Guest author Nate Goodman explains why your small business website isn't thriving -- and what you can do to change that. Click to find out.
You're a small business. You have a website and you want traffic, subscribers, followers. In short, you want more customers.
The prevailing wisdom has been that if you have a nice looking site, and optimize it for search engines (SEO), the customers will just show up.
But, it's just not happening is it? The old "if you build it, they will come" thing just isn't working out. Your business is not thriving.
Too often, this is the frustrating experience felt by small business owners as they try to get their businesses off the ground.
So where are you going wrong in your approach to small business marketing?
If you look closely, you may have missed something very important, and you don't need to enroll in a $600 online course to figure it out.
Your Problem Is Grandiosity
Ever taken your child to a pancake restaurant for breakfast? Did he or she order two pancakes, or a stack of eight? A stack of eight? Yeah, mine too. We often have eyes bigger than what we can handle. Small business owners have bought into the grandiose nature of the internet. All of us look onto the internet and see ultra successful companies, and we think, "I can do that. I just need a product and a pretty website."
Although the internet has leveled the playing field for us small business owners, in reality, relying too much on it is hindering your ability to grow your company. You're seeing yourself as a global business, but you haven't even discovered that it's what's right around you that is your best market.
Look at Your Website (If You Have One)
If you were a web visitor, and landed on your website, would you see a website that is focused towards a particular audience? When I say focused, I'm not talking about "a target market of females age 30-55, living in the United States who read fashion magazines." No, I'm talking about a far more focused niche. "Female writers and authors of magazine articles, living in Atlanta, who work freelance, publish over twenty articles a year, and are members of the Georgia Writer's Association. "
Smaller companies like yours stand a much greater chance of succeeding if they focus on a specific product line, a specific niche, a specific audience, and within a specific geography. Even though you can reach a global audience with the internet, concentrating your efforts on your local area is still your best bet. Remember, before people will do business with you, they need to trust you. And the best way for them to trust you is if they know someone who introduces you. Those connections are most easily made right in your own backyard.
Why Is Your Business So Great? No, Really.
Figure out your value proposition. That sounds really boring, doesn't it? Sounds like I'm about to tell you you need to write a corporate mission statement. Please, don't bother. No one cares. Instead, you need to write down what it is that makes your product or service so much more compelling than anyone else's. Really. Why is your product so much better?
It's a lot harder than it sounds. As you write down each thing that you believe make you special, ask yourself if anyone else's product is that good as well. If the answer is yes, you may have to find other value propositions. Until you know what really separates you from your competition, you won't be able to create the right messaging on your website.
Laser Focus on Your Target Market
As I describe above, you need to spend time thinking about exactly who you should target. Think about it down to exactly who that person is. You need to write down a description of them. What are all their characteristics and demographics? What is their biggest problem? How does your business solve that problem?
Use Your Business Savvy From Your Pre-Web Experience
If you haven't created a website yet, don't be afraid. Be bold. You have more business experience than you are giving yourself credit for. Having a website for your business does not mean the way you conduct business has to change dramatically. Instead, use your non-web business experience and translate it to the web. You have a distinct advantage in that your small business experience is something that a lot of website-only businesses in your field lack.
Start a Web Presence Without Being a Blockhead
Whatever you do, please, please learn from the mistakes of all the other small business owners who have gone before you. Many small business owners flock to the giant website hosting companies and get the least expensive website package they offer (think Super Bowl commercials). I'd like to be able to say that I'm not knocking the mega web hosts of the world. But, frankly, I am. You'd be surprised how many small businesses start their web presence that way, only to find that it's just not going to cut it.
These small business owners say the same things. They talk about how difficult it was to create their website or update pages; they talk about how they were sure they wouldn't need any additional functionality, but when it turned out they did, it wasn't available or it was too hard to figure out how to implement. They wished they had just listened to the people that forewarned them. Security matters. Available functionality matters. Cost matters. Ease of editing or adding webpages matters. Having someone who knows what they're doing matters. Ever wonder why so many people have harped at you to instead use a WordPress website? Well, maybe it's time to listen to them.
What questions do you have about your small business website? Let us know in the comments.
Nate Goodman (@ThoughtReach) is an email software designer with over 11 years in the email marketing, social media, and CRM space. Nate is known for two things: sipping Fair Trade coffee all day long and not being able to keep a straight face after playing a practical joke on his coworkers. Nate authors the Thought Reach blog about WordPress websites, email marketing, and social media topics. Follow the Thought Reach blog by email.
Small Business Owners photo from Shutterstock.