business tips

  1. 6 Benefits of Hiring a Consultant Before Launching a New Business Online

    You have decided to take the plunge and become a business owner.

    You are excited…and perhaps a bit scared, but most of all, eager to get your brainchild off the ground and moving forward.

    However, there are just a few obstacles to doing this – especially in regards to crafting a web presence that does all you need it to do. These actions may range slightly from business to business; which is why meeting with a consultant who is knowledgeable about the web (and all its many little quirks and perks) is crucial to the growth and success of any new business.

    Why You Should Hire a Consultant BEFORE Launching a New Business Online

    “Now what?” you might ask. Or more specifically, “What do I need to know in order to successfully launch my new business? And, do I really need a consultant?”

    To answer in reverse: Yes, you need a business consultant who can guide you through the many facets of building and boosting your business. Why? Because there are many decisions and actions that need to be addressed before you can anticipate your company’s website appearing on page 1 of the search results.

    So why should you work with a business consultant? Consider these advantages:

    1. You get an outside perspective.  This allows you to work out the issues before going public.
    2. It gives you someone to bounce ideas off of (someone who also isn’t afraid to be completely transparent with you)
    3. They will help you find resources to make your business more efficient.
    4. They offer the skills and knowledge you may not possess.
    5. They can work with employees to help them (and you) reach goals.
    6. They help position you to better handle (and embrace) change.

    Depending on your type of business, the “approach” and “necessary actions” might vary.  Not only will speaking with a consultant help you to flesh this out, but they will ultimately save you both time and money. Here are just a few elements a consultant might help with.

    Branding Your Business

    When building your company, you must create a consistent brand. This is more than a logo or slogan…but rather, how you present yourself and/or your product to the world. Yes, it includes things like your logo, slogan and colors used, but it is much more! Here are the elements to focus on in branding your business:

    Logo– Your logo needs to be easily identified and representative of what you offer. It is wise to work with a professional graphic designer, as they will create your logo in such a way that it will fashion itself nicely with everything you email, produce, etc.

    USP – A business acronym for Unique Selling Proposition, the USP reflects how you engage with your audience on your website, social media platforms, and review sites. It will also factor in how you present your products so that you differentiate yourself from any competition.

    Branding Guide – This refers to your website and marketing materials. By working with a graphic designer and website development team, you can be sure that aspects such as the color palette, typography, theme, etc. will all tell the story you want to be heard by your targeted audience.

    Story? Yes, your brand will have a story. Think about companies such as Apple, Ford, Coke and other well-known businesses. Part of what makes them stand out is that their story allows people to connect to them. The founders of these companies were visionaries who were not afraid to take risks. As you talk to a consultant about your new venture, they can help you develop your company’s brand, story, why you started your business and what it means to you. Be sure to share this with your graphic designer, as this knowledge will help them help you on your journey of success.

    Building a Website

    If you watch TV or web ads, the implication is anybody can build their own successful website and easily be in the top search results for their field or industry. The reality – while anyone can use a tool such as Wix or WordPress, this doesn’t mean they can merely press a few keys, add a bit of verbiage and images, and voila! A successful website! No. A successful website is much more than that. Here are some website building factors to keep in mind:

    Choose a domain name that is:

    • As short as possible, easy to spell and to remember
    • Free of hyphens or numbers
    • Using the proper extension (.com, .net, .org, etc.)
    • Registered trademark free and not similar to another existing site
    • A SEO-friendly URL
    • Select a scalable website host known for having dependable tech support. There are several hosting options available, so be sure to talk to a website developer and learn what they recommend for your needs!
    • Introduce yourself quickly. Do this with a homepage banner (AKA “hero image”) and any other banners that visually represent who you are and what you do (you will want text with this info as well). Also, be certain that you have an easy-to-find About Us tab in both your main and footer navigation menus.
    • Choose a CMS (Content Management System) that will work for your needs. Some of these include WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Drupal, and Joomla.
    • Do you intend to sell things? If so, then you will need an e-commerce platform such as WooCommerce, Shopify or one of the others.
    • To ensure that your company will leave a positive impression on guests, you will want to create interesting and engaging content to prove your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.SEO – Referring to Search Engine Optimization:  This is done through determining keywords for your website, social media use, marketing campaigns and any other content you produce (NOTE:  Incorporate them whenever possible – but not to excess!). However, SEO is more than just keywords. It also includes the following:
      1. Optimal website code
      2. Fast page-loading speeds
      3. An SSL certificate (this lets guests know your site is safe and secure)
      4. Implementing a mobile-friendly website
      5. High-quality back links (both internal and external)
      6. Lots of positive reviews on sites like Yelp, Facebook, Google, etc.
      7. Using Social Media to link to your site
      8. Making frequent updates to your site in the form of blogs, video content, pics, etc. so that search engines know your website is active.
      9. Your business consultant may not know all the ins and outs of building a website, but it’s a safe bet that they know someone who does.

    How to Get Reviews

    As referenced above, positive reviews are an important part of building a successful business. Your consultant is sure to agree that reviews are a must. But how can you get those reviews? Here are a few suggestions:

    • Set up accounts on several platforms. Yelp and Google are some of the most well-known; but also look for any industry-specific locations where reviews can be given. Don’t forget sites like Angie’s List, Houzz, and the BBB.
    • Create customer incentives (free products, downloads, etc.) for leaving a review.
    • Ask open-ended questions.
    • Respond to every review – especially the negative ones!
    • Share positive customer feedback you have already received.
    • Personally ask your customer if they would mind leaving a review.
    • Send review request emails, i.e. after the customer has made the purchase or received the item.

    How to Set up a Google My Business Page

    Google My Business is a free tool for businesses that allow you to manage your online presence. It works in conjunction with Google maps and search, enabling you to be found by search queries. When set up, you can post images, links to your website, contact info and an assortment of other information.

    Though not an extremely difficult process, setting up Google My Business is often best done by a website developer who understands the nuances of Google My Business. To feed your curiosity, here is a quick breakdown of the basics:

    1. Go to Google My Business and click Sign In.
    2. Sign in to your Google account (or create one), then click Next.
    3. Enter your business address. You can also indicate if you want your business location to appear on Google Maps.
    4. Search for and select a business category. Click Next.
    5. Enter a phone number or website URL, then click Finish.
    6. Select a verification option.
    7. Review your business information.

    Marketing

    Marketing your business is a crucial part of building your company; but sometimes knowing the best marketing approach can be tough. Enter your business consultant. They will be able to look at the crucial elements – talent (writers, artists, developers, etc.), processes (workflow, budgeting, campaign creation) and, technology – with a new set of eyes and point out ways to help you get your message out to the masses.

    How Can I leverage Social Media Marketing or Google Ads?

    Having a consultant who understands how to leverage social media and Google Ads is vital. We all know that social media is a critical part of the “big company” approach to getting the word out about a product. But as a small to mid-size business, navigating the Web and social platforms or Google Ads can often be a challenging task.

    If you are considering using any of these options, a consultant can help you determine which social media platforms will best reach your target audience, as well as help you to construct a well written (and designed) ad campaign. They can also help you decide what keywords and phrases will best promote your company if there are other businesses or organizations that you could partner with; help connect you with sponsorships or community outreach endeavors; or perhaps help you determine discounts, sales or promotions. Once the ads are running, they can help you identify which ones are working the best through a process of A/B testing.

    Email Marketing

    Email marking is an essential tool for business; but some companies’ emails are certainly better than others. In fact, a well-designed email marketing campaign can have an ROI as much as 122 percent! So what is it that separates the good email marketing campaigns from the rest? Some key components (though there are many) would involve having a creative design (layout, images, colors), personalizing the emails to your target market, timing, the written copy, and the incentive.

    This can be an overwhelming process, especially if you have never before crafted an email marketing letter or managed an email marketing campaign. Hence, talking to your business consultant can help you make the most of the time and effort involved with producing an effective email marketing campaign.

    Benefits of Blogging

    By now, we are all familiar with blogging. But do you realize how important it really is? A study found that businesses have a 434% higher chance of being ranked highly on search engines if they just blog. In addition, companies that blog have as much as 97% more inbound links. All of this ultimately proves that you can be more successful…just by taking time to write. How successful? Studies have found that websites with active blogs receive 67% more leads (which means a greater likelihood of sales!).

    Other advantages of blogging are as follows:

    • Blogging grows your influence.
    • Blogging offers free publicity. A great way to increase your influence is by guest blogging on another person’s website. Just be sure to have a link back to your website!
    • Blogging attracts your ideal audience and helps others to find you online.
    • Chances are, your competition is blogging. Don’t get beaten just because you don’t like to write. If you don’t like writing, hire a copywriter and give them the topics you would like written about. Set up a schedule and before you know it – you have new blog content on a regular basis.
    • Blogs are known to build community as it encourages people to engage, thus showing more activity on your website.

    Conclusion

    Working with a business consultant doesn’t mean that they will know absolutely everything there is to know about building a website, marketing, or social media. But there are those who understand the value of a positive brand, a usable website, and a strong marketing approach. This type of business consultant will be a boon to any business, and it would certainly be well worth cultivating a relationship with them.

    When you choose a business consultant, be sure you choose one who is knowledgeable and has a great reputation. After all, you are talking about your future as a business owner.

    The Page Progressive team understands the importance of making good business decisions and knows how they can affect your future. Talk to us to learn more about what you need to build a successful web presence and ultimately successful business.

  2. Internet Marketing: 7 Tips to Improve Your Results Now

    Are traffic and engagement on your website less than you hoped for? How are you marketing it? Internet marketing is the umbrella term referring to many avenues for promoting your business online. It includes search engine optimization (SEO), social media, email marketing and more, tactics that drive traffic to your website and engage visitors’ attention once they arrive.

  3. SEO, websites, Raleigh, NC

    SEO Success: 7 Elements That Help Search Engines Work for You

    Anyone creating a business website has probably wondered: If I build it, will ‘they’ come? (like the question made famous in the movie Field of Dreams). Getting targeted traffic to your site is an essential for success of any online endeavor — and SEO (search engine optimization) is a primary means of accomplishing it.

    According to the Wikipedia entry for SEO, the concept has been around since the mid-1990s. (The history of SEO on this page makes an interesting read!) Over the years, both website development and SEO have increased in complexity. But the goal of search engines and the process that drives them remain the same: to provide the most relevant and useful results to a searcher’s query.

  4. eCommerce, mobile shopping

    eCommerce Essentials: 11 Must Haves for Successful Online Stores

    Hopeful entrepreneurs start up thousands of new eCommerce businesses every day. Nine out of 10 of the online ventures will not survive the first year. What makes the difference between eCommerce success and failure? For anyone with an online business or considering one, here’s our list of the top 11 must haves and excerpts from the online ‘buzz’ about them. Also check out Mailchimp’s article on how to start an online store.

    1. A Niche Market

    “Most people who are just starting out make the mistake of looking for a product first, and a market second. To boost your chances of success, start with a market. The trick is to find a group of people who are searching for a solution to a problem, but not finding many results.” Entrepreneur.com

  5. Websites, DIY, Dangers

    6 Dangers of “Do It Yourself” Websites

    Gone are the days when building a website required knowing or learning HTML code. Now there are options galore including Content Management System (CMS) choices such as WordPress and Joomla and free ‘builders’ such as Squarespace, Weebly and Wix.

    Given this landscape, when creating a new site, how do you decide between ‘do it yourself’ (DIY) options and hiring a professional? Both are valid methods that should be weighed based on your particular situation and budget. When deciding, consider these dangers of the DIY route:

  6. Wordpress websites, Raleigh NC

    WordPress Site Security Basics Everyone Needs to Know

    Ever wonder why a hacker would be interested in your website? Think your site is too small or ‘insignificant’ to be hacked?

    It is not uncommon to think a ‘small’ site is immune to malevolent hackers. But the truth is that no site is immune, and small sites are just as likely to fall victim to the attacks as larger ones.

    Knowing some basic information about hacking and how to protect your site is the first step to decreasing your security risk. Here are answers to some common questions about site security:

  7. Marketing with LinkedIn

    LinkedIn Marketing: A Survey of Tips from Social Media Experts

    “LinkedIn is one of the most effective platforms for expanding your reach and improving your business results,” reports a June 2015 article on SocialMediaExplorer.com.

    With 364 million members globally (around one-third of those in the U.S.), LinkedIn is living up to its claim to be the largest professional network. And it’s not only for job-seekers. Recent developments are expanding its reach as a networking and business development tool for businesses of all sizes.

  8. Customer Feedback: Are You Listening?

    Businesses of all sizes have a valuable resource right at hand for improving the success rate of their products and services — yet many often never tap into it. What is it? Customer feedback.

    Recently, Website Magazine featured an article by Kevin Dunne entitled, “Check Your Ego: How to Avoid Killing Customer Feedback,” which addresses the importance of hearing from and listening to your customers.

    “To succeed in a fast-paced world with increasing customer expectations, development teams need agility. Agility means adapting product to customer, and that agility can only come from visibility into what the customer really wants,” writes Dunne.