Creative Combustion Blog
Marketing and branding tips for the badass small business owner.
June 12, 2013
Just because you have a small business website, doesn’t mean that website is actually helping you attract new customers and grow your business. All too often, it’s a case of “out of sight, out of mind.” Once it goes live, you check a box and start focusing on other things.
Before you know it, months (if not years) have passed while your website continues to ineffectively sputter along in the background.
How do you know when it’s time to overhaul your small business website? Here are five signs to look out for:
Not Enough Leads
Of all the key performance indicators you can use to evaluate the effectiveness of your website, everything boils down to whether or not you’re generating leads for your small bsiness. You can spend thousands of dollars on a design, but if your phone doesn’t ring or you’re not selling any products you’re going to be in big trouble.
Go back and look at each and every page of your website. What do you want prospective customers to do? How can you make it easier for them to contact you or make a purchase? Something as simple as including your phone number in the header or a targeted call to action (ex. “Get A Quote”) could have a huge impact.
Outdated Website Design
If your small business website was built in the 1990s and it looks like it was built in the 1990s, there’s a pretty good chance your online marketing efforts are going to struggle. Attracting certain types of customers means your website has to look the part (unless of course you’re specifically targeting the 90s crowd—then have at it!)
Just as you would give a brick and mortar storefront a fresh coat of paint every 2-3 years, you need to get in the habit of revisiting your website to make sure you still have the right look, feel, and functionality for your target audience.
Not Enough Website Traffic
You can’t generate new leads and convert those leads into paying customers unless you’re driving enough traffic to your website. As a small business marketing consultant, I speak with a ton of prospective clients who don’t know how much traffic their site is even getting.
If you don’t already have access to Google Analytics, it’s an absolute must. This free tool gives you real-time insights into how many people are visiting your site, what search terms they’re using to get there, and which pages are your most/least popular.
Not The Right Website Traffic
Getting lots of traffic is great, but only if it’s the right traffic. Your ultimate goal is to attract prospective customers—people who are most likely to make a purchase now or in the future.
Pay close attention to your “Bounce Rate” in Google Analytics. The Bounce Rate represents the percentage of single-page visits (visits where someone left your site from the entrance page without visiting another page). Generally, the higher the number the more likely it is that your content isn’t resonating with your audience.
Not Ranking for the Right Search Terms
Most small business owners I speak with are focused squarely on getting on the first page of Google search results. But the only way that’s ever going to happen is if you have a clear understanding of your visibility around specific keywords and phrases. And that’s where Google Webmaster Tools comes in.
Similar to Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools gives you free access to incredibly powerful insights you can use to help drive your content strategy including your average position in the search results for specific keywords and phrases.
What about you?
How do you know when it’s time to put a small business website out to pasture? Share your thoughts below.
By: Shawn Graham
[Image: Flickr user Randy Troppmann]
June 5, 2013
Hey everyone -
I'm super excited to announce the launch of my first Ebook, Blogging for Badass Small Businesses, which is now available for Amazon Kindle. I poured my heart and soul into the project, capturing lessons learned and helpful strategies and tips from my own experience writing hundreds of blog posts.
Over the past 6+ years I've watched blogging evolve from a place to share information about hobbies and interests into what it is today--an incredibly powerful platform that can drive eyeballs to your small business website, help you generate leads, and give you fresh content to share with your social media fans and followers.
Working closely with my small business clients, I know many often try to learn about blogging from trial and error and that can lead to a lot of wasted time and missed opportunities. I wrote this small business blogging Ebook to help you avoid those same mistakes so you can get the most bang for your blogging buck.
After reading this guide, you’ll be able to:
- Pick the right blogging platform based on your specific needs
- Find your unique voice and online persona
- Develop a content strategy for your target audience
- Create and manage a blogging schedule
- Promote your posts via social media and other channels
- Analyze the success of your blogging efforts in order to make improvements
So get ready to kick some serious small business blogging ass! Check out a sample chapter and order your copy of Blogging for Badass Small Businesses [Kindle Edition]!
P.S. As an added bonus, you'll also receive a free small business blogging audit with your order.
By: Shawn Graham
May 30, 2013
When it comes to small business About Us page content, you have two choices—you can get creative and showcase the unique passion and personality of your business or you can mail it in and include the same humdrum information as everyone else. Okay, make that one choice.
Creative About Us pages capture the essence of your small business. They convey the story behind your brand and your products and help visitors form an immediate connection with you and your team. They can come in all shapes and sizes. And that’s what I love about them the most.
All it took was one glance at the Tonx 'About Us' page and I was hooked. What did they do to pull me in? Let’s take a look.
Strong Opening Paragraph
Your intro paragraph sets the stage for the rest of your About Us content. You want to communicate who you are, what you do, and why you do it. Here, Tonx hits the nail on the head by providing an overview of their business, their beliefs, and their unique value proposition.
Warm and Welcoming Team Photo
Nothing helps to establish a warm and welcoming tone than the photo of the Tonx team looking like they’re 1) happy to be there 2) approachable and 3) actually love what they do. Try to visualize their page without the photo. It just wouldn’t be the same. Not even close.
Personality-Infused Employee Profiles
Nobody wants to read a boring bio or profile. Notice how Tonx is able to create a conversational tone and share a short story about each member of their team including their personal connection to coffee--and do it all in one paragraph each. Since they’re in the coffee business, everything always comes back to it. Even for Scott Rocher, a self-identified newbie to the coffee game, they’re quick to point out that even though he’s new to the world of coffee, “he’s excited to expand both his mind and his palate.”
If you want to form a personal connection with your target audience, you also need to give people a chance to put a face with a name. Unfortunately, a lot of small business websites I come across don’t and that creates a real missed opportunity. Here, Tonx includes headshots along with each employee profile. And speaking of which…
Employee Twitter Handles
By communicating the unique interests, backgrounds, and personalities of each member of the Tonx team, their employee profiles provide the perfect conversation starter for anyone with shared interests who wants to connect on Twitter. And that helps to form a direct connection between their staff and others who are passionate about coffee.
Share Your Thoughts
What do you think separates a creative About Us page from the rest of the pack?
By: Shawn Graham
May 14, 2013
What’s the best way to meet new customers? When I first started working as a small business marketing consultant in Pittsburgh, I blew countless (and I mean countless) hours attending the wrong events and spent what had to be a small fortune on a never ending list of membership and registration fees. Just so I could make the most of every online and offline networking opportunity under the sun, get my name out there, and hopefully generate a few leads. Notice I said “hopefully.”
Through a whole lot of trial and error, I ultimately learned which strategies and tactics made the most sense for me and my business while also coming to the realization that I needed to work smarter (not harder) if I wanted to generate more leads and meet more customers. Here are 8 tips I’ve learned along the way:
Know your customers
Just because you think the latest technology is going to be the “next big thing” doesn’t mean that will necessarily be the case for your customers and contacts. Always be sure to build your unique relationship management strategy around your unique audience and the types of connections they’d prefer.
Build an online presence for your business
Start by making sure all of the social media profiles for your small business are complete and current. Nothing says the wrong message to potential connections like having information that hasn’t been updated for months or even years.
Use light touches to build rapport
Light touches are a subtle yet effective way for you to get on the radar of potential customers and build rapport. You can start by following them on Twitter or strategically retweeting and sharing their content via your social networks.
Make it personal
Once you have potential connections in mind, make sure you do your homework. Check out their website, their LinkedIn profile, and any other potential sources of information to identify common points of interest, conversation starters, and opportunities to create connections.
Always be connecting
In traditional selling, ABC stood for “Always Be Closing.” In the age of social media, it should now stand for “Always Be Connecting.” Instead of focusing solely on making the sale, look for opportunities to continue to grow your network by connecting with prospective clients, strategic partners, and vendors.
Always add value
Focus less on what you’re going to gain and more on how you can help the people with whom you want to connect. When you put adding value for someone else before your personal agenda, it makes the interaction less transactional and increases the likelihood that you’ll establish a meaningful connection.
Blend online and offline touches
Even with the latest and greatest social media platforms, the best strategies still include a mix of online and offline tactics. How much of each will depend on your target audience and their preferred methods of interaction.
Follow up, follow up, follow up!
Any strategy is only as good as your ability to follow up in a timely manner. That doesn’t mean never. That doesn’t mean three weeks later. You should try to respond within 24 hours while the interaction is still fresh in your mind. Connect via LinkedIn and look for opportunities to continue a dialogue as appropriate.
When it comes to meeting new people and nurturing relationships for your business, you’ve got to have the right strategy in place so you can focus your time and efforts on the channels and tactics that are going to have the most impact. From there, it all comes down to your ability to maintain an ongoing dialogue with your contacts and identify opportunities to add value.
What about you?
What strategies and tactics have you found work best for meeting new customers for your small business? Share your comments below.
By: Shawn Graham
[Image: Flickr user Martha]
May 8, 2013
How can you find more customers, clients, and referrals? There are HUNDREDS of networking events for small business owners—and that’s just in Pittsburgh alone. With so many options, you could literally spend all of your time networking and not have any time left to actually work on growing your business.
If you’re going to maximize your time and your efforts, you need to focus on the groups, resources, and networking channels that make the most sense for your business.
Join me on Friday, May 10, 2013, at the 15th Annual Entrepreneur’s Growth Conference at Duquesne University to learn how you can maximize profits, turn market opportunities into sales, and tackle some of your toughest business challenges.
I’ll be co-presenting the session “Next-Generation Networking: 15 Ways to Meet Your Next Business Contact” with Michelle Donovan, an international bestselling author and owner and operator of the Referral Institute of Western Pennsylvania.
Event highlights include:
- 15 workshops covering marketing and PR, money, strategic planning, technology, business starts, and special interest topics
- “Meet the Expert” Luncheon
- Business Building Tradeshow
- Keynote Speaker, Will Knecht President of Wendell August Forge
More than 400 entrepreneurs and managers are expected to attend. For more on the event, be sure to check out this short video:
When registering use promo code Pitt13 and save $20. If you have any other questions, please feel free to email me at shawn @ shawngraham.me.
I hope to see you there!
By: Shawn Graham
[Image: Flickr user Betsy Weber]Next Page »
Get Free Marketing Tips
Sign up to receive your very own small business nuggets, specially hand crafted and delivered fresh to your inbox.
Get the freshest content from Shawn’s Blog via RSS
June 12, 20135 Signs Your Small Business Website Needs An Overhaul
June 5, 2013The Essential Guide To Blogging for Badass Small Businesses
May 30, 2013Creative About Us Page Examples: Tonx Coffee
May 14, 20138 Tips for Meeting Your Next Customer
May 8, 2013Join Me At The Entrepreneur’s Growth Conference Pittsburgh
Hall of Fame
- Visual Interest: The Rise Of Photos In Online Marketing (15 comments)
- The Golden Rule Of Successful Social Engagement (14)
- Are Business Cards On Their Way Out? (13)
- Don’t Be An SEO Chaser (12)
- Using Holiday Cards To Deepen Customer Relationships (10)
- Is Going Viral An Effective Marketing Tactic? (10)
- 5 Must Read Books For Small Business Owners (8)
- Using Social Media To Break Into Your Local Market (8)
- Pittsburgh Young Professionals, PodCamp Pittsburgh, And Paneling (8)
- Delivering Killer Customer Service (8)
My Blog / Creative About Us Page Examples: Tonx Coffee http://t.co/2WjAheAKTt about 1 week, 23 hours, 19 minutes ago
@CamelClutchBlog wwe needs a fake crying coach. Or at least some youtube videos on the topic. about 1 week, 1 day, 11 hours, 56 minutes ago
In a Shift, Facebook Says It Will Make All Ads Social http://t.co/X1H01Jqf0S New ads will appear as a regular ad and a “Sponsored Story.” about 1 week, 1 day, 18 hours, 38 minutes ago
My Fast Company Blog
Creative fuel for intrapreneurs and chronic idea generators
- The Telecommuting Genie Isn't Going Back In The Bottle; Here's How To Strengthen Its Magic
- Why Invasive Marketing Will Come Back To Bite You
- Managing Customer Service In The Age Of Instant Gratification
- 5 Smart Sources For Finding The Best Startup Talent
- The Key To Successful Cross-Channel Marketing
Sites I Like
- Get Your Own Badass Business Cards @Moo
- Build Ecommerce Stores That Exude Badassery @Shopify
- Make Your Phone System Simply Badass @Grasshopper
- Manage Your Social Media Badassery @Argyle Social
- Brand Marketing
- Customer Engagement
- Email Marketing
- Lead Capture
- Marketing Inspiration
- Marketing Strategy
- Social Media Marketing
- Website Design
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- November 2010