Know, Like and Trust

That becomes a familiar mantra when you are networking for your business, especially if your business is service-based. When people are thinking about how to spend their money the actual decision making is often very emotional, in spite of any time spent doing research.

It is human nature to prefer to do business with those they already know and who they already like and trust. This is often at odds with whether or not they know the same person is competent. This is why the brakes go on when someone they have just met immediately launches into a sales pitch. It is always important to be authentic — people can tell when you are not, and it only serves to undermine everything else you might have done.

The current wisdom is that on average it takes seven to nine “touch points” before someone feels you are trustworthy. (A big reason to congratulate yourself if your average is less!) Possible ways to accomplish this include:

  • Email — newsletter, informational articles (tips!), personal message
  • Phone
  • In person — coffee or lunch, invite to a networking event
  • Blog post
  • Tweet, Facebook post or any other form of social media
  • Direct mail — no, it’s not really dead. It has become so rare that now when you send something it can really stand out.
  • Webinars or teleseminars
  • Coupons and other special offers

Mixing your methods up has two advantages. It allows people to choose the option that works best for them. It also means that for those who are more engaged, they get some variety, keeping their interest up.

To your business success!

What is a squeeze page? (and does this matter?)

When you go to a website and are greeted by a page with the sole purpose of making an offer of some sort, that is what is called a squeeze page. There are two types— “hard” and “soft.” With a hard squeeze page the only way past it is to give your information. These are generally reserved for signups for events or classes. The soft squeeze may be a popup or a whole page. It asks relevant questions to get the visitor’s attention and then gives them a choice of either signing up or bypassing it.

Many marketers are resistant to using a squeeze page, thinking they are sleazy or too “sales-y” but the bottom line is that they work. One of the most important assets to your business is your list.

In an earlier Tip I wrote about the value of having a “freebie” to offer to website visitors. This is your appetizer, an “ethical bribe,” if you will, to offer in exchange for their contact information. The purpose of this is to build the list. You are trying to start a relationship with people who have given their permission because they would like to hear what you have to say and learn more about what you can do for them peut on se procurer du viagra. This all goes back to the “know, like and trust” factor that can turn prospects into fans. The squeeze page helps to tie this all together, increasing the likelihood of someone giving you a chance.

To your business success!

Your Website “To-Do” List

When you get your website you can just check it off of the list and forget about it—right? …umm, not so much. This sort of thinking fits in the same box as “Build it and they will come” regarding web traffic.

There are several problems with this approach. Websites are valuable tools, and your best return on investment is to refresh the content from time to time. It used to be that search engine optimization (SEO) which attracts search engines revolved around things called “meta tags” where keywords were stuffed into the code for your web page and many people called it good. Keywords are still a factor, but they have become a much more interactive process. Search engines now look for what is referred to as “fresh content.” This could be a new blog post or any other changes to the content of the website. This applies to website visitors as well, and is of greater concern. Unless your website has a useful tool or a terrific set of resources, why should they come back if nothing ever changes? Search engines and visitors have a lot in common in this respect.

Another reason to check back in with your website is security—someone is less likely to hack or shanghai a website that gets regular attention original viagra. This is true of all sorts of websites, but particularly so for WordPress.

The thing about WordPress is that it is constantly being updated with improvements—new features, improved security—all of which affects the themes and plugins created to work within it. If you allow your website to go unattended for long periods of time you run the risk of it needing serious repairs rather than simple preventative maintenance. If you are not prepared to do this yourself, this is something to keep in mind when you are asked if you want someone else to maintain your website for you…

To your business success!

Will the Real WordPress please stand up? WordPress explained

There are two different sides to WordPress, so it is understandable when people are confused. Before sorting this out, allow me to explain what WordPress is.

There are many different content management systems (CMS) available for websites, one of which is WordPress. It is the most popular type of website in the world, and at the time of this writing the ones hosted on wordpress.com alone number 62,602,685, written in over 120 languages.

WordPress can be as complicated and powerful as you need it to be, from a blog to an e-commerce site and beyond. One of the things that makes WordPress different is that it is what is referred to as “open source.” This means that thousands of people all over the world are constantly contributing to making it better— adding features. fixing bugs, creating new plugins (plugins are mini-applications embedded within websites) and themes, and participating in an online help forum. Basic WordPress is free—only premium plugins and themes cost money.

Ok, so this brings us back to the original question. WordPress.com is completely free, both the website and the hosting. To a degree, this is a case of you get what you pay for. It is a terrific value in that they are providing the hosting and the security, and you don’t need to worry about backups. The down side is that, unless you pay extra, your URL will look like yourdomain.wordpress.com. There are also limitations to what you can do with it. No e-commerce or advertising like Adwords is allowed. You can’t add any plugins to supplement the generous collection provided. The themes available are limited, but they can be customized, and there are also a collection of premium plugins available. To put this in perspective, the New York Times, TED, CNN, and the National Football League are all wordpress.com sites, so they are nothing to sneeze at.

WordPress.org is the WordPress where your own domain name is a given, and anything goes—e-commerce, a LOT more customization, plugins for just about anything you can imagine and premium themes (which may or may not be superior to free themes. Generally speaking, it is better to have a wordpress.org site for a business.

To your business success!

Mobile Apps and Websites—Two Different Birds!

When the names are used interchangeably, there is bound to be confusion viagra dans la pharmacie. They can look the same, but under the skin they are very different. The majority of small businesses don’t need an app, but should consider a mobile-friendly website to be an essential.

⁃ Apps can’t be seen by search engines, although some like Yelp’s are really vertical search engines on their own.
⁃ Mobile websites are favored by search engines and intended to be found by them.
⁃ Depending upon their purpose, apps can function without the internet.
⁃ Like desktop websites, mobile websites require the internet.

Apps can be extremely expensive to develop. They also need to be something really special—functional, entertaining—something that people will want to use repeatedly and hang onto. The sad truth is that the average lifespan of a mobile app is one month. People install them, give them a try, and if they don’t work well or are boring, out they go with the trash.

This is where small businesses should think long and hard, and then look at their budget before committing to an app. Games are popular, but does it have anything to do with the business? Is there a cool tool that could serve as the company mascot in the app world? If neither is true, spending thousands of dollars on the development of an app may not provide a good return on the investment.

Who do apps work well for? A real estate agent would be a good candidate. Since their clients are often out where internet service is unreliable, an app could fill the gap and deliver pre-loaded information about listings, serving as a mobile sales aid.

To your business success!

Why go mobile? and what does mobile mean?

You hear a lot of buzz words when people talk about mobile. Responsive, mobile apps… there is a lot of confusion, and it is unfortunate that this leads to a lot of businesses ending up with something that won’t meet their needs.

One thing that all of these options have in common is that when someone goes looking for their website using a phone or tablet (aka “mobile device”) some version of their site should come up that is appropriate for the size of their screen. This means no more of the “postage stamp” look needing to be zoomed in on or, worse, the exploded view of a tiny corner of the site.

There are really three different types of mobile to consider for websites, each appropriate for different needs and circumstances.

One buzz word is “responsive.” This is a type of website designed to scale in size depending upon the size of the viewer’s screen. A well written one can look good on everything from an oversized wall monitor to a smart phone. This is great, but not for everyone. Someone browsing with their phone is going to be unhappy when a site that is heavy on large images bogs down their browser and sucks up their media allowance. The context and intent of the viewer needs to be taken into account. Someone looking for an address or hours could care less about a massive shopping cart.

The second option is a mobile website plugin that reconfigures the content of the despot site. This is effectively the same as a responsive site, but can be an easy solution for some WordPress sites.

The third is a standalone site that presents only the content that is appropriate for someone browsing on the go. This can be a great solution when the site is big and complicated, or the searchers are local and looking for a storefront business. It also offers the twist of hooking an editable WordPress mobile site to a static desktop site that the business owner needs help with updating.

Next week’s Tip will address the differences between a mobile website and a mobile app.

To your business success!

.com, .net, .biz, .mobi…

What to do about your domain TLD (short for top level domain) suffix.

I am often asked what kind of domain to get, and if it is important to purchase all of the available options for your chosen domain name or URL. There is often the feeling that it is important to have a spread to prevent competitors from taking your business. Thus, I could have catwingz.com, catwingz.net, catwingz.us, catwingz.biz, catwingz.co…

I spoke with Kent Lewis, a successful owner of two local businesses specializing in search optimization. His answer was to just get one and focus on promoting it. While there are businesses that do reserve all of the options and have them all redirect to one, his feeling was that unless you have a really major brand like Coca Cola, it just doesn’t give a good return on investment. Another source I queried felt that if your business is going to have an international presence choosing to have a spread would be advisable. In this case the top choices would be .com, .net, .biz and .mobi.

It’s really a matter of what you do to promote your site that is going to make the biggest difference. .Com is the oldest and always the best, but as names get taken and people get increasingly imaginative with their naming the other suffixes have gained acceptance. If you find that .com is taken for the name you have your heart set on, here are some guidelines and suggestions, some of which might be different enough to be memorable.

First, keep in mind that every country has it’s own suffix. The United States is .us, Canada is.ca… a perfectly respectable choice for a business, especially if you are going to have an international presence.
.co was created as an overflow option for .com.
.biz is for US business sites.
.info was originally for information sites, but businesses have been using it as well.
.mobi is specifically for mobile websites, smart if your business will be making use of mobile marketing.
.net was originally created for companies like internet service providers, but it is widely used as a substitute for .com.
.org was originally created for non profits, but it too has been overrun by businesses.
.pro is for professionals like accountants, lawyers and physicians.
.store is for retail business sites.
.tv is for domains that will be emphasizing video, but it is best to have a more mainstream option as well.
The one to avoid unless you really want to go there is .xxx for adult entertainment.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas to work with.

To your business success!

Tell Me a Story…

When new visitors come to your website you have 3-5 seconds to convince them to stay. This doesn’t sound like much time, but if your website and content are well designed and engaging it’s more than enough. This is where knowing your target people really well comes into play. Attractive colors, appropriate images and attention grabbing headers are the first step—but what does your header say?— and is the rest of the content written in a way that makes your new visitor want to “turn the page?”

A technique that can be successful with businesses that rely on relationships is to employ storytelling. This is particularly true of service-based businesses. What pain are they trying to solve? What do you have in common? Why are you in this business? Why and how can you help them? And what does opting in with you look and feel like?

If you can capture their interest in those first few seconds long enough to begin to read, there are those who will read a well-crafted website through to the end of the story. Those that stay with it to the end are highly likely to become your clients if your website has done it’s job of assisting with getting them to know, like and trust you.

To your business success!