If you’re running a successful small business, you know that there’s a reason that it has maintained its success: You have worked hard to make sure that it has been marketed and sold to the public properly. You’re already familiar with the good-old-fashioned sandwich board with chalk lettering, but now that it’s a little larger than it used to be your small business needs to keep up with the most current marketing trends in order to stay relevant. Not sure what the hottest goings-on are in the marketing world?
A Killer Website
When building your website, make sure that it focuses on a few small, yet specific items that will really help you stand out:
- A clear description of you and your business, highlighting your company’s origins, what you do and how you do it best. Tell your story with words, but a few well-placed pictures in your About section can hit home with consumers. For example, if you construct window wells, show some examples of the finished products that you are most proud of. Explain how you got into the business while focusing on the craftsmanship of your work and how clean the finished product is to really wow potential clients.
- Contact information that is current, up-to-date and easy to find. When you’re trying to get in touch with a business and can’t find a phone number or email address anywhere, it can get frustrating in a hurry. Make it easy for your customers.
- Content and blog posts that are informative and interesting, but also fresh and current. Have you ever read a top ten list that promised to be something “you’ve never seen” only to turn out to be the same recycled stuff you’ve already seen everywhere else online? Well-researched and thoughtful blog posts are more important than you might realize.
It seems to be a common misconception that a website needs to be expensive in order to be amazing. This is not the case at all! Many different services will host your website for a steal, allowing you to tweak and customize all the details you want.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
If you want your business to show up on a Google or Bing search then SEO is critical. SEO is a technique that uses common terms from search engines like Google to help boost traffic to your website. Do you ever wonder how certain businesses or products seem to float to the top of the Google page when you look up a certain term? That’s not simply internet magic, there is real engineering behind the results at the top.
- Many companies will hire SEO specialists to help them with this aspect of marketing. These professionals are analytical minds who know how to research, track data and notate trends. Moreover, they are well-versed in analyzing data and understanding how to make the most of it.
- Partnering with other websites is immensely helpful too. Have you ever noticed while you’re reading a blog that certain words in an article are hyperlinked? Again, this is SEO at work. Companies will buy ad space from blogs and websites with a link back to their own website in a strategically-placed keyword. If you’ve ever clicked a link that you’ve read in an article, then you are helping that business owner’s statistics for the day.
- Have an online presence. You might love Pinterest for its cupcake recipes and Facebook for the pictures of your family, but social media for business is a powerful tool. You are promoting your business, company and products all at once every time you post a status update for your company — especially if you’re also using sneaky SEO keywords in your status updates!
Online Reviews: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Good work deserves to be recognized, so if your customers leave your business happy and smiling then encourage them to leave you a positive online review. Even something as simple as a one-line five-star review can help boost your reputation substantially and be the deciding factor in whether or not a patron decides to visit your establishment.
Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. If someone leaves a scathing review online then it can be seriously damaging in many ways. 92% of online shoppers read reviews before giving their business to a company, which means that a negative review may well make a customer decide not to visit. At the moment that you read these reviews, it can be a natural reflex to snap back and reply to the reviewer in anger. By all means, do NOT do that. Follow the rules of etiquette and be polite, prompt and professional. Deciding to use shaming and name-calling can make you seem immature and irrational and will have a more negative impact than the review itself.
However, remember that you should be responding to all reviews, positive or negative. It shows customers that yes, you are there reading the reviews and that yes, you are actively participating in discussions. It can be hard to respond politely to the negative ones, but the bottom line is that everyone is entitled to their opinion.
Keeping up with the trends of marketing is a neverending battle, but if you love what you do then it’s a battle worth fighting. Stay up-to-date on what is happening in the marketing world to be sure that your business is always fresh in the public’s minds.