Why Your Small Business Needs A Kick-Ass Website

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“Social Media is King”, that’s what you hear. Here I am, a digital marketing agency that pushes the importance of social media when marketing your small business. Guess what? You can’t do it without a website. I can’t express this enough. Not just a website, but an actual functioning, updated, responsive (mobile ready) website. Some of you may even be saying this is a no-brainer and of course you need one. I can’t tell you how many times I meet with clients and they want help with marketing their business but their website has not been touched in 2 years.  

I wanted to touch on a few reasons why your business needs a functioning, up to date website for your small business.

Why Your Business needs a website
  • Believe it or not, a website is cost effective. The cost that it would take to run ads and billboards to give your business a voice would cost you hand over fist vs. a website. Building a website today is not going to put a dent in your pocket and most platforms are easy enough to keep updated, either on your own or rather inexpensive with a firm. When it’s all said and done, all the efforts and money spent in other areas and not on your site is going to be way more expensive.
  • Show off your products and services. What better way to show off your amazing products or your spectacular services than with a beautiful website. This is probably the biggest reason to have a site. A lot of people use their smartphones and tablets today more than ever. Having your site responsive allows your products and services to be viewed much easier. 
  • Most people want to check you out and troll on you before they make a purchase decision. Your website is going to legitimize you. You want to establish trust with your customers and they will look to your online presence, including and starting with a website.
  • It can improve your customer service. Your website allows potential customers or current customers to get more info. They can also ask questions and receive answers from concerns. A website is 24 hours a day in operation. No matter what time of day someone can look you up and gain valuable information on your business without waiting for 9 am on a Monday.
  • A website allows you to continue to share content, just like this blog! Your website is going to be a great place to drive traffic to it from your social media platforms. Sharing blogs, updated products, launches of new services, etc can all be done on your website. Then you get to share that content on your social platforms to drive traffic to your site.
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So if you’re thinking about starting a business, you need a site. If you already have a business and have not looked at your site in quite a while, now is the time. It’s super easy to update your site and not the expense it once was to do so.

HoM Consulting offers website builds, but we do so because we cannot effectively do our job without a functioning website. We offer website builds FREE when signing on with our Full Digital Marketing Package or we can build you a site for a reasonable price! Don’t wait, summer is a great time to start thinking about this and have it all up and running for the fall and holiday season.

Instagram Story Ideas For Your Business

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So you see everyone using Instagram Stories and you're intrigued. Instagram Stories provides a fresh way to engage and show off your product or services. Think of Instagram Stories as the Snapchat of Instagram, but in my opinion much better.  You should note the big difference from your Instagram Newsfeed vs. Stories is once you have uploaded a ‘Story’, that content will disappear in 24 hours. They don't stick around and are not accessible after that 24 hour period.

Do you want to know how you can use it for your business? We've put together some real quick an easy ways you can get started using Insta Stories for your business. 

  1. Show them who you are in action. Stories allow you to take people behind the scenes of your business. Look, we all want to see how that thing is made or what you do as a morning ritual.  Brands have to get personal to stand out. This is a great opportunity to shine the light on your business or brand with some behind the scene photos, videos, etc. Post them to Stories and have fun with it. Remember they are only around for 24 hours so this is the time to have fun with what you're posting. 
  2. New Product or Service launch. Stories are a great way to show off a new up and coming product or service. This allows followers to create an early buzz for you too. Get them excited about what's coming. 
  3. Promote your event. Stories are awesome to spotlight an up and coming event. You can do this leading up to the event with your promo creative pieces and then the day of the event, Show the people what they are missing so they don't miss the next one. Include and tag people that are attending, you can do that with the tools Stories offer. Tag those influencers that are in attendance. 
  4. Sales or Promos. You're having a sale here is where you can let them know. Don't junk up your feed with promo or sale creatives instead you can post several times a day using Stories. There is an option for tagging products too. Learn more about how you can tag products on Instagram HERE.
  5. A Takeover. This is very popular and great for new businesses that may not have a lot of followers. Have a guest take over your Instagram for a day. They post your Instagram Stories all day. Make sure you're picking a leader that makes sense in your industry and someone that is known in your community. 
  6. Giveaways and Contest. An awesome way to do giveaways and run contests is through Stories. Show the giveaway and prizes along with the rules all on your Stories. Be clear and make sure it makes sense for your brand.
  7. Traveling adventure. If you're taking a trip sharing your adventure via Stories will definitely create a nice buzz for you and what you're doing. 

Follow us on Instagram @homconsulting

Stop Running Your Business Like A Hobby

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I am very lucky to work with a lot of different businesses and creative people. I have seen some take an idea and turn it into multi-million dollar businesses. One thing I have noticed about those that don't succeed is that they treat their business as a hobby vs. an actual business.

Now before we get into it, I want to point out that I hate writing a blog that seems negative. That's not what I'm doing here. I'm pointing out things that I want you to ask yourself before you start the process of starting a business. I know you can do it, but want you to ask yourself some questions so you're prepared. 

Below you will find some of my observations when I see a new business or business owner not progressing or succeeding.

  1. They aren't hungry enough. The hunger isn't there. Sometimes I question their true passion for their business and if they really are in love with it or they are just going through the motions hoping it's going to pay off. Whatever it is, they aren't hungry enough. 
  2. They are bored and needed something to pass time away vs. really wanting to create something magical and special. Wasting time and doing busy work is never gonna make a business succeed. 
  3. They don't bother to do research nor have a willingness to learn. They think they know it all already and have all the answers. First, do your research on what you're selling. Where is the need or want for your service or product? Who are you selling to, etc? I've been doing my business now for years and I still am learning every day. I don't have all the answers and I'm always researching and learning what I don't know or to improve on what I do know. I'll throw in the "ask for help" here too. Ask for help from like-minded professionals to get things going or to give input on your idea or processes. You would be shocked at what your own circle of friends and professionals can assist you with. Don't be a show-off and pretend you know it all or already have it together. You're not fooling anyone, we know it's hard.
  4. It involves time. Some just don't want to put in the time it takes. Starting, running and owning a business is a major time commitment. Success will never come knocking at the door. You have to put in the time to get results. In the early stages of your business, you may find that you're spending more time on your business than anything else you do in your life. 
  5. Money is required! I know I know, there are a lot of things out there about not needing a boatload of money to start a business. That can be true. But the reality is that you need some money. In today's world, you need some dough! That will all depend on what you're doing, what you're selling and what your business is. You will need some cash of some sort. 
  6. Failure isn't the end of the world. You will fail. There I said it. Feel better now. Move on. Dust yourself off and keep at it. 
  7. No real plan. There are some people that start with no real plan or objective. Sometimes you're thrown into business vs. planning, plotting and starting. That's some of the best kind of businesses that I love to work with, but you still need to stop, backup and create an overall plan. This plan should be what you need, costs, execution and what your goals are, financially and other. Business plans are great, and I have assisted many businesses, but honestly, you just need something written down on paper with all those objectives. How and in what format works for you is fine. Just do it. 
  8. Realistic expectations and goals. I see this so much in new businesses. Their friends and family tell them how awesome they are, their product or service and then when they try to sell it, in the beginning, it can be a big goose egg. Set realistic goals, financially, marketing and overall progress. This really involves 1-6 and then once you have decided on how you will adjust to those you can create your realistic goals. 

Now you know! Let's talk about these together. I would love to hear how you have overcome any of these or how you have pushed through. Share with us so others can learn! 

Knock Knock Opportunities

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These past few months, since the new year actually, has been crazy busy. I can't complain, it's all wonderful stuff, but boy do I see a need for helping businesses grow and succeed even more than ever. 

Let's first get you through the goings ons around HoM Consulting. We have grown more than 100% in the last 6 months and I'm so excited about that. I'm excited that I have brought on new team members that include writers, developers and even a right hand in day to day that keeps things going and everyone on track. 

We've reorganized our financial platforms, updated our website and introduced so many new tools and platforms that we can now offer our clients. It was a lot of work, but it all needed to be done to make sure we are set up to succeed as we grow. I get first row seats to businesses growing and not being equipped for it and things take a turn. I wanted to make sure I had a grip on every detail with our growth.

Not only are there exciting things happening with HoM Consulting, but I have also started my first Networking Group, a franchise, called Fuck Up Nights. I'm ecstatic about the premise of this group and really believe that we can learn a lot from each other's failures. Look for our first event happening at the end of May.  We are in search of some amazing speakers, so if you're interested, fill out our Google Doc to have an opportunity to share your story.

I'll be traveling a lot in the next few months, first stop Vegas where the artisitic director of my  Troupe will be competing at a national event, Viva Las Vegas. I'll be joining her and cheering her on. From there we drive to Big Bear and Los Angeles, California. I have a lot of business meetings setup but plan on getting in some fun time with my family as they are all flying out to enjoy a house on the lake in Big Bear. 

I'm back in PA for a week to turn around and then fly out to Nice, France where I'll be spending 10 days in Cannes for the Cannes Film Festival 2018. I will be assisting with a few events and more meetings and connections being formed. 

So you're saying, what's the point to any of this? I made a promise to myself going into this year that I would not turn down opportunities presented to me. This is exactly what I'm doing. I've found that in the past I've turned so many opportunities down because I thought I was too busy or just lame excuses altogether. I have asked myself why? Most of the time it made no sense and I would regret it after the fact. 2018 I made myself two goals, jump on opportunities presented and make the most out of them. 

I now look at the opportunity presented to me and see how I can make this valuable. This value doesn't have to be something business related at all or even bring in money or success in business. There are even more personal aspects to these opportunities than there ever has been. I spent my life tending to people, I was a mom at an early age and married twice. Now it's time to begin to fulfill some of my own personal wants and needs in life. 

Ok, why am I sharing this? I do think that this was a big piece missing from me, being able to be the best businesswoman and partner with businesses. I feel much more rounded out in my perspectives and in my wants and needs. Bottom line, I'm ready to take on the world, one, two or three opportunities at a time! I suggest you do the same. Look at those opportunities that present themselves and see how you can make them work without all the excuses you may tell yourself. 

Small Business Story Telling

What's my website content suppose to be? Well, let me tell you. It should be about storytelling that is customer focused and personalized. There are simple ways you probably have not thought about that can assist you in creating the best content for your website, then in return will give you amazing social content. 

First, look for a problem you can solve. Once you have honed in on that problem this will give you so many opportunities for you to discuss how you can assist in solving that problem. This is where the storytelling can come in and talk about how you're the solution. This is another key point to assisting with your organic SEO (Search Engine Optimization). People search for problems to look for solutions, so if you talk about those problems you're more likely to be found. The words and content have to live on your site for them to be considered in search results. (Note: Don't solely write for SEO, Google may like you but humans won't).

When you're speaking about your solutions you will want to make sure you're doing it with meaningful stories that your customer can relate to. The more you story tell, the better you will become at it. The more you do it, the more your audience will continue to engage with you. Don't think of the "once and done" mentality. You need them to keep coming back. If they aren't a customer today, they can be days, weeks or months from now.  This is really important when it comes to B2B or people in the service industry. 

Did you know your storytelling doesn't have to always be written? Videos, infographics, and even quizzes can really get people coming back for more. Mix it up, if it's the same message delivered in the same fashion we'll get bored! 

The manner that your content is delivered is all technical, what you may be struggling with is the story itself. Start with an idea. Write 5 ideas down and expand on them. Why would your reader or visitors want to know about this? How is it helping them? You would be surprised once you have the ideas and you start your storytelling it will start flowing. I know the biggest issue I see with my clients is getting started. Just do it. Get started and make it your thing! 

8 Tips To Grow Your Email List

 

Email marketing is still an effective piece of any business marketing plan. Having a list of customers, potential customers or fans where you can engage with them directly via their inbox is one of the most impactful ways you can build and cultivate that relationship. Using an email marketing platform is the first step, but getting a good list going and growing can be difficult for any new business.

I always tell clients this is the one thing you truly OWN! You own the list. Put effort into the things you can control. Social media is great, but you don’t own Facebook or Instagram. They can make changes to the platform that can leave you out in the cold, but if you have a good list, you’re never gonna lose sight of your customers/fans.

I’ve put together some useful ways you can grow that list.

  1. You need a sign-up form that’s user-friendly. Yeah, that is simple enough. You have to have a way for them to sign up so you need to create a form within your email marketing platform. This should be very easy and friendly to use. Tip: Don’t make this long. Ask for the information you truly need. They are just getting to know you so they may not trust you completely with a lot of information.
  2. Ask your customers. This is especially useful if you’re a retail store. Make it easy for them to give you that info at checkout. Be clear with what they will be receiving by giving you this information. Will you provide information about sales, special offers or useful information they can’t-do without? Make it enticing.
  3. Dangle a carrot. People tend to want to give you their email if they know they will receive something right away.
    • Contests
    • Giveaways
    • Freebies
    • Coupons
    • Offers
  4. Geofencing (Beacon) and Wifi Marketing tools. If you’re a local business there are so many new options with geofencing or wife marketing programs that allow your customers to walk through your door and they can be notified of a special offer or deal via their cell phones. All they have to do is register, which in return is collecting their email address to be added to your database. This is a growing industry and for the right business, this is the way to go. I’ve seen huge returns on these platforms. If you’re offering FREE Wifi within your store make sure you have a place for them to register so that you get that email.
  5. Add your email sign up to your social media accounts. Facebook makes this really easy with integrations for most email platforms. Have a call to action on your page.
  6. Add a popup to your website. Another really great way to collect those emails. They already are on your website, so they are interested. Now have a popup that offers them something in return for their email. Don’t forget to also have a place to sign up on your site along with the popup. Popup boxes are normally set to show at the designated times you tell it to (first time only, after a minute, never show again, etc) so make sure you have another place on your site for people to sign-up.
  7. Promote your newsletter. Share on your social media about how awesome your newsletters are and the information that you share. Let people know what they will receive if they sign up.
  8. Events/Tickets – If you have events make it so people must register, regardless if it’s free. If you’re charging for tickets, whatever you’re using to collect monies should also allow you to collect emails. You can import that list at a later date into your email marketing platform.

If you have not selected an email marketing platform yet, the above should help you in making a decision. Make sure you pick a platform that can help you with integration, growth, and autoresponders, especially if you’re giving away something for free when someone signs up. Make sure this will be easy for you to manage. Some upfront work, but once done should run smoothly without much interference.

You have a lot to say and to share with your customers/fans but you need a way to connect with them.

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6 Facebook Contests You Should Run Today

Brands and businesses are always looking for ways to increase engagement on their Facebook Pages. Sharing content, doing video and sharing photos is something that’s easy enough to schedule or post, but running a contest may be something you have not tried. No matter what kind of business you are, you can run a successful, easy contest on your Facebook page.

The more engagement you have on your page the better your ranking will be. What does that mean? Facebook uses Machine Learning, which is an algorithm that has more than 1000 factors involved. Engagement is a piece of this algorithm. Facebook uses this to make determinations on delivering your content organically (what’s left of this anyway).

(Note: you’ve heard of EdgeRanking, but this algorithm has been dead in the Facebook world for quite some time. The word is still used to suggest ranking but the technical EdgeRanking is not used.)

 

First, let me just mention a few things before I give you some concepts that are used.

  • Please make sure that the prize you are giving away matches what you’re asking people to do. If you’re giving away a coupon asking your followers to participate in a photo contest where they have to get likes on their photos etc, it may not be enough. Make sure you think it through on the prize piece to your contest.
  • Be clear on your contests of when they start and when they end and exactly how they must enter to win along with how they would go about claiming their prize. You don’t want the winner to have to reach out to you for clarification or next steps. Make it clear in your launch what they can expect if they win.
  • Don’t ask too much of someone. Overall, don’t ask them to do 10 things to get entered. It’s social media. Unless you’re giving away a car or 10k, keep it simple and dumb it down.
  • Take time on the graphic(s) that you use for your contest. You need to make it appealing for someone to stop and take notice to your contest. Make it look spiffy, sleek or cool.
  • Follow through after the contest. Thank everyone and make a big deal about the winner.
  • Don’t just do it once and done. You may not be successful the first time, or even the second time, but keep at it. People will catch on.
  • You will need to moderate and monitor. Running a contest on Facebook means you’ll have to keep your eye on things until the contest is done. So a bit more work, make sure you pick a contest that you can manage and maintain. You don’t want to bite off more than you can manage. If you’re already having a hard time responding timely or responding make sure you pick something that is easy to handle.
  • You’ll need a semi decent fan base for this to be successful. Not only in numbers but in qualified followers.

Below you’re going to find a few simple and easy to execute contest “concepts” for you to start using right away on your Facebook Business Page.

  1. Like And Win – The most common contest that you’ll see being used on Facebook is the Like To Win contest. Simple enough, your follower(s) only need to Like the post to be entered to win. The key to this is all in the image (or video). Have it make sense for someone to like the post.
  2. Comment and Win – Just like the Like To Win Contest, this works the same way, but the contestant must comment on the post. Again, focus on the graphic and image that you’re asking someone to comment on. This can be serious about your business (maybe a new, what do you think of this new product) or it can fun and humorous (great for holidays).
  3. Fill In the Blank – We’ve all probably participated in some of these. Ask them to fill in the blank to a statement or sentence. The best results will be things that are actually very easy to answer. The idea here is to get the comment in your feed, not to stump someone. Don’t make it obscure, make it easy for someone to find the answer (unless that’s what your business is, to stump people).
  4. Photo Contest – One of my favorites. This is a fun way to engage with your fans or customers. Ask them to post a photo and you can either pick the winner yourself or even better, the photo with the most likes wins. This allows them to solicit likes from their friends list. If they want to win they will ask for the likes and share. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.
  5. Caption This Photo – Another fun way to engage. Have a silly photo? Have your fans to put a caption on it. The idea gets people creative and at time silly. What I find is if someone puts a caption that they think is witty or smart they tag their friends to see it. People like to know they were/are funny. You can select a winner by the one that is the best, most likes, etc.
  6. Crowdsource – You can use your fans by asking them a question to help you make a decision. This could be something like a new product design, colors to something or even a new logo or branding design. You present options and they pick their favorite to help you develop you or your business. This accomplishes not only engagement but also finding and collecting data on your fans and what they like or don’t like. This here is one of my favorites. DON’T FORCE THIS! Make it real, don’t force it, it will show. This should be natural and something that is actually relevant to you or your business.

Get out there and try one or all of these out and see what works best for you. Keep at it. You may have some wacky contests that don’t go over so well but don’t let that discourage you. You’ll get better at doing them, from images to moderating, keep at it and good luck.

Don’t Waste Your Time On Unproductive Meetings

Time is so precious when you’re an entrepreneur and business owner. The day can slip right by and before you know it your to do list has no check marks on it. The frustration and feeling of overwhelm settle in real fast! One of the biggest problems I see with business owners is they do not know how to effectively run a meeting or even worse, get value out of the meeting itself. I’ve put together some tips that I think you’ll find useful in helping you with meeting time management.

Here are your tips:

  1. Don’t take a meeting just to be nice. I know I know, we all want to be liked and hear everyone out. Know that it’s ok to say NO. If you’re already behind on things and someone wants to meet with you on something not relevant to the immediate moment it’s ok to not take the meeting. Even more importantly, if you know you’re not interested in what someone has to offer, move on. It’s always good to hear options and opinions of others but be mindful of where your time is actually going.
  2. Set an Agenda. This is so simple and I do it all the time. This doesn’t have to be some major power point presentation. Jot down some bullet points that you want to be sure you accomplish. We’ve all gone to a meeting and someone over takes the meeting with what they want to accomplish and you forget what you wanted to say or ask. We’ve all been there and done it. Write down the topics that you want to get answers for or discuss. If you know that the person you’re meeting with needs some guidance, by all means, share your agenda with them. You would be surprised at how they come more prepared. Nothing like asking a bunch of questions and they say, “I’ll look into it and get back to you”. What’s the point of the meeting if you’re not getting answers. Share the agenda and have them begin formulating answers or what your needs are before the meeting.
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    Are the somebodies in the room? You will want to make sure that the right people are in the room when you have your meeting. The people that are important to the subject and can add value to it. Also, look around in your meetings and find out who is in meetings that maybe shouldn’t be. Maybe their time could be used elsewhere within your organization. I like to have a meeting sometimes with one or two people before I bring all parties involved. Knowing that the meeting can get derailed or off track with so many bodies in the room.

  4. Reel ‘em in. If you have someone that is getting off topic (we all know who that is) it’s ok to say, “Let’s shelve that topic for next week” or “Let’s talk about that another time, we really have a lot already on the agenda today”. People may feel butt hurt, but you’re there to accomplish something, do it.
  5. DON’T BE LATE. Start the meeting on the agreed upon time. A few minutes of small talk is ok, but keep it brief. Also, n my corporate days I was known to have an 8-minute rule. After 8 minutes I leave or hang up (if it’s a conference call). It actually became a joke with some clients and they would say “I just made it, it wasn’t 8 minutes yet was it?” But they knew. Your time is valuable! This sets a culture that’s going to make all your meetings much more successful.
  6. Make them long enough to accomplish what you came to do. Nothing like sitting in a meeting for hours only to not accomplish much. I always say if a meeting is scheduled for an hour I shoot for 40 minutes. The 20 minutes is the buffer. Be aware that some people can’t be productive after a 2-hour span. I try to keep my one on ones under 2 hours, anything longer you start losing people.
  7. Know who’s on first. When the meeting is done review all the agenda items and make sure you have a clear outline of who is handling what or what next steps need to be taken. I always love following the meeting up with an outline of this to the parties involved. I use to have one person dedicated to being a note taker at each meeting (this would alter to different people each meeting) and they would be responsible for the Post Mortem notes to everyone. It’s very effective and allows for simple and easy follow up by everyone involved.

I went back and read my tips above and I sound like a complete hard ass, but I am. I want to make sure that time is being used appropriately and that something is getting done. You’re here to run a business and nothing like wasting your valuable time. Hope these help. Tell me what you do to make your meetings run without a hitch?