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Why your small town business needs a big business website

Why your small town business needs a big business websitePutting my obvious bias aside (and many other business owners will back me up here), I firmly believe that if you are operating a business in the 21st century, irrespective of where you are or what your business does, you must have a website. Smart phones, tablets and computers are everywhere in our modern society and they are all “jacked” into the internet 24/7.

For the business owner, this means, regardless of who your customers are, they will be searching for you on Google. Very few people are reaching for the Yellow Pages these days – it takes far too long (no wonder the Yellow Pages have begun to move online) and can be confusing with the numerous listings. But if your customers can’t find you on Google, I’ll bet that they will certainly find your competitors in the search results and you will lose their business.

This also applies to businesses that traditionally operate out of a small town community, like Innisfail, where I live and work. It’s important to remember that there are no borders to business anymore and, because of technology, the world is much smaller than it used to be.

Despite these facts, I still find myself, on a regular basis, trying to convince businesses in my home town that a website is a necessity – even for them!

Here’s three of my counter arguments:-

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.

So, why would you settle for doing business in a tiny demographic when you could go global?

As Donald Trump often says, “Think Big!”

A website can 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 particular 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 through the use of an effective Social Media strategy. With very 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 completely separate from your business involved and, as long as 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.

A properly built and 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!

Three Steps to make an impact using Social Media

Make an impact using Social Media for your Small BusinessIt would seem that the entire world has now hooked up on social media of some type. What was once only the realm of teenagers and “yuppies” has become part of our everyday lives. We have so many choices as to how we connect to others in our social networks – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, just to name a few – there are literally hundreds of options to choose from.

With so many choices, as a small business owner, you are faced with a conundrum. Which social media platforms are going to give you the best “bang for your buck” and expose your business to its ideal customers?

Obviously, you cannot hope to cover every single one. Even with a full-time social media employee on staff, the task would be impossible. A selection of platforms needs to be made from the multitude to ensure that the best ones are chosen for your business.

However, even once the selection has been made, it isn’t all going to be plain sailing. The small business owner still has some questions to answer – who is going to take charge of the social media aspect of the business and what are they going to post online to create a social community around your business?

To help your business on its way to Social Media nirvana, here’s three tips to get you underway:

#1 – What platforms are best for your business?

The big players in the social media game are the ones we use in our everyday lives– Facebook, Twitter and maybe LinkedIn for business. It could be tempting to simply go with these however it needs to be remembered that not all social platforms will suit all businesses. You need to select, at most, three platforms that you will be able to use effectively to engage your customers in “conversations”.

If you are considering the big three, here’s what they are good for:

–          Facebook is great for generating a community around your business if your target audience consists of everyday people. It allows moderated conversation to occur around your brand and its services / products. More than that, it is fantastic for creating connections and generating emotion if used effectively.

–          Twitter is perfect for broadcasting quick announcements about your business. Use it to put out special offers, announce new products or services and respond to community trends. If you can say it in 140 characters, get your message out on Twitter. Be sure to use hashtags to “hook” into relevant topics that are trending your industry.

–          LinkedIn is the ideal platform for business to business discussions. Create mutually beneficial relationships with other businesses that use your services/products.  Key to success on LinkedIn is getting those all-important connections happening but once you get a few in the bag, they will start to “snowball” into a larger network.

#2 – Get social on a regular basis.

Now that you have selected the platforms that are going to work for you, it’s time to get busy! A good social media strategy starts with a calendar – when are you going to post new items onto your feed or create new tweets? This requires commitment. If you are only posting once a month onto your social media, you will be barely noticed by your followers, posts will lost in the multitude of feeds and it will be hard for your presence to gain traction. On the other, if you post too frequently, you may annoy those following you, they will “disengage” and you will lose those followers very quickly.

Aim for a couple of Facebook updates a week, a few tweets a day and maybe a picture a day on Instagram. You will need to work out the balance yourself or, better yet, find out from your followers what they think is a reasonable amount. While you are at it, why not ask them what they expect you to post online – tips, freebies, videos, pics, etc.  What better way to shape your strategy than to ask the people who will access it?

#3 – Be real and show personality

Often, when businesses update their social media platforms, they tend to fall into the trap of using corporate speak and going for the hard sell.  You mustn’t look at your Facebook or Twitter account as a way to sell services and products – people are not following you for that reason. They may want your products or services but they definitely don’t need to be pushed into sales with every post.

Instead, take your followers on a trip “behind the scenes” and introduce them to your business. If you have an Instagram account, show images of your staff trying out the latest merchandise after-hours. On your Twitter account, send out tweets that link back to your staff pages and introduce the people that make your business special.

At all times, remember that you are on SOCIAL media – so try to be social. It’s a perfect way to show your customers that there is actually real people behind your brand – people who care about the services and products they provide. Be real, show respect and most important of all, be yourself.

Then, watch as your actions on social media boost your small business up to the next level.

 

Rusty Mango Design

Rusty Mango Design