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Why Every Small Business Needs A Website

It’s safe to say that we live in a world where it’s assumed that pretty much anything can be found online. Whether it’s to figure out where you’ve seen a familiar looking actor in a movie, check out the menu of a new restaurant you’re going to or just to find out general information about a company, most of us turn to the web. Let’s face it, many people don’t even a copy of the Yellow Pages anymore and the ones that do aren’t running to find it when they need to find out about a business. These days when someone is looking for something or more like looking for you and your business, they go online.

So does this mean all businesses should absolutely have a website? Yes, whether you own a business, work for yourself in any capacity or provide paid services to the public in some shape or form, you need to have a website.

Common misconceptions determining if a business needs a website

First off, the size of your company doesn’t matter. Regardless if you’re a one-man show or a have hundreds of employees, size truly has no bearing when it comes to the benefits of getting your business online. Many small business owners often think that since majority of their business comes from local clientele, having a website isn’t really necessary. Some of these small, local businesses have been in business for a very long time and have been doing extremely well without a website. In many cases that’s absolutely true and I can’t fault them for thinking that way, but I can only imagine how much even better they could be doing if they actually did have a website.

Another prevailing thought is that it doesn’t make much sense to have a website if your business isn’t actually selling something online. Whether you have an actual tangible product that you plan on selling online or not is irrelevant. These are all huge misconceptions because the bottom line is that it comes down to exposure. Developing a website for your business is the easiest, most efficient and affordable way to get your name out there. Let’s take a look at how having a website for even the smallest business can be beneficial.

Benefits of having a website for your business

For any business, staying relevant among today’s tech-savvy consumers is paramount. Not only does a website help promote your business but it serves as a means for you to be found by customers. Once you have a website you immediately stop being invisible to all the potential customers trying to find you online. And whether you know it or not, being invisible as a business in this on-demand, information age is costing you money.

Here are some key benefits to having a website for your small business:

You create another marketing tool.

Do you have a business card for your company? Obviously that’s a no brainer, of course you do. Just like how you would make sure you get business cards made for your company, creating a website should also be an obvious must-have. A website will be one of your most powerful sales and communication tools for your company, allowing potential clients to quickly and easily find out more about the products and services you have to offer. Think of a website as a brochure for your company that is constantly kept up to date and always available to anyone and everyone.

You create a place for information and communication.

Besides being a sales vehicle, a website is your company’s home turf so to speak for everything having to do with your business. It’s the primary place where people will go for trusted information about your business, to voice concerns and have their questions answered. Whether it’s your current customers, the ones you hope to attract, potential employees or even business partners, a website is your business’s greatest communication tool. Even if it’s two o’clock in the morning, if someone wants to know something about your business, they will look for answers, and your website will be the place they go. Also, any information about your business read directly from your own website is valued more as opposed to information ascertained about it from somewhere else like another website.

You add legitimacy to your business.

Having a website automatically creates legitimacy and validates your business in the mind of clients. To the public this creates confidence that you’re a real, functioning company that is currently doing business. Conversely, if someone looks for your business online and sees you don’t have a website their confidence in your business will wane to say the least. This might imply to the average web user, that you’re not a serious business, can’t afford a website or that your company is old-fashioned.

Allows you to keep up and stay ahead with your competition.

If you’re a small business and you’re competing with other small businesses in your local area, many of them might be in the same boat as you and don’t have a website. That’s all the more reason for you to get one and stay a step ahead. But if any of your competitors do have a website and you don’t, you’re losing business to them plain and simple.

Having a website though can help level the playing field between your business and with the bigger companies that you normally wouldn’t be able to compete with. One of the nice things about the internet is that a potential customer can just as easily find your small business’s website as it can with a website belonging to a huge national chain. Imagine you’re a local hardware business that is a few miles away from a Home Depot. Now, if a local customer searches online where in the area they could purchase a certain home improvement product, wouldn’t you like your chances that they might stumble on your business if you had a website?

Best bang for your buck advertising tool.

A website provides more exposure for your money than any other form of advertising. For the average small business owner, the cost of a local radio or television commercial is just not affordable unless it is aired when vast majority of the targeted audience is sleeping. Local newspaper ads can be reasonably priced, but doesn’t have the reach or impact they once did. Print news is an industry that’s been on the decline since most people are getting their news for free online. With a website, there are no space constraints in detailing and marketing your products, and you are able to interact and truly engage with your customers something that really can’t be done with these other forms of advertising. Also in terms of cost, after the initial investment to design and build the site, the annual expense for hosting and maintenance is a fraction of the outlay many small businesses throw at local advertising throughout the year.

Conclusion

So after all that, does it still mean every website should have a website? And the answer is still yes! But it doesn’t mean that it has to be an expensive undertaking. A website doesn’t need to be big, highly technical, or break the bank in order for it to benefit your company. Even the simplest website that is professionally designed and contains well thought out content can easily benefit any business. But before you can even think about designing your site, you have to take the first step, which is realizing that your business does in fact need one.

 

Small Business Owners: Low Cost Marketing Strategies to Increase Profits

Have you ever wondered if you could think of a marketing idea that can propel your business to sky. Like, Wendy’s commercial in the 1980’s ‘Where’s the beef’, Coke ad about it being the ‘The Real Thing’ and Nike selling tennis shoes by spreading the word of ‘Just Do It’. How ingenuous of those companies.

When people think of marketing they tend to think of advertising which can be expensive, ineffective image-based advertising. There are many ways to position yourself as an expert and build a personal connection to attract new clients, customers and patients.

Effective marketing is not cheap; however, there are strategies you can implement for little or no cost. Low cost strategy is a pricing strategy in which a company offers a relatively low price to stimulate demand and gain market share (increase the number of customers), it is usually employed where the product has few or no competitive advantage. This leaves many small business owners wondering how can I compete, with razor thin margins.

Ideally, a small business owner should spend around 35 – 50% of their time marketing their product. If you have a marketing department to support your business make sure it looks like the customers you are serving. The power of hiring people from many different cultures, products and industries to come together and create products for your consumers is powerful. The depth of ideas, understandings, insights, creativity and the blending of cultures can bring out the best solutions for your business to make more money is awesome.

Below is a list of 10 low cost strategies that can help you improve your profits.

1- Join your areas Chamber of Commerce and participate in community service events. Get involved in your community by volunteering, donating to and/or sponsor local events. It gives you the opportunity to network with other business owners and maybe cross promote with other local. These monthly meetings let you know what going on economically in your area.

2- Social Media: the ability to provide information about your products all over the web.

 

  • Share what you do and what merchants you love. Completed a new project, offering a new product, and have a customer testimonial.
  • Write about it on twitter, website, Facebook, LinkedIn or on a industry blog. Photos and videos helps others to understand who you are, what you do and how it can help them solve a problem.

3- Tell your story in 90 seconds.

 

  • a. Develop an elevator pitch story to inform others about your business. Your story should contain the following elements.
  1. Who you are
  2. What you do
  3. Why your different from your competitors
  4. Why should they care about your products or service (what’s in it for them)
  • Does your message create an emotional response from your target audience demographics. Hint, use plain English in creating your message

Example: We help to make your life easier by (explain your product or service).

Note: People are unlikely to want to use your product unless they understand what it does and how it helps them. Using simple language is the best way to get them there.

 

  • Selecting a business name that sells for your business doesn’t cost a penny. Your name should tell prospective customers exactly what you do and why they should do business with you.

Remember, the product that you are offering serves a need or satisfies a want. Use customer testimonials to persuade your customers to purchase from you. Ask for them from satisfied customers and use them, make sure they are genuine and go into a little detail with real names.

4- Develop a simple marketing plan for your business

 

  • There are (4) secrets to marketing commitment, investment, communicate, consistency. It’s difficult to maintain all (4) four without some basic plan.
  • Make sure your plan describes how well the product or service meet the customers need or problem?
  • Make sure your logo and marketing message use words that paint a picture of an experience using your product that creates an imagination in the customer that generate a profit (that makes them want to buy your product or service).
  • It could consist of ordering business cards, attending networking opportunities, book speaking engagements and submit press releases about your product offerings.
  • Create an email signature, with web links to your business website and twitter link. Also, include your company name, most current achievement, telephone number and email address and tag line if your company has one.
  • Exit strategy, what will happen if the customers don’t buy the product.

5- Put together a list of previous customers and send them new information and promotional offers to reactivate some of them.

 

  • Reward loyal customers with discounts. It will keep them coming back and help generate referrals. Good referrals from satisfied customers is often more effective than expensive advertising.
  • Use social media, to offer SMS marketing (texting) to provide existing customers with new information about ‘must have’ discounted or liquidating items.

Improve Customer Service

Customer Service is a form of advertising. You’re advertising that you care, that gets noticed

Use your vehicle

Vehicle Graphics are seen by thousands of people each day. Turn your vehicle into a mobile billboard.

6- Offer free public seminars or workshops to general public to come and find out how you can solve a problem for them and show them how approachable and helpful you are.

 

  • Expensive and exposure does not necessarily translate to increased sales

Rule of Thumb:

Your target customers need to hear your marketing messages at least 7 times to influence buying decisions. Example, you can craft your message a public service radio announcement to get it played for free on the radio stations and small internet radio stations

Get a Piggy Back

Hitching a ride on the marketing of another company can save your small business time and money.

Example: Locating near a Wal-Mart to be near price conscious consumers on a low budget

Low attendance at seminars, charge $5 bucks

Always charge a fee for all you marketing events. Fee-paid seminars and workshops almost always generate more participants than free events. The fee implies (2) things (1) there’s something of value and the get more than what they will pay for, (2) it shows customer commitment to show up

7- Stimulate Customer Senses

 

  • Talk to your customers about how they feel about your product and store experience, why they buy from you versus other stores, they will be honest with you.
  • Continually educate your customers about the benefits of buying your products from you.
  • The more comfortable we keep our customers, the longer they’ll stay, the more memorable experience they’ll have and the more they’ll spend or pass on positive word-of-mouth.

Example:

Do you think the smell of fresh baking bread flowing throughout the grocery store or music is playing by choice? (duh)

Retail businesses have been going out of their way for years to stimulate shoppers and keep them browsing scented bathroom spray works better than disinfectant.

Did you know that Disney, which is known for its films, animation and theme parks, is very well known for its cleanliness, order and friendliness from employees.

8- Make Yourself Newsworthy

 

  • Get a mention of your company in the right media
  1. For doing a good deed in the community or a humorous tie-in with a sports event
  2. Develop a relationship with your industry trade publications (magazines) they are always looking for ‘free relevant content’, write and article for them. It can help you to appear as an ‘expert’ to others in your industry.

9- Form a joint venture

 

  • Forging an alliance with a group of small companies or big company, give you ‘biggest bang for the buck’. Lowering your costs to enter new markets and create new distribution opportunities.
  • Make offers to other businesses that serve people in your target markets to pay them for referrals or sharing their list with you
  • Support Fundraisers
  1. Donating your products or services to select charitable events is a great way to get your name out into the community. Be sure your target market will be attending and that your brand will be well represented.

10- Under Your Nose

 

  • Are your vendors doing business with you? No, call them and everyone you do business with. If your product is not a current match to there needs, he or she probably knows someone who should be doing business with you. At minimum, ask to display your business cards and flyers at their office. Oops, I forgot, take a moment and make sure people in your immediate personal circle understand what you are selling.

Get out and walk

1. Look for underutilized store front windows in high foot traffic areas. Approach the owner and offer to pay a small fee to advertise your business in their window or reverse it, and do the some for a fellow business owner.

2. Scan your friends social media sites Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Ask them to send out a advertisement on the friends page about your business. Ask a friend if you can place an ad on his business website.

Marketing can be really creative and fun to implement to get the message out about how great your product is and how it will help other people lives to be better.

It can take a lifetime to build a business reputation, but 20 seconds to tear it down with the wrong message in your marketing campaign or an employee doing that reflects badly on your business. You, small business owner are the ‘gatekeeper’ of the image of the company you are trying to build. Monitor all communications that is released to the press about your business, you and someone else review all media coverage and commercials about your business image, to make sure it is consistent with what your business is all about. Most importantly, be honest in all communications, dishonesty can boomerang on you in a nightmarish way.

Finally, marketing is about making the customer aware of your product and building a trusting relationship with the customer, and hopefully grow with the customer needs, as they expand.

Easy profits in your pocket!

 

Making Sales Calls Pay for Small Business

Small business owners know that they have to be a jack-of-all-trades within their organization, and a master of at least a few. That can be a very difficult position for a small business owner to be in, because often their expertise is in whatever line of business they perform. And although they know their product or service well, believe in it, and are often its biggest champion, time, responsibilities, and other demands – like getting that product or service out the door – tend to keep them from being their own best sales people.

Sales Staffing in the Real World

This is where sales staff come in. In theory, it’s simple: hire excellent sales staff, train them up on the product or service being performed/delivered, and then unleash them on the world to bring in the clients and orders. Great theory, but in the “real” world that’s often not how it happens.

In the real world, sales staff require oversight. They need someone to keep them honest and efficient. Even the best of them need excellent tools to help communicate their efforts, successes, and failures, too, to you who are in charge. But you who are in charge are a busy person. So while you value and need that information, for both you and your sales staffs’ sake you need a good way to do that.

The Sales Call Software Challenge

Fortunately, today we live in the age of technology. So getting on board with a good software program for sales call reporting should make your life easy. Except, for small business owners, often they don’t. Small business owners frequently find that the amount of time it takes to train both themselves and their sales staff, maintain that training, and then access and make sense of the reporting consumes both man hours and money. Hours that you could be attending to your own duties; and hours that your sales staff could be out there selling. All of that aside, the sheer expense of these programs (which are frequently not really geared to small businesses, and thus not really ideal to begin with), is cost-prohibitive.

Sales Reporting Solutions for Small Businesses

This is where mobile apps come in. A big business with a sales force of hundreds might require something more high-end, but a small business is more likely to need something manageable, mobile, accessible, and efficient. Investing in the right software with just the features you do need, but that actually has the features you seek, is the only way to make both your sales staff and your software tracking system pay.

Take, for example, IHATECALLREPORTS available in the GooglePlay store. This app functions efficiently for both the sales representative and the owner. It is completely mobile, low-priced, and it delivers.

For the sales representative, there is a survey-format based call report that can be filled out in under two minutes, but that still targets all the most important information for the rep and for management. Its specific goal is to identify the high value accounts and initiate planning for the next step.

Management has access to this report and information, but also gets features like time-stamp auditing to see when calls are made and identify large gaps where representatives are perhaps not really doing all they say they are doing. In addition, there is a GPS audit function that makes it nearly impossible to fake a location, so you can be sure your reps were where they say they were.

Mobile Apps like these are doing a lot to fill the gaps in effective small business management software. They are putting reporting and tracking back in the hands of small business sales programs, and making it cost- and time-effective to do so. For small business owners, they are the solution for sales in the real world.