• …I said Persona, not Patronus

    …I said Persona, not Patronus  馃榾 

    I wonder if JK Rowling used the definition of Persona to create the word Patronus.  I believe that they are both one and the same thing.  

    So lets investigate the definitions…

    Definition of persona (Merriam Webster online dictionary)

    plural personae play p蓹r-藞s艒-(藢)n膿, -藢n墨 or personas
    : a character assumed by an author in a written work
    a plural personas
    : an individual’s social facade or front that especially in the analytic psychology of C. G. Jung reflects the role in life the individual is playing
    : the personality that a person (such as an actor or politician) projects in public : image/plural personae : a character in a fictional presentation (such as a novel or play) 鈥攗sually used in plural comic personae

    Definition of patronus (www.pottermore.com)


    The Patronus is the most famous (and famously difficult) defensive charm. The aim is to produce a silvery-white guardian or protector, which takes the form of an animal. The exact form of the Patronus will not be apparent until the spell has been successfully cast. One of the most powerful defensive charms known to wizardkind, the Patronus can also be used as a messenger between wizards. As a pure, protective magical concentration of happiness and hope (the recollection of a single talisman memory is essential in its creation) it is the only spell effective against Dementors. The majority of witches and wizards are unable to produce Patronuses and to do so is generally considered a mark of superior magical ability.

    Moving on to the real reason we are talking about personas….keeping, finding and communicating to your clients and prospects.

    Definition of buyer persona (hubspot)

    Hubspot has a great definition of a buyer persona…(I could not write it better, so why re-invent the wheel!) 

    “A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.

    When creating your buyer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.

    Buyer personas provide tremendous structure and insight for your company. A detailed buyer persona will help you determine where to focus your time, guide product development, and allow for alignment across the organization. As a result, you will be able to attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business.”

    I think that the three definitions will help you think out side the box a little when  you are trying to figure out who your clients are…taking the step to fully understanding your buyer personas, will allow you to write content that will generate the results you want which then leads to more profitable sales!

    1.  Take a step back, clear your mind for at least three minutes and take a deep breath.  Walk into your store – be it a physical or virtual – and make sure you have your customers shoes on.  Try to think like them…what do you see and feel?

    2.  Write down everything that comes to mind…positive and negative!  Be honest.  This information will be your guiding light to creating your buyers personas and then writing the content for your next promotion and marketing materials.  

    Our next blog will be looking at implementing those client personas and writing content for your marketing campaigns.

    If you have any questions please call 601-667-0009 or email alyson@webdesignshop.us

  • Every buck is important in a small business!

    Every $1 that is spent on marketing campaigns is a $1 lost unless you work on getting results.  

    Never sit back and assume that your post on Facebook will generate thousands of dollars of business.  The fact is – it won’t!

    If you follow the rules and you are proactive, you should see $5 in return for every $1 that is efficiently and effectively spent.  Let鈥檚 review how you can measure how successful your campaign is.

    Measurements of Marketing Results

    I think the key word here, is campaign.  There are a lot of tools online that allow you to create a campaign and to manage the budget and ROI on that campaign.  All of these tools give you a great picture of that particular campaign and not much else.  They allow you to enter in costs involved with the campaign such as email list rental, advertising cost, brochures, etc. etc. 

    I tend to view campaigns as a living; breathing and growing entities that inter mingle with other campaigns and functions of the company.  Any one campaign is linked to another and to other costs that are not always taken into account when calculating ROI.  The reason for that, is that it is tough to do that calculation.  The online apps allow you to track specific costs for that campaign and even then, they typically just have one field for budget, and how much you spent, so you end up tracking costs in more detail in another spreadsheet or in Quickbooks. 

    Some of things that can be typically missed when calculating costs when  you work for a small business are:
    •          Support Admin Staff
    •          Software Costs
    •          Sales staff costs
    •          Management costs
    •          Other technology costs
    •          Shipping costs
    •          Outside agency costs

    As you can see, these are all things that are typically not associated with costs within a marketing campaign.  Larger corporate companies have intense calculations and algorithms that they use to identify if a campaign has been successful.  A lot of these costs are overlooked when a small business works out the cost of any marketing.

    Small business marketing management

    It is hard to not compartmentalize campaigns and to look at each mailing, or each Facebook post.  All your marketing efforts are in fact one long campaign that are all linked together, overlapping in some cases and that need support from all the other departments in the company.  If you do want to segregate campaigns, find out what the running costs of the company were at that time, and estimate what percentage of those running costs should be taken into account when calculating your ROI.  Then and only then will you get a true representative figure of how profitable your one small section of your campaign was.

    Is your marketing plan working?

    I try to be prepared for this question.  I like to blow people away with numbers and positive results and sales.  These numbers can be based on all sorts of things.  Here are a few.
    •          Sales
    •          Clicks
    •          Opens
    •          Event Attendees
    •          Responses
    •          Information requests
    •          Not interested replies
    •          Un-subscribers

    Is your marketing campaign working?
    I had a boss ask me once why I am tracking negative responses.  After I explained that negative responses help me to define client personas and targeting in the future, he understood.  The fact is, when others ask you this question, they are wanting to know if there are sales being generated from that one compartmentalized campaign.  Remember that your ROI calculations are based on the cost of the campaign and the sales generated from that campaign.  This can also be described as a revenue to cost ratio – so if you have $500 in sales and the campaign cost $100, you have a revenue to cost ratio of 5:1.  This is typically the best way for you to demonstrate results to others that are asking about success rates for different campaigns. 
    Small business marketing

    To be honest, in a small business the cost ratio is all you need to identify if a particular campaign has been successful.  Just take into consideration that one campaign may have only be successful because it ran on the back of a campaign that generated a much lower cost ratio.  For example, blog writing generates for the most part, very few sales.  However, blog writing can be what keeps your customers coming back to your website and Facebook page.  It keeps them interested in your company and seeing your promotions and ordering new items.  So in fact it is taking several different campaigns to keep your customer spending more money with your company. 

    Remember it is always cheaper to keep a customer than to find a new one!

    So the key is as a small business is to choose where you spend your marketing dollars carefully. A well designed website and active Facebook page is the minimum that you should be doing. Use those tools, to run promotions, incentives, events, and to talk to your customers! Even if you are selling to other businesses, it is always personal. Ironically, the marketing campaigns that I was on receipt of were beneficial to me and to my company. If you look at events run by larger companies, they always choose a cool location, give away gifts and have great food available. Those are the events and the companies that you personally remember and will go back to time and time again.

    The Little Web Design Shop
    If you have any questions or would like more information please call 601-667-0009 or email alyson@webdesignshop.us

  • So…you now know who your potential customer is – now find their pain!!!

    Gone are the days, when marketing materials included just a brochure/flyer and business card….and maybe some advertising in the most relevant magazine or newspaper.  
    The game that we all play has now got way more players and closing the sale is harder than ever before.
    Do not be disheartened though.  We are all unique and we all have something to offer that others do not.  You need to find that unique attribute, and apply that skill to what you know your customers need.
    So your list of marketing materials and medium may have significantly increased, but your messaging can still be on-point.  
    Sadly the customers with the greatest potential do not know what they need and therefore your message must peak their interest and touch a pain that they currently have.  
    Going back to the example I was using before of a swimming pool maintenance company, people that own pools know the different pains involved with maintaining their pool but they may be unaware that you offer a release from that pain and that your solution is way more cost effective than they imagined.  You may not be cheaper than self maintaining, but you save them time and frustration and the ability to just jump in the pool and go swimming without having to take time to vacuum and sweep the pool.
    Simply put:  PAIN:  purchasing chemicals, vacuuming, sweeping, time, frustration managing chemicals, equipment maintenance.  All of which equates to less swimming time in the small amount of time your prospect has after work.
    Each service or product that you are selling will have a variety of pain points based on the type of prospect you are targeting.  Focus on that and your message will resonate with your prospects.
    By touching those pain points, and solving them for your potential customer you will gain their attention…but you have do all of that in first 10 seconds on your website, Facebook page or marketing material.
    Be unique, be focused, but helpful, and be resourceful.  As a small business these are all key attributes that clients really appreciate.
    If you would like some help with understanding your prospects pain please call 601-667-0009 or email alyson@webdesignshop.com.  You can follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TLWDS/ or www.webdesignshop.us

  • Figure out exactly who your customer is and who your customer is not!

    This task is actually tougher than it seems…for some small businesses it may be very simple.  However understanding who your customer is a big step in understanding how your marketing will work.

    The technical phrase that is used to describe customer classifications is “Personas”.  You may just have 3 or 4 customer personas, you may have over 100.  Segregating your customers into personas allows you to choose the marketing medium(s), messages and tools that you want to use, based on the demographics and pyschograpic information that you have collected about those customers and prospects.

    As a small business owner I am sure you have come across groups of people and other businesses that you do NOT want to work with.  This group of people and businesses will be your “negative personas”.  By removing this group when considering your digital strategy you can avoid the challenges involved with these customers such as low ROI, high cost of acquisition and even that they are too advanced for what you are selling.

    Understanding your customers, may require you to so some research.  Very small businesses, can typically fill most of the questions in themselves.  Here are some of the questions though that you may want to consider asking:

    Basic demographic information: Age, gender, home ownership, employment, family members, hobbies etc

    Psychographic information:  What does a day in their life look like, do they currently have any pain points that you can help them solve, what do they value most in their business and what are their business goals.  Where and how do they gather information, and what are their main criticisms or objects to your product or service.

    You can expand on this list of  questions as you see fit based on the service/products that your business offers.  Having all of this information in a database that allows you to filter customers/leads by the information collected will be very useful in your marketing campaigns.

    If you are not able to use a database or excel spreadsheet, index cards are great to begin with.  I used to buy horse food and equipment from a local small business.  This was a few years ago but their index card system was very impressive.  It included a flurry of stars and paperclips which told the salesman what horses I had, if we competed and what groups of items I had purchased in the past and what products they thought I might like.

    They would even target certain customers with samples, and it was those samples that kept me returning and sharing information with them (horse owners are sadly typically poor and value every freebie that they are given!) and of course continuing to be a customer.  I can guarantee that I never left the store with just a bag of feed!  It made me feel special and unique!

    This index card system was simple but very effective!  Marketing has taken some huge leaps and bounds in the last 20 years and I am sure that the index card system used by that small business, would now be covered in clips, stars, fireworks and magical tricks!

    The trick for you though is get the mix of marketing mediums and messages perfect for the persona you are targeting!

    If you need some help with setting up persona questionnaires, or understanding the marketing mix some more please call 601-667-0009 or email alyson@webdesignshop.us

    You can follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tlwds/ or get extra information about our company at www.webdesignshop.us

  • Day One – Your Digital Marketing Strategy

    For those of you that have read the “SEO Tips of the Day” and the “Reviewing your Website Tips of the Day” may see some duplication here….HINT – if you see duplication in tips, it doubles, triples the importance of that item…so give the tip/job special attention.

    So now we are moving onto discussing and deciding on a digital marketing strategy.

    Without understanding the tools available to you it is tough to decide and plan anything.  Lets group things together so that you at least can focus on each group of options.

    1.  Website – your business website
    2.  Social Media – Facebook/Instagram/Twitter – which ones and why
    3.  Paid online advertising – pay per click etc
    4.  Blogging – article writing
    5.  Online networking – LinkedIn/Alignable
    6.  Email marketing
    7.  Press releases
    8.  Marketing collateral such is flyers/brochures
    9.  Events
    10. Local networking groups

    Within each of these groups, there are different methodologies, some free, some time consuming and some expensive.  How you choose to manage these, and implement will mostly be driven by how much budget you have.  I will visit each of these in the next few days.

    Some of the items we will discuss over the next few days, will apply to one or all of these groups and although they are all interlinked and to some degree results are dependent on how they all interact, you can at least keep the plan simple and add to it as you move on.  I am working on an application that allows me to have view-able timelines that link different messages together in a cohesive group based on subject, task and the task groups as I listed above.  Will keep you posted when it becomes available..

    The first thing to do is to set a goal that is attainable…dream goals like selling your company to Google for a billion dollars in the next 6 months sadly is pretty much unlikely.  As a small company your main focus is your customers and your bottom line.  So your goals will be wrapped around those two items.

    Increased profit margin FOLLOWS a focus on customers 

    & bottom line!

    Do you want current customers to purchase the same product more frequently or do you want to promote a different product to them.  You goal could be related to either option of even related to an increase in followers on your social media as an intermediary goal before you start measuring sales.

    By setting a measurable goal you will know if your efforts are starting to make a difference.  Each type of task will have have a different type of goal…each campaign you have will again have a different goal than your tasks.

    Climbing the ladder is hard at the best of times.  Having these measurable stepping stone achievements will give you the strength to jump to the next stone.

    Here is an example of a small business setting goals…

    George owns a small swimming pool maintenance company.  George is planning on expanding his product portfolio by adding a range of pool skimmers.  George does not necessarily see his customers when he completes the regular maintenance on his clients pools so has to consider other ways to make these customers aware of the product.

    Here is George’s plan:

    Goal 1:  100% of my current customers should be aware of product availability.

    To do this George plans to run an email marketing campaign direct to customers and also a social media promotion on his Facebook and Instagram pages.  He will use promotional videos and statistics provided by the skimmer manufacturer to help with his promotion.

    Goal 2:  After 2 months George wants to see $X in sales of the skimmer products.

    Without going into too much detail, when planning each of your campaigns and tasks you need to consider the marketing mix.

    To do this you must look at the 4 P’s.  Product, Price, Place, Promotion.  This will help you focus on what you need to be able to provide for your products/services and therefore provide for any campaign related to that particular product/service.

    The image below gives you a good idea of the key elements you need to be considering.  For small local businesses the answers are generally simple and the same…PLACE will always be your own store front for example be it physical or online but you will always need to consider inventory, physical items you are selling, or enough staff available to provide the service.

    Tomorrow we will discuss the audience that you are targeting and how you should edit your messaging to get the perfect response….a new customer!

    If you need help or have any questions please contact alyson@webdesignshop.us.  Please also share this blob with your colleagues and business friends.

    You can also follow Tips of the Day via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TLWDS/

  • Getting up to speed on your digital strategy

    Getting clued up and putting together your digital strategy.

    All this time we have been discussing search engine optimization and reviews of your website…you have been learning about how you can promote your website and make sure that you get the best possible results and return on investment of your marketing dollars. 

    The next step is to take this knowledge and apply it in a marketing plan that clearly outlines your digital strategy for online marketing and promotion.

    Sadly implementing a digital strategy is all about focus, dedication and consistency.  .It cannot be a one off advert/boost promo on Facebook.  It cannot be a one-off open day at your location.  Set up a plan and have faith in your concepts and ideas.

    Over the next few days, we will discussing some ideas on how you can build this plan.  To begin with lets get you up to speed with some acronyms that will help you understand the big bad world of digital marketing…click here to access the acronyms.

  • Old and outdated or does your website just need a new “font refresher”?

    When you reviewed your website yesterday for “call to actions” and easily visible options for potential customers to interact with you, did you notice if your site is looking a little old? When I say old, does it look like it was created a couple of years ago, some of the information is not relevant anymore and you have either discontinued or added some new products and services? If you have answered “YES” to any of the above it is time for a revamp. Now, a revamp could be as little as changing the font. Popular fonts today are typically clean and straight. Not too many “frills”. I personally like Lato, Gotham and Roboto. If you think that it needs a little more than just a “font refresher” make notes of the areas you think need some help. Be brutally honest…it is better to have a longer list which can be broken down into “have to change”, “would be nice to update” and “would be awesome to have a new vibrant image” groups. Below are some images of some really old websites that are no longer live…I have one client that wants the “old look” but in a updated format. Now that is proving to be interesting! If you want someone to do a quick review and let you know if you need an update, call 601-667-0009 or email alyson@webdesignshop,us Please follow and share this post on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TLWDS/

  • Budget Friendly Website Design

    Videos are a great way to keep people watching your website and your product.

    Is your website fun? Does it catch someones attention? If you are selling to consumers, a great way to catch their attention is via video.

    Over 80% of people who view a video of your product are more likely to pick up the phone and call or email you.

    It is not as tough to create a video as it used to be. You have to pretty good on your computer, but if you have already designed your own website you can probably create your own video. I mean, I hate to say it but car dealerships and furniture stores advertising on local TV channels set a pretty low mark to reach!

    Even your smartphone with a steady hand or tripod will take a pretty good video. Any good web designer can take a rough video and add a few bangs and whistles. www.Fiverr.com also has some great contractors that can put together a good video with some images and video file from your smartphone. Small businesses live on a tight budget so I understand the need to keep the production costs low.

    Dollar Shave Club has some fun videos that are promotional but keep you watching…also I must admit Walmart had a classic video that keeps me laughing every time I watch it – here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsvAj6qfmFQ and K-Marts videos for “shipping” items are hysterical and reminds me that K-Mart now is not just a brick and mortar store.

    So think of the fun side of your product no matter how boring it is, gather a few friends and family who don’t mind letting their hair down and saying a few lines, and the chances are you will be able to pull together something that will work.

    If you do need some help with your video and website please call 601-667-0009 or email alyson@webdesignshop.us

    Also to regularly get tips of the day, please follow our blog at @ https://tlwds.blogspot.com/ and follow our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TLWDS/

  • It is tough to get someone to visit your site, and even tougher to keep them there!

    Do a test run with your website as if you are a potential client. How much time did you spend on your website looking for either a phone number, email address, your price list or a way to get a quote. If it takes you more than 10 seconds (taking into considering that you know where to look) to get to any one of these three things, it is TOOOO LONG!!! When people are looking to get a quote for work, they A, want to find a way to get that quote quickly and B, they really don’t care about your long story about how you got established. They are on your website for a reason. So it is key to capture their information and to see what they need. How they got there is also important so that you can make sure your marketing dollars are working but keeping them there is even tougher! Have a landing page designed for all leads that come in from a link….the landing page will be fully designed for what people are looking for – a quote, a phone number or email address or even a form for them to fill out which is clear, bright and helpful…also have an obvious link to your main home which allows them to read more to get gather more information about your company and product. www.webdesignshop.us

  • Budget Friendly Website Design

    Reviewing your website should happen on a regular basis!

    Technology today is fast moving, as are the people who use it.  You have 3-5 seconds to catch a person’s attention when they visit your website.  If you fail, they are moving onto your competitors site.

    Starting today, I am posting some ideas and pointers on what you should be doing with your website on a regular basis.

    User Experience…how many times do you visit a website and have challenges finding the information you need? I know that happens to me on a regular basis…

    This regularly happens with small businesses that utilize website builders such as Wix or Squarespace. They give the non techie person a chance to create something that looks good. Without the underlying knowledge of what works better for a person browsing the site, the user experience becomes null and void.

    If you have used a website builder to create your site, take another look at it from the customers viewpoint. What do they typically ask you as a new customer if they call in? This is some of the of information you want to have readily available on your home page.

    Reviewing your Website – Is your website responsive?

    What is the meaning of responsive? Basically it is when your website looks great on a desktop, laptop, tablet and cellphone.

    Websites that carry a lot of text on the home page look terrible on cellphones. They are difficult to read and annoying as you have to keep on moving around on the screen to read the text.

    Websites that just have images are boring to look at on cellphones…a lot of times the image takes up the whole screen and there is no text to make you want to read further.

    Sadly your workload for the review of your website has now tripled as you need to review on all devices. Here are the pointers just on how the website looks overall and feels:

    1. Loads super-fast even with slow connections
    2. Accessible menu and easy to navigate
    3. A quick glance gives the viewer the main 411
    4. It has to be memorable (for good reasons)!
    5. Easily readable text
    6. Flexible layout
    7. Only need to scroll up and down

    Messaging. When you land on your website home page, do you know instantly what your company does?

    If you don’t I bet that the person visiting your website does not either! The content on your website HAS to be communicating the right message!!!

    What I typically do is look at competitor鈥檚 websites. If they are a company that you know is doing well, see what is on your website that you are missing.

    Gone are the days when being mysterious will gather interest!  People for the most part are now in too much of a hurry to be spending time investigating your company.

    Visit the blog tomorrow to get more tasks that you need to complete to make sure your website is capturing the interest of the person visiting!