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  • Organic SEO & the Small Business Owner – Day 1

    For most small businesses available budget for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is usually close to the bottom of the list.  It is typically expensive to pay someone to help you and you still end up working with them to ensure that their messages are in line with your corporate message and mission statement.

    Investing in your website is a good thing and needs to be done if you generate most of your business from it.  Websites and blogs are both living and breathing entities.  You must feed them regularly to ensure that traffic is continually driven to them both.

    If you get into pattern of posting to your site or blog at least once a week, you will soon see the results.  Below are some points that you need to consider that will help you increase your organic SEO rank and therefore increase the number of times your URL appears at the top of search engine results.

    What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

    Search engine optimization is the process webmasters use to get their content to rank highly on search engines like Google and Microsoft Edge.

    Search engines have a variety of algorithms that they use to generate ranks for websites and blogs.  Although they change their different algorithms regularly, the basic concepts you need to complete to achieve results do not change.  If you cover the basics you will be sure to increase your organic traffic and results.

    1. Do your Keyword Research

    Keywords are everything.  You must remember that Google is a machine.  It matches the words you write to determine if it’s a fit compared to the queries people are searching for.  Your website must be optimized for keywords to increase the chances of your content ranking for a keyword.

    I highly recommend using KWFinder to do keyword research: It will help you to determine if a keyword has people searching for it and give you insights about how competitive a keyword will be.  There are a lot of websites that offer keyword research, both free and paid for.  Choose the one that works best for you and your budget.

    The idea is that you want to optimize your posts for keywords that have more monthly searches but are not very competitive.  The less competitive the keyword, the more chance your post or webpage will come up in the results.

    1. Optimize for Search Engine Optimization

    Add your chosen keyword(s) in the fields listed below to optimize your pages for Google.  Depending on the software you have used to build your website will depend on what you need to do to find these fields.  For example, if your site is built in WordPress, download a free plugin called Yoast.  Yoast allows you to edit all these fields for all the pages and posts that you have published.

    • Title
    • Meta description
    • Alt text of images
    • Subheadings
    • Your internal links
    • Within the body text of your article
    • There are more, but these are the key areas you need to focus on.
    1. Write Content that Calls to the Person Reading your Website or Blog.

    Take into consideration that all changes that Google makes to its algorithm has its end user experience in mind.  For example, Google knows that users do not like popups, so they negatively score websites that use them, and they also know that posts and blogs that are longer give the user more value for money, so they rank those higher.

    It goes without saying, that you need to write about what people what to hear about.  So, when you write your website content or blog, ensure that the topics are current, interesting and well written.  Double…Triple…. quadropoly check for grammar errors and typos.

    1. Understand your Competitors

    Online Marketing - Unique ResultsWhy? You can check out the best-ranking SEO keywords that your competitors have, and then copy them.  This can be achieved manually; however, I advise SEMRush – you must pay for it, but it is worth the money.  There are other options like SEMRush that are free, but you get what you pay for!  SEMRush are all about Search Engine Optimization and when used will definitely increase your results.

    1. Self-host your Website or Blog

    This does not mean that you need to buy a web server and set it up yourself.  It means that you should NOT use Wix, Weebly or other DIY website design tools.  Without a self-hosted website, trying to rank for content is an uphill battle. Wix, Weebly etc., do not rank well on Google search engine.

    1. Good Web Design & Theme

    You may not see it now, but the website theme you use will affect your do-it-yourself SEO efforts in many ways.

    For example:

    • A good website theme will ensure that your website is mobile responsive.
    • A good website theme will not slow down your site unnecessarily.
    • A good website theme has built-in SEO functions.
    • A good website theme looks good and keeps visitors around.

    These functions should not stop you for looking for places for you to work on your Search Engine Optimization rules!  There are thousands of themes out there built for a variety of different applications.  Choose the theme that appeals to you the most, then research for the above features.

    1. Create a Brand that Stands Out

    User retention is incredibly important. If people land on your site from Google and then leave immediately, Google takes note and adjusts your rankings accordingly.

    You want to have a solid brand that stands out so that people don’t just read your post, they end up on your website for a long, long, time.  Your brand must be memorable so that people can refer others to your website and blog.

    1. Create an Audience of Loyal Readers with your Email List

    This applies more to a blog page than a website page but a blog post with people visiting definitely has a higher chance of being ranked.

    Social Media will allow you to send a ton of traffic to your blog posts, so that these people can then share, link and generally create interest in your post.  We have all heard the phrase “viral”.  You want your post to go viral for good reasons.  A highly shared page is more likely to be classified by Google as having “high-quality content” and that is worth being in the top 10.

    Prompt users to subscribe to your blog and page.  This will help you to build an email list that you can then send information to about your latest posts every time you publish.

    1. Long Tail Keywords

    If I had to start over in a new niche and newly launched website, I would invest heavily in writing articles optimized for long-tail keywords.  Long-tail keywords often have hyper-relevance and it will get you a tribe of people squarely in your target audience.

    For instance, by ranking for “newsletter content ideas” instead of “newsletter”, you can create a community of people with a specific need that you can solve and monetize easily.  It is also a lot easier to rank for the less competitive long-tail keywords.

    1. Write Regular Content

    Regular PostsYou must write regularly if you want organic traffic.  Once a year is not going to get the results you are hoping for.  No articles = no ranking = no search traffic = no subscribers = no business.  Everyone has things that annoy them the most…for me it is bloggers and news outlets that do not date stamp their articles.  For good or bad, the internet is forever.  News and information fast become out of date.  By date stamping your articles and blogs, users can appreciate your article with a difference view.

    1. Get Social Shares

    A blog post with traction is a lot more likely to get ranked than a blog post with no visitors.  Post away on all social media platforms.  Ask friends and colleagues to share your posts to help you increase your traffic.  Depending on your topic you might also try using Pinterest.  It is very effective alternative to drive traffic to any blog post or website, aside from Google.

    There are a variety of social sharing plugins.  You can review Hootsuite and Social Warfare.

    1. Market your website

    We have been discussing both blog posts and websites interchangeably throughout this article.  Promoting both simultaneously will generate great results.  I am avid reader of the Entrepreneur magazine and website.  They had a great article that gives you some great ideas for marketing your website – Here is the link  https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/283832

    1. Use Yoast SEO Plugin

    The Yoast SEO plugin is a great plugin to use to help you to optimize your WordPress website and blog posts.  It is worth the extra 5 minutes before you hit the Publish button to give Yoast some attention.  Make sure all of your Yoast comments have a GREEN DOT!  At that point you get a pat on the back!

    If you don’t have Yoast SEO plugin installed yet, you must. It’s one of the best WordPress plugins available on the internet.

    1. HTTPS your website

    You may have heard of Google’s not-so-recent move to prioritize websites with an SSL certificate.  Basically, your website URL will start with “https” instead of “http”.  There are a variety of places now, that you get a free SSL and using WordPress plugins you can easily add your SSL certificate to your website and blog.  Having an SSL cert is especially important if you are selling and accepting payments on your website.  It indicates to the user that you take their online security and identity seriously.  It also adds a little “lock” icon in the address bar beside your website address.  Once installed, if you are still not seeing the lock icon, contact your hosting company.  They will be able to help you ensure that you entire site is secure.

    1. Install a Sitemap

    Having a sitemap for your website is important.  Yoast has a setting that allows the plugin to automatically create a sitemap.  By having a sitemap, your page will be indexed quickly and more efficiently for Google and other search engines.

    Thank you for your time reading my article.  I hope that I was able to answer questions about SEO and take away some of the mystery that surrounds it.  If you need help with your website or marketing material please email me at alyson@webdesignshop.us or call me on 601-667-0009.  You can also use the form below to contact us.

    Alyson Stasek

    Owner at The Little Web Design Shop

    www.WebDesignShop.us 

    Package Options from The Little Web Design Shop

    #webdesign #webdevelopment #SEO #SearchEngineOptimization #smallbusiness #mississippi #tlwds #bloggin #onlinepromotion

  • Online Networking

    Online Networking and How to be Successful

    This is a great article and thought I would share that looks at Networking Online | Websites | SEO.  Enjoy, Learn, Generate Business!

    As small business owners, we should all take the time to learn more about how we can promote our business.  Traditional advertising and postcards work 75% of the time, but by sticking to those methods will mean you are missing a big chuck of your potential customers.

    https://www.alignable.com/blog/secrets-to-successful-networking-online

    Email Alyson@webdesignshop.us  or call 601-667-0009 if you need help with your website, marketing materials, SEO or social media

    #onlinenetworking #smallbusiness #mississippi #website #promotion #marketing #SEO #searchengineoptimization #focusonresults

    The Little Web Design Shop

    If you need any help with your website, marketing materials or just need to ask questions please call me at 601 667 0009 or use the forms below to contact us and subscribe to our newsletter.

  • Why is it that most small business owners do not research the difference between 100% custom, and template based websites?

    Just saw a question on Alignable about web design and small businesses, and thought I would post the question here and my response. Let me know what you think:

    https://www.alignable.com/…/why-is-it-that-most-small…

    Why is it that most small business owners do not research the difference between 100% custom, and template based websites?

    1. Small businesses run on a tight budget…a fully newly written website coded just for them is not usually an option, and yes they are way more expensive than using a WordPress theme for example.

    2. WordPress has some great templates and themes that are fully functional for small businesses and allows them to incorporate all the features that they need, the site looks custom, and they also able to optimize for SEO using relevant keywords.

    A good WordPress developer will take the tools and make them work effectively. I would not suggest to small businesses that they use Wix or other similar template options as yes, they are restrictive and yes they typically do not look professional and on a long term basis they end up expensive and ineffective.

    3. I do not believe that anything is better than nothing…a dated, badly designed website will turn clients off and stop them from calling your company. It makes your company look inefficient and out of touch with todays world.

    4. It is not because business owners are apathetic (read some of the comments below before I responded) and to be honest, I think that is an insult to most small business owners. A small business owner cannot know everything! Like any business professional they need to delegate when they do not have the relevant knowledge. In fact, the sign of a great manager and owner is the ability to delegate and to accept that they do not have all the answers. It has nothing to do with being unwilling to learn or to expand their repertoire.

    5. Being a small business owner is challenging at the best of times and the owner needs to focus on what they do best…serving and supporting their clients. Web design is not a skill that most small business owners have in their arsenal. Doing due diligence on picking a web designer is based on a variety of things…location, price, value for money and customer service are used just to begin with. These are the things that most small business owners understand irrelevant of the product and service that they are selling themselves.

    6. Referrals are the best way to find a contractor/web designer and small business owners recognize this. That is why Alignable is such an awesome tool and networking site for all small business owners.

    Let me know what you think…either via comments below or email me at alyson@webdesignshop.us!

  • My First Job!

    From the Desk of Marold Studesville, Avid Entrepreneur & Owner/CEO of Transport Financial Services, LLC

    Do you remember your very first job other than just chores around the house? I do!

    I was five years old when I got my first real job, and I remember it like it was yesterday. We lived In Arkansas where my dad stayed busy working in his pawn shop, and as a shoe cobbler, making, and repairing shoes for the town. We were the only family in town with a yard full of pomegranate trees, seventeen to be exact.

    When I entered the first (1st) grade my Dad, Albert Studesville gave me my own pomegranate tree. After working with him I learned a lot during his first five years of my life. He taught me about working him with the public, and great customer service. As my mentor he helped me with a spill, and let me take two pomegranates to school each day to sell. I sold them for two to three cents a piece which was a lot of money for a five-year-old, 65 years ago. Since, I made money each day at school my Dad let me use some of my change for snacks, and invest the rest in U.S. Series E Saving Bonds.

    “The Boss does not sleep, he rests. The Boss is never late, he is delayed. The Boss never leaves work, his presence is required elsewhere.” Malcolm Forbes

    I talked to some of the kids that would steal the pomegranate if they got a chance, and shared the delicious Persian fruit filled with bright red seeds to market my product. My dad helped me to know, and understand the product to promote its sale. When he saw that I had learned, he helped me to prepare a presentation packet of ten bright red pomegranates to go up-town to Mr. Simpson’s market to sell on a larger scale. With his guidance, I made my first order at five cent a piece. I was rolling in money, because there was no competition.

    To this day, my business practice is based on honesty, and candor. This is reflective in the forty-five year tenure of my transportation firm, Transport Financial Services, LLC (TFS), and my consistently maintaining an A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in Pensacola, Florida.

    This “Thought of the Day”, and long remembrance of my Mentor, and Dad is a constant reminder of what I’ve learned about business, support, and services.

    Thanks, Dad!

    You can contact Marold at Marold@TFSMall.com or on his cell (662) 542-2908

    www.TFSMall.com www.eTruckBook.com  www.empowermentlogistics.com

     

  • Social Media and its Role in Politics & Religion

    I spend a lot of time on social media and the internet for a variety of reasons: Reading, learning, researching, marketing, and communicating to name just a few.

    I have always respected the internet and the information that is so easily accessible. I remember the first time I browsed a website when the internet first became “live”.  Yes, I can still remember that day in the early 1990’s very clearly.  I even still have my original Hotmail email address that I created in that first exploratory reach into the unknown. Although I learned very little in the first foray, I did understand and appreciate the power such a tool would have in the future. Attending college never really inspired me to want to learn…it took being “romanced” by the era of technology for me to delve deep, learn, read, learn and read and learn some more.

    At the time, I worked for a small direct marketing and research firm based out of Berkshire, and I was a true database and direct marketing geek. I was well-known throughout the direct marketing industry and I would get calls from all over Europe asking my advice about how to manage a direct marketing campaign and what criteria should be used to target a captive audience. Ironically, it was the people who worked in marketing at this time that developed the initial idea around identifying client personas without really realizing what we were doing.

    The company’s client base was purely information technology and I was lucky enough to have worked with the greats: Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, 3M to name just a few. I also worked with a lot of small companies who were dipping their toes into this exciting and rapidly developing industry for the first time. Being a part of a small company and its first timid steps has always inspired me, and even today I get excited when I am talking to a new client.

    Social Media wise, I think my first account was on MySpace.  At the time MySpace was mostly sharing pictures and music.  It could have been so much more, but Facebook hit the market and MySpace slowly lost its way. Yahoo groups was also a fun zone to be in…chatting with people across the globe, learning and expanding horizons. I must admit, I never really saw the bad side of what the internet had to offer.  My focus has and always will be “a glass half full attitude”, and a positive outlook.

    Never did I imagine pedophiles hunting down and talking to young children to persuade them to meet up, never did I imagine political parties sharing false information to win elections, never did I imagine massive churches taking money from parishioners in the way that they do today through online books and fake information. I guess I was still living the life of a young, hopeful adult that could only imagine the positive from this massive wheel that was only just beginning to spin.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still see the massive positives that the internet delivers every single second of every hour in the day. I read extensively, and still value the available information, but I have learned to accept this information with either a small pinch or large bucket load of salt, depending on the website I am reading. I think the challenge a lot of people have when reading information online, be it a website or social media posts, is that they believe 100% of what they are reading and do not make a judgement call based on the source of the information.

    People seem to have forgotten the old saying about “don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper”. The internet seems to add a level of truthfulness about topics…I mean, if they say they are “Doctor”, they must be a “Doctor”…right??!?

    I do not think anyone understands or has information about how Russia supposedly affected the 2016 US Election or if there are “bots” flooding the pages and groups online. To try and keep track of all the memes, images, comments, news articles that travel across social media and to check them as they are posted for accuracy is by far, an impossible job. No matter how much we beg our family and friends to stop sharing inaccurate information, they continue to do so.

    What I do think though is that everything should have its place. Each social media platform is different and has a job. Let us review the top 4.

    1. Facebook – Platform for consumers to share information and stories and for businesses to sell and promote themselves to those consumers and other businesses.
    2. Instagram – Platform to consumers and businesses to share images and to promote their ideas and services to their followers.
    3. Twitter – The favorite medium of the current resident of the White House, Twitter is a news feed platform that allows you to share short news alerts and information with your followers.
    4. LinkedIn – Platform for businesses and professionals to network and promote their services and skill sets.

    All these social media platforms are great for the small business owner through to large conglomerates promoting their services and sharing their news. Of course, the more we use them as consumers, the richer the owners/CEOs get but everyone gets something out of them if they log in to their account.

    Without Facebook, I would not have recently got back in touch with my best friend from school. Without WhatsApp, I would never be able to afford to speak to my daughter in England every day for sometimes an hour at a time. We all have similar stories.

    My question today though goes back to the social media platform’s job. Should any of their jobs in the widest sense of the platform’s definition include politics and religion? Politics and religion are both taboo subjects over the dinner table, so why are they not also taboo on your social media timeline. Facebook and Twitter are now so infected with politics that I do not believe there is a chance to reverse the rapid spread of a pathogen that is a major part of today’s industrialized society.

    Instagram and LinkedIn are so far almost protected from the political/religious virus. Sadly, today I spotted a few political and religious posts creeping into my LinkedIn feed. I have been on LinkedIn for 6 years and have over 3500 connections and I review my feed and connections daily. I have always been quietly happy that LinkedIn has kept to their job of networking, job searching, business promotion, and marketing.  It has been my breathing space from a world gone a little mad!  That now appears to be changing.  It seems that inappropriate posts are creeping to onto my news feed that include obvious political and religious grandstanding.

    Who is willing to fight for LinkedIn and the clean job that it does? Who is willing to stand up and say NO to RELIGION and POLITICS on LinkedIn?

    Will it be the product managers at Microsoft who will put their foot down and announce to the world that anyone on LinkedIn promoting a political or religious agenda will be removed? Or will it be all the professionals who have proactively used LinkedIn since 2002 when it was launched? Either way, action needs to be taken, and I hope that the managers at LinkedIn and Microsoft take note and keep LinkedIn politics and religion-free.

     

  • Necessity is the Mother of Invention – A Positive note!

    The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) has both challenged and changed the world’s perception of individualism, materialism, greed, organization, and the many uses of technology.  This pandemic has driven people to avariciously hoard items that are needed by EVERYONE in the world, and to vainly attempt to make money from others dire privations.
    I am, however beginning to see a dim pulsating light at the end of the tunnel.  People are beginning to realize that there is a “Smarter” way of living and that humanity is at a point where it desperately needs a course modification geared toward togetherness and teamwork.  We are at a place on our road of existence where we should seriously consider which direction we plan to take.  Do we continue straight on, driving our planet into oblivion, or do we take the road less traveled, and save our world and society from recklessness?
    “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed,” Gandhi.
    The last few years have demonstrated how anger, hostility, greed, and prejudice can drive a wedge between friends, families, communities, and even countries!  The last few weeks have shown us that these “wedges” and “differences” are useless when fighting this new invisible enemy (COVID-19).
    Materialism and greed have created a society driven by a need for the latest and greatest with the insatiable urge to have everything and anything.  Materialism, desire, and hoarding are now a big part of our society.  Human beings are social beasts, and this need to “socialize” and possess more has driven us to engage with our peers via new and exciting communication channels based on the developing technology available.  Businesses and educational institutions now utilize on-line options for courses in-lieu of in-house meetings and classroom activities.
    Ironically, there are always several silver linings to every cloud.  This cloud is a giant, evil black monstrosity called COVID-19, an invisible enemy, that not even a murderer or criminal can evade. In many ways, we’ve already adopted the concept of “social distancing” during the era of social media and technology. Yet this ability to distance ourselves socially may be our saving grace.  With no vaccines available, you are safest at home in front of your computer or smartphone in your hand.
    Unification of families is now a reality brought on by COVID-19!  Crime is down because of the mass hysteria that the streets are not safe.  Restaurants and grocery outlets have more efficient delivery and pick up services, which minimizes travel, and therefore accidents.  Doctors are once again making house calls to elderly patients who are too frail to take on this new invisible enemy.   Society is on a path to healing from an enemy that we cannot yet embrace.
    Yes, we can survive as individuals, even in quarantine, and still, be part of a caring community.  In this globalized world, our lives are so intertwined that we need to view ourselves, as individuals, as communities, as nations, and as a uniquely privileged species. It has taken a virus to show us that only through togetherness we at our most reliable, most alive, most human and that we understand what is most important.  We are all bound together as part of a miraculous web of life on planet Earth!
    A final thought though…Will society remember this most-important-lesson learnt after the virus is no longer the enemy, or will people, communities, and countries go back to business as usual?
    By Marold Studesville & Alyson Stasek
  • …I said Persona, not Patronus

    …I said Persona, not Patronus  😀 

    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 pər-ˈsō-(ˌ)nē, -ˌnī 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) —usually used in plural comic personae


    Definition of patronus (www.pottermore.com)


    https://www.pottermore.com/features/what-is-a-patronus

    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’s 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
    www.webdesignshop.us
    If you have any questions or would like more information please call 601-667-0009 or email alyson@webdesignshop.us

  • Work Etiquette versus Moral Integrity – A discussion!

    When your morals, and that displayed at your place of employment differ significantly you may find yourself in a dilemma that will make you look at things a little differently!

    I have always, gone with my gut when choosing my clients for the most part.  Even if I am desperately needing a new project, if one comes along that just doesn’t seem right I turn it down.

    I took on a project once that involved dealing with people who had moral standards that I questioned on a regular basis.  I did not know that this would be the case before I accepted the project.

    The company came along highly recommended by the leaving contractor, as did the company team members that I would be working with.  The reason that the contractor was leaving was because of family obligations they did not allow enough time for the time the project was taking…I found this out to be not true.  That aside, I found a lot that I was told about the team and other contractors to be untrue as well.

    I cannot say I am the most moral person in the world. I must definitely have faults.  I do not go to church, and I have lied to people in the past and sometimes I have bad thoughts.  However, I have always felt that I have a level of professionalism that has worked well for myself and for my clients.  When I was a much younger person I worked as a “gopher” at a local newspaper.  As a gopher, you are the one person that gets yelled at if you do not show up with the right copy before deadline or for anything else that is late.  I learnt very quickly, that you do not take anything personally on deadline day at a newspaper!  The following day, everyone that yelled at me would come and tell me that they really appreciated my hard work.  I have took those feelings with me and know for the most part that anything negative that anyone says to you at work is not personal and is probably coming from their own insecurities, challenges and stress of the day.  Letting them get to you brings you one step closer to being them.  

    Work and personal morals are extraordinarily different.

    Stress, deadlines, challenges, money, targets, failure, unorganized….are all things that cause people in a work scenario to become insecure, angry and then unprofessional.  Your personal morals, a lot of the time, are what help you handle situations professionally.

    I recently read a great article/report by Susan Scheller Arsht..”This is how work life should be”:  Quality Connections, Positive Relationships, and Positive Organization Climate.  If you are experiencing challenges in the work place environment, reading this report would benefit you greatly.  To me the title says it all…and the key words are “POSITIVE” and “QUALITY”. 

    Wikipedia definition —- “Work etiquette is a code that governs the expectations of social behavior in a workplace.  This code is put in place to enable people to respect and protect time, people and processes”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_etiquette



    In the world of telecommuting things are quite a bit different.  

    Telecommuting creates its own list of challenges when it comes to work etiquette.  It can be tough to read into what people are saying at the end of phone or video call.  They could be saying one thing and actually mean something completely different.  Sadly the same goes for you too…if you are the contractor you sometimes have to pick your words carefully.  Your client may not always be wanting to hear the truth and you may not be willing to disclose it.

    Investing in the product, the company, the people…

    Telecommuting can also create what I call “false” friendships.  If you have never met someone that you are working with there can sometimes be no real investment in the working relationship.  This is particularly true if you have no common interests.  I have learnt that it is a good idea to get invested in the company you are contracting for.  Use their products if possible in a personal landscape, and learn to embrace their dynamic.  Those team members that you do have personal similarities with are slightly different, as you take a step forward with them and become more than just being work colleagues.  I am still in contact with some of the friends I made through working on projects, mainly because I met with them in their office on a regular basis and had common hobbies and interests.  The others have sadly, quietly disappeared from my LinkedIn news feed.  


    The point of today’s blog is to discuss what you should do when you are already working on a project, and find that your clients moral standard and professional etiquette differs drastically to your own.

    1.  You can quit!  Walk away and not have to deal with it.
    2.  You continue to work on the project whilst suggesting alternatives to the different standards/rules that seem to be set.
    3.  You continue to work and suck it up and deal with it.

    Firstly, I am not a quitter.  Once I took the project I on, I did level 3 for quite a while, and then just couldn’t do it any more.  My name was going on the bottom of emails that I didn’t agree with, that I felt were just rude and unprofessional.  I moved up to level two, my ideas for changing the way things were done were listened too (I believe) and then were ignored and if not ignored were sometimes described as silly (I am using a polite word here). My frustration for not being taken seriously was increasing but I remained the professional and calmly just did as I was asked.



    Finally level 1…I am no longer working on the project.  It started off with basic things that really did not feel right in my gut, like not responding to emails if the company did not want to work with someone who had approached them, to one of the partners screaming at me over a conference call for an error that he had created.  Honestly, not responding to the emails never felt right to me..both morally speaking and that it was bad business sense.  You never know if in the future that person may be working at a company that you do want to do business with.…and I mean how much time does it take to send a quick message back.  The screaming session was the final straw that broke the donkeys back!  There was a lot that happened in between these two examples but I wanted to describe how not following good work etiquette can cause a “this doesn’t feel right” situation to a “I need out situation”.

    This is probably a burnt bridge…as I would never want to work with any of the staff/contractors at that company again, but generally speaking burning bridges just does not work for me…yes sometimes those bridges fall into dis-repair because you do not maintain them…but never should you take a flame thrower and burn it to the ground.  Even when the business owner, has been totally disrespectful, and downright rude to you, never burn that bridge.  His assistant might remember your level of professionalism and contact you at a later date from a different company.

    The not responding to emails, was just the beginning of what I now consider to be a life lesson. Sadly, you may not know at the onset of a project that it is not going to work out, but speak out when you see things going array!   

    Lets get back to that word…POSITIVE!  I will say that this has been the only project that I have found myself wanting to jump and run.  Everyone else that I have worked with in the past have for the most part, been professional, morally upright people.  My friends say that I am the forever optimist and that I always view life and work with a positive outlook.  I always look for the silver lining, I always find something positive and I always learn something new from every challenge that life puts in front of me.  

    What did I learn?

    1. Go with what I feel is right, and let your client know if what you are being asked to do falls outside of the ballpark for you.
    2. I choose to only work with companies and individuals that have a moral levels that meet or exceed both my personal moral standards, and the standards I have set for myself within a working environment, both virtually and physically in an office.
    3. Finally, never suck it up and deal with it…

    So, go forth and work hard, earn great respect and money and conquer the world!


    I hope you enjoyed reading my blog and welcome your comments!  Please follow the blog and share with your colleagues if you think it will benefit them.

    www.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