It’s been a while since my last post – sorry bout that. Today I want to bring up the importance of citations. No, not the type you get speeding through a construction zone, because let’s not get those! The citations I want to talk about are online listings. When I’m speaking to a (potential) client, I always make sure to let them know, the more places you are the better. This is a half truth. Yes, the more places you are listed, and found by Google or Bing or Yahoo! the better, but you also want to make sure they are legit resources and verified citations. One of the most trusted sources Google will pick up your company is a gov’t or state agency’s listing(s), e.g. chamber of commerce site or city/county business index; it’s hard to “fake” being a member of a chamber of commerce.
Citations from well-established portals increase the degree of certainty search engines have about your business’s contact information and categorization. For instance, an online directory (online phone book) would be more “trusted” than Yelp since Yelp takes suggestions from the public; you’d be surprised how many businesses are “Closed” on Yelp that aren’t really closed – possibly the backlash of a really angry ex-employee or customer. Back to the potential clients – y’all already know my stance on the necessity of having a website (and I’m sure you share that view to some degree), I like to make sure they know about the importance of optimization which not only claims the citations that can be claimed, but corrects any conflicting information, I then offer them a spot on the local search engine/online directory hybrid site. Since it’s a local source, this helps to validate that the business is part of the community. Citations like this can dramatically improve your ranking.
In order to accomplish your business goals, your business must be found in every corner of the internet that Google and Bing and Yahoo! sends their robots. That information also must be correct. Ask your LOCAL specialist about optimization and the importance of citations, as I could go on, but this would turn into a novel. Once all your information is correct, then yes 100% the more places you are, the better. Gain a little notoriety for yourself – you’ve earned it.
Information pulled from Moz, 2016
Please for the LOVE OF GOD if your business depends on it, don’t build your own website unless you have a freakin’ degree in building websites! You like glitter and pink and blue and green and black and for some reason, after hours of building it through a freebie website builder, the site you spent hours on looks like your computer screen threw up. Yeah, that’s right, I just called your hours of hard work visual vomit. Because you had absolutely no business doing what you did. There’s a reason why you’re an HVAC contractor or a boutique owner or own a food truck, because you are not a Website Designer – it’s as simple as that.
You started your own business and that is an amazing feat in and of itself. I know it must be hard to let someone else take the reigns over an aspect of your business, but this is where you need to sit back and let someone else do it. Remember, you still get to tell them what you do and do not like. You still get to tell them which layout you like. You still get to tell them the colors you like. You still get to put your signature on it. It is your website; you’re just having someone else build it for you. In instructing these Web Designers & Developers, you really can let your creativity shine through… efficiently.
So does everyone remember being tucked in at night and having Mommy or Daddy reading you a book before bed? That book was full of pictures, right? Well, we still like to read (most of us), and we like to say to ourselves, “this book doesn’t have pictures so it’s better than that book because that means I’m more grown up than the other adult who likes books with pictures.” Oh please, pictures are awesome, and every book would be a little bit better with a few pictures added. I loved Angels & Demons and especially so with the few illustrations added! That characteristic of ours hasn’t left us just because we “grew up.” People like looking at pictures because pictures grab your attention and allow you to expand upon that. What does literature and illustrations have to do with web presence?
We as consumers – the majority of us anyway (93%) – will research a company online before spending our money with them. We can read review after review on yelp, angieslist, amblifi etc, but if they don’t have pictures, on to the next… When I’m looking for somewhere new to go to dinner, I don’t want to just see the map of where you’re located, and actually I don’t trust other people’s reviews; they don’t have the same tastes or priorities that I am looking for in say, a Mexican restaurant. I want to see what your fajita plate and guacamole looks like. Get a dang website, upload some photos of your products, get a Google+ and link it, get a Facebook (yes, some businesses still don’t have a Facebook page!), and link it to your website! Nike that mug – JUST DO IT! You are losing out on so much business.
Give the people what they want. Let us see what you’re workin’ with.
Alright, I did warn y’all – there would be some venting; knowledgeable venting.
I make cold-calls to set up website design appointments about 20-24 hours a week for areas that know our company by name; we’re not like the pesky telemarketers that call you and you damn near curse them out because you were hoping it was the Publisher’s Clearing House notifying you won $10,000. I’m part of a family business – it’s small, local, and part of the community, yet people still react with such rancor. That is, if they answer their phone.
I was so excited one day last week. I found a company that I wanted. I wanted to tell them everything I know about advertising and their industry and how their industry cannot be without advertising, and how it could make them go from zero to hero. I mean, I was truly elated! I wanted to tell them, “Yes, you should really have a website, but with your store we could set you up with this, that, and the other to really A) roll in the stacks, and B) precisely track the return on investment.” A lot of times new businesses forget that part – and it seems a lot have forgotten how to answer the phone too. How does one run a business without answering the phone?
Why is this named “End-Less Possibilities”? Well, when I was gushing about this company and how much potential it had, those words literally came out of my mouth. “The possibilities are endless!” And what happened when I called them with all my excitement to help this shop? No answer. So to all of my lovable local business owners, I ask as a devout #ShopLocal supporter, answer the phone, care about your business and your consumers, and put an End to Less Possibilities.
In a world where so many people dream of being their own boss, it’s not as easy as just having the idea and the commercial space anymore. With the corporate world and big box stores overtaking the small business world, the entrepreneur needs to have an air-tight business plan; and that plan must include “How am I going to generate business?” One can’t just expect to put a shiny red ribbon on the door and think customers will come in upon passing. How will you advertise your business? Yes, I asked you how you are going to advertise. In order to thrive in today’s market, you must reach your entire targeted consumers – by advertising – and then some. And please, for the love of BBQ, don’t forget a good website! No excuses! Don’t think you don’t need one, because you do. People like looking at pretty pictures, and if you don’t have any for them, you don’t have their business*. Millenials have now outgrown Baby Boomers as the largest age group; guess who uses the internet the most? Yep, those Millenials. And businesses need to appeal to everyone.
So what have we learned so far? We can no longer rely on word-of-mouth references, even in a close-knit community, to build up business. We have to get our name out there through using the resources available to us. Free advice here: if you’re a small business/just getting started, don’t go to some corporate agency that only sees you as a number on their screen; small businesses should do business with other small businesses – they share a common interest and have been built on the same core trade values. That part should be common sense. There are plenty of successful methods of advertising, with tried and true ways of tracing the return on investment. Any specialist will help you figure out which method is best for your industry, whether you’re opening a taco stand or an HVAC co; two-step advertising, mobile ads, texting programs, print ads, and in case you forget to keep up with asking “How’d you hear about us?” tracking numbers are a great way to know if you’re advertising was well-placed.
You very well may have the best tacos in the state, but nobody’s going to know that if you don’t put yourself out there. So, get your business plan in place, call your LOCAL marketing & advertising agency, and get you on your way to turning the one taco stand in Fayetteville, NC into 50 taco stands throughout NC, VA, and SC. Can’t do that without advertising – and that’s some real world truth.
*according to market study by profitworks.ca, 2016