Wednesday, February 29, 2012

We've Added New Services

If you haven't visited our website at point your browser and head right over, we've added some new services.

Many times when I'm out canvassing the area for new business I see business owners being pulled in all different directions. The market place is changing. How customers find you is changing. If you are a small business relying on the hard copy yellow pages you are missing out on business opportunities---and that's alright if you are happy with the amount of business you currently have and you're confident that you can hang on to your current customers.

But more than likely you are looking for ways to weather these tough economic times and looking for ways to economically compete.

When I need a service or product, I look on the internet. I couldn't tell you where my most recent copy of the phone book is---I probably don't have it any longer. It is much simpler and less time consuming to hit the search button and find the information I need. Most websites give more info on what services a local business offers, I get to learn a little more about just who I might be doing business with and a bit of the history behind that person.

Being on top of the search engines is important but even more important is that connection you have with your customers and having your own customers letting others know how great you are and why they chose you over your competition.

So we've added Social Media Management and Newsletter/Email Campaigns to our mix of offerings. For a small amount each day we will help you drum up interest and connect with your customers in ways to get you in front of potential customers. We'll help you with those newsletter designs and campaigns and subscription management.

So, if you and your staff just don't have the time to engage your customers online, and uncover all those potential customers, we're here to help.          

Monday, February 27, 2012

Why do Social Media?

So why do Social Media? Just assume that your blog post about your Spring sale generates 25 likes and that those 25 customers have just 25 friends who receive that information. Your business potentially receives attention like this:

And where else can you get your storefront out like that? 


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Don't Miss Opportunities

If you have a website you have a storefront on the Internet where your customers come to visit you 24/7. And with those visits come certain expectations.

Posting closings outside of regular business hours is important. Customers expect to be notified on your web pages.

And as mobile phones are used more and more, phone friendly pages, not necessarily completely mobile sites, are required. Let me give you an example:

On President's Day I remembered the library and post office would be closed, but didn't consider that the bank would be closed also. On the banks site that morning there wasn't a mention of closing; I marched off to the bank that afternoon. The first branch I passed was closed. The second branch had closed at 12:00. Pulling up the website on the phone I searched for a list of the branches in the area---found the list---but without phone numbers.

If the phone numbers would have been on the webpage just one click could have gotten a branch on the line so that I could discover if the branch was open.

Instead the bank lost the opportunity to service a customer, even though the bank was closed. Simply by using resources the bank was already paying for a customer could have been served---it wouldn't have costed much additional to post hours; certainly not to post branch phone numbers.        

Monday, February 20, 2012

Prize Deserving Websites

Graphics covered with cupcakes the other day had me hankering for a cupcake. I discovered a local place right down the street from me---a place full of delectable cupcakes in a tempting array of flavors. And I found a website that has everything that a website should have.   I just wish I would have had the opportunity to build it---I can't take credit.

The number one thing about the site is its match to branding. The business' physical building, interior, website, even its Facebook page all match the business branding.

As a potential customer, I needed to learn a few things from the website:

  • Do they have cupcakes?
  • What flavors are available?
  • Where are they located?
  • What hours are they open?
  • A little bit about who owns the business and who I would be buying from help
Fortunately, through some convenient site wide navigation I was able to find out everything I needed to become a customer. I even got a close up picture of the several cupcake flavors available that made my mouth water in anticipation of my visit.

This site demonstrates every reason why a small business should have a website. To gain customers, give product information, and allow customers to become comfortable before that first visit...this site can't be beat.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Website Design

Have you ever Googled a product you were interested in purchasing? You may have found the information you needed on the manufacturers website and then searched for a local retailer to see the product in person. Or maybe you continued on the internet for more information, maybe a better price?

When you looked for the information and product did any website design persuade you to make a purchase simply due to that web design itself?

Chances are no. Customers searching on the web are looking for information---clear, concise, searchable, and if they find that information they need a way to return to that information later. Good web design does all these things well.

Sure an attractive, eye pleasing interface is helpful. But web design should be about the product, not the design.  First time web planners and small business owners often love to add a bit of flash to their websites. A cartoon character moving around the screen can be entertaining, but unless your product is graphic animations you are better off using your space to highlight better pictures and explanations of your own product.

In the long run, the mechanics of the site---navigation, search boxes, and information are why that customer is there. And giving the customer what he or she wants, as fast, efficiently, and professionally as you can is the only way to provide good customer service---whether in the physical or virtual worlds.          

Monday, February 13, 2012

Nudging that Word of Mouth

Do you find yourself going online to check out reviews on products you're thinking about purchasing? Increasingly word of mouth advertising is nudging customers to buy one product over another---choose one business over another. And you can use this word of mouth to promote your business forward as the premier place to do business through social media and your own website.

Planning to buy a car this year? The first place you'll probably check is the online reviews. You might even visit a Facebook page or two, visit a couple of dealer websites to uncover service and product lines available---research customer comments posted.

Increasingly word of mouth advertising and social media is making deals for you and all you need to do is nudge it along by facilitating the discussion between your business and those happy customers that have connections to those potential new customers who you need to bring into the conversation to move your business forward.      

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Testing Email Campaigns

Email is its own animal separate from the rules of the Web. As far as coding---well, email is basically back in the dark ages. And there are as many ways an email can be rendered by the various email clients as there are programs.

An email sent to a Yahoo address, for instance, can be viewed in different browsers, each browser will add different criteria---rendering spaces where spaces should not appear. The same happens to Gmail and Hotmail. And then there is the possibility that the email will be viewed on a phone---rendering links differently; for example a PDF will be downloaded instead of opened.

What this means is that each and every newsletter and email needs to be tested on a variety of browsers, mail processors, and devices. And this applies no matter what email client you are using to process your newsletters.

In addition make sure that you send tests to the major carriers like Comcast. There have been times when emails sent through to Comcast have gone undelivered with no trace or rejection sent for failure. Missing a good portion of your customers because of a fluke in Comcast's system is not the optimal results you want for your marketing campaign. And, again, each and every email should be tested. There have been times when an email program has been set and working for months when all of the sudden, seemingly for no apparent reason, Comcast's mail go undelivered.

So once you have that eye catching email---make sure it catches the eyes of all your customers---test, test, test.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Search for Your Business and What do they find?

Periodically it pays to search for your own business on the internet. Not only does the search tell you where you are coming up on the search engines but it also gives you a chance to clean up old and incorrect information on your business and gives you the opportunity to thank all your customers who took the time to complement your business.

Some sites allow anyone to enter a business name and information. It then becomes the business owner's responsibility to "claim" the business. As a result there can be all sorts of  lacking and incorrect information on your business. So whether you have a website or want to be on the internet at all, it pays to see what information comes up on  your business and make updates and corrections if necessary.        

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Don't forget Valentine Email Marketing

Now that January is over there's still time to have a Valentine's Day campaign. Think your business doesn't apply because your products are not in the romance category?  Do you have products that are red? How about small, impulse purchases? Can you re-package a product in Valentine's paper; making it speak the language of love?

Things are often slow this time of year for most business. But your business can join the candy and flowers businesses and offer romance and hearts to lovers this year with an email campaign highlighting a special product that gets customers into the store to browse your other products too.