Many people, business managers, and owners are finding that we're living in a different reality.
I been in charge of creating and managing the marketing for small businesses for years. Now, let's talk about some ways to boost your business in tougher than usual times. These also can be applied long term and in more "standard" circumstances as well.
Most marketing efforts start and end here. A website is especial for small businesses, don't believe me? Just look up "is it important to have a website," and click the first 5-10 links to learn more. I'm going to move on under the assumption that we agree, small businesses need a website in 2020 and beyond.
The core practice I've used and advise everyone to use is to have your website act as a meeting and launching point for all your business content. Whether it be social media, blogs, physical media, references to your business elsewhere online, etc. it's important for it all to point back to your website. This is your home ground. You have full control. No matter how someone finds your business eventually they'll end up on your website, if they even have the slightest thought about doing business with you. This is why it's so crucial for you to have all your data in one spot controlled and catered to help your clients/customers achieve the goals attributed to whatever kind of business you're running.
- Layout balance is key, whether using template or creating your own.
- Visual storytelling applies to websites just as much as videos or photos. Lead the eye to where you want the attention to go. Having photos that aim at attention needing elements or having colors or format that guides attention makes a massive difference.
- Media balance. Having too many photos, too many videos, too much same formatted text, etc. can overwhelm your audience with too much of any one thing.
- Content balance. Think of your favorite companies and brands and how their websites will provide just as much value back to you as it provides for them, usually.
- Don't over customize your website.
- This is referring to people that try to go really far from the norm:
- Do NOT name navigation really oddly. (Difficult navigation = Leaving site)
- Do NOT have too many photo/videos without words, (Yes, even media people... think SEO. Unfortunately visual media isn't exactly search friendly.)
- Do NOT clutter your site with information that doesn't help guide to end results you wish to achieve
- Do NOT over simplify your site and miss crucial info that could generate more business.
- Contact info
- This may be obvious for some, but it's amazing how many times I see sites without clear contact info. Have your email, have your socials, have a phone and address if possible. This will help your audience get in touch if they have any questions, comments, or inquires about your business.
- Utilize your platform
- Make sure your platform is communicating as much as possible for your business in the most effective manner. This is different for each business.
- Keep your website updated! Many small business don't update their websites nearly enough.
Social media is one thing, but your website is different. This should display work in more detail, better quality, and really show what your business has to offer. Social media should guide people to your website as this is where the conversion to business really happens. Not to say some people haven't run a business purely off social media but they are massively missing out. Your website's media should reflect the best of your business. Think of it as someone's first impression of you. These days, most of people's first impressions of a business is through their website or social media then website.
Your website's media shows how serious your are about your business. Yes, first priority is telling your story and showing what your business is all about, but this is not always enough. For someone who has a heavy media background, I see a website with unintentionally bad quality photo and video, I instantly turn around. Businesses that take themselves seriously, need to invest in their media. It doesn't have to be hiring an expensive team but it does mean at the least getting a $100 point-and-shoot camera. It's just the show of effort and updates that truly matter. Leaving the same employee headshots on the site for years, is always a sign the company doesn't stay up to date. My recommendation is at least once a year, go through websites and updated as much as needed. Better yet, take a couple hours every month to go through and make any needed updates. This can help you get discover and create customers who really want to do business with you.
Consciously or subconsciously, people notice the amount of effort put into a business website. Small businesses sometimes fail to realize that their website is a direct reflection of how they carry out their business. Having a website that puts your best foot forward can lead to great success or quick failure.
This is something that's mentioned a bit above and below. Think about your customer or client and how you want them to interact with your website. Do you want them to buy something, to contact you, or something else? Is that clear where you want people to look once they land on your website? Can they quickly accomplish what you need them to?
These questions can seriously boost your small business. Think from the perspective of you website's visitors and adjust accordingly.
This is something huge for many business which they miss out on. Gift cards are a guarantee for business at a later date. They can be used to reward loyal customers. They can drive new business as a referral, say someone you've done business with gives your gift card to their friends or family. Boom, new business. These days gift cards are so easy to make happen and only have upsides.
If you're interested in starting a gift card shop I recommend using GiftUp! See the link below!
Reviews are another easy way to gain business in this time. People rely on reviews more than many small businesses realized. Some of the most successful small businesses I have seen all push reviews. Fair to say, they also have amazing service or product to back up the reviews. I recommend using google reviews for most businesses and yelp if you really want but as I've had really bad experiences with yelp's company practices, I tend to steer clear of them.
Simply adding a review link on your email signatures, website, invoices, receipts etc. will get you the reviews you are looking for if you are conducting good business. Don't underestimate how powerful a couple good reviews are for increasing business. It's an endless cycle more: more business, more good reviews, more business, etc.
Something I learned from working retail. Customer/Client a walk-through occasionally can indicated problem areas. Whether this be your website, your whole business experience, or what have you. The way you conduct these will greatly differ depending on your business model but they give such valuable information. Many times you can think of it like writing an essay for school. Reading it back won't help you find mistakes and flaws, because you wrote it, you know what it should say. This works same way for you business. Knowing how you intended for something to be set up is sometimes different than how it actually functions.
- Send yourself an inquiry email.
- Test purchase an item.
- Click every button on your website.
- Walk your storefront if you have one to see how it functions.
No matter how great your product or service may be or how unique it is, this doesn't matter if your client interactions are inconsistent. Make sure your client interactions are professional and consistent. Use email, avoid text, avoid social if at all possible. Point people with serious business inquires to your website/email. This will keep a log of your interaction that is easy to look back on and all in one place. In person interactions should also be consistent and professional. Even if you are doing business with friends and family. This is important to maintain your image/brand.
Have questions? Want to schedule a consult?
Reach out if you want more help on your business we can schedule a call or video call. (Subject to available and quotes depend on needs.)