Saturday, January 28, 2012

Eight Ways To Boost The Effectiveness of Your Local Small Business Website

Increasingly local small businesses are seeing great benefits in establishing a web presence. Reason: that's where their customers are. Too often, however, business owners have a website built without really analyzing what they are trying to accomplish. For most small businesses their websites are being looked at by two distinct and very different audiences - existing and prospective customers.

No matter whom your audience is your local small business website should follow the following 8 best practices:

    Keep information on your small business website fresh. Merely establishing a web presence and then failing to regularly update its content is a complete waste of your time and money. Why would anyone continue to use your website unless there is something new to read? As a local small business you need to keep adding two types of content - one that interests your existing customer and another that that makes interesting reading for the prospective customers doing research.

    Your business contact information must be easy to find. The name of business, office address or addresses, telephone number, fax number and email address should appear on each page. Make it very easy for the website user to get in touch.

    Include directions to your premises. Providing simple and clear directions makes it easier for the customer to get to your office. You'd be surprised to find how many people search the Internet for just that: directions.

    Make sure your website is relatively fast. Many web developers like to use flash and other gimmicks when they build a website for the sensory appeal. However, your current and prospective customers might still be using dial-up or other slow connections. There is nothing like a slow website that will cause any user to give up on your website and look elsewhere.

    Make navigation around your website as easy as possible. Your most important web pages should be easy to find. If a prospective customer wants know about you, your products, your service offerings, your hours, what kind of payment you accept and so forth, make it easy. You are going lose prospective customers if your website is not very easy to use.

    Keep your local small business website error-free. In the commercial world it is inexcusable to have broken links, missing graphics or typos. Errors on your website reflect poorly on your standards of acceptable quality. Would you want to make use of a business, its services or products, which has an error filled website?

    Validate your website with real typical users. Coral as many people as you can to test out your site before it goes live. Invite your staff, your spouse, your kids, your friends and maybe even a few loyal customers to try out your new website. If your website confuses those testing it then it is not ready for prime time.

    Write your content for web consumption. Prospective and existing customers tend not to read web content in the same way they read a book. On the web people have a minutely short attention span, so that everything they read tends to be scanned. To facilitate this use numbered or bulleted lists and subheads. Avoid excessive verbiage by cutting out the superfluous and getting to the point quickly.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Five Branding Tips for Entrepreneurs and Start-Ups

A strong brand is important in this day and age of constant advertising everywhere we turn. Having a strong brand would ensure that your ideal customers think of you as the best provider before anyone else in your industry or niche.

If you're a solopreneur, start-up or entrepreneur and you are the biggest element of your brand, think about how you will stand out and get noticed. What is the one thing that will make your ideal prospects sit up and take notice? In what way can you make yourself or your business memorable? Don't worry - you can have a "rockin" brand just like the big boys!

Here's a quick list of branding tips:

1. Picture it and make it visual. Branding is best when it is simple. I think the best brands create theater of the mind in the consumer's mental eye. If you can make an association in people's minds that will help them to remember you. Can you picture the original soft drink bottle shaped like an hour glass or the famous fast food chain with yellow arches? Yes, I thought so. You get the picture...

2. Get Creative and make it fun. Some of my favorite entrepreneurs have quirky, humorous or amusing elements incorporated in their brand. If you come up with an idea that's a little off kilter, don't discount it. It just might work. Ask a group of colleagues for their honest opinion. If you're a part of a professional networking group, do your own focus group survey. Send an email asking for input on your brand and ask how it strikes the reader. You'll get tons of varied responses but it'll be great feedback.

3. Rock The Tweet. There's no denying that Twitter is an entrepreneur's best friend. You can quickly gain a following of several hundred to several thousands of potential customers and brand ambassadors. Social media is crucial in coming up with your brand concept. Make sure you check to see if the brand name you want is "tweetable." Simply put, when choosing a brand name, make sure it works well with social media outlets.

4. Credibility. It's great to have fun with your brand. However, make sure that it is authentic, believable and something you can stick with. Make sure that you are comfortable with the brand position and identity you have chosen. If you don't believe in your own brand, no one else will. The worst thing would be to choose a brand and then change it repeatedly because you just aren't sure what message you want to convey.

5. Consistency is key. Once you have created your brand, make sure you market it and use it everywhere. Many entrepreneurs have one brand image on their business cards and another on brochures or stationary. Think of how major corporations use their brand, you see it on their website, stationary, logo, mailing labels, specialty items, and more. It's important to establish your brand in all elements of your marketing and public relations efforts. Make sure that you get rid of any old branding that you are no longer using. The last thing you want is to confuse your target audience about who are and what your brand is about.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Top Ten Eco Giveaways - Promo Gift Items for Promotional Giveaways

Promotional products are a time-tested way to keep your marketing message or logo in front of prospective customers. The promo gift can be a popular and affordable marketing tool for trade shows, corporate events and promotional mailings. Here are 10 of the top Eco Promo Gift items for your marketing and giveaways.

1. Bamboo Utensil Set
If your company likes to promote its environmental responsibility, bamboo is a great way to spread a "green" message. Bamboo serving sets are sturdy and easy to clean, making them likely to be used for a long time in your prospective client's kitchen.

2. LED Light Red Key Chain
Key chains often make one of the best promotional logo products. Your logo is sure to get repeated exposure whenever a prospect places this item on their key ring.

3. 750ml Collapsible Water Bottle
The collapsible water bottle has become a great promotional item because of its practical nature. They are a great choice for marketers with products and services targeted toward outdoor enthusiasts or for sponsors of outdoor summer events. All BPA free.

4. Staple Free Stapler Blue
Your clients will quickly find a place for this item on their desks. The staple free stapler is a great eco promo gift idea. This economically priced promo gift helps the environment by reducing the need for staples and even can help lower client's office supply costs.

5. Recycled Non-Woven Tote Bag
Tote bags are often a most-wanted item at trade shows. As many consumers look to make a smaller footprint on the environment, recycled tote bags continue to be an increasingly popular promotional product.

6. Bamboo Cover Notebook
Here is one of a series of eco promo gifts that is both attractive and affordable. Add your logo to this item to make a practical gift that is sure to be put to good use.

7. Stone Paper Notebook
Today many clients are sensitive to environmental issues. Stone paper notebooks are great promotional items because they are made without trees and help to reduce the waste and bacteria created with regular paper notebooks.

8. Tire Storage Tote
Clients in the automotive industry see the tire storage tote as a promotional product for displaying their logo. Tire shops, dealers and repair shops can offer this product as a reminder to current and prospective customers.

9. Folding Vase
The local florist will be thrilled with this eco promo product. Folding vases are lightweight, portable, unbreakable and when a logo is added can immediately answer the question: "Where did you get those flowers?"

10. Hand Powered Blue LED Flashlight
LED lights are already a favorite among those sensitive to our environment. Now add a renewable energy source along with your logo and you'll have a popular and powerful marketing tool that is sure to get years of good use and exposure.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Three Easy Steps To Build Your Marketing Muscle

Whether it is entrepreneurs or small to medium size business owners, many people get stuck in the overwhelmed feeling of how to successfully market their businesses. They lack systems and effective strategies to keep their funnel of potential clients full. In order to avoid the overwhelmed feeling of not marketing your business properly, you must have a systemic approach that starts with a simple philosophy; "don't sell to strangers." What I mean by this is to focus on building relationships first, and only sell to people with whom you already have a relationship. Think about the last time you made a purchase for a major item such as a house or a car. Did the agent or salesperson, try to get to know a little about you before attempting to sell you? More than likely, the answer is yes if they were good at their job, that is. You get the point, right? Building a relationship with your prospects will help them to know, like and trust you and eventually want to buy from you. Fortunately, setting up a system to "get to know" your prospects is precisely that...a system.

There are 3 components to this system, and each must be completed in order. Please resist the urge and temptation to focus on step 3 before you do steps 1 & 2. To reiterate, the system works best when followed in order.

Step 1: Create a catchy, compelling and cool offer on your website. Go to your website now. Is there a "compelling" offer of free information that is prominently advertised on the home page? I'm not talking about a "sign up for our newsletter" or "join our mailing list" box.) This is the crucial step #1. According to web analysts who track such things, up to 96% of visitors who come to your site, aren't ready to buy or contact you for more information. With that said, they probably aren't willing to leave their email address unless there's something in it for them. Therefore, if you don't have this great "compelling' free offer, you will not have a chance of building a relationship with people who have a small amount of interest in you.

So the first thing you need to do is create that great free "compelling" offer. Remember "pull" tactics that are hooky in nature, catch the eye and work best. Do not simply say: "Here's what we do".

Step 2: Create interesting follow-up messages that you send after people request the free offer. This message is not the newsletter or e-zine. This message is called "drip marketing" is something unique. Perhaps the message offers a personal story giving the prospect an idea of your personality. Of course, you can certainly supplement the personal messages with a newsletter. You want to have your drip messages have a tone of intimacy as if they are being written to a single individual (even though they may be sent out to dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people over time). Drip marketing messages are critical regardless of whether you're selling business to business or business to consumer. Building the emotional connection is key and it's these messages that will do just that for you. Utilizing these messages will assist you in converting prospects into paying customers.

Step 3: Now it's time to promote. After steps 1 & 2 are done, and only after you have completed those two steps for a few months, then began to focus on driving traffic to the web page. There are lots and lots of options: S E O, paid advertising on Google, Facebook, Linked in, article marketing, videos, Slideshare, direct mail, speaking, etc. The opportunities are endless.

Most small business owners tend to jump to step 3 without spending proper time and focus on step 1 and 2. It makes no sense to obsess on traffic to your website when you don't have anything there to draw or pull people into your business. The idea is to get your prospects to self select when they land on your website's home page. By the time they glance at your home page for a few minutes, they should be intrigued enough to learn more about you and begin considering a relationship with you. Therefore, the focus should really be on steps 1 & 2 which are the most crucial in building the relationship.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Benefits of Mobile Surveys

Mobile surveys are an important tool through which you may reach your audience anytime and anywhere. You get an instant feedback from the consumers and their views regarding a particular product. Mobile research give you quick and instant report regarding any products or services that are enjoyed by people all over the world. Mobile surveys give you reports with respect to views of single person, group of people, people of different age, sex, caste, etc. Thus, it is an important tool that gives you wide research on different products. Mobile surveys are available to do research in any field and one can run his/her business smoothly and efficiently. Your business is not your sole entity but success of your business depends upon the collective team efforts and decisions taken by your employees and views submitted by customers. Mobile survey is a portal that helps you to establish connectivity between your employees as well customers at the same time and you may get their views or interact with them any time before taking any final decision for your business. Through surveys you can make an informed decision by using feedback given by your customers.

Thus, you can make your business better and take informed decisions by using mobile research and operate from anywhere in the world. Mobile survey is an important and exciting way to analyze and interact with your customers by receiving their feedback on your mobile. Mobile research have numerous benefits for which they have become an important method of boosting any business. Some of the important benefits of mobile surveys include:

• You get reports regarding customer satisfaction
• You get daily reports
• Instant feedback from customers
• Interaction with employees
• Unknown shopping done by customers
• Daily ups and downs in the market for a particular item.

Through surveys you can collect real data with accurate responses from customers. Mobile research give you view and comments of people from all over the globe as mobile is carried by everyone all over the world and it is the easiest and quickest way of reaching public. Mobile survey is an important platform for interaction and managing business. You can easily collect responses and analyze results through surveys. It gives you an insight for demands of the people so that you may increase productivity of a particular brand or item. Mobile research help to get instant reports in the field of consumer product goods, retail, pharma, travel and financial sectors. You may find different online companies that offer mobile survey services from where you may upload this service on your mobile and send details to your customers to get their feedback.

Mobile research comprise of few open ended questions. Mobile surveys are made interesting by using images, photos and videos in the surveys. On the basis of surveys you may take an immediate decision for making changes in your business strategy to get instant momentary gains. Mobile survey is a pathway to success for any business of used properly and efficiently. Thus, if you are looking to move your business forward and in the right direction take help of surveys and connect yourself with majority of public all over the globe.