No matter what size your business, big or small, you have a problem. Sure it might be your website, but let’s start with a bigger problem.
Matter of fact, it doesn’t matter who you are. Man or women, wealthy or just scraping by….we all have the same problem.
How you invest that time is important. No one probably knows that more than you.
Today’s business owner often feels that they are getting pulled in a million different directions…and for the most part…they are.
The advancements in technology were supposed to give us more time. In a lot of cases…it has given us less.
Those of us “old” enough to remember a time before computers can barely remember what we did without them – but we seemed to get along just fine.
Look! Shiny object!
Now there are too many things trying to get our attention…and they do so with utmost efficiency.
So much so that some companies even block sites like Facebook so their employees are not losing countless hours checking in with friends when they should be working.
Course this no longer works as the employee has a secret weapon.
Enter the “smartphone.”
Controlling the office computer network is circumvented by the employing simply pulling out their smartphone to check Twitter, Facebook, etc – all from the palm of their hand.
People are distracted by emails & social media and don’t even have to be at a computer.
Just walk into any restaurant and take a look at the people dining. A large number will be checking in on their phones numerous times during them meal…if not glued to it the entire time.
This IS the market we have today. This is the market we MUST deal with.
Your marketing message must cut through the noise.
Your customer (or potential customer) is going through the exact same thing as everyone else. They are overwhelmed.
Your marketing messages are not only competing against your competitors. You are competing against angry birds, friends with words, and countless kitten videos.
Somehow you need to get your message through all that “noise” and make a connection.
Some companies spend millions of dollars trying to get the consumers attention. They buy million dollar television ads only to have the consumer “fast forward” through the commercials on their DVR.
Offline marketing is nearly dead.
Newspapers and magazines are closing their doors left and right. The ones that are surviving have turned to online solutions for a lifeboat.
The fact of the matter, like it or not, in today’s marketing people are glued to their phones, tablets, and computers.
You can buy the largest billboard on the largest corner of the largest park in your town. Chances are, most of the people walking by were looking down at their phones and never saw your message.
The natural evolution, in all business marketing, was to turn to the Internet.
First rule of marketing: You go where the people are.
You need to be “in the game” to have a chance.
The Internet, and specifically Websites, has afforded four incredible gifts to the entrepreneur. Websites are…
- Easy to Leverage
- Fast to Market
- A Great Equalizer
Let me explain these in opposite order starting with my favorite.
A Great Equalizer
I love this part.
You may have 500 employees making stuffed unicorns in a factory and sell your product online.
You can have a picture of your building, your staff, a warehouse, a shipping truck, a mail center, and of course your product.
At the end of the day, you are competing directly with the stay-at-home mom that has created a four-page website promoting unicorns and offering the plush toy for sale via an online shopping cart.
The stay-at-home-mom wins
In today’s world, the stay-at-home mom can actually beat the big company in search rankings, traffic, and even sales.
The potential customer does not really care what is “behind” the website. They are looking for a connection. They are looking, in this case, to buy a stuffed unicorn and may the best man (or women) win.
The stay-at-home-mom can react fast when it comes to the latest trend or current marketing story. If “unicorn” news comes up, she can have a story on her website within minutes while the big corporation needs to run it by every mid level manager to get “approval.”
On the Internet, big marketing teams give way to the personal opinions of a well-spoken individual.
Having a “voice” is key – and often times the big corporations don’t have one.
Speed to Market
One of the companies I founded, Exposure One, can build a website in a day. In a couple hours if the content is ready to go.
Within hours of going “live” I can send traffic to the site using a variety of methods discussed in this book.
If there is a breaking news topic out there, and I have an established website, I might write a post and be on the #1 of Google in a matter of minutes.
There are no “committees,” there are no significant “approval” processes. There is just speed.
Need to make a change to an article? Within 30 seconds the rest of the online world has a new article in front of them. Want to post an entirely new article, photo, or video – time is measured in minutes…not hours or days.
This speed is important to small business owners for one very big reason.
Large companies cannot move fast.
They have an approval process. They have several departments that have to “sign-off” before something can be published or modified.
You have no such worries or trappings. You are lean. You can turn your ship on a dime and beat the other guys to the deal.
Even if you are not competing against a big corporation, you are competing against someone (or something).
Speed to market is your ace in the hole when it comes to being current.
Remember in the introduction when we spoke about “time?”
You don’t have the time to be on the Internet all day. Heck, you probably don’t want to.
One action, a variety of outcomes.
If you were to speak to a prospective customer, one-on-one at a local diner, you might make a deal at the end of the day. Then again, it might be a huge waste of time.
That same speech can be given at a local chamber meeting in front of dozens of people netting you multiple new customers on one effort.
Take that same speech, create a video, and put it one the web and you are in a whole different ball game when it comes to leverage.
You are no longer bound by the size of a building, seating, or even a geographic location. Furthermore, you don’t need to pick a “time” of day.
If someone wants to hear your message at 9:00am, they can. If someone else wants to read your article at 3:12am in Hawaii, they can as well.
Websites are the ultimate workhorse. 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Out to Lunch (but still working).
You would be amazed at the number of people that check out your website in the middle of the night.
If you run a business, you probably were not in your office at 11:30pm taking calls.
People are online all hours of the day and your website is ready for them.
With so many items sucking the time out of you, websites give you a leg up when it comes to marketing.
The days of websites being a financial barrier are gone. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
When we created Exposure One the first thing new clients were amazed with (and still are to this day) is that our prices seemed crazy low.
Well, they are low.
That is not because we could not charge more – we should – The fact of the matter is that most companies are out there are convincing people websites are still so hard to build.
That is just not true.
Sure, you can have a very difficult site to build. One with more bells and whistles than anything ever seen…and for that, you can spend big bucks. But those are getting rare.
The average business site built by our company costs under $500. Some as low as $197.00.
Price is no longer a barrier to a quality, easy-to-use, website. Heck, you can even build one yourself!
So, what changed this world and made sites affordable to the average consumer?
WordPress and Themes
WordPress is a foundation that allows users to interact with their site (add new posts, make content changes, post photos, etc) with ease.
It exists “behind the scenes” on a website. But, and this is the important part, it made it easy for the casual user to update, change, modify the site.
If you have been on the Internet, you have been one a WordPress site…you just didn’t know it because they look like every other site.
Matter of fact, the last numbers I heard was that nearly 20% of all sites on the Internet were run on WordPress. Personally I think the number of useful sites is bigger than that!
You have a business to promote – not learn complex programming when you want to make a change or addition to your website. WordPress gives you that power.
You no longer need to call your programmer and pay him or her $50 for a change to your website. Chances are, you can do it yourself, in minutes, with ease.
Of course the existence of WordPress alone was not enough. At its core, visually, it is really nothing more attracting than a single page column of words (like reading a newspaper).
That is where “Themes” come in.
Themes (or “templates”) are what the site looks like. You don’t really “see” WordPress” as a viewer…you see the theme.
Themes can look like whatever you want them to. Colors, graphics, layouts, etc.
There are thousands of themes to choose from.
You can modify themes with relative ease or get one custom made. Trust me…whatever you want your site to look like…someone has a theme that is pretty damn close if not right on target.
The cost of a theme? Anywhere from $0.00 to $200.
For the most part you will probably spend $50 on a nice looking theme that fits your needs.
Yep, gone are the days when the big guys ruled the web due to the cost barrier of website creation –Wordpress and Themes were a game changer.
Small is the new Big – A small businesses owner’s biggest mistake.
There is a big trend going online right now and it will dramatically change local businesses and how they are served up online.
Is the web too big now for small business?
Many small business owners think the web is too big.
It is world-wide after all and some owners think since their business is in a small or medium size town that they will get little or no benefit from a website.
Everyone benefits by an online presence.
Frankly, at this moment, I suspect I am preaching to the choir or you wouldn’t be reading this book. But it is worth making sure we are all on the same page.
Internet search engines have a problem
There is too much stuff out there.
More and more people are searching for what they need…and they need it NOW.
If someone living in Wells, NV searches for “Birthday Cakes” and gets search results in California, New York, and London – the search was a bust.
They want to buy a cake, not go on a trip.
Google and many of the other search engines are changing how (and what) results come up when you search.
They may not show you the biggest company site…not the most visited….not even the most talked about.
Nope, they are serving up what they believe is the most RELEVANT to what you might be looking for.
This is both a big change and a big opportunity.
Many “early adopter” businesses that have concentrated on their websites have taken their local competition by surprise.
They saw it coming.
If that was you, great. If not, not to worry, there is still plenty of time to put your stake in the ground and capture some market.
What is all this about ‘mobile’ traffic?
For the purpose of this chapter I wanted to turn your attention to websites.
But you should be aware of a very important “split” going on right now.
Websites that are being viewed on a computer and websites that are being viewed on a phone.
Although they are both looking for something, there could be, depending on what they searching for, a different urgency in what comes up in the rankings.
If, in the course of this book talk about the Internet, I am always talking about both groups.
To not leave you hanging on this “mobile” discussion I will leave you with this part…
Your site, at the very least, will need to “mobile optimized.” That means that it looks good on a mobile phone. The user does not have to pinch in and out to read it.
We can talk about separate sites for both later.
The bottom line…. Can people find you?
Your customers, clients, and perspective businesses are online. They are on the web.
Sure, you may have the rare business that offline marketing is the way to go but I would bet your business would be even bigger if you focused some attention to online marketing (and that does not mean paying for ads).
People are using the Internet more and more to solve an immediate need. Your business or product needs to be easily found.
Websites are affordable, fast, leverage your marketing efforts, and are the great equalizer.
If you already have a website, than we just need to make sure you are using it to it’s fullest potential (Pro Tip: Most companies are not even close).
Dollar for dollar there is not better place for you to have a presence in today’s marketing than a website.
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