5 Steps To Get Your Local Business Online

A web presence is a major part of the marketing mix for most large companies these days. However I find many small businesses have still not taken the plunge.

With the rapid growth of local search and a tendency to research everything online a website is a must for smaller businesses in today’s competitive market. In fact research firm BIA/Kelsey notes that the website now serves as the core of local business marketing linking to all other forms of advertising including print, the Yellow Pages, mobile, SEO/SEM, social media and e-mail/direct mail.

Here are 5 steps to get your local business online.

1. Create a Website

There is no excuse for not having a website. The last thing you want is for a potential customer to type your name into Google or another search engine and not find you. Instant failure.

Your website should also serve as the hub to other parts of your marketing mix including direct mail, social media sites, print ads, review websites and the Yellow Pages. It’s where you can provide additional information on your products and services, provide customer support and news.

2. Provide Up to Date Information

Once you have your website make sure that it’s kept up to date. There’s nothing worse than a website with outdated information. There are a wide variety of CMS’s (Content Management Systems) out there that allow you to update your content rather than go back to your web designer for each little change.

3. Include Contact Details

Contact information, including your address and telephone number, is vital to ensure search engines and local sites pick up you website. They also clearly tell prospects where to find you and how to get in touch. Ensure they are prominently displayed on every page of your website.

4. Launch a Blog

I love blogs. I really love them. They are a fabulous way to keep in touch with your prospects and customers and the search engines just love them.

They are a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your field and to give prospects a glimpse of who you are. My Essential Guide to Business Blogging is a must read if you’re branching out into the blogosphere.

5. Get Social

I’m sure you’ve heard of Facebook and Twitter by now. These, and other social media sites, are the next big thing. People are talking about you and you can ether join in the conversation or close up shop. Join the large social networking sites and any others relevant to your industry and start talking.

With more and more people using the internet to find products and services can you afford not to have an online presence?

Web Design Case Study: Pampered Mummies Yarraville

Pampered Mummies is a down to earth child friendly cafe, hair and beauty salon located in Yarraville, Melbourne.

Brief

Trina Paskins, the owner of Pampered Mummies, wanted a website that could give prospective customers a feel for what Pampered Mummies was all about. She also wanted to be able to display and update her hair and beauty price lists and communicate with her customers via her website in a timely fashion.

Solution

The solution was to develop a website using a custom WordPress theme. This would allow us to incorporate a blog into the site and enable Trina to communicate with her clients and update the pricing herself.

I also used the services of my photographer husband, Raoul Wegat, to provide a strong visual focus for the website. Photographs could then be used throughout the site giving prospective clients a feel for Pampered Mummies and what they could expect when visiting.

Outcome

The result is a beautiful website that provides a wealth of information for clients and prospective clients alike. It gives visitors a clear idea about what Pampered Mummies has to offer them and why they should visit.

I love using WordPress CMS (content management system) as it’s easy to use and doesn’t overwhelm my clients. In fact Trina has already picked it up and has already started communicating through her blog.

Treen is thrilled with the result and has even started blogging!

Visit the Website

http://www.pamperedmummies.com.au

The Folly of Facebook For Business

As many of you know, I have been in the web design/marketing business for a long time. In that time I have seen lots of fads come and go. Remember Excite, Looksmart, Orkut and MySpace? I do. And the latest – Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, Facebook as a social media tool is amazing, and it has lots of useful applications, but lately I’m seeing more and more pure Facebook businesses and it has me scratching my head. As a social media tool, and part of your marketing arsenal, Facebook is great – but to run a business solely from it. Not so much.

Let me back track, a number of years ago I used to follow Google index updates religiously. Websites and businesses lived and died by these updates. In fact loosing your rankings put many businesses out of business. The savvy operators pretty quickly cottoned on that to rely on a third party, who you have no control over, to get customers and make money wasn’t smart. So they diversified. Also known as not putting all your eggs in one basket. I see the situation with Facebook exactly the same way.

Facebook started as a social media application that enabled people to connect and have a conversation. Over time, as usually happens online, people found ways to advertise their business and make money from it. In itself that’s fine. but remember, Facebook is a business too and so far don’t seem to have made much of a ROI. I have no doubt that at some stage they will put into place some sort of advertising fee structure and rules for commercial pages. In fact I’d bet my house on it. If Facebook is your sole means of advertising your wares where does that leave you?

Not convinced? Recently I heard of a business who managed to build over 2500 “Likers” to their Facebook page. Unfortunately they did something to annoy Facebook and their page was deactivated. All that effort and hard work. Gone. And as they had no commercial arrangement there was no one to complain too.

The point of this being – don’t rely on Facebook to build your business. Use it to engage and communicate with your customers but use it as a supplement to your website. Your website is owned by you. You control it, and you decide what can and can’t be done on it. And that can’t be taken away from you.

Your Confirmation Email is in the Post

I order a lot of things online. Too much, my husband tells me. But it is great research that I can impart to my clients.

Recently my husband ordered some ear muffs for our little guy. He was taking him to the Formula One Grand prix so they were needed in a timely fashion. He was smart and chose Express Post, put through his order and waited.

What he then experienced was silence. No confirmation email. No shipped email. In fact no emails at all. The ear muffs did arrive promptly but the experience still left a bad taste in my mouth and they would not be my first choice next time.

The internet is anonymous enough without ignoring your customers. It’s really not that hard to set up auto responders when orders are placed, and to send shipping notifications when the item has shipped. It’s hard to get new customers, so it’s worthwhile doing everything you can to turn them into repeat customers.

And in case you’re wondering my husband and our little guy had a grand time at the Grand Prix. The little guy even came home telling me he had driven a Ferrari. Now that’s setting the bar high.