Phone 0488 406 050
Tropical Coast Web Design

Why wouldn’t a small business be online?

Today, the whole world is online.

From the school kids down at the skate park to grandparents on their “grey nomad” tours of Australia, each and every one of them is hooked up and on the net. Either through wireless, mobile, cable, fibre optics or copper wire, Australians (and the developed world for that matter) are processing and sharing information at a rate never seen before in history. We do our banking online, our research assignments online, our university courses online and, most importantly to business owners, we shop online.

With all this access, it is still mind-blowing that some businesses (52% of SMBs*) are still living in the dark ages and operating without an internet presence. That is, they don’t have a website. Why? Look at any business not using the web and I’m sure if you asked the owners, they’d be one of the categories below:-

Time Poor – When do I have time to learn about websites?

Running a business is always flat-out and hectic. With stock to order, employees to manage, bills to pay, premises to maintain among a million other things, there’s very rarely anytime left to do anything else. Some businesses use this as the main excuse to not create a website. Unless you can outsource the work of maintaining a website to an employee or an outside agency, the creation of a site just seems like too much of an extra burden. And this is on top of learning how to do it in the first place. It’s all too hard…

Technologically Naive – I don’t know anything about websites!

If a business has been operating for a number of years (i.e. from before the advent of websites) and working along fairly comfortably, the owners of the business may not be fully aware of what a website can do to improve the bottom line of any company. The simple phrase “We’ve done alright without one!” could be the main reason behind unwillingness to expand online. The inherit danger with this attitude is that the business may be missing out on a number of potential sales simply through an unawareness of the World Wide Web and its possibilities.

Another reason could be that the business operators may not be aware of the process to get a website designed and built. Technology can be fairly daunting to some people and websites are no different. Just the mere thought of moving online or even creating a site for the business can leave some people in a cold sweat.

Just Plain Poor – We can’t afford one right now…

With all the responsibilities listed in the section above, money can also be very tight at times and the perceived expense of website development may just be too much for the business to handle at any particular time. Rumours are often perpetuated about sites for small businesses running into the thousands and who has the spare cash to throw around like that?

Let’s debunk these theories one by one.

Firstly, there is no need for a business owner to fret about going online with their business. It merely needs to be seen as another part of your marketing strategy. Take a look at our four steps to getting online here – all you need to do is decide whether you need a website or not (you do!) and get in touch with a web developer to take care of the rest. If you merely want a brochure site that isn’t going to change often, nothing could be easier. But if you do have the time, maybe you could invest in a CMS site that you can update yourself – the learning curve to running your own site is not as steep as you think.

Secondly, if you are swept off your feet and have no time to run a site then get someone else to do it for you. Hire a developer to create the site and a copywriter to create the content – they can do amazing things with just a few dot points about your business, that’s their job. Already have a brochure about your company? A good copywriter can take this brochure and create a whole website of content for you. No photos? No worries. Stock photography is available for your business and only costs a couple of dollars per image.

Finally, although some web developers charge thousands for site development, it doesn’t need to be that expensive. Obviously, you cannot expect a highly polished site for $200 but if you do a little research and ask for a few quotes, you are sure to find a developer that can work within a reasonable budget. Take care though; make sure you check out online portfolios first to ensure that the designer can provide the high quality service you expect.

As you can see, there’s no excuse for not getting your business online these days. If your business wants to grow and continue to be competitive in today’s marketplace – it needs to be online.

What exactly is a Sales Funnel?

A Sales Funnel is essentially the journey that businesses lead prospective customers through when they purchase products or services.

Most small businesses probably have a sales funnel process without even realising it. The real power and benefits of the funnel come from documenting and tracking it’s various phases allowing business owners to effectively tailor their marketing efforts. This ensures conversion and advocacy at the end of the journey.

The Sales Funnel

The primary goal of any sales funnel must be to move prospects from one phase to the next until they are ready to purchase from your business and become paying customers.

Unfortunately, a sales funnel is not like a real-life funnel where everything that goes in comes out the other end. Wouldn’t that be nice? Every prospect who enters your business leaves as a customer, in which case, the shape would no longer be a funnel – it would be a cylinder!

But the real world is slightly different.

The sales process always begins with many potential customers and ends with fewer who actually make a purchase. The sales funnel tracks these potential customers from the very first time they hear about your business, right through to the moment they buy from you and even beyond.

It is important to note at this stage that you CAN design your sales funnel to suit your own needs. The sales process differs from business to business depending on your own individual business requirements so feel free to add levels and details as you need them – it is your business that will benefit from accurate tracking and changes during the sales journey.

A little research on the internet will show that some sales funnels have many levels however the sales funnel that I will be working with has been modified for my own requirements for two main reasons:

1. Simplicity
Why over complicate things from the beginning? My sales funnel is a work in progress and I can add to it over time if I find that I need to.

2. The Advocacy Phase
A lot of my work is attained via my existing clients and I want to explore that avenue of marketing in order to continue to grow it.

Over the next four blog posts, I will go through each of the phases in my modified sales funnel – Awareness, Consideration, Conversion and Advocacy.

Note: The content of each of the next four blogs comes from a workshop I delivered to the Cassowary Coast Business Women’s Network. If you or your organisation are interested in my services as a guest speaker for your business network, please get in touch via g.provians@rustymangodesign.com.au

Five Simple Reasons your Small Business should have a BLOG

Unless you have been living under a rock and using smoke signals to promote your business, you are probably aware of the term “Blog”. For the rock-dwellers, a Blog is a regular website article, typically written by an individual and written in an informal or conversational style.

The simple Blog has become a powerful marketing tool and it is one of the most effective tools that a business can use to engage with their customers. Used correctly, a Blog enables direct communication with prospects and allows the sharing of relevant information with current clients.

Here’s five simple reasons why your small business needs to start blogging:

Five Simple Reasons your Small Business should have a BLOGTo provide your customers with helpful content.

Gone are the days where a website simply existed to tell customers where you are and what you do. With a wealth of information available at our fingertips, we expect more from the business sites that we choose to visit.

Reward your site visitors with value by providing helpful tips on using your products/services, examples of how other customers have benefited through a relationship with your business or discussing news articles that are relevant to the industry in which you operate.

Visitors are much more likely to return to your site if they know that fresh information awaits them on each visit.

A Blog gives your Business a Voice.

Through the voice of a blog, a small business operator can show that the business is run by real people who care about what they do. You can use blog posts to provide insights into the business or to introduce the employees who make the business what it is. You can tell your customers WHY you’re in business, HOW you have helped others and WHAT you can do to help them.

Be sure to use your own “voice” when writing blog posts – I read all my posts out loud as I type them to ensure that they “sound” like me.

Create a Two-Way Conversation 

Enable comments on your blog to encourage interaction with your site visitors. If you are concerned about the type of comments that will be left by visitors, systems can be put in place to allow moderation of comments before they are posted.

Reply quickly to all comments and open a channel of discussion. Demonstrate that you are an expert in your industry and your business is worth the site visitor’s attention.

Search Engines LOVE Blogs

The GoogleBot looks for websites that have valuable, helpful content as part of its search ranking system and rewards relevant content with improved positions in search results. Your Blog content, when written correctly, is perfect for fulfilling this requirement as it ticks the boxes for being fresh, relevant AND helpful.

Five Simple Reasons your Small Business should have a BLOGBlogging will Inspire your Business life

Once you get into a routine of Blogging, you’ll start to see new ideas all around you. Not just for your blog, but for all aspects of your business life. Talking with workmates, watching TV, eating in a restaurant, and just walking the dog – you’ll be surprised where ideas will begin to spring from.

Remember this quote from David Allen of GTD* fame – “Your brain is for having ideas, not storing them”.  Write down ideas, straight away. My idea-writing medium of choice – the extra sticky Post-It note, stuck to my monitor.

One hidden advantage to Blog writing that I have found is the strengthening of my ability to effectively write and speak, not just about my industry but in all forms of communication. My language usage has been “awakened” through weekly blog writing and I feel comfortable communicating on forums, emails, customer letters, meetings with clients and speaking with family/friends.

Blog writing is not hard nor time-consuming – simply set aside a small piece of time and get going. I usually write the first draft of a blog in 25 minutes using a Pomodoro timer and then leave that piece for a couple of days. I’ll then take another look to polish before posting online (which usually takes another 25 minutes).

The most important thing is to start and be consistent – the benefits of a Blog will surprise you.

* GTD = “Getting Things Done” by David Allen

Key Learnings from my Four Favourite Business Books

One of the main problems with reading a constant stream of business books is that each comes multitude of different ideas and strategies.

Obviously, it is impossible to take every idea and implement them into your business – no small business owner has the time or capacity to do so.

Key Learnings from my Four Favourite Business Books

Instead, I have experimented with various strategies over time to see what will work for me (and what doesn’t). Through this experimentation, I’ve found that each of my favourite books has a key learning that I use in my everyday business life. In this blog, I’ll share those learnings with you…

 

“The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy

The main premise of Hardy’s book is common sense when you stop and think about it. Each day, we constantly make small, inconspicuous decisions that shape the outcomes that we achieve in our lives. By making incremental changes to these decisions, we can achieve any goal that we set for ourselves – in health, family or business.

For example, if we consciously plan to add one extra social media marketing post into our daily business routine, we will reap the benefits down the track as our online footprint will be much larger than it is today – all because of the compounding effect of that small change we made.

“18 Minutes” by Peter Bregman

The key take-away point that I found in “18 Minutes” is to devote a small amount of time each day ensuring that the focus of your daily tasks is aligned with your overall objectives.

The “18 minutes” is used when you devote:

  • Five minutes at the start of business to clarify that all planned work is aligned with your overall objectives.
  • One minute at the start of each business hour double-checking that focus is adhered to.
  • Five minutes at the close of business determining the following day’s outline and plan.

“The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael E. Gerber

Gerber, through an engaging narrative style, encourages his readers to establish their businesses in a franchise-style – just like McDonalds – regardless of their size or employee numbers. He believes that through the creation and use of Operations Manuals, a business can provide quality and consistent service at all times, regardless of the employee delivering that service.

One thing that makes this book stand out to me is the multitude of real-life examples that Gerber uses throughout to illustrate his ideas and teachings. The book is very easy to read (almost in one sitting) and it makes you want to “spring into action” after you close the final page.

“Getting Things Done” by David Allen

Known as GTD, the process outlined in this book is almost gospel to some people. Once implemented, GTD helps shape the way you organise and complete tasks, anywhere in your life. It is so popular in fact that several software apps have been specifically designed to cater for devotees of the GTD method.

However, the GTD process wasn’t the main take-away for me. I was engaged by the phrase – “Your mind is for having ideas – not storing them”. Every day, so many things pass through our brains, it is impossible to mentally store each one away for further contemplation or action later. Rather than lose any ideas, I now keep a constant supply of Post-It notes close by and record anything and everything. The notes are then stuck to my computer screen for later processing.

In conclusion, please remember that these books have far more to offer than just the learnings that I have outlined above and I heartily encourage all small business owners to read each book. Take notes as you do – on post-it notes of course.

If you do come away with something totally different from one of the above books, let me know by leaving a comment at the bottom of this Blog…

Tropical Coast Web Design