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Are You Dressing (Your Website) for Success?

website success

Your site doesn’t need a tiara, but it does need to be dressed.

You wouldn’t go to a client meeting in cutoffs and flip-flops. Or attend a business luncheon wearing slippers and a concert t-shirt. You wouldn’t attend a gala in jeans and a tank top. If you wouldn’t wear clothes and hair from 1999, why would you let your website? Website success depends on diligent upkeep.

Your site may be outdated if…

  • You were still using a rotary phone when you launched it.
  • Your backup files are on floppy disk.
  • The kid who built it now has children of his own.
  • The computer you used had a black and amber screen.
  • You scanned polaroid photos to include on it.
  • You were listening to a walkman as you worked on it.
  • You accessed the internet through a dial-up modem, and were thrilled every time you heard the digital handshake connecting you.
  • You printed out a hard copy on your pin-fed, dot matrix printer.

Seriously, though, many business owners put their best foot forward personally – but let their website remain a remnant of design-gone-by.

So what makes a website out-of-date? Here are 6 things to check today.

    1. Your site isn’t responsive. Check your site on a smart phone. If it isn’t easy to use, you have to pinch the screen to expand the page to read it, or if the links aren’t clickable, then your site isn’t mobile responsive. A huge number of your visitors will be visiting your site on a mobile device. Make sure their user experience is easy, and shows that you are up-to-date.

       

    2. Your information isn’t current. Is your phone number correct? Street address? Email address? Logo? If not, you are losing clients who can’t connect with you or find you. Consistent branding (i.e. updated logo) is also a marketing nightmare. Update all of your information. 

       

    3. Most of your text is embedded in images. If so, you’re missing out on web features that read text – not only SEO (search engine optimization) but accessibility for the visually impaired. Use actual text on your site – in headers, buttons, menus, and paragraphs.

       

    4. Video or audio auto-plays as soon as someone lands on your site. This can make for a bad user experience. Imagine your visitor accessing your site from a library, cubicle, or late at night while their significant other is sound asleep. Sound erupting from their laptop can be embarrassing and/or startling to the user and those around them.

       

    5. Your copyright date is out-of-date. This is a sure sign of a neglected website. If you don’t update the copyright, visitors will assume that all of the content is out-of-date.

       

    6. You still have a hit counter on your site, proudly displaying the number of visitors. Once helpful, these now show how ancient your site is. There are so many more ways to gauge analytics for your site, without displaying them to the public.

If any of these apply to your site, it’s time for an update and/or upgrade. Contact your web designer/developer to get changes made to bring you up-to-date. Or if you need to, find a new designer to either update your site, or redesign it to meet current visitor needs. 

A fresh site can make all the difference.

(Need some help, let us know. Contact us here.)

Things You Can Do Today to Grow Your Business

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5 (+1) Ways to Grow Your Business Starting Today!

Evaluate Your Business Card

Does your business card include all of the necessary information? Is the font easy to read? Are the colors pleasant? Do you include a tag line? Phone number? Website? Address? Are your name and title easy to see and read? If not…start over. Your business card is a mini billboard that potential clients will put in their pocket, rolodex, wallet, refrigerator, desk and more. Make sure that it represents you and your business well. And use the back to your best advantage. That’s seven square inches of untapped business card potential.

Hand Out at Least Two Cards Every Day

It does no good to have business cards and not give them out. Give out your cards to at least two new people every day. You never know where your next client may come from, and you don’t want to miss an opportunity. And while you’re at it, give some people more than one card – so they can share and pass along the extra.

Claim Your Google Business Listing

You don’t have to have a physical office to claim your listing. There are different settings to indicate how you deliver your business to others. It takes about 10 minutes to set up a decent listing, and it’s FREE!

Set Up Your Facebook Call to Action Button

Facebook has created a call-to-action button for business pages. When a Facebook user lands on your business page they can click a button that is embedded in the cover photo that can take them to your contact page, booking site, video, and more. You select which language will appear on the button, and the URL that the button should redirect to.

Learn Something New Every Day

Whether it is reading a book, a blog, magazine article, or watching a YouTube video on an area that helps your business, you should never stop learning.

  • Invest in professional development courses.
  • Read trade magazines.
  • Follow a blog.
  • Watch videos that can enhance what you do.
  • Join an online forum for your industry.
  • Learn new best practices.
  • Share with others how you do business.

Investing 20 minutes a day in learning something that can help you grow is the best way to spend 20 minutes!

BONUS: Outsource What You Can’t Do or Don’t Have Time For

A massage therapist excels at working with the human body. An electrician works wonders at making the lights operational. That doesn’t make them good marketers, accountants, or chefs. Realize your core competency…and hire someone to fill in the gaps. If you are a painter, then you make more money painting for someone else than spending time in the office doing your accounting. So hire someone to do the books…and keep making money painting! Investing in the right people to move your business forward allows you to DO your business.

Build a Better Business Card

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Did you know that there are fourteen square inches of potential in every business card?

Fourteen square inches of space is probably more than you realized – and yet, somehow still not enough sometimes. The information that you include and the graphics that you use send a message and can be the first impression that a potential client has of you and your business.

Here are ten things to consider for your business card. (All ten may not be right for you. It depends on your business and your message.)

  1. Include your company logo – and few or no other graphics or pictures. Print your cards in color to make the logo “pop.” Don’t clutter the card with extra images unless they are truly helpful in establishing your message.
  2. Prominently feature your company name, your name, and your title.
  3. Include all of your contact information: phone, email, website, fax (if you still have one), and physical address.
  4. Consider including a tagline (if there is room and if it helps brand your business).
  5. While the jury is out regarding the helpfulness of QR codes, they may be useful depending on your industry.
  6. Consider using the back of your card. Service-oriented businesses find it helpful to have a place to write down a next appointment. Others include a small menu of products or services. Still others find this a good place to put social media contact information like a Facebook page and Twitter handle.
  7. Use a nice quality and good weight paper – but not too thick. The goal here is to present quality but not make it impossible to carry more than a few in your briefcase or wallet.
  8. Use a readable font and font size that relays class and professionalism. Cute or overly-ornate fonts are not your friend.
  9. Use appropriate colors. A dark font on a dark background is difficult to read, as is a light font on a white background. Make your card easy on the eyes so that it does its job well.

Make sure that your business card keeps within the design and color realm of your other marketing materials – like your website, letterhead and brochures. Consistency in marketing is key.

Of course, the most important thing about business cards is that you use them. Never be without a card, as you never know where your next great connection will come from.

 

Never Stop Learning

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Whether you graduated last year or 30 years ago – it’s never too soon (or too late) to add to your education. Regardless of your profession, there is always room for more information, new ways of thinking, and different ways to do things.

I was fortunate to attend a WordPress Camp in Buffalo recently. I was never under the fantasy that I know everything there is to know about building websites on this platform, so I was excited to see some of what I didn’t already know.  In doing that, I also learned that I am not a complete rookie either. That got me to thinking about all of the ways that continuing education is beneficial.

Here are a few of the benefits of attending professional development/continuing education in your field:

  • Relevance. Continued education allows us to remain in the conversation about our field – and sound intelligent while we do.
  • Better Practice. “Because we’ve always done it that way” is not a good excuse to avoid improving your practice. There is no faster way to allow your competition to pass you up than avoiding improvement
  • Validation. While learning new information, we are often reminded about how much we do know. This kind of validation allows us to proceed in our field with confidence.
  • Networking. Find new contacts sitting in a training, or attending a seminar. I have made friends and been connected to new clients simply by being in the room.
  • Compliance. Many industries require either a set number of hours of education within a time frame – or acquisition of specific knowledge – that require that you obtain education.
  • Marketability. Leverage yourself for a raise – or look for a job elsewhere. Greater knowledge means you are worth more.
Regardless of your field – there are many ways to develop your skills, acquire knowledge, and add to your education. So pick up a book, attend a class, watch an educational video, or sign up for a seminar or conference – and let the learning begin!

Let Employees Do Their Jobs

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Is turnover crazy in your office? Do you find that people seem unsatisfied – or worse, actually unhappy in their jobs?

There are many reasons that employees find themselves unhappy at work. Some of them are out of our control – but many things can be done to help.

The first place to look is at our own management style.

Just like an ant that burns under the concentrated focus of the sun’s rays through a magnifying glass, so too do good employees burn out under the intense scrutiny of a micro-manager. While some employees warrant constant attention and assistance, most are capable and need room to do their jobs well.

Several things happen when employees are micromanaged – but almost NONE of them are increased productivity, better quality work, and employee longevity.

Here are a few tips to avoid pushing good workers out of your business through micromanagement:

  1. When hiring, complete due diligence on the applicant’s abilities, including reference checks, appropriate interview questions that help derive their ability, task completion, and request for collateral materials (like portfolio work and other work examples).
  2. Once hired, provide adequate training for your new employee. Make sure they have all of the education necessary to complete the work that you expect from them, including software/application training, industry-specific information, and company-specific coaching.
  3. Set realistic and specific expectations. Do you require set hours? Say so. Are employees supposed to respond to email outside of office hours? Make sure they are aware of when they are on call.
  4. Ensure that the employee knows what the job goals and targets are and stick to them. Employees find it impossible to hit moving targets, so be realistic with changes.
  5. Create milestones at which times the employee can expect a review of their progress.
  6. Make sure that the employee knows that they can come to you with questions and needs for clarification and help. (Employees are more hesitant to show a micro-manager their concerns and potential shortcomings.)
Basically it comes down to this: hire qualified employees, train them well, then watch them grow and make your business successful!