besides, pay-per-performance model facilitates a business to expand its customer base by driving more traffic to the blog.
Doctors do it.
Lawyers do it.
So do athletes, professors, bankers and auto mechanics. Even dog-walkers do it. They all know a secret that allows them to market their product or service more effectively and charge more than their competitors for the exact same job.
Ask yourself this question: if you suspect you’re having a heart attack, do you want to see a ‘general practitioner,’ or do you see a cardiologist? And if your family doctor says you’re fine and your cardiologist says you’re not, which one will you believe? When your brand new car starts belching black smoke, will you take it to ‘Joe’s Auto,’ or will you look for a repair shop that specializes in your exact make of vehicle? Which will you have more confidence in?
That’s the power of specialization. Joe may be a great mechanic who would do exactly the same things to fix your car as the specialist would, but we pay more for the specialist because we expect a specialist to be more expert in the specific problem we have. Whether its objectively true or not, specialists enjoy a huge advantage of perception-they’re perceived as more “expert” in their niche and therefore, their work is considered more valuable than those who are “one-size-fits-all” providers.
The specialist’s advantage doesn’t stop with receiving premium payment for services, either. They enjoy the same advantage with customers who are shopping. Though they “forfeit” much of the broader, less specific market (which is more crowded and usually less profitable), their narrow focus produces a magnetic to customers in the niche they’ve chosen. Most often, by specializing in a narrow slice of the overall market, the specialist’s marketing efforts produce much more business than it would when competing with every other “general” provider-it’s tighter, laser-like focus allows the specialist to “own” his more narrow specialty.
Let’s see how this works for a used car dealer. Which do you think will attract more buyers: being one of the two hundred ‘general’ car lots that have all manner of cars, or being the one used car dealer in town that features only trucks and SUV’s? Our dealer forfeits shoppers looking for econo-cars or $995 specials, but he’s now the first choice of anyone seeking a good-quality used truck-he’s “the truck and SUV expert.” The focus on only trucks and SUV’s allows our dealer to be more knowledgeable about that area of vehicles, to carry a wider selection of them than “general” car lots do, to tailor his marketing to target the specific needs of truck-buyers (and in the specific places most likely to reach them), and to “own” the position of the used truck “expert” in the mind of the consumer.
So how can specialization boost your business? It may be simpler than you think. The key is to identify a market segment-a niche-which you can effectively focus on as an “expert.” Successful niches can be built around pricing (for example, only offering the “high” end of products in your category), age (‘expert insurance for the needs of seniors’), gender (think “Hair Club for Men”), delivery system (‘the only computer repair that comes to you’) or service type (such as a cleaning company that “specializes” in commercial office space.) Most importantly, the distinction must be something meaningful to a percentage of the market, and be something that a competitor doesn’t already “own.”
Once you’ve identified your niche, think through how your marketing can best appeal to that segment of your market. Where should you advertise to best reach them? What unique problems or benefits appeal to them? What type of language will resonate for them? How can your product or service be presented or adjusted to meet your niche’s unique needs better than anyone else’s?
There’s an inherent fear involved in telling any part of your market that you don’t want their business. But the business you leave for the generalists will be more than made-up for by the new customers you attract as the “expert” in your segment, and leveraging that position will make your marketing more effective and your business more profitable. To build your business bigger, start by thinking smaller!
Are You Trying to Make a Profit From Your Marketing Efforts?
You will have a much harder time marketing your business with this mindset.
Here is what I mean…
Automotive shops as an example…use an oil change advertisement as a “lead in” service to offer in efforts to obtain new customers. Not a bad idea at all except when you try to profit from the oil change. And many of them try to…
How many times have you seen a coupon in the newspaper with an oil change priced above $10.00 as a “special price?” I have seen a few too many…and with the exception of diesel vehicles and specialty vehicles…this price point is trying to earn a minimal $1.00 in profits so the owner doesn’t feel bad giving the discount. Their first mistake.
“An automotive shop that mailed out coupons providing no savings (due to printing errors) produced similar results to the ones with actual savings. The coupons both produced minimal to no customer retention after the sale.”
Our earlier focused articles on retaining the customers you do have, as that is the least expensive and most profitable form of marketing.
But since this post focuses on new customer generation, we should be focused on one primary thought here.
Lifetime Value of the customer.
What is the value of a customer to your business over their entire buying cycle with you? How many referrals can your business earn from this customer? Using the example above:
What if the automotive shop gave away their first three oil changes to a new customer? Most shop owners would cringe at the thought of losing the $50.00 in supplies and parts…and the total of $100.00 in labor over the three oil changes (at most). For a total of $150.00, you can cultivate a lifetime relationship with a customer by providing additional back – end services and products that will enhance the customer’s vehicles (keep paying attention internet marketers).
And a lifetime automotive customer is worth a minimum of $3000.00 over a five year period to an automotive shop! So how many times would you like to trade $150.00 for $3000.00 in sales in your business?
My questions to you and your business from this post and my challenges to you are:
1) What is your “oil change”?
2) How many of this valuable service are you willing to part with to gain critical new customers?
3) What back end services or products do you offer that can enhance a customer’s lives and start the profitable relationship with them?
4) What part of your front end marketing efforts are you going to change TODAY?
Guerrilla marketing isn’t necessarily an old technique to market your business
But it’s finally making its way around the business world because more and more businesses are bootstrapping their way to success.
Guerrilla marketing is quite different from traditional marketing efforts. Guerrilla marketing means going after the conventional goals of profits, sales and growth but doing it by using unconventional means, such as expanding offerings during gloomy economic days to inspire customers to increase the size of each purchase.Instead of asking that you invest money, guerrilla marketing suggests you invest time, energy, imagination and knowledge instead.
Guerrilla marketing often employs free and unique methods to leave marketing messages in the most unlikely places and pulls a person’s attention, unlike traditional marketing which pushes their message on the viewer.
The following tips are ways to get started with guerrilla marketing for your home business that will cost you no money:
Suggestion 1: Leave your business cards in the most unlikely of places
Your business card can be reused in imaginative ways even more than just passing them out to people you meet. Try leaving your business cards where people are likely to find them such as inside books, in mailboxes or apply it to windshields in a car parking lot. Try not to annoy people by bombarding them with your business cards – be sure to leave them in places where your market is active.
Suggestion 2: Add interactivity and reward systems for your customers
People love to interact and be rewarded for their time and effort online and offline. Instead of giving away coupons to you customers try using a reward system where people that buy from you can earn points and even trade them to other people – this will make a game after a customer buys that keeps them around and active within your community. Think of your guerrilla marketing technique using reward systems much like the reward systems used on popular video games in which players much earn coins!
Suggestion 3: Allow your customers to share deals on the social web
An effective guerrilla marketing technique you could apply to your business is by allowing customers to share deals with others on the social web. Much like implementing a reward system in your business you could create a page which tells customers to share with others and they too can earn a deal along with the customer receiving an extra discount on their purchase.
The hardest part about trying to describe guerrilla marketing is that it really depends on your own creativity to market your business. To effectively use this marketing platform you will need to go outside the box and try out any imaginative idea that may pop into your brain – always keep your eyes out for little ways you can apply your marketing message to existing areas online and offline.
A company or startups comes to you, requesting a logo…What do you do?
Quick Download: Identity Kit PDF Template and Indesign Files
Design a cool logo that describes their company morals, goals, and iconic look. All done?
It would be irresponsible to simply leave said company with a logo, because once they take off, they will begin to distribute your work incorrectly:
- They put out a magazine ad, and the magazine designs whatever their best “guess” is for the look of the company
- They wrap their fleet of vehicles with a completely different company, and their best “guess”
- Website, another “guess”
- Flyers, brochures, business cards, the list goes on and on…
Your client needs a brand identity guideline system AKA “Style Guide”
A style guide is a packaged set of guidelines and restrictions, complete with colors, fonts, company slogans and taglines (depicting their values and goals), logo usage and restrictions, and most of all, packaged versions of logo and/or iconic symbols, as well as fonts and hex/rgb/cmyk company color values.
Below are a few examples of how big corporations protect their brand identity with style guides:
Check out the Twitter style guide here.
Check out the Lexus style guide here.
Check out Dell’s Style guide here.
Check out MailChimp’s style guide here.
In the spirit of Free Design Fridays, we give you a downloadable version of our style guide, where you can download, change colors, and text, you you have a good place to start for your next style guide project. It is our responsibility to our clients and to our own personal curation of projects to submit a company’s identity system with a thorough and concise format in which they can distribute to their signage companies, magazine and newspaper ad partners, web developers, and any designer or company that they wish to work with concerning their brand.
The best program for building a style guide would be InDesign, by Adobe. If you don’t have Adobe Creative Cloud by now, you may want to pick it up, as it is essential for this type of career. If you are a small business going for the DIY, I would suggest contacting a professional to help you edit this template. You can check with us for any questions or problems publishing your new style guide…
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Free PSD Downloadable Template for Womens Cotton Mockups
Add your own designs to mock-up clothing. Feel free to download and use this template to use on your websites. Below is a snap shot of all the colors available in layer comps. Credit goes to Lex our in house graphic designer.
Open the smart object and add your logo
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Downloadable Template for Next Level Ladies Tank (N1533)
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Downloadable Template for Next Level Ladies Tee (N3900)
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72000L – Anvil Ladies’ Mid-Scoop French Terry Mock Up PSD – Front and Back
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Brands Deliver Value, Commodities Compete on Price
Some argue that our economy is in the worst shape it’s been in since World War II. Though that point is debatable, the fact that America is coming out of a serious recession, is undeniable. Even with huge marketing budgets, invaluable business partnerships, and far-reaching advertising campaigns, major corporations are struggling to keep their heads above water these days. So what are small business owners like you to do, particularly without the marketing and advertising budget of major corporations, to keep your business from sinking?
We read and hear dismal reports everyday of plummeting employment rates, slumping sales, and declining figures representing the tightening of consumer purse strings. That’s why it’s more important now than ever for your business to be both sensitive and relevant to consumer needs.
You see, underneath every sales inquiry is a very basic question each potential customer wants to know and that is, “Why should I pay you?” Hard-working people can’t afford to separate from their money without understanding what immediate benefit your business can offer that’s worth their hard-earned dollar. If you can address the pressing concerns underlying the hesitance to buy, then you can convert plenty of prospects, no matter how turbulent the economic climate.
Here are some fundamental principles for you to apply, that will lead you on a path to increased sales conversions and more satisfied, and ultimately, repeat customers. Hey, we all want that, right?
1. Articulate Exactly What You Can Contribute
For a few moments, I want you to forget about firming up your handshake and rehearsing your opening sales lines. Instead, think more about developing a thoughtful and concise unique selling proposition that truly reflects the value you offer. You see, when you’re facing a reluctant consumer, which defines most prospects in these current economic times, you need to tell them what you bring to the table that will help them get what they want.
Leo J. Pusateri, Financial Training and Consulting expert says,
“Most advisors have not taken enough introspective time to really understand what unique value they bring to client relationships,”
Because of this, they lose sales. You don’t have to be a financial advisor for this rule to apply. If you find that consumers aren’t buying what you’re attempting to sell, you need to dig deeper to unveil your hidden value.
2. Work What You’ve Got
A lot of small business owners panic when business is slow. As a result, they end up frantically looking for ways to go after new prospects, while overlooking consumers that have previously purchased products and services. To that I say, big mistake; why not work what you’ve got? Clients that support your business expect to be catered to with exceptional products, promotions, and special offers. Be sure to maximize your database. Greet clients on special occasions and be sure to thank them for their business often. They’ll happily pay you for new services if you have a great track record of delivering on your promises and providing excellent customer service.
Just as with any relationship, if you expect to maintain it, treat the other party well. When you do, you can tap into that healthy business relationship again and again. That way, you won’t have to spend precious time and money trying to woo new prospects.
3. Stay True to Your Niche
It can be tempting to venture out into new territory as a way of expanding your platform and aggressively growing your business, particularly when you fear the outcome of “Placing all your eggs in one basket.” But before you shift the focus of your business, be sure it doesn’t carry you outside of your niche market. It’s nearly impossible to convince folks to pay you for a service that neither you or they understand.
In 5 words: Stick to what you know. If you’re looking for ways to grow, try adding improved products, services and strategic partnerships with like-minded individuals, businesses, and organizations. Otherwise, you could end up wasting money in a market that doesn’t want what you have to offer. Worse yet, you just may end up isolating your base you worked so hard to get in the first place.
Keep in mind that, it’s not impossible for your small business to thrive during times of economic hardship; but it does take intelligence, strategy, and determination. Above all, you must genuinely understand and care about your consumers if you expect to develop long-standing and fruitful relationships with them.
If you find it difficult to recall all the lessons contained in this article, here it is in a nutshell: