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.

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! 

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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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?