I gave a speech to the local Business Improvement District in Hackettstown titled, “Marketing and Your Online Presence.” I thought I’d share my talk in a few parts to everyone! Take a look and stand by for Part 2!
With most things in life, everything comes down to either time or money. You can spend either your time bringing your marketing plan to life or pay someone to do it. Dedicating the time to spend on your marketing plan is one of the hardest things you can do as a business owner. Most people, including me, want to spend their time making money for their business and there’s not a whole lot of ‘immediate gratification’ for plugging away on your overall marketing plan. It’s important to make time for it and here’s why; your representation online is who you are and your identity to a lot of people.
You, as a business owner, should have a passion for what you’re doing. There’s something that drives you to do what you do. Coupled with your passion, you are also a unique human being. There’s literally no one else like you! There’s something about those two things that will help you come up with your USP, or Unique Selling Proposition. It’s basically what sets you apart from the pack. The emergence of these things are where your overall marketing campaign comes in.
So, for me, I have a passion for helping people, I know a decent amount of marketing and I’m pretty damn good at making websites. That’s my marketing mission statement right there. Every presence I have online incorporates that…”To integrate your marketing plan with your online presence.”
It’s also important to ‘define success‘ for yourself. While money is important to pay my mortgage and making sure there’s food on my plate, success for me is working hard and helping people. I don’t always look for the easy money…I’d rather work hard and make a wage then find a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. I often use the phrase, “I got be able to sleep at night” and it’s what I think about when I make business decisions. We as small business owners have a passion for what we do…it’s why we do it! You can be successful and be able to sleep at night. Whether you’re selling food or power washers. Ian McKaye, who’s an accomplished musician and businessman, put it this way,
“Success is not a goal to me. It’s the ‘do.’ Every day. I wanna love what I’m doing. What is success? I wanna know what that means. When people say “…but you sold so many records.” What does that have to do with anything?! If you put that into ‘food’…What’s the number 1 selling food in the world? Of restaurants?! It’s obvious: McDonalds. But does that make it the best food?! I don’t think so. It makes it pretty clear that it’s actually the opposite.
In terms of records, TV shows, or movies a lot of times the things that sell the most are actually, kinda, the most homogenous…and uninteresting.”
It’s also important to look at your business from the outside and not the inside. When you’re visualizing things from the ‘inside’ of a business, you often overlook the point of view of the customer. When I first started working at WRNJ, Norm gave me a book called “The Wizard of Ads” by Roy Williams (you can get a free PDF download of the book on Roy’s website). It’s an amazing book because each chapter is about a page or two long and it’s filled with business and advertising ‘tid-bits’ that are real easy to read. I feel like the three books in the series taught me more about how to think outside of the box and just a whole lot more than a college course taught me about marketing and advertising. Here’s a quote from his book about it:
“The business owner is uniquely unqualified to see his company or product objectively. Too much product knowledge leads him to answer questions no one is asking. He’s on the inside looking out, trying to describe himself to a person on the outside looking in. It’s hard to read the label when you’re inside the bottle.”
I deal with small businesses all the time. Often times, I have a fresh perspective when I’m working with businesses…and a lot of the times I have to help a business get adjusted to thinking like their customers.
If you’re serious about your marketing strategy, then you want to create a website with the same mindset as opening a new ‘brick and mortar’ location. Think of it this way; your website is an online store front that’s available 24 hours a day. Whether someone wants to look up your hours or your phone number, your website should be the best representation of your business. You can let them know valuable information about your business that they want to know and hopefully show them some things they didn’t know about.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Think about how you search for things. More importantly, think about how your potential customers will search. I’ve had clients that call me and say, “My site’s not coming up in Google“, to which I ask “What are you typing into the search engine?” They give me to term and usually, without a doubt, I reply with “Those words don’t appear anywhere on your website.” If you want to come up within those search terms the content has to appear on your website. More importantly, it has to come up with relevant information. Search engine’s like Google want you to be on top. We, as people who use Google, are Google’s product not customers. Google’s customers are people who are paying for AdWords. We are their product because we click on those AdWords. So, in essence, Google wants us to keep visiting Google for our search engine needs, and it’s their primary objective to have the most relevant information come up. If we looked up ‘kettle pot’ and porn showed up, then Bing would be a more popular search engine. So, if someone’s looking for ‘kettle pot Hackettstown nj’ they actually want your page to come up so that you keep going to Google. It’s your job to put the most relevant information on your website to come up when someone searches for either your business or something your business offers. You just gotta learn how to play the game.
Just like in the old days…”Content is king.” If you have relevant content that solves someone’s problem or answers a question, then you’re going to ‘win.’ Present descriptions of your products, write about where you are…there is no business type that I can think of that you can’t ‘write more’ about.
The more advanced level of that is how much you spend (time or money) on these things and, of course, some industries are harder to crack. If you’re a new law firm in NJ, home renovator, roofing company, these are all a little tricker. A roofing company can have an individual page for each town in New Jersey, so when you look up “roofing hackettstown, nj” they’re going to come up with their specialized page. Some law firms in New Jersey can spend thousands of dollars a month just to tweak positions of things on a site.
A couple of years ago I was set with the task of a website ‘overhaul’ for Aquatech USA. One of the biggest things I do, when I start on a new website, is get organized. Part of it is seeing the business through the eyes of the consumer (which I talked about above.) . The first question is ‘what do you want on the website?’ Chris described how he sells to professionals, homeowners, sells and rents equipment, etc. So we sat down and came up with a ‘sitemap’. Basically a bullet numbered list of all the things he wanted on the website. As we went through his list we moved things, created sub-pages, etc. Once we got the list together, I also suggested we highlight some of the more popular industries that Aquatech serves. So we came up with another list including; construction companies, gold courses, DPW’s, marinas, etc.) See what we did there? We took popular terms people might type in Google and made specialty pages highlighting equipment (and specialized equipment) for that industry. Pressure washers was another ‘thing’ that we had to take some time with. On the homeowners page, we called it “Pressure Washers” while on the professionals page added the term “Power Washer.” This helps us to spread the SEO love on multiple search terms throughout the site.
These days an SSL is also important for ranking in search engines. Since 2004, Google has ranked website’s ‘more significantly with SSL’s in search results. In 2017, Google started penalizing websites that do not have an SSL. If you use Google Chrome, the browser makes it more obvious (than it used to) that a site is not secure. The in the past, websites would only have an SSL if you were collecting sensitive information, like a credit card. An SSL encrypts the data leaving your website so no one can steal it. SSL’s are important. These days, SSL’s are a little cheaper too. With about a $60 annual fee, it’s very worth having on your site. If you’re lucky enough, some hosting company’s have started incorporating something called Let’s Encrypt. It’s a free SSL service. The big difference is that, typically, when you pay for an SSL you also get some kind of insurance or warranty in case someone decrypts the data. Let’s Encrypt is free (and just as secure) but doesn’t offer any type of warranty. If you have a website with e-commerce on it, I still recommend paying for the SSL, so that you get the warranty.