I remember growing up how small and local businesses were the "entrepreneurial thread" that held most small communities together, and provided countless jobs to its local citizens. "Mom and Pop" stores, as they were called back then, were found on just about every neighborhood corner, and infiltrated many of the prime business locations downtown, and later in trendy shopping malls. Most of these businesses were owned and/or operated by local citizens - many of whom were "handed down the keys" to their thriving business from generation to generation, or who saved and scrimped their hard earnings to open up their "dream business". From quaint general stores to stylish boutiques, small and local businesses were the "Norman Rockwell landscape" of small town America. Nowadays, however, the picture is not so nostalgic...
Until its demise in 1999 from Hurricane Floyd, Tarrytown Mall in my hometown of Rocky Mount, N.C. was home to many small, locally owned and operated businesses. It's closing was a huge loss to the community - both personally and financially.
Demise of the Small Business
According to some Gallop polls, small businesses have been dying out since 2009, and are on a steady decline. It goes on to state that the deaths of businesses are outnumbering the births of NEW businesses, as well. Just ask any small businessperson you know, and I'm sure they will concur that its becoming MORE and MORE challenging to keep their small business going each year. And unfortunately, many will tell you if things don't change, they will be forced to throw in the towel, as well. I'm not here to debate the reasons WHY small businesses are failing, but if you want a good perspective on some of the most current reasons, click here.
What I want to do in this blog post is to give PRAISE to all the small and local businesses I have been fortunate enough to design websites for, or work with them on other advertising and marketing efforts. It is my hopes in doing this, to bring more awareness to THEIR businesses, and stimulate their presence in our local community. It is also my way of giving back to a "forgotten segment" of our country that has made MY small business, LT Web Designs, a success for the past five years.
Paving a Small Business Future
Although I've lived and worked in other towns, I was born and raised in Rocky Mount, a once bustling and thriving small town community in Eastern N.C. From my first job at a locally owned McDonalds franchise, to working for local businesses in almost every industry you can imagine, my work experience and future work ethics were founded and molded in the local businesses who took a chance and hired me - oftentimes without any formal education or experience. I owe a lifetime of gratitude to these small and local businesses who took a chance on me, as they helped paved the way for me to become a successful entrepreneur today!
Today, I am richly blessed to have over 35 active website and social media clients (with MORE on the way), and am even MORE blessed to be able to call most of them close friends! It was my own father, who was a successful saleman for many years, who once gave me the sage advice to make your customers your friends FIRST, and then you'll NEVER have to sell another day in your life! It's true, because 90% of my clients were sent to me on a referral basis! (The other 10% I attribute to my Google listing - which I do NOT pay for! (Click here to see how YOU can rank higher in Google listings WITHOUT spending a dime, too!;)) I feel very grateful and honored that these hard working business men and women put their trust and faith in ME to design their websites, and help market their social media pages.
Small and local businesses often recruit and hire teens for part time work, and even depend on them for holiday and summer seasons for extra help without having to provide full time benefits. Most young people are happy for the opportunity and make great employees!
Recognizing Local Excellence
Time and space doesn't allow me to individually thank each and every one of my clients for not only their business, but their immense contribution to our community, but I would like to recognize them ALL as "businesses of excellence". Through their tireless efforts and determined ambition to succeed, they are keeping the small business dream alive and thriving in our community. They provide crucial job opportunities for young and old alike, endure countless budget and financial challenges, and juggle their many business obligations with the ever changing demands of family life. To say they "do it all" is an understatement, and only vaguely describes the "balancing act" they perform on a daily basis.
Small business owners are almost superhuman. They are the first to arrive, and many times the last to leave, and oftentimes the ONLY one to work! There are NO luxuries for the small business owner, unless its an uninterrupted lunch of more than just a pack of nabs and a diet Coke. They fight tirelessly for the right to continue on this steep and risky climb to success, digging their heels in deeper when times get tougher. They smile when they want to cry, laugh at themselves when they do something stupid, and fight constant "losing battles" every day.
But through it all, one thing remains consistent for all of these dedicated entrepreneurs - they wouldn't have it any other way! For every headache brings an "aha" moment of learning; every disappointment brings a new rising up of determination, and every sore muscle brings a satisfied feeling of a job well done. They give SO much, yet ask for so little, and we, as a community need to SHOW them MORE respect and appreciation by patronizing their businesses, sharing their posts on social media, and using their goods and services ourselves, whenever possible.
After all, if we don't help support our small and local businesses, their demise will come sooner than later, and we will ALL be at the mercy of big, impersonal corporations for all our daily consumer needs. Think about that the next time you're treated with indifference and disrespect at one of the "big box" stores!
A Slideshow Of Thanks
In an effort to say "thanks", and help promote all my active website clients, I have put together the slideshow below, with links to their websites. Each and every one of them are a VITAL part of my business AND our local business community, or the community in which they are located. Please take time to notice each one, visit their websites, and leave a short note of thanks in the comments below to let them know YOU appreciate their contributions to our community! And please support their businesses by visiting them for your consumer goods and services when possible! Thank you so much for helping to keep the American small business dream alive!!
If you haven't heard about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's
announcement earlier this month about their newest algorithm changes, you definitely need to STOP what you're doing and read this blog entry - especially if you depend on Facebook to help support your small business' marketing efforts. Because VERY SOON, it's all about to change! The question is, HOW will
the new Facebook algorithms affect YOUR small business?
Many small businesses, including many of LT Web Design's clients, rely on Facebook advertising - both organic and paid - to help stimulate customer interaction, boost sales, and drive traffic to their websites, with varying degrees of success. There's no arguing that Facebook and other types of social media advertising can be a powerful, and inexpensive way to market to a broad audience. But that could all be changing, along with Facebook's newest algorithm changes.
Without going into great detail, here are the basics behind Facebook's newest algorithm changes:
In short, Facebook wants to "reduce news feed noise", and get back to more "meaningful interaction" between people. And although it sounds like Mark Zuckerberg is doing a "noble thing", the effect it could have on advertisers could leave them feeling anything BUT "social"! Read on to see why...
Click the button below to learn MORE about how to survive Facebook's newest algorithm changes without freaking out!
Big advertisers spend billions of dollars on Facebook advertising every day in order to "buy" their share of the social media marketing feeding frenzy. And even small businesses have seen a respectable increase in THEIR revenue with just a couple hundred dollars a month worth of Facebook ad "boosting". For many businesses, big AND small, it creates the "lions-share" of their online traffic and revenue. But what happens once the new algorithms go into play? If viewers are left with FEWER advertising ads in their news feed, how will that affect advertisers ROI? Will LESS exposure mean LESS revenue?
While the new algorithm changes could be a much-needed improvement to the social media platform by reducing "click bait" ads, "fake news" and uninteresting stories, it leaves advertisers scrambling to find ways to replace their lost revenue and beef up their marketing efforts in other ways. As I've always told my website and social media clients, DON'T put all your "advertising eggs" into one social media "basket". That advice needs to be heeded more NOW than ever before! But don't panic! Here are some ways you can STILL reap the benefits of social media advertising, AND beef up traffic to your website, despite Facebook's newest algorithm changes.
1. Get engaged - with your social media audience!
Instead of using third party apps or your son's thirteen year old friend to post your updates, take some time to really get to KNOW your Facebook audience and engage with them on a one-to-one basis. After all, YOU are the one that knows the MOST about your business, and are the MOST qualified to answer any questions or respond to comments. Ignoring your Facebook audience is like ignoring a customer who walks into your business! Take advantage of the opportunity to relate to your Facebook visitors on a more personal basis and create a BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP with them online. The new Facebook algorithm will be looking for posts with LOTS of social interaction, so by interacting with your visitors, your post will earn more "brownie points" for being more "socially engaging", which is Facebook's ultimate goal! So not only do YOU get to know your viewers better, your Facebook business page just got moved to the TOP of your viewer's news feed!
2. Create MORE high quality content on your website, then SHARE it with your Facebook viewers!
It's a simple, yet SO commonly overlooked concept by most small business owners. From Google to Facebook, search engines are all about QUALITY CONTENT, which goes back to what Facebook is doing - trying to recreate a MORE INTERESTING feed so that MORE people will interact and socialize MORE about the things that matter the MOST in life! Take a page from Facebook's play book, and do the SAME for YOUR small business! Again, take the TIME to sit down and write an interesting blog, create a special promotion, or update the information on your website that interests YOUR specific target market. Then SHARE that information with your Facebook readers to stimulate meaningful conversation! Really "LISTEN" to your customers when they post comments, and THEY will tell you what they want to know MOST about your product or service, which will stimulate MORE valuable interaction, and keep YOUR Facebook posts in front of your customers more often, not to mention give YOU valuable feedback about how to better serve your customers!
3. GO LIVE! Utilize the "live" feature on your Facebook app and bring your posts to LIFE!
Shoot a live feed from your business promoting a special sale or event, or just paying special recognition to a valued employee! Interview your customers (make sure you get their permission first) and make them famous! Shoot a live video demonstrating a new product or service you offer. Social media viewers LOVE interacting with live feeds, so get OVER your camera shyness and join in the fun! The new algorithms will LOVE the spontaneity and social interaction you have with your audience, and your viewers will LOVE the way you connect with them through live video!
Only time will tell how Facebook's newest algorithm changes will affect small businesses, but in the meantime, use this opportunity to explore NEW and CREATIVE ways to promote YOUR small business, while still staying connected to your Facebook audience!
Questions? Post them in the comment section below and I'll do my best to provide you with an informative answer!
Social media platforms can be a double-edged sword for small businesses. On the one hand, it gives happy, satisfied customers a broad, public platform to express their positive experiences with a business and sing its glowing praises. But at the same token, it gives dissatisfied or disgruntled customers the SAME opportunity to express negative and even hate-filled reviews, especially if they feel they have been mistreated or done wrong in some way.
Such is the love-hate relationship we all have with social media! That's why its SO important to know HOW to handle both positive AND negative reviews on your social media pages.
Let's face it - by nature, people are MORE likely to post a BAD review than they are a GOOD one, and unfortunately, some don't "hold back" when expressing their discontent and scorn when they've had a bad experience. Social media has made it incredibly easy and gutless for anyone to sit behind a computer screen and maliciously attack another person or business - either WITH or WITHOUT just cause, and then justify it by screaming "free speech". And while everyone IS entitled to express their opinion in any way they choose, most people do not have the social skills to know how to do it tactfully on social media. Therefore, there are certain steps you MUST take immediately when you get a bad review, which we'll discuss in a moment. But first, let's briefly talk about how to handle the GOOD reviews, of which I hope you have many MORE of!
When someone takes the time to express their gratitude or satisfaction with your product or service, it's extremely important that you take the same time to THANK them for their kind words! Knowing that you acknowledge and appreciate their remarks shows humbleness, respect and just plain good manners - as well as fosters a good business relationship with that customer, which may help bring in MORE referrals and new business. You should NEVER let a positive comment go unnoticed or acknowledged, even if its just in a small way by saying "thanks - we appreciate your kind words". This also gives other visitors a chance to see how well you treat your current customers, and may encourage them to post their own positive reviews if they, too, have been one of your satisfied customers. Responding to positive reviews also builds trust and confidence, reflects a professional business attitude, and shows you are "in touch" with your customer base. Any good business person knows in order to build a strong customer base, you need to appreciate the customers you currently have, as they are your BEST form of future business!
Taking On Negative Reviewers
It's EASY to respond to a positive review about your business, but what about when someone posts a NEGATIVE review? The same rule of thumb exists - you need to make sure you address those comments too - only its even MORE critical that you address negative reviews AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, and in the most professional manner possible!
A negative review may surprise or even anger you, and your first response may be to immediately defend yourself against the attacker. First of all, TAKE A DEEP BREATH! A negative review, while certainly NOT pleasant, is an excellent opportunity for you to learn more about your customers, and how to possibly improve your customer service habits to reach even MORE customers in the future. It can be a great learning experience and keep you "on your toes" as to any needed changes in your business! Going into a negative review situation takes patience, understanding, professionalism and a clear, calm state of mind. Jumping head first into a confrontation with a disgruntled customer without mentally preparing for it, is just plan business suicide!
I'll admit, it's unfair of someone to immediately go on social media and start blasting a business when they haven't even taken the time to contact the business owner FIRST to try and resolve the matter privately, but for some reason, people just LOVE to bring negativity into the public eye to get attention, sympathy, out of anger or just for spite. You can't always avoid these surprise reviews, but you CAN control how you respond to them. Below are some tips to help you "counter the attack" with professionalism and respect, and without falling to the level of your attacker, and that will hopefully resolve the matter without any long term damage to your business reputation!
1. Try to contact the attacker OFFLINE first, by phone, email or even private message, to arrange a meeting to discuss their concerns in private. Express your willingness to hear them out and let them know how important it is that you know all the details of their particular complaint, as well as how you can make it right for them.
2. If a meeting in private is not possible, respond to the person PUBLICLY on the particular social media site they've chosen to express their review and ask them if they would CALL YOU about their concerns.This shows other social media viewers that you are acknowledging their complaint, taking the time to try and find out WHY they are unhappy, and addressing their concerns - not just ignoring them. It puts the "ball back into their court", and forces them to acknowledge YOUR response. All eyes will then be on them, and not YOU, as other viewers wait to see how the negative reviewer is going to respond. Just by publicly addressing the situation, other viewers will automatically hold a higher opinion of you, and expect the negative reviewer to respond with fairness and respect. Trust me, this is a "show" that many viewers will be watching, and you want to make sure everyone sees your "best side"!
3. DON'T argue with them on social media. If they are incorrect in any of their statements and you can prove it without much effort, do so, but do not try to justify your stance or defend yourself against their complaints. If they are upset or angry, they may not be receptive to any justification or reasoning until they've had a chance to cool down. Arguing with them only fuels the fire and makes them more defensive. Simply state why they are incorrect, and apologize for any misunderstanding or conclusions they came to in error, and then invite them back in and promise to personally attend to them to make sure they have a better customer experience. Try to maintain your composure, and speak kind, clearly and calmly.
4. If THEY have undeniable proof they have been mistreated in any way, or you already know they have been wronged, ask them to come to your place of business so that you can offer them a formal apology, refund, exchange, credit, etc. If its not possible for them to come to you, publicly apologize online, and then offer to send them a refund, gift card, etc. - whatever is appropriate for the situation. Make sure you FOLLOW THRU with your offer, along with a HAND WRITTEN apology on a small note card. This lets other social media viewers see that you are truly sorry for that customer's bad experience, and that you are trying to make things right. I've seen this work first hand for one particular local business who was blasted on social media for a lack of attention when the reviewer visited their store. The store owner immediately responded to the complaint on the social media platform, apologized for the customer's bad experience, and then invited them back into the store with a generous discount! The scorned reviewer immediately softened their attitude and agreed to give the store another chance to make them happy. You can be sure this customer will NOT forget the kind way in which the owner treated them to retain their business!
5. Let a negative reviewer know that you APPRECIATE them bringing a complaint to your attention, and ask them what you can do to correct the situation, or make it better. Again, letting them see that you are acknowledging their complaint, and your willingness to try and make amends, will go a long way in turning a negative into a positive, and save face with other potential viewers.
6. Finally, after you've had an opportunity to resolve the negative review, ask the reviewer if they would be willing to remove or update their initial review, if they are satisfied with the final outcome. This may or may not always work, as most people do NOT like to admit they were wrong or "take back their words" - even after things have been made right for them. It's embarrassing for them to admit fault, and makes them feel foolish for publicly expressing their feelings. However, when you go OUT of your way to "right a wrong", most people are willing to give you credit and are happy to adjust their reviews, or at least update it with a better one!
7. Above all, handle any review with the same utmost professionalism, respect and fairness you would expect if YOU were the injured party. You don't have to adhere to the old adage that "the customer is always right" (because alot of times they AREN'T), but there's still one old saying that works almost EVERY time, and especially when it comes to dealing with negative social media reviewers:
There's no doubt social media is a strong and powerful marketing tool, and can be your business' best friend, as well as your worst enemy. Make sure you are actively involved in any social media platform you're a part of, and take the time to interact with your visitors on a daily basis. This insures that if any negative comment is made, you can catch it early on, address it, and resolve the matter to the satisfaction of all parties involved. On the same note, if you don't have the time to monitor your social media pages, make sure you have someone you can trust that does, and that can report to you when any negative reviews arise. Having an unattended social media page can be a dangerous and destructive business habit, and can do your business more harm than good!
LT Web Designs offers social media marketing services to its customers as part of our website maintenance package, or as a standalone service. Visit our Social Media Services page for more information!
First of all, I'm not here to "knock" Facebook - AT ALL. Facebook can be a GREAT marketing tool for most businesses, and I encourage all my clients to reach out to their respective markets with a verified Facebook page to make sure they're not missing that very important segment of their market!
HOWEVER, there are just some things a well designed website can do for your business that Facebook simply CAN'T. If you're a SMART business owner, you'll understand this principle, and realize the mega importance of not only having a business website, but making sure it's a well designed, eye-appealing and highly informative one!
Today's blog discusses the first of five things your website can do for your business that your Facebook page CAN'T. The other four will be discussed in forthcoming blogs. Make sure to bookmark this page so you won't miss them!
1. Facebook Can't Reflect Your TRUE Business Personality
If you have a Facebook business page, notice how it looks EXACTLY like everyone else's - except for the difference in information it contains. Sure, you can change your header photo, or profile picture, but Facebook doesn't allow you to express your individual business personality and image as fully as a well designed website. That's because Facebook is more of a "template" where you just "fill in the blanks" and they put all your information in the SAME format as everyone else's. Same blah blue background, same fonts, same basic layout - same EVERYTHING!!
PRETTY BORING, HUH?!
Your website, however, is more of a reflection of your TRUE business personality and ideals, and gives your visitor an overall BETTER business image, AND makes them want to STAY LONGER to get more information about your products and services! A well designed website can give your visitors a BETTER understanding of your business, and convey your business image much better than a basic Facebook business page.
As an example, study the two images below of an LT Web Designs client's Facebook page, and then compare it to the home page of their LT Web Designs built website:
Notice how "plain jane", and boring the Facebook business page is, with the tiny profile (logo) square, the SAME layout, SAME color scheme and the SAME cover photo on EVERY page! Compare this boring design with the bigger and bolder logo, larger header image, detailed navigation bar, bright colors and overall unique page design of their website, which better captures the eye, provides MORE visual appeal, and welcomes the visitor in to explore each page and find out MORE about their business!
Whereas each page of your website can be unique, and allow for more creative expression with specialized content and photos about a particular product or service, your Facebook business page is very limited in its creative freedom to express your TRUE business personality, and can even hinder your ability to stand out against your competitors!
First Impressions Mean EVERYTHING!
We've all heard the old saying, "first impressions are lasting", and because of their very simple and plain design, Facebook pages do not generally give off the BEST first impression! However, a well designed website can significantly impact a visitors opinion of a company! To prove this point, check out these well-known website design statistics:
Bigger logos, bolder colors and a more unique layout are proven website design elements that make BETTER first AND lasting impressions, and most ALL of these elements are missing in a Facebook business page!
While your Facebook business page is an integral part of your overall advertising and marketing efforts, the TRUE reflection of your business personality is found in your website - and THAT'S where you need to make the BEST first impression! :)
If you're in need of a well-designed, fully functional, eye-appealing website, call me today for a no-obligation quote -or visit my website, the ONLY place you'll get ALL the information you need about LT Web Designs! ;)
Next Week - Facebook Can't Control Negative Comments/Reviews
"How Do I Get My Business on the First Page of Google?"
It's the most commonly asked question from my business clients, but one that doesn't have an easy answer. The short answer is, by paying for it - hence Google Adwords. But before I tell you how you can do it WITHOUT using Adwords, read this informative article about how Google paid advertising works, and why you SHOULDN'T use Adwords! (click link below to view article)
Now that you know WHY Google Adwords may not be the answer for your business, let me tell you what WILL work - for alot LESS money! If you look below the sponsor paid ads on a Google search, you'll find the unpaid listings, otherwise known as "organic" search engine listings - in no particular order, it would seem. Ever wonder how these organic listings get top position? Once again, the short answer is, by quality site content and relevant keywords. However, since so many like businesses use the same keywords, there is still always more than one business vying for that top position. And it's STILL no guarantee a visitor will click on their listing even if they DO gain a top position. So, what DOES bring successful search engine results?
Well, what it really boils down to is this -
"Successful search engine optimization occurs when a website provides continuous high quality content, uses unique keyword phrases, and implements correct social media network practices to boost and drive traffic, and convert website visitors to paying customers."
Content is King!
LT Web Designs understands that it takes a lot MORE for a business website to be successful than just "showing up" on the top page of a Google search. As a matter of fact, 70% of all people who conduct searches actually SKIP OVER the paid advertising, and go right to the organic results! And even then, there is NO GUARANTEE a visitor will click on your site even if it shows up on the FIRST page of a Google search! It's more common for visitors to continue searching three to five more pages before making a website selection. That's why we focus on designing websites with better content, using unique keywords, and interacting with popular social media platforms to enhance visitor experience and drive more traffic to your website. For our clients, this method has proven not only to increase their Google search engine rankings, but bring better overall website visitor results, thereby increasing their client/customer base!
There's only one caveat to this method - it doesn't happen overnight! In a world where we like instant results, organic search engine optimization is definitely not a "get customers quick" trick! However, it IS a tried and true practice that WILL bring results if one is consistent - and patient. Most of our clients have seen positive results in their search engine ranking within six months to one year of regular website and social media maintenance and updates - even with launching a brand new website with no prior online presence! Because our sites are custom designed with YOUR customer in mind, content is high quality and relevant, and provides your customer with the information they want and need, increasing the chances they will call or visit. We understand its not always about being #1 in search results, but being #1 in converting search engine visitors into paying customers!
"Simply put, slow and steady wins the race in the search engine results competition!"
One last note - don't be taken in when someone "guarantees" you'll show up on the first page of Google. You'll definitely pay dearly for it in the long run, and it STILL may not bring you the results you want! A more practical, low cost way is to let LT Web Designs custom design a website/social media package for you that will deliver high content to your customers, and increase your overall online visibility for better website customer conversion! Call or email us today for a FREE quote!
You’ve finally taken that big leap and hired someone to design a website for your business. And after many laborious hours of technical coding and creative know-how, they have designed a killer website that makes you go “WOW – I LOVE IT!” Now it’s up to YOU to make it grow into the “tree of life” for your business!
Launching a new website is like planting an oak tree. You take a brand new, delicate seedling and plant it in ideal growing conditions. You put in a lot of time to make sure it receives adequate water, fertilizer and just the right amount of sunlight. Your little tree starts growing into a tall and sturdy young oak and forms many more branches, bearing big beautiful leaves, and the promise of future nuts or seeds.
You’re proud of your little tree and show it off to anyone who comes by. Your little tree continues to grow and its many branches are now reaching out far and wide, welcoming the birds to build their nests in its sturdy branches. Word spreads and before you know it, the squirrels and other critters are scampering through its limbs, gathering the nuts or seeds it has produced. As more limbs and leaves develop, your little tree (which is now a BIG tree) offers a cooling shade for you to sit under on hot summer days, and adds a touch of warmth and beauty to your landscape. You’re amazed as you sit under your big tree and stare upward at the sky above. A sense of overwhelming proud comes over you as you remember that tiny seedling that you planted so many years ago, and marvel at the way it’s grown into a fine old oak tree, providing you with many days of pleasure and service.
Every fall you prune back its limbs and shape it up so it will come back even fuller and lusher the next year. You adorn it by planting beautiful plants and flowers around its base and adding decorative yard ornaments by its side. You make it the centerpiece of your yard and everyone that comes around is in awe of its beauty, size and strength. You listen as songbirds fill its willowy limbs with beautiful sounds in the spring, and marvel at how its barren limbs endure freezing temperatures, and bear the weight of heavy ice and snow in the winter. But with a little TLC each year, your old tree continues to endure through each season, bringing you the promise of green leaves in the spring and cooling shade in the summer.
After a few years, you lose interest in your old tree as other things occupy your life. You no longer take time to prune back its limbs or plant beautiful flowers around it. After a while, the weeds take over around its base and wild vines start to climb up the trunk of your old tree, intertwining between each limb. Heavy limbs that should have been cut back begin to bear down on younger limbs, causing them to break and fall to the ground. Damaging winds and frigid temperatures from winter storms cause more limbs to die and break off. The next spring, a hill of termites infest the rotted wood that has laid there for so long, and soon after, they invade the base of your old oak tree, eating away at it like a gang of hungry beavers. Hungry woodpeckers start pecking at the trunk to get to the termites for food, causing more holes and damage.
You ignore the paltry condition of your old tree, thinking it’s just Mother Nature doing her “thing”, and take for granted that it will soon bounce back to its previous healthy state. Meanwhile you go about your business and wait for your old tree to come back to life. One hot summer day, you go out to sit under your old shady oak tree and instead find in its place thin, barren limbs and a hollowed out shell of the trunk of your old oak. A tiny tear slips from your eye as you recall the many days of pride and pleasure the old oak had given you in past, and wonder how it ever got to this point.
Then you remembered how you were too busy to prune back its limbs, or plant more flowers around its base. You remember how you let the dead fallen limbs just lie there until the termites invaded them. You kept meaning to clean them up but just never got around to it. You notice the tangled mess of dead vines around the trunk that had grown clear up into the limbs, choking the younger ones until they finally died. You meant to pull them off months ago, but never got around it that, either. You listen, but no longer hear the melodious sound of spring songbirds coming from high up in its limbs, or hear the rustling of leaves as squirrels play chase from branch to branch. The big leaves are long gone, no longer providing the cooling shade you once enjoyed summer after summer. What happened to your sturdy old friend? It gave you so much joy, pride and pleasure and now it’s just a gauntly skeleton of sticks and weeds, no longer able to provide you with function and beauty.
Your website is like that old oak tree. It starts out as a tiny seedling - full of new life, beauty and promise, and depends on YOU for constant nurture and care in order to grow into a fully mature and functional part of your yard’s landscape. Your website is the “tree of life” in the “front yard” of your business, and requires the same love, attention and support as any real tree. Without it, like the old oak, your website will surely die and no longer be a vital part of your business landscape, providing the beauty and functionality you need to be successful.
As with many situations, lack of interest, care and concern can bring many things to ruin. Don’t let your new website be one of them! Take time to keep it updated with fresh content, new products or services, and interesting or beautiful photos. If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, invest in a website designer or marketing firm to do it for you. The small investment you make into taking care of your website will pay off in helping it to grow stronger, bring in more customers, and become a “tree of life” for the success of your business for many years to come!
It's been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. Unfortunately, that's how most business owners approach the New Year - using the same worn-out, ineffective advertising and marketing techniques that have failed them year after year, all the while wondering why their business hasn't increased, or has even failed! If you're determined to make 2015 better for YOUR small or local business, here are five New Year's business resolutions that you should consider for the coming year:
Quite naturally, in order to have a smart, well-designed, and well-performing website, you need the services of a highly skilled and trained website company - such as LT Web Designs! ;)
Not only can we build you a great looking website, we can maintain and market it along with your Facebook or other social media pages! Make it a priority in 2015 to either revamp your existing website, or start fresh with a brand new SMART website from LT Web Designs!
The New Year is quickly approaching! Don't go into 2015 using the same old worn-out business tactics that have failed you in past years. With a few simple changes, and a strong commitment to improving your overall approach to your small or local business, you'll see more customers and a higher net profit next year!
LT Web Designs is going into its third year of helping small and local businesses by offering smart, well designed and well-performing website services, website maintenance, social media marketing and other small business advertising and marketing needs. Start your new year off right by calling or emailing us today to get a jump start on your website and business marketing needs for the coming year!
Happy New Year!
One of the most common myths about having a website is that customers will start flocking to it once it goes live online. That is just simply NOT TRUE! Whether you open a brick and mortar business, or a virtual store online, the same marketing rules apply; don't wait for your customers to find you - be proactive with your marketing efforts and you'll have more success in attracting your customers! This means not only utilizing traditional advertising and marketing mediums such as newspaper, radio and TV, but by making sure your website is SEO-friendly so it will show up in the search engines when someone searches for it. Contrary to what some may think, this doesn't just happen "automatically" when your website goes up. Your web designer should have already designed your site to be keyword and content-rich in order to be found more quickly and easily by the search engines. In addition, content and keywords should be updated frequently to keep the search engines coming back, as well as new customers!
Imagine opening a new clothing store, and just sitting there waiting for customers to come in and buy from you, without putting up any signs, placing any ads, or telling others you're open for business. More than likely, you wouldn't be open very long! It takes consistent and creative advertising and marketing to let customers know WHO you are, WHAT you are, and WHERE you are. The worst mistake you can make is to "assume" people already KNOW these things. Meanwhile, your competitor down the street is hitting it hard with enticing email offers, photos of seasonal favorites on social media networks, and giving out bumper stickers with their website address on it. These smart business owners know they have to do more than just "build it" - they have to market it too! You can have the prettiest store, and best quality product; but if you don't let people KNOW about it, they're probably NOT going to patronize you. Out of sight, out of mind....
"But I don't have TIME to market my website." Frankly, you can't afford NOT to. An out-dated website is as bad as not having one at all! You should put as much effort and attention to your website, as you do your brick and mortar site. And if you truly DON'T have time, then it would be wise to hire someone to do it for you! Financial business experts will agree that hiring someone to do what you don't have time to, is one of the best-kept secrets of any successful business!
Ask your website designer about monthly maintenance agreements or social media plans they may offer to help assist you in keeping your website fresh, updated and in front of the search engines with new keywords and meta tags. A little website maintenance every month can go a long way in helping to keep your website interesting and search-engine popular! Likewise, keeping your business in front of your customers through the social media platforms they frequent most is one of the BEST forms of "word-of-mouth" advertising you can buy! Whether you like social media or not, you can't deny its powerful influence over shoppers!
You've spent alot of money to get your website up and running. Don't just sit there now and wait for business to magically appear from it - market it and sell it really well, and THEN they will come! Whether it's a field of corn, a field of dreams, OR a website, all need to be "fertilized and maintained" in order to produce the best crop!
LT Web Designs offers website maintenance AND social media marketing plans to ALL its clients - at affordable rates for small business owners. A little investment in your website today, can mean big pay-offs in your business tomorrow! Call or email us today for more information, or a FREE no-obligation quote!
The One Question You Should Be Able To Answer, "Yes!"
As a business owner, you probably get asked tons of questions every day. Employees ask if they can have time off. Vendors ask if you'd like to carry their newest product. Bill collectors ask when you're going to send a check. Spouses and children ask what time you'll be home, and "what's for dinner?" And while all these questions are important, there's one more that you're probably being asked more and more each day - "DO YOU HAVE A WEBSITE?" How you answer this one question can mean the difference between having to stay late to accommodate an after-hours shopper, or getting off in time to catch your child's championship soccer game! If you answer "Yes", then you can relax, knowing your procrastinating shopper can get that last minute gift on-line through the e-commerce program you have set up on your website, while shopping in the comfort of their own home. And you just scored major brownie points with Jr. for being at the last game of the season! Win-win for everyone!
But what if you have to answer that question with a resounding "NO"? I'd bet the first reaction your customer would have would be a disappointed-sounding "Oh...", as their thoughts quickly turned to another like-business they suddenly remembered that DID have a website. Click! The phone line goes dead, as well as that potential sale! All because you couldn't answer "Yes"! Such a simple question, but the wrong answer can mean lost sales and customer loyalty!
Having any kind of business in today's world, and NOT having a website, is like having a home without a key to get in! Your website is the KEY to your customers getting into your business 24 hours a day! Whether they're looking for a special gift, information on an upcoming event, or just want to know your hours of operation, your website is the key that unlocks the answers to the many questions your customers have - about your business, your product or service, and even YOU! But not having a website is like keeping your customers OUTSIDE, without a key, and without a reason to stay on your door step very long. They will just simply move along to another business where the door is always open because they DO have the KEY - a well designed and content-rich website, full of the products and information they are seeking.
"But I don't NEED a website", you say. Well, just let me say this - if just ONE person asks if you have a website, then you NEED ONE! I say this with all due respect, but your business is NOT about YOU - it's about YOUR CUSTOMERS! Without them, you wouldn't exist. And shoppers nowadays are doing almost everything online - from shopping to paying bills to dating - it's just a way of life, and you'd better make sure you're in their laptop, iPhone, iPad or Android if you want to connect with them the way they connect with life! Not having a website for your business is like not having a telephone - and I don't know of any business that doesn't at least have one - sometimes two or more, dedicated phone lines! But sometimes you're just too busy to stay on the phone and answer a hundred questions a customer may have, when you can just as easy direct them to your website where they will find the answers to their questions, as well as browse your virtual store, saving BOTH of you time and money! Also, ask yourself how many times YOU, as a consumer, have asked other businesses if THEY had a website. Think like a customer, and you'll almost certainly ask the same questions!
I'm also surprised at the number of business owners I visit that have computers and laptops in their stores and shops, fully connected to the internet, yet they don't even have a website for their business! They have all kinds of fancy software, bookkeeping programs and even computerized in-store music, yet if you ask them if they have a website, they answer "No". And then I get, "but I'm on Facebook!" Well, that's a whole other blog for another day, but just let me address that by saying, that's nice, but Facebook is not YOUR website, and you do realize that when someone scrolls through Facebook, they are not only seeing your business page, but ALL the hundreds of other business pages (competitors!) that you share that space with! And while I think Facebook can be a great marketing addition to your business, it cannot and will never replace a well-designed, content-rich, photo and video enhanced, full-blown business website! In fact, you know all those annoying mini-ads you see on Facebook like Walmart, Best Buy, and Amazon? Well guess what - they ALL have their own full-blown website, chock full of products and information about their business! They're just using ads on Facebook to drive traffic TO their website, not in place of one, which is primarily what your Facebook page should be doing!
So, what's YOUR answer to the question, "Do you have a website?" If its not "yes", call LT Web Designs right now, and lets get started on your new business website TODAY! Even if you DO have a website, is it current and up-to-date with everything going on in your business, or is it just full of cobwebs and out-dated information? If so, LT Web Designs can design a fresh, NEW website for you, giving your customers a reason to take a "second look". Either way, the next time a customer asks, "Do you have a website?", you can answer with an emphatic and excited "Yes! It's www. ........" (you fill in the blank!) Now you can close your business on time and make it to the soccer game, cocktail hour, or just go home and relax in a hot tub. All because you could answer,
As a small or local business owner, you probably don't have a lot of extra time to devote to marketing your website, yet you know you somehow need to let your customers know it exists.
Hopefully, if LT Web Designs created your site, you've enlisted our website maintenance services, but there are still a few simple things you can do on your own that can help drive traffic to your site. All it takes is a little effort on your part to see big returns on your website investment!
These are just a few of the hundreds of ways you can easily boost traffic to your website without a lot of cost or time. The secret is to do something EVERY DAY to make sure your customers are aware of your site, and are getting fresh content and a reason to come back. Keeping your website address out in front of your customers helps create top mind awareness, and plants a seed of remembrance so they will think of you when they need your particular product or service!
If you're just too busy to handle the maintenance of your website, LT Web Designs offers affordable website maintenance contracts, for its website customers, or we can make periodic changes to your website on a fee-basis for special events or promotions. We also offer social media marketing services to help integrate your website with such popular social media platforms as Facebook and Twitter! Just give us a call and let us know what you need!
Website designer, social media consultant, nature photographer and published author, with over 10 years experience in business advertising and marketing! LT Web Designs specializes in website design and social media marketing for small and local businesses in Eastern North Carolina.