I used to try running for exercise. It didn’t really take. I got as far as running a 5k once and not walking at any point during it, which was my goal. Once I accomplished that I no longer kept running as much and finally not at all. If I were to try a 5k run now there’s no way I could keep from walking a lot of it! Why? Because I’m no longer training to go that far. But I am keeping in design practice. I have a job designing every day plus I add to that with short learning sessions almost daily on Lynda.com. This keeps me ready for the next design project to come along. I’m in practice and have kept up design skills and an ever-growing knowledge of the programs I use. It gives me the confidence that I can take on any new project and run with it!
Smart business owners have both a blog and a website. Often it’s combined in an easy-to-update WordPress website. I brand these for some of my clients and they love them. They have built-in SEO and can easily have a custom URL attached to them. The great thing about these sites is that it’s something the site owner themselves can update.
There’s a bit of a learning curve to get used to the interface on the “dashboard” of WordPress. But once you get the confidence in your own ability to update your website it will only help your business. That’s because search engines are always looking for new content to rank websites higher. In other words, if you have a WordPress website and blog, keep it updated and you will have a definite edge for business growth!
So is a whole, multi-part website more than you need or can face right now? Then try a landing page. It’s a single page website that gives your company’s basic information like name, address, hours of operation, directions, a list of products or services, etc. It’s great as a way to stake out a place on the web if you don’t otherwise want or feel you need a full website. Or are so busy keeping up with your business that you don’t want to keep up with a website too. (Lucky you!) It’s important to have some web presence though, if only because it’s expected these days and you want to have clear and accurate information available. It’s amazing how much inaccurate information can start to accumulate on the internet if you don’t take control with your own URL and a web landing page at the very least.
In a previous blog post I made the point that websites are today’s business cards. If that’s the case, do you want a business card for your business? Of course. Then you should also want a website that reflects your business. Being infinitely malleable your website is a much more flexible tool for describing your business than a business card. What would you pay for that?
Custom websites come in all price ranges but the web designer you end up with should be someone you feel comfortable with and can contact easily for changes, troubleshooting and updates. I often run into people who hired someone to do their website and now that they need them they don’t know how to find them. Or their web designer won’t return calls. That’s pretty frustrating. Pat Creedon Design is very accessible. I also offer graphic design so I can do the promotional materials, ads and direct mail for your business as well. The consistency in having one graphic and web designer on it all, plus the reliability of one contact, makes for a pleasant and smooth process for getting your new custom website.
As I surf around the web I find sites that are fine and informative and otherwise get the job done but there’s something that bothers me about them. It may be something small and hardly noticeable but it makes me wonder if it bothers others that they are trying to target. And do they drive away customers inadvertently? I know that when I encounter a site that takes to long to load I’m out of there. Or if music starts to play the moment I land on the site and I can’t find a mute button immediately I’m gone. Sites that have a Flash intro when I’m looking at them on my iPhone also bug me because a big gray box appears where there should be content. I was recently on a website that had the navigation in a different place on every page. That could definitely frustrate a would be client/customer. These are some of the examples that come to mind. Can you think of others?
A feature that may be off-putting to your audience is not worth keeping. Instead get a web designer to look over your site and make the tweaks needed to remove anything getting between you and your customers. But don’t delay, since it’s easy to fix and may be just the thing to get your business website helping instead of hurting you!
Blogging is easy if you take it on like any marketing project for your business. You know your business. You talk passionately about it and your industry whenever given the chance. Now just write all that down. For me, the best bet has been to come up with several topics I want to talk about then flesh them out in a Word document. After I have a few I copy them into my WordPress Blog and schedule them to appear every week. I’ll also put in some extras in between if the mood strikes but at least I know my blogging SSM (Social Media Marketing) is taken care of.
The idea of course is to get more crowds to your website so first you need a blog. I’ve found that the two can be easily combined for most businesses by having a customized WordPress website and blog. Pages such as About, Services and Contact can be added and worked seamlessly together with the Blog page. WordPress even makes suggestions on what to blog about if you’re stuck. Some people find a trending topic and put a spin on it that ties into what they do. Others find that posting great testimonials on their blog keeps it fresh. Search engines love new content so get out your pen and paper or that blank Word document and start blogging!
A great way to get your business to grow is to have a website and a Twitter page, a Facebook Fan page and LinkedIn profile. The branding that goes on all 4 should be consistent in colors, typefaces and logo design. That way your customers can tell immediately that they are in the right place. With a website (preferably with a blog), a Facebook Fan page, a Twitter page and your LinkedIn company page branded with the logo, colors to match your brand look and feel, consistent fonts and a good photo you’ll be on your way! It can then be carried through all your print materials to create a total brand look for your business.
Once there was a time when all you needed was a business card to hand out and you were in business. Most people who have a business have a card to go with it and give it out freely, especially if it’s any kind of service business. The card has the basic information that the prospect needed: business name, address, phone number, maybe an email address and sometimes the services or products available, and some branding like a logo and tagline. Interested parties would simply call, email or stop by and the business grew. Now there is an expectation that, before anyone commits to that call, email or walk-in, they will have access to your business on the world-wide web. It’s become a given that businesses can be researched first from anyone’s computer, or even more likely, their smart phone or tablet. And if your business is not represented by it’s own website then people simply Google it.
That’s when it gets interesting. Everyone is likely to be searchable thanks to the diligence of companies like Google but not everyone will be that happy with what shows up about them. A business owner I know felt he was busy enough that he didn’t need a website for his company. But he was having a problem with people calling to ask him for a service that his company doesn’t do. I said I’d look into it for him and I found out that his business listing on the web didn’t mention what he does. Hence people were assuming that he offered what they wanted. If he had a website that told people exactly what services his company offered it would have cut down on nuisance phone calls that were not resulting in new business. Getting a website is the best way since business cards to control what you want people to know about your business. And these days it virtually is a business card!
For some busy clients it’s cost-effective to have their updates to their blog done for them. For instance I meet every other week or so with a client with a busy construction business. He gives me pictures to scan and caption ideas to blog about for him at an affordable monthly rate. There are other clients that add to their sites occasionally and just email me the pics/info to put up. What way works best for your business? Add your comments below.