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Make the most of opportunities online for your small business!

With COVID-19 sending more customers online than ever before and the obvious benefits of having a website, some businesses still don’t understand what can be gained with a small business website.

To be competitive, your business must be easily found and the best way to do that is by getting it online. Get active with a Facebook page, a YouTube Channel or even a fully-fledged website. Put the hard yards into developing an online footprint and it will reap your business the benefits.

So why don’t some SMB’s get this message? Because some small business owners don’t fully understand the possibilities of what can be done with an online presence.

Let’s look at some theoretical case studies that I have observed along the Tropical Coast:

The Local Stationery Store

It’s not as hard as it sounds to take on the big boys here when it comes to online commerce. Of course, some consumers are always going to take the path of Officeworks or the other big retailers simply because of the price (which, by the way, isn’t that much cheaper than our local guy here). To make sales online, our local store should market purely on convenience and speed. They can:

Make all stationery goods available online allowing the consumer to log into an account and place an order quickly.

Ensure that staff fulfil and collate that order within the hour.

Then deliver the customer’s order to their door within a couple of hours – ensuring they have no disruption to their day.

Order by 10am – delivered by lunch. Beat that Officeworks!

The Pizza Shop

One of our local pizza stores already has a great online presence. They also use their Facebook page to promote their business through spur of the moment competitions – “How many pizza boxes are currently stacked over the ovens at Roscoes Innisfail?” – Win a free pizza!

But, borrowing advice from Andrew Griffiths (Australia’s leading small business author), the store could also take advantage of slow nights in the same way. If the pizzas aren’t flying out the door on any given night, they could make an announcement via their Twitter feed or Facebook page by announcing discounted or two-for-one pizzas. There is a backpackers hostel mere metres from their restaurant and there’s nothing more a backpacker likes than a cheap feed! Just get them to follow….

The solo Accountant

What about in a crowded marketplace? How can you stand out when every man and his dog have a website and social media presence too? You do it by being helpful. If you are an accountant, get that site loaded with helpful content.

Everyone hates tax-time. It is easily the most stressful time of the year for businesses (and everyone else too).  An accountant can help to ease the pain during tax time with useful online tools such as:

  • How-To videos showing the completion of a BAS statement.
  • On-site calculators for determining taxable income.
  • Downloadable templates for all manner of money management.

Do a great job with helpful content and the snowball effect will kick in. Soon everyone will be heading to the site checking out the tricks, tips, and tools on offer. The more site visitors that come in and see how helpful you are, the more likely that some will convert into customers.

As you can see, the potential of online marketing is clearly apparent for some businesses. For others, it may take a little creative thinking to draw out the possibilities of getting online and generating a profit.  But today, any business would be foolhardy not take advantage of the online world and the opportunities that are available to them.

If you aren’t sure of the online advantages for your business or organisation, give me a call at Tropical Coast Web Design. I’d love to have a chat about your online presence and see what we can do for your business.

Updating your website should be a habit, not a hindrance.

In the case of most small business websites, the first few weeks after the site has been launched are usually the busiest (ever) for traffic through the site.

The owner of the site is pumped and giving the website their utmost attention with both new content and inbound links from their social media accounts. However, as with many things, life (and business) gets in the way and the website sadly becomes neglected over time.

A website should not be seen as a once-off investment, something that you tick off a checklist. To be truly effective, a site needs to be an integral of the small business which it represents. The business is expected to evolve over time, keeping pace with changes in the world around it. The website needs to evolve too.

There’s nothing worse than visiting a website that isn’t cared for – in fact, it can be a waste of your time. The content is stale and boring – totally irrelevant to the customer who is looking for helpful information to help them achieve their original for visiting the site. And the worst thing about an unloved site…. It reflects directly back onto the business.

“If they don’t care about their website, maybe they don’t care about business in general.”

Whilst this statement won’t be true in most cases, it’s a bad feeling to give to your customers and, like most things, it’s incredibly easy to avoid.

The easiest way to avoid a stale, old website is to make the website part of your regular routine, a habit that you tend to regularly.

A great analogy would be to look at your website like you do/should look at your health and fitness regime. The best way to a healthy lifestyle is to put healthy habit into practice every day. Diets with deadlines rarely achieve a long-term successful goal. Changes to eating habits and regular exercise program are more like to achieve long term success.

With your website, don’t do the one-off update to the site and think “well now that’s done – we can leave for a few months”. Put a habit into practice where the site becomes part of your everyday routine. Maybe first thing every morning, add a new piece to the site or give it plug on social media. Or set aside time every week to review the content on the site, move it around, repurpose it, check site visitors, check popular pages, anything that is going to ensure that the site is relevant to those customers looking for it TODAY, not three months ago.

From my own experience, I have found that using a content calendar, pinned to the cork board in my office, helps me to keep my content relevant. It lays out an entire month of changes, new content, social media placements – I create all my content for an upcoming week (according to the calendar) on the previous weekend, ready to roll out.

Make your website a long-term partner with your business by making it an integral part of your business.

Why does your “small” town business need a BIG business website?

With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic limiting access to goods and services at times, there has never been a more important time to invest in a website for your small business.

A website opens a range of online possibilities for small businesses, and benefits that go beyond the bricks and mortar of a physical store.

Even in a small rural community, like Ingham, where I live and work, it’s vitally important to remember that there are no borders to business anymore and technology has made the world a much smaller place. Regardless of who your customers are, they will be searching for you online and if they can’t find your business, you can guarantee they’ll find your competitors instead.

If you need more convincing than that, here’s three clear-cut reasons why your “small” town business needs to get online.

A website expands your business beyond the borders of your community.

With a website there are no boundaries for your business. Once online, your site can sell products and services around the globe – it can even sell them while you are asleep! And, with the multitude of shipping options available nowadays, you can “move” your products very quickly to any destination on the earth.

Why would you settle for doing business with a limited audience when you could go global?

Websites level the playing field for the “little guys”.

Regardless of the size of your small business or its location, your website can compete on the same level as any other business in your industry. You may not have the flashy storefronts of your competitors or the sheer magnitude of their operations, but a website doesn’t have to worry about these things.

Your site can compete on the same level if it offers:

  • An easy-to-use interface.
  • A clear Call to Action (CTA).
  • Helpful service (through contact forms, online videos, pop-up chats, tricks, or tips).
  • High quality products or services.

In short, if your website can deliver the same service as expected from the “big guys”, it has a chance at grabbing customers that would have once dismissed you as “too small”.

You can connect with customers like never before.

Businesses, both large and small, can now build their brands and followers using an effective Social Media strategy. With little effort, you can start a conversation with your customers and, as a result, grow a better understanding of their needs and wants.

Conversely, customers can carry on these discussions separate from your business being involved and, if those discussions are positive, this will help to build the public image of that your brand.

Examples of this include:

  • Fashion products being spruiked by customers on their Instagram accounts.
  • Special announcements being launched instantly on Twitter.
  • A loyal Facebook following (a great source of testimonials).
  • Hashtags leading directly back to the source – your website.

As stated, a properly built and effectively managed website allows a small-town business to build and expand beyond what was traditionally possible. By making your business easy to find, helpful and value for money – you will not only encourage locals to stick with you but may just hook into some lucrative “outside” business and from there – the only way is up!

Five Key Points you NEED to effectively brief your Web Designer

Building a website for your small business should not be a spur of the moment decision.

And yet, as a website developer, I often meet new clients who have decided to build a website for their business but they haven’t yet considered how that site is going to improve their business.

Some still view a website as an online business card and, as I’ve covered in my blog posts before, a website can be so much more if it is planned and implemented correctly. The key to this effectiveness is carefully-considered planning – at every stage along the line.

Before picking up the phone or emailing a web designer for the first time, there are a few key questions that need your attention to ensure that the website development stages are quick and the final website is more effective when it is launched.

#1 What is the Key Objective of the Website?

Very simply, in as fewer words as possible (one sentence if possible), write down a measurable objective for your business website. This single sentence will guide everything else that happens along the way to development your site. The measurement is usually written as a percentage.

i.e. Increase the Monthly Sales of XYZ company by 20%

#2 Who is the target audience?

With point #1 clearly in mind, now look at what kind of site visitor is going to make that measurable objective possible.

Who will be looking for your products/services? Where are they? How old are they? What gender?

Be as specific as you can – this information will help your designer plan and style your site.

i.e. 18 to 60-year-old men interested in recreational fishing around the North QLD area.

#3 What kind of content will your audience be seeking at your site?

After identifying the audience that you want to attract to your site, grab a pencil and paper to map out the type of content that these potential customers will respond do. Will they want to read text blogs like this or would they respond better to video or imagery? Maybe a mixture would work best?

What kinds of information / products / services will they be seeking from you and, most importantly, what information do you want them to have about you and your business?

i.e. Information about the latest estuarine fishing equipment, videos on how it is used, fact sheets on where the fishing are biting….

#4 What are your competitors doing online?

Get this information in conjunction with point #1 – Get online and see what your competitors are doing with their websites. Google all relevant information regarding your target audience. Your top competitors will generally be at the head of the list – What kinds of content are they using? What appeals to you on their sites? What doesn’t?

Although your web developer should do this research as well, it will be highly beneficial to you as your website takes shape and you know what you are aiming for.

#5 What timeframe do you have to complete the site?

Armed with the knowledge that designers work better when given a timeframe (I know I do), when you want to launch your site to the world? Keep in mind, you must be able to “hold up” your end of the bargain and ensure that you can provide the content that the site requires for launch. Even the most experienced developer will baulk at a proposed launch date if they don’t have the content for the site.

Conclusion

By having the above planning completed/documented before contacting a designer, you will also be able to brief them clearly and then ascertain whether they can do the job at hand.

Don’t leave your small business’ website goals up to the designer. Remember that no-one knows your business better than you.

Have you got all the above planning done and are ready to go ahead and contact a designer?

Get in touch with Tropical Coast Web Design on 0488 406 050 and we will work with you all the way (and even beyond) to a great, customer converting website for your small business.

Tropical Coast Web Design