It’s the goal of every business to grow and expand and to increase their bottom line – cash flow – but what happens when you go big, will your business cope?
The scenario plays out so many times in so many industries. A once amazing business known for its customer service or product quality soon gets so popular they are struggling to keep up with demand. The struggles bring about poor quality, missed opportunities and sometimes negative press and complaints.
act like a big business from the start
When starting my business, I was once told to act like a big business from the start. By this they meant have processes in place for everything, action plans and a solid business plan and outlook. I knew what I wanted to achieve and to this day, I still aim for the same key goals.
Starting and running a business without a plan for when things do go big, and your brand can be called a success, is like running a 10km marathon when you struggle to walk briskly. You need to be prepared. There must be a plan set in place for when things get busier. Will you put on more staff, will you limit your intake of work, is there an option to franchise or open other locations for your brand?
Go Big or Go Home
In the end, the goal is to run a successful and profitable business, right? I will add to this. Not only do you want it to be profitable, I believe you also need it to be healthy.
By this, I refer to the coping mechanisms built into the business structure. What happens when work load increases, is there extra staff on call, do you have the raw materials to increase production and most importantly, is your staff and management happy? Happiness is a huge factor these days when running a business.
The most successful business owners and entrepreneurs enjoy what they do. This can be tricky, depending on the business. Many business owners like to keep a finger in every pie so they know the ins and outs of daily business. Others prefer a manager that reports to them with updates on business progress, problems and news. Your individual traits can affect which scenario works best for your situation.
It Starts at the Top
Happiness flows from the top, just like a waterfall. If management are happy, there is a good chance they will endeavour to ensure the employees are also happy. Happy, or satisfied employees will be more productive, and in turn will affect the bottom line of the business through quality work, customer service or loyalty – maybe all three.
To be happy at the top, you need to feel like you are in control. The best way to be in control of your business is to recognise where it is currently, where it is heading and what hurdles could be expected along the way. An action plan, strategy or business plan with key indicators of goals and milestones will help with this.
Don’t Kill your Brand Before It Blooms
Most importantly, make sure your brand has a game plan. When things do get busier, don’t let what made your business the success it is today wither away. Strengthen it through smart staffing, better processes and goal setting.
I am sure we can all think about a business that was once great and now is just another brand. When it comes to the success of your business, sure it could be all about the money, but that won’t last if you ignore the important factors like production and staff growth, project acquisition limits and happiness throughout the brand.
I hope my two cents has inspired you to go back and look at your brand and see where it can improve and think about what makes it successful, is it the people, your processes, or the product?
As always, we’d love for you to come back and read more about business building and branding. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter, read our eBook, or check out the blog. Our focus is on creating a better searchable online presence for brands, as well as improving key sales factors like call to actions, accessibility and streamlined background processes.
A major downfall of many business owners is that they are not open to new ideas, new technology and options that they are not familiar with. Not only can this hold your business back, it can make your brand look a little out dated or behind the times.
Clear your mind of No.
It’s not about listening to everyone and doing what the others are doing in your field, it is considering all options and working out what would work best with your brand and audience.
Many people are undecided about social media, and choose not to have a Facebook account for themselves. This could be due to privacy concerns or the time restraints. That’s fine, but it does not mean your business should miss out. Social media is a great way to show a more personal side of your business and give insight to your audience about what you do. It also creates an informal channel of communication that can often lead to some great feedback.
Whether you are on social media or not, there is a high chance your brand might already be. People will turn to social media and talk about brands before they contact the business itself to discuss an issue. There is an old phrase, if you aren’t talking about your brand on social media, someone else is.
Ok, so you read an article about online advertising and search engine optimisation, and you are clear in your head that you need ads on Facebook and Google, and those ones that follow people around the web. From things you have read, SEO is old school and no longer relevant, its marketing agencies trying to take more money from business owners and it no longer makes a difference.
You are more than entitled to having an opinion, my only advice would be to try it for your brand first. Split your marketing budget to try both the pay per click ads and the SEO campaign. Even if only for 3 months, you will soon know what gets you a better return on investment, and which will create more permanent and targeted traffic in the long term.
Everyone is an Expert Now.
It’s true, our world is full of keyboard warriors and instant gurus that don’t hesitate to shove their opinion in your face. Don’t believe everything you read.
Be sure to get the facts and do your research. Many stories online are money making ploys or sales funnels, others are Chinese-whispers, and even more these days are from uneducated people making out to be the expert in their field.
Why do people claim to know it all and offer you their opinions, advice and secrets? From a web marketing point of view, it sells. The internet allows you to be as big or small as you want, and one way to rank best on Google is to prove yourself as an authority in your field of work, as well as being popular.
This can be shown by creating authoritative content and guest posts on news sites, as well as increasing social signals through social sharing and promoted content.
As a business owner, it is important to get the facts, read the fine print, and more importantly, get multiple opinions. Don’t get dragged in to a sales funnel just because their sales pitch is perfect. It won’t always fit best with your brand.
Where to get the best advice for your brand.
So you have read lots of articles, visited forums, and compared pricing, what now? Talk to other businesses in your field, network through groups like Business Enterprise Centers and local marketing networking groups. Rather keep it to yourself? Research your competitors using keyword research tools, and backlink analysis. This will help give you an idea of what they are doing online such as creating articles, helpful tutorials and guides, search ads and social media page posts.
When you see what is working for your competition, consider the pricing and see if you can do something similar or more developed. Having a great marketing strategy will help your brand get in front of the right audience, and its essential to find out who your perfect client is and where they can be found.
In 2017, focus for online marketing will be on mobile users, as more people search from smartphones and smart devices, and use both search engines and apps to discover products and services. Be sure to optimise your stragety to include mobile search.
Xmedia Digital Solutions can help you target more of your ideal audience through targeted SEO campaigns, content creation and authoritative link building. We can help develop your brand in to the authority it needs to be to get both traffic and sales. Ask about a free marketing strategy today.
Yours in marketing, and all the best for the new year,
Where do you search for products and services? Google?
For most people, and more and more these days, search is being done on mobile and tablet devices through Google search. Everyone is looking for the quick and easy way to do everything, and doing a quick search on Google beats the phone book or local directory almost every time.
Spend your marketing budget wisely
When it comes to deciding on where to invest your marketing budget, there are a myriad of options to consider including your traditional media such as radio and television, as well as so many different ways to spend both time and money online. But which one works best?
That depends on your business model, product or service and where your ideal audience can be found. Even though I have helped people with print marketing, video and radio copy, my primary focus has always been on digital marketing. Why? Because it works!
Spending $40,000 a year on radio advertising might help create brand awareness, or promote that special event, but when it comes to getting found at a time of need, online marketing wins every time. Even when people hear your radio ad, many listeners jump on their phone or tablet to look you up online, check out your website or find out more about what was just advertised.
I just heard about an airshow coming up, first thing I did was hit Google to find the official website or Facebook page for details. Even when it comes to shopping, most of my Christmas present ideas get researched and bought online.
So the smart budget is spent making sure that when people do search for you or your product online, they find you!
Getting on Page 1 of Google
It is not as hard as you think. Don’t think that your website has to be in the number 1 spot on Google search results every time someone types in your product or service. Do you really think your competitors don’t want the same thing?!
The secret here is to be everywhere!
First things first, directory listings. List your business everywhere you can that is either a local or industry-related directory. Use the exact same Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) you have listed on your website, this will help keep things clear with Google.
Next up, get listed on Google and Apple maps. Both are simple to get on to and they’re free listings. With smartphones making getting directions easy, you need to make sure you can get found.
While you are at it, be sure to fill in your business details with Google Business. This will help Google know more about your business, and also links with your Google map listings. It also allows you to add images and content that will get seen on Google search results. Pay particular attention to your opening hours, business description and profile image.
Once you have a Google Business listing, you can also start monitoring your online reviews on Google, and even asking people to create a review for you. We refer to this content as user-generated content. Like I say to all my clients: rather than you telling me how good your business is, let others tell me and it will build a sense of trust. Same goes with social media reviews and shares.
Which brings me to the next point of attention – social media signals. You don’t have to be on all of them. Stick to the ones you can manage. I usually recommend Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram. Social signals are starting to get results with Google search. Remember to post regularly and keep it slightly personal. Social media is about showing what is behind that big corporate brand or shop front. Let the public meet the people behind the brand.
Next up, Google Ads. Yep, it seems Google is giving text ads (Adwords) a good spot on their search results page (SERP) right up the top. On mobile devices, these are some of the first results we see. Before anyone sees any website results, Google usually shows about 3-4 text ads, Google business and map listings, followed by either more ads or the organic results. So text ads are a great way to put your brand in the results even before your website is ranking well, although it is not cost effective for all business types. Depending on your industry and competition from your competitors, it can become a very costly campaign with some clicks costing more than $10 with no guarantee of a sale or enquiry.
Advertising spans across a whole heap of platforms including social media, search and Google’s display network. You can also look at remarketing, which targets users that have landed on your website already. This gives you a second chance at getting a sale or enquiry from them. Different platforms work better for different brands and business models.
When it comes to choosing advertising, think a lot about your ideal audience or customer. What is their age group, where would you find them online, and what would they be looking for? Same goes for social media, if you are targeting business users you might want to utilise Linkedin or Twitter whilst others chasing brand awareness and feedback might find Facebook better. It comes down to research and testing.
Long term Investment for a Better Rank on Google
So you are listed everywhere you can find online, you are using social media, you can be found on Apple and Google maps, and people can review your business online. What now?
CONTENT!! Google is a search engine that looks for great content. Bottom line…. CONTENT IS KING!
Don’t believe all those spammy emails from offshore marketing agencies selling you cheap SEO or links for your website. Google’s search algorithm is smarter than you might think. Spam links and over optimisation will get you penalised resulting a lower organic search result.
Buying links is considered BLACK HAT. Evil. It might be tempting when you hear how fast they can help you get ranked, but in the long term, you could be throwing all that money down the drain when Google drops you off the results page totally. Stay clean, both for Google search and for your online audience.
Seriously, both Google and your online readers want the same thing……
Seriously, both Google and your online readers want the same thing – Answers to their questions, whether that is about pricing, images or product details, they want and NEED to be able to find out easily. Or they’ll just go elsewhere.
To do this, we need to make sure your website is optimised with all the necessary tags, metadata and content Google needs. We also need to make sure your navigation is simple to use on both mobile and desktop browsers, and gives people an easy way to find what they need. Here is a simple checklist I prepared earlier – click here for my website SEO checklist.
Once your site is optimised, keep it fresh with updated content. Start a blog page or share your latest updates. This will both give your readers a reason to stay on your site and even come back to read your updates, but will also keep the website relevant and current with Google’s search bots.
A decent blog post needs to be at minimum, 500-1000 words long. Remember your H1 header tags, and use internal linking to show off other pages and posts on your site.
When it comes to sharing content on your social media pages, use your newly created blog posts. Not only does this reduce you writing about the same thing twice, but it will also bring new readers to your website. If done right, they may even check out your other blog posts or even make a website enquiry. Wooohooo!
A great website and content is a perfect start to any SEO campaign, but now it’s time we need to tell Google search how good your site is. How? Back links! We already have some created – remember all those local and business directory listings?
Backlinks are external links from other sites pointing to your site. This shows that your site is worth checking out as other people are pointing/referring to it. The more the better. The trick here is making them look as natural and organic as possible. Many marketing agencies will tell you to use keywords or your product name in the anchor text for each link. Hmmm…. this can cause grief. Google hates over optimisation. We usually stick to a 90/10 rule. 90% of links look natural, whilst 10% contain keyword specific anchor text. What is a natural link? Think URLs, business names, blank entries, etc.
That 10% we mentioned, it also helps if those links are coming from other sites that are already ranking really well. The more authority they have with Google, and if they are related to your industry or product, the better! If it comes from a trustworthy site like a .edu or .gov website, even better!
Where do you find backlinks? You make them. Remember me saying content is king? This applies with backlinking too. Guest posts and blogs on other sites are are great way to both show your authority and knowledge in your field, as well as create links back to your site. You can also troll forums and groups online to help out with comments and feedback. Most of these sites will allow you to link back to your website.
In my business, I use a pyramid shaped SEO plan for most clients with the main site being at the top. The second row will consist of a well written and created website with links back to the main site. From here, the third and fourth row sites will focus on different keywords and categories and link to specific pages on the second row sites. The rows below these will then build up bulk pointing to all of the above except the main site. By using well written articles written about my client’s product or service, we are providing great content for Google to find, and then by using a mix of link anchor text, we are building our 90/10 ratio of backlinks I need.
Of course this takes time, and building it up will usually take 2-3 months. It all depends on both the competition and the industry. Most important thing to remember is to keep it all legit. Google and your readers are looking for great content, help them find it. That is the bottom line. If you give them the best information, along with great call to actions to enquire or buy, you will be the winner.
If you can do all this yourself, awesome! Start now as the longer you are doing it for, the sooner your results will come through. Don’t have the time or the skillset to do this? Why not get someone like me to do it for you? We keep our campaigns transparent and our pricing is better than most agencies I know. Give your business some great options, contact me today and we can discuss what you are looking to achieve and my options and pricing to get that result.
ARE YOU AN AGENCY? We help other marketing agencies outsource their SEO campaigns to us, as well as content creation and website troubleshooting. We’d love to hear from you!
With all the social media accounts we manage and setup, I get a lot of interest in Instagram, people asking whether they need to have an Instagram account for their business page, or is it worth doing for their brand. In short, yes!
The platform is a great way to create a community, use pictures to attract the right audience, as well as linking in with it’s parent company Facebook for advertising.
The Right Tools for the Job.
Now it’s like everything else in business, you need to use the right tools for the job. In this case, Instagram requires you to be active in finding your audience. How do you do this?
Find other brands in your field and look at their users and like counts. If you find an image has got a high number of likes and comments along with the type of audience you are looking to create for your brand, examine the post and work out what brought those people there.
Use hashtags. Love ’em or hate ’em Hashtags make the world go round on Instagram. They help people find what they are looking for, relevant posts and brands they want to follow. Try searching a few things you like and see what hashtags the post has used. The secret to hashtags is using them the right way. More on that in a sec.
Create a bio that tells all about your brand as well as creating that want for more. Try a giveaway such as a free ebook. The Instagram bio is the one place where a URL link will actually work so don’t waste the opportunity. It is often beneficial to create a landing page just for users from Instagram to land on. Make it an offer to obtain or learn something. It is a great way to help build your mailing list!
Use quality images! I can’t stress this enough. Think about what gets your attention when scrolling through a feed of images. If you aren’t creating your own, be sure to use quality stock images, and upload them in the right size to match the layout – 1080px by 1080px for square photos, 1080 by 1350 for vertical photos, and 1080 by 566 for horizontal photos.
Timing your posts is super important. Try to work out when your ideal audience gets online. A lot of the time, this comes down to trial and error, you will need to try a few posts until you get this sorted, then go for gold!
To Hashtag or Not to Hashtag.
You either hate them or love them, the hashtag has become one of this centuries well known words, often associated with the duck face and selfie crowd, they can be evil, but also oh sooo good for your branding.
Think about a hashtag or tag, as sorting for posts and images. If you had a whole heap of photos, you might sort some into family, some into business and the rest into randomness. On Instagram, we can do this by using hashtags. For example, a photo of you and the kids might use the hashtag #family or #lovedones
Try searching using hashtags and it will help you get a better understanding and appreciation of the tool. Now create a list of hashtags that are relevant to your audience. Once again, look at posts from other brands similar to yours and see what attracts the most. Super important: Don’t just use your brand name for hashtags. Especially when you are just starting out, no one is going to be looking for it. Throw it amongst a few other hashtags.
How much of a good thing is too much? The sky is the limit with hashtags, but we usually recommend a max limit of around 25 – 30. Sometimes it can be beneficial to break your list up. Post some below your post content, and the rest in the comment section. Try revisiting older posts and put relevant hashtags in the comments section. With the right tags, you will see this post being found again. A great way to recreate traffic to older yet still important posts!
There is a saying that keeps popping up in my life….
YOU CAN GO TO WORK, OR YOU CAN BE THE BOSS
Having always worked for someone since I left school those many years ago, the idea of running my own business was super daunting, and not something I believed I wanted to do at the start.
As I progressed into management roles and learnt how small and medium business worked, I found myself inspired to get in on this whole business owner thing. Nothing happened for a while as I had a good job and a family that depended on me. Of course, life’s rollercoaster has it’s ups and downs and paths you never even imagined.
In 2009 I started my own business. A computer tech support business that looked after home users and small business clients. This rose from my helpdesk background and the constant flow of jobs from mates and family (yep, you know the ones!).
Whilst things were going great working my new business on the side of my job, I saw opportunity to grow it even bigger. Could this become my full time job/career?
Fast forward 5 years and my business has developed from offering that original tech support role to looking after small business owners and entrepreneurs creating awesome web stuff: social media pages and content, adverts, websites and landing pages, logos and more. And I do this full time!
I am very passionate about my business as a lot of you may know. I have tried to stay true to my origins of being a bit of a tech head, hence my own sites and content are usually not as “arty” as some other marketing agencies, but I think that makes my brand different.
To build my business up on the side of my regular day job, I resorted to social media for creating my brand.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS EVIL YET OH SO GOOOOD!!!
Over the past few years, I have come across many get rich quick and join the new rich schemes. I call them schemes because so many of them seem to offer huge rewards with minimal work. I CALL BULLSHIT! If you want a business that is here for the long run and brings consistent income, you need to work hard. Bottom line. If it was as easy as copying and pasting the perfect business model and renaming it, everyone would have done it…. oh wait, everyone is trying to do it.
Yes, there are those that are raking in the big bucks, but this usually comes down to making a commission on conning someone else into selling this business model, the actual product is the business model. Hmmm…..
Social media has a lot to answer for in some ways, with many people creating a profile that looks amazing on the outside, but represents nothing about their true self. Maybe that is the beauty of the internet. Anyway, I stray from my point. Social Media gave me an opportunity to create my brand online. It was something I could share ideas and articles on and create the brand awareness I needed to build my business with.
We still get at least 80% of our client referrals from social media in some way or form. Combine this with leads created from Google search generated website traffic and I had created a lead generating machine. The fact that I could utilise Google and Facebook ads to find customers who were actually looking for someone like me amazed me, and still does. This is what the internet was for. If it isn’t matching couples up for dates, it is connecting business owners with their target audience. #LongLiveTheInternet
Create a Niche baby!
In developing my business, I found that whilst I tried to offer and take on everything, this actually killed my business, both in time and reputation. I didn’t want to be a one man jack of all trades, master of none. It was time to get specific. Time the NICHE WAS CREATED! (cue amazing music.. ta da!).
When my partner and I started looking through my client list, the work I was getting more of, (and what seemed to get the most return business) was for entrepreneurs and startups. Yep, so many people were trudging down the same path as me, creating that on the side business model and dreaming of going big. Many of them would come to me when they had decided their business was viable, enjoyable and would benefit from getting a whole heap busier!
Enter the Small Business Brand Marketing model. We decided to not let this information sit uselessly on my desk. We put into place a new business plan and product offerings. Although we still take on the occasional server and network setup jobs, we now focus on offering total startup solutions from logo designs and stationary to all your marketing needs including websites, social media, online advertising and offline print marketing. With my partner Brydie being the graphic design guru, it was the perfect model for us to take on.
Dreaming of a Better Life…..
I must also put it out there, that I had a reason to push this so much. I had a goal. A want. A need!
My family is everything to me, my two boys and beautiful soulmate. If my business could work around family appointments, school events and emergencies, that would be the bomb! By becoming my own boss, I have created that flexibility, and working in the realm of website and online advert creating, it allows me to stagger my working hours into early or late hours of the day. Some days I find myself plugging away at the keyboard at 2 or 3am in the morning. By the way, this is the best time to work online! Super fast internet, no phone calls and beautiful night time serenity.
And here I am, Look at me now!
It doesn’t seem like it has been 6 years but when I look back at how I got here I can see why it took so long. There was a lot of trial and error along the ride, and jobs I took on due to insecurities I wish I hadn’t. Now that I am working in my perfect role, I get great satisfaction in telling others how I got here, how I tried to always remember that big picture, and what tools I used to help me along the way.
A Goal is a Dream with A Deadline.
Along with my business team at Xmedia Digital Solutions, I now help other small business owners create their business dreams and reach their goals of more clients, returning business and monthly revenue. I have escaped that 9 to 5 rat race I thought I loved at first, but now don’t miss at all.
There have been people that have inspired me along the way, both with business ideas, motivation and personal development. I’d definitely check out the following guys.