Over the past six years, I’ve talk to quite a few small business owners and one of the biggest concerns I keep hearing, when it comes to their website, is that they’re afraid that they’ll unknowingly take on more than they can handle and blow a lot of money in the process.
I have to admit that if you’ve never had your own website – it can be frustrating. But we just can’t ignore the fact that a website is simply a “must-have” for businesses today.
You already know you need to do this. If you had the money, you would just pay someone to do it all for you, but you really don’t have the money or time to get bogged down in a sea of “technical babble”, by trying to do it yourself.
So how can you get your website done and keep your life sane?
Focus on finding the right tools that will help you generate new business and service your customers.
Now I know that sometimes just when you start to feel like you’re getting a handle on all this “techie” stuff – something new comes along and it leaves you feeling even more confused than when you started. But here’s the thing – you don’t have to tackle everything at once.
In fact, I often advise my own clients to “ease” into this “online marketing thing” until they can get a better sense of exactly what they would like for their website to do for their business. So where do you start?
Well there are two things you should know in order to get the most out of your website:
#1 You need to have a good marketing plan that will help you generate new business and repeat business from existing customers.
#2 You need a website that is flexible enough to let you do it.
That’s it. Sounds too simple right? Well it is actually that simple and it isn’t.
You’ll first need a good marketing plan and that means building a solid foundation that you can grow from. Then embrace technology, to leverage your experience so you can partner with those who can help you generate some “buzz” & traffic.
Once you’ve managed to build a decent following, you can then monetize that following by selling your products and/or services online. This allows you to multiply your business, bring in more money and you can do all of this without pulling your hair out.
If this sounds like something you could use to build a better website for your business, sign-up below to download my free guide to the best tools and tips on the web.
You see you can have the best marketing plan in the world but if you don’t have the right tools you’ll never be able to get those ideas off the ground and vice versa. So let’s unpack the 5 parts of this strategy, a little bit further.
Build a Foundation
OK if you don’t start off on the right foot, you’ll start to chase after your own tail and waste a lot of time in the process. It’s super important for you to be really clear about who you are targeting in your marketing efforts. Everything you do will be based on WHO you are selling to, more than WHAT you are selling to them.
Many small businesses unintentionally desert their customers after the first sale. This is a result of the sheer frustration the business owner has, of not being able to reach out to their customers, in a more efficient way. Small businesses can’t believe how hard it is to get a handle on this, but building a solid foundation is key.
The main tools you need here are a good content management system like WordPress and a way to build an effective email list with an affordable email service provider like MailChimp.
Here’s the secret sauce. I say this all the time in my live workshops – the “mom and pop” stores of the future are moving from Main Street to the Internet Superhighway.
The internet has given small businesses a new opportunity to expand their visibility & reach, but you have to embrace technology in order to do it. The tools are there at every price point, so you don’t have to worry about investing in technology that will clean your bank account out.
Apps like PicMonkey and automated marketing software like Hootsuite, are time-saving and affordable tools that you can often try for free, before making any financial commitments at all. We’re not talking about thousands of dollars, we’re talking anywhere from $10 – $200/month and no lengthy contracts.
This should be music to your ears, because it’s technology like this that will let you generate new business from customers, you would not have been able to communicate to before.
Leverage Your Experience
Once you’ve managed to get yourself online, you’ll want to leverage your experience to generate buzz. The wisdom of your experience and the relationships you have with your customers are the most valuable assets you have in your business.
Communicating the value of those assets to the outside world is paramount in not only generating new business but repeat business from your existing customer base.
This is easier said than done but again with the right marketing plan and the right tools, you can pull this off. You see it’s less about money and more about what you have to offer. In order to truly monetize your experience and your existing customer base you want to be able to forge partnerships with those who can help you get the word out to the masses.
You want to make it easy for them to find you and spread the word. This may mean offering your content, products and services in different marketing channels and formats. Social media and other platforms such as HARO and PitchEngine can get you started. You’ll also want to be able to measure the effectiveness of all of your efforts and analytics tools like these, can help you do that.
Scale Your Business
Once you start making some “noise” you’ll want to seize the opportunity and begin to monetize your newly found platform and audience. This can be super tricky. You’ll need the right tools to automate the process, so you don’t create an unwanted headache for yourself.
This is the time to start investing more time and money into building your list and setting up campaigns to convert leads into prospects and prospects into sales. You’ll need the ability to do this automatically because you won’t be able to manage this on a 1-to-1 basis, the internet is too fast and too big.
Ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Big Commerce and even apps developed for social media platforms like Pinterest and Facebook are making this possible and profitable. Ka-ching! That means less work and more money – music to our ears!
Keep Your Life Sane
Now I know by now you’re probably thinking, ‘OMG! I have enough on my plate already. How am I suppose to have a life?’ Well I can’t run your life for you, but I can tell you there are some pretty cool tools that help you keep all of this organized. Some of them you already know about like GoDaddy, Google Docs and Dropbox, but there are a new crop of applications breaking ground and making strides, like Tom’s Planner and VideoScribe.
If you haven’t noticed, the word “tools” has shown-up quite a few times in this post. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of staying current and connected with your customers base and it’s going to be tools like these that will help you get the job done.
So What’s Next?
Well, I hope your brain isn’t spinning right now (LOL!), but if you did actually enjoyed this post and you want to dive a little deeper, I have a sweet offer for you.
I’ve created a “little black book” of what I think are the best tools & tips on the web. It’s called “Websites for Small Business: A Guide to the Best Tools & Tips on the Web” – original right?
These are tools that I have used with my own web design clients over and over. Each tool comes with a tip and it’s formatted as a really quick “cheatsheet” (a PDF to be more precise). I’m not an afiliate with any of them, so I’m not getting any money for recommending them to you.
You can use these tools together as a group or “cherry pick” which ones are best suited to your needs.
In my opinion they’re all good and they’ll make your experience with working online even better. I’ve divided these tools into categories based on the strategy above & how the tools in each of these groups work together.
All you have to do is just click here to enter your name and email and you will be sent a link where you can download the guide.
If you like this post I would really appreciate it if you shared it with someone you think could use it. I also love feedback and want to hear from you!
Question: If you could sit down and have a cup of coffee with me to discuss your website, what would be the number one question you would like to ask me? Feel free to leave me your questions or comments below.
If social media is more your style, you can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Hop on over and say, “Hi”! Until next time. . .