Small Business Web Marketing – The No 1 Reason Your Site Is Not Making Any Money For Your Business

Is small business web marketing something you have thought about, but just never really got around to taking time to understand… you realise that you’re leaving a lot of money on the table by not marketing your website correctly… but you just don’t know how?

Well if you said yes, then don’t worry too much. Because you’re part of the thousands of other business owners who are also missing out on the millions of prospects, which are actively searching for the products or services you may provide.

Having cut my teeth in direct response marketing early on in the offline world, I know the importance of good advertising and marketing. But more importantly than anything is having a list of your leads, prospects and customers.

In the offline world, small business owners think I talk Chinese when I ask them how many people they have on their database. The first thing, and most profitable thing I do when helping a small business, is setting up a database to market to at very low cost.

In the online world, having a system to actively build a database is a must and a sin if not implemented.

Because there is automatic tools in place to measure the amount of visitors to your site, you can easily quantify the waste of visitors to your site without collecting any of their details or turning them into sales.

Sadly this happens in the offline world over and over… and even in the online world thousands of business owners have no system in place, which makes this happen for them.

But this article is supposed to be about small business web marketing. So why am I talking about building a database and not marketing strategies?

Well… fact is, without a marketing system such as this in place all your web marketing becomes worthless and you will not make any money marketing your website.

So you can implement all the web marketing strategies in the world… strategies such as: pay per click advertising, Facebook advertising, social media marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, video marketing, article marketing and all the rest…

But if you don’t have a way to capture all the traffic your site receives, your businesses website will probably never make a single measurable cent for your business.

So to overcome the No.1 reason which will make all your web site marketing fail you have to turn the priority of your website from trying to sell off the page to actively collecting leads.

Once you implement this, your whole business model will change. You will have a database you can market to at low cost (via email) and you will actually be able to measure the return on investment your website gives you.

The truth is, a pretty brochure site will probably make all your friends and family happy as it is nice to look at…. But having a direct response website which is designed to drive leads and prospects to you so you can turn them in to sales and increased profits will most likely make you and your bank account happy!

So the decision is up to you now… you can either take away the knowledge you now have about small business web marketing or you can ignore it, continue to spend money on your site and never see a return on investment.

The Four Phases of Small Business Strategy Planning

There are a host of definitions for strategy. Rather than trying to be comprehensive or creating a definition that tries to be the authoritative source, I’ll use a simple definition of strategy for my purposes. Strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve outcomes. That’s it. This definition is loyal to best tenants of strategy as well; be flexible, nimble and leave options until you reach the appropriate time or level to add further definition.

The process of defining the desired outcomes is usually incorporated into the concept of strategy planning. In an agile and well-led organization, execution is also wrapped into strategy so that the plans can stay flexible, updated, and resources can be used to increase success.

The best, most refined, and most successful strategy model has evolved from ancient China, was updated in Prussia, and has slowly been creeping into the business world. There are four steps to the process and I prefer to keep them all under the strategy umbrella to help leaders reach the planned outcomes. The iterative sequence is: setting goals, planning, actions, and outcomes.

In setting strategic goals, you must consider what outcomes you desire for your business. Assuming that you are in business to earn revenue, you must link your outcomes to needs that your customers have in order to capture that revenue. The best source for setting goals is your business mission, values, and vision statement. Provided you have a well thought out statement, your goals should flow directly from your mission and vision. What do you desire? What outcomes are you seeking? Where do you want your business to go? These are all important questions to ask. Additionally, you’ll want to conduct analysis and hypothesis testing of your assumptions to ensure you have goals that have a reasonable chance of success.

At the business level, goals should be general and short. For instance, you might set a goal of establishing a presence in a new market and capturing $2M in revenue within 2 years. Then you might develop a new layer that adds more strategy and assigns responsibility to different segments of your organization. In the above example, you might divide the revenue responsibilities between two business units and also assign sales and marketing targets. Each of these units might then break their sub-goals down further to responsible units or people. At each decomposed level, they would be informed as to the goals of the parent organization and overall business so they understand the overall context of the strategy.

When strategic goals have been formulated and assigned, planning begins. The business conducts an analysis of the environment, competitors, their own capabilities, their customers, and any other areas critical to the goals. They also assign resources to the different sections and identify people that will be responsible for achieving the outcomes defined in the strategic goals. They might also place constraints on the same, for instance certain segments of the market might be defined as unattractive.

With the goals, analysis, and resources/constraints in hand, the units and people responsible for the outcomes begin planning how they will reach the goals. The planning at the business level will be high level, as were the goals. As the planning cascades down through the organization, the plans will become more detailed at each level. Care must be taken in planning to ensure that only enough detail, not too much, is built into the plans.

As each layer of plan is created, there is a back and forth communication and evaluation of the plans until a level of confidence is reached. Care must be taken that planning doesn’t become such a long process that opportunities are missed while creating the perfect plan to take advantage of them. The old adage: a good plan executed now is better than the best plan executed too late is even more valid today given the speed of information in our society.

The final component of planning is establishing how to measure success. Using key performance indicators (KPIs) is a useful manner to track progress towards goals and helps leadership avoid micromanagement. When using KPIs, typically only three to five will be chosen at each level. They are selected because they are the most critical indicator to success. For instance, and airline trying to raise its customer satisfaction ratings and rankings identified one KPI, aircraft departure timeliness and subordinated all actions to ensuring that they could meet that goal. It’s also very helpful to have few KPIs as it keeps managers from trying to micromanage every detail instead of leading.

When the plans have been cascaded and completed, the flow moves into action. It is in the action phase that the outcomes and goals are reached. The plans come to life in the action phase. It is also the action phase where the plans begin falling apart. When you are writing your plan, conducting your analysis, creating goals, cascading the process, etc. it is easy fall into the assumption that when you launch the plan, it will proceed as written. Wrong. In the military, it is assumed that no plan will survive the first contact with the enemy. What that means is that when you’re planning, you are making assumptions and even though you’ve conduced a robust analysis, it won’t be perfect. In business, your clients, partners, competitors, economy, technology, and any other variable won’t behave as you’ve predicted. Some may be close, but there will be wrenches throw into your machine.

The natural reaction to this chaos is to manage more intensely, which is counterproductive and won’t produce the results and outcomes you are targeting. Instead, you need to build a flexible business that has well-trained employees who are making decisions at the lowest level possible. The people in direct contact with your customers are frequently able to make great decisions in the context of achieving your goals. But, to make those decisions they need to be empowered with the authority to act and also know that they are allowed to mistakes as part of the learning process. Anything short of this and you’ll have a much more difficult time succeeding.

The actions taken will lead directly to the outcomes. Outcomes are what you’ll measure against your goals to determine success. The more frequently and accurately you are able to measure progress without interfering with actions, the more successful you’ll be. Here is where choosing correct KPIs will pay dividends. When monitoring progress towards goals, leaders will be able to adjust, add or subtract resources, spread lessons learned, and take any other necessary actions. At this stage, you’ll also be leading another cycle of planning.

These four phases are continuously ongoing and spiraling through the organization. Each level goes through the phases and also links with other levels at each stage. While it seems complex and only suitable for large organizations, small businesses can start using this method as soon as they have more than one person. By starting with a robust, simple, and structured method of strategic planning and execution a small business can scale the process as they grow and have a competitive advantage as a result. Businesses that can’t plan well, are weak at analysis, micromanage, and set unreasonable goals face a challenge to stay in business. Lack of a strategic plan is the most cited reason for small business failure, but it might be more insightful to say that lack of a strategic plan and execution methodology is the root cause of those failures.

Small Business Networking – Tips for Leaving a Lasting Impression With a Handshake

When you start small business networking outreach and you meet another business owner for the first time, the first form of contact tends to be the handshake. We all of course know how to shake hands but not everyone knows how to leverage the handshake to make them look good and leave a lasting impression. If you want to make yourself memorable to put a firm handshake and a face with your business card then follows these tips:

Be Ready for the Handshake

As you approach another small business owner or individual at a networking event, be ready with your hand extended. When you make the first move and open yourself for introduction it shows that you’re more confident and self-assured.

Make Eye Contact

Always look the small business owner in the face when you shake hands and make eye contact. Studies have shown on repeated occasions that maintaining eye contact for just 3 seconds can make another individual feel more comfortable and develop positive feelings for you. By adding to the eye contact with a smile you are able to lighten the mood and build a general foundation of trust.

Use the Right Strength in your Handshake

It’s important to use the right kind of grip when you shake hands. A tight handshake is important but too tight can be uncomfortable for the small business owner you meat. Not everyone ropes horses and bales hay so try not to choke their hand like rattlesnake. It’s easy to pause for a split second to gauge the strength of the other person, the follow through and match their grip.

Avoid the Sweaty Handshake

You don’t have to be the nervous type in order to deliver a sweaty handshake. Sometimes this just happens naturally in a warmer environment, especially a small business networking event where you’re wearing a suit coat or warmer outfit. Make it a point to keep your hands dry, especially if you see someone approaching you that looks like they want to initiate contact.

Stick to the Right Hand

Tradition has us shaking hands using our right hand. If you’re at a company even or small business networking event, carry your drink in your left hand and always initiate a handshake with your right. This keeps your right hands free and dry – no worries about condensation from a tasty cold beverage.

Adapt

Various people have different methods for shaking hands. Some simply grip and twitch a bit while others while grab your arm and shake it like they’re trying to jar apples free from the branch of a tree. Handshakes even vary from country to country so if your small business networking takes you to other regions pay close attention to how people greet one another. Having the right handshake and the right style can help to cement you in the memory of the contacts you make.

Small Business Web Design Essentials

Every business these days should have a web site to promote their products and services from, regardless of the niche they operate in. A well designed site can quickly pay for itself in new orders. Yet there are still lots of firms around that don’t have one. This is a huge mistake.

More and more people turn to the internet every day to find local business services. A few years ago we all turned to the Yellow Pages when we needed to find a local tradesman, but these days, this traditional medium is being rapidly replaced by the internet.

Getting a web site for your business does not have to be a huge expense. For as little as a few hundred pounds you can get a simple site that will be more than adequate for your needs.

You do not need a lot of functionality, a simple static site in most cases will suffice for a small business. You don’t need lots of moving graphics, and in most cases you don’t even need to be able to take payments.

For most small businesses, the primary purpose of a web site is to generate leads rather than sales. Once you have the lead’s contact details, you can sell them your service later.

Your new web site should firstly give your business an online presence so that people can find you. Simply publishing a web site is not enough, it needs to be optimized for the keywords your prospects type in to the search engines. When selecting a web design service, you need to ensure they fully understand the importance of search engine optimization (SEO). If they don’t, look elsewhere. There is no point having a web site that no one can find.

Once found, your site has to give your visitor a strong reason to contact you or to give you their contact details so that you can contact them. You have to make them an offer they cannot refuse. Promote a special offer that is only available for a limited time, or offer a free eBook that will provide them valuable information in return for their email address. Once you have a lead’s details, you have the opportunity to present your offer to them again, and tests show that the more someone is exposed to an offer, the more likely they are to take it up.

Finally, your small business web design should include client testimonials for credibility and a strong guarantee to remove the risk from your prospects minds. These elements will increase the contact rates you make with your prospects, and ultimately the number of sales your site generates.