KSR Designs https://www.weareksr.com Websites & Content Marketing for Small Businesses that activate growth Fri, 20 Oct 2017 16:41:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 What is Content Marketing and How Can You Use it to Grow https://www.weareksr.com/what-is-content-marketing-and-how-can-you-use-it-to-grow/ https://www.weareksr.com/what-is-content-marketing-and-how-can-you-use-it-to-grow/#respond Wed, 24 May 2017 13:16:44 +0000 https://www.weareksr.com/?p=29896 The post What is Content Marketing and How Can You Use it to Grow appeared first on KSR Designs.

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What is Content Marketing and How Can You Use it to Grow

Managing Director
Strategist
Designer

Content marketing is one of these things that scares the crap out of businesses, whether they are non-profits or for-profit. They see the big guys doing it and they have no idea how to get started.

Add on top of that not knowing who you are talking to, what they want to hear about and the right way to tell them can leave you frozen in fear. But it doesn’t need to be link that.

Content marketing is information delivered to a specific target audience for the purpose of education, awareness, and sales. That information can be delivered any number of ways and usually the most successful campaigns are the most strategic.

So what are some examples of content marketing campaigns? You know those videos that you see on Facebook that you don’t know why you are seeing them but they are showing up or maybe a friend shared it because they thought it was interesting? Then you watch it, click their link in the bottom and then you show up on a page that is talking about that video? Then, they might try to move you over to another video or blog post or another page on their website. Once they have you there, they try to get you to give them your email address or call them?

That is content marketing. They have used content to educate you or get your attention and then move you down a funnel using content and to try to get you to raise your hand and self-qualify.

AHA! Self-Identification!

Photograph by Swaraj Tiwari via Unsplash

Aha!

Self-qualifying. Can you imagine what it would be like if every person that came to you to use your product or service was already fully qualified, already educated on the service that you provide, and knew your process to a certain extent? What if you didn’t have to spend as much time getting them to understand why you are charging the price you are charging and instead got to spend more time on delivering that that value to them and moving them closer to their goals and objectives?

“Content marketing is information delivered to a specific target audience for the purpose of education, awareness, and sales.”

Because you are developing content that talks about the service you provide to the specific audience that you are choosing to target, the people that will be reaching out to you have already been informed on the value that you provide to them. There is also the added benefit that you will be more easily seen and identified as an expert on the web because of all of the information you are pushing out. As a result, you will be top of mind when your qualified prospect starts looking for someone to provide the service you offer.

It also seems like a lot of work.

Well here’s the hard part. It typically is. However if you have a system in place that helps you identify exactly what you need to be doing with a piece of content at any given moment, then you at least simplify that work so that you aren’t frozen thinking about what to do next.

So let’s get you started.

3 Key First Steps to Getting Started with Content Marketing to Grow

You can probably guess what I’m going to say first. Identify your ideal target audience. This target ideal prospect is the person who is (typically) easiest to work with, the most profitable, and, more often than not, the one that you are the most equipped to be able to educate on the value you provide.

Second, find out where your target audience is when they are in the process of evaluating a purchase. Sometimes this can be forums. We always say that Facebook can be for most but it isn’t for everyone especially when you factor in where they are when they are making a buying decision. They might be on YouTube. They may be heavy consumers of webinars. Find out where they are.

Then, third, hang out there. Once you know where your target audience is, develop a campaign that allows you to reach out to that audience in the different places that they are around the web and build and deliver the content that they like to consume in those places.

Need Help?

If you need help putting together a content strategy or would just like to make sure that you are putting your best foot forward and fast tracking your success, we’d be happy to help.

Fast Track Your Success By Starting With Expert Advice

KSR Designs

Helping small businesses and nonprofits build websites and content marketing strategies that activate growth

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How to Use Your Website to Grow Your Small Business https://www.weareksr.com/how-to-use-your-website-to-grow-your-small-business/ https://www.weareksr.com/how-to-use-your-website-to-grow-your-small-business/#respond Wed, 15 Mar 2017 16:00:39 +0000 https://www.weareksr.com/?p=29210 The post How to Use Your Website to Grow Your Small Business appeared first on KSR Designs.

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Making sure that you are owning your backyard is critical when you are trying to grow a small business. When you are trying to get a potential client to know, like and trust you, their first impression of you is a backbone component.

People want to know who you are before they buy, so making a solid first impression is crucial. In the small business world, being visible on the web is an area that a lot of small businesses don’t spend a lot of time.

They might be showing up in directories and online review sites like Yelp, but a lot of times they don’t have their business listed with Google My Business, barely have a Facebook page and sometimes don’t even have a website.

Making sure that you are owning your backyard is critical when you are trying to grow a small business. When you are trying to get a potential client to know, like and trust you, their first impression of you is a backbone component.

So here are some of the keys to building a local website that can help you grow and thrive as a small business.

Bring your contact information to the forefront

Having contact information readily available in multiple places on your site allows you to appear accessible if your customer has any problems or questions. When people are making a decision on a purchase, they want to know that you are there for them if they need anything.

There are also the questions that come up around the the quality and reliability of your work if you don’t want to be contacted directly. Think about it like this: if you are unwilling to give your contact information that readily, then perhaps there is something less legitimate about the business your are doing.

In addition to appearing accessible to your potential customers, consider search engines as well. Google and other search engines have been known to give a little boost to businesses who put their information contact information on the homepage, even moreso when paired with placement in online directories that have the same contact information.

Keep your customer in mind when building your site

From navigation to images to language and jargon, your potential clients and customers will be at different places in their journey to purchasing your product or service.

Whether you are selling a lawn mower to a new home buyer or selling packaging materials to a local manufacturer, you know your business, products and terminology — but your prospect doesn’t. If you immediately start talking about things like deck size to a new home buyer, you are going to lose them. If you are deep into talking about break strength for the hand grade polyester strapping that you sell, you are going to have a problem.

Many small business owners feel like using this type of language really establishes them as a credible and informed seller of their goods and services. However, the customer is getting more than they need to make an educated choice.

When your prospect comes to your website, they are looking for a solution to a problem. They trust you to be able to take the information that they have given you and be able to apply an adequate and not over-sold solution that will not take advantage of them and will meet their needs. They are buying locally after all.

Other areas to consider include the actual design of your site and how your “user” will experience it. Making sure that you take into account the way that your website makes you look specifically to your target market is an essential key to building a website that works locally.

We recently had a client who was having a hard time driving down into their target market, which was local private practice health care providers, because their website was making them look too high priced and corporate or enterprise level. Their images were very technical and included a number of board rooms and glass walls, two things that don’t exist in a small private practice.

So we redesigned their website so that the language and the funnel that was developed moved their prospect to the areas of the site that they needed to be in order to get the information that they need for the problem  that they are having.

Reach your potential prospect where they are and build for mobile

If your potential customer or client is looking at your site on the go, making sure that the site that they are looking at is responsive (or modifies the content in a way that is digestible on the device that they are using) becomes critical. If you are asking your prospect to zoom in and out of pages and click tiny links and navigation buttons to get around your site, then you will almost always lose them as a buyer.

When you are building your site and keeping the mobile experience in mind, make sure that you are asking the question of what does your prospect need when they are engaging with your content through their mobile device.

If you are a local pizza delivery company, they probably do not need as much information about whether you are hiring or the history of your company or photos of the staff. However, they probably need to know what your specials are and how they can contact you for a delivery or carry out.

Small to medium-sized businesses are way behind the curve on developing mobile websites, with nearly 95% of SMBs have not built a mobile platform. This is a key area where SMBs can improve, grow and thrive.

Regularly update your site with fresh content

I can’t tell you how many small businesses miss the mark on the content that is on their website. They allow the website to become stale and the language and way that they are representing themselves to be stilted and dated.

People want to experience what it is like to work with you. If you are an traffic or criminal attorney, you may want your potential clients to know that that you are professional and established but also that you are a common person who understands the problem that your client is facing and why it is important to them. You don’t want to come off as though you live in an ivory tower.

Additionally, keeping fresh content on your website that talks about the problem that your prospective client is facing allows you to further legitimize yourself as the expert and solution provider. When you are talking about the problem, they know that they have a local resources that they can tap into with questions who can help them get over that next hurdle.

Content marketing also allows you to re-purpose some of that content on other areas of your marketing. You can build that content into a mailing list, strip out some content and use it on social media, have it as a resource that you can point people to who are asking the same question over and over again, and, since you know it is a problem people are having locally, use it to drive the content of your ads.

Content marketing can be a lot of work; but when done correctly, it can become a vital component in growing your local business.

Wrapping Up

While this list is in no way comprehensive, it is a good place to start for things that are important to remember to look for when you are having your website designed. If you are hiring a local web designer, these are the types of things that you want to hear them talking about to help your business’s website be successful.

Original Post: https://www.business.com/articles/wes-king-use-website-grow-small-business/

KSR Designs

Helping small businesses and nonprofits build websites and content marketing strategies that activate growth

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What to look for when hiring a local website designer https://www.weareksr.com/what-to-look-for-when-hiring-a-local-website-designer/ https://www.weareksr.com/what-to-look-for-when-hiring-a-local-website-designer/#respond Tue, 24 Jan 2017 10:17:51 +0000 http://wordpress-36010-76931-212147.cloudwaysapps.com/?p=15438 The post What to look for when hiring a local website designer appeared first on KSR Designs.

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Website Design and Digital Marketing that Activate Growth

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Hiring a local website designer can be one of the more challenging things that small business owners do. Typically this isn’t something you do every day and, if you have a good designer, it isn’t something you have to do regularly. And to make it worse, here in Mebane and the greater Alamance County area, we have a number of people that work with businesses to create websites so you are forced to make a choice and then wonder if you made the right one.

But making sure that you at least know some of the things to look out for when you are hiring a local website designer can be a great tool in making your selection an easier and more confident one. So, here are some things to look for when hiring a local website designer.

Number 1. How Do They Communicate?

We hear stories all of the time about small businesses, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits who hire local website designers who couldn’t speak to you if their life depended on it. Or worse, absolutely hate speaking with business owners.

If your website designer isn’t willing to sit down with you and have a conversation about the challenges that your business is facing, how could you ever expect them to be able to provide a solution?

Your website designer should be in constant engagement with you, asking for feedback, making suggestions and offering you some type of guidance on how the process is going. If you hire a designer and they don’t speak to you on a regular basis and provide some type of mechanism for them to reach out to you that isn’t just an email or support ticket, then you have hired the wrong person. Putting your head down and going into a little hole to create a website with minimal interaction with and understanding of a business is never going to create a problem-solving website.

Projects like a website design require ongoing back and forth communication between the designer and the business. That doesn’t mean that the web designer is always breathing down your neck trying to get information, pushing you to over-communicate, and causing you not to be able to focus on your business. It just means that they are available to you and you feel like you are able to reach out to them if you have any questions, want to provide any new feedback, information or guidance, or if you just need to feel secure about the investment you are making in your business.

Make sure that your local website designers project manager are available for you to communicate with and is actively engaging with you.

Number 2. Be sure that your website designer is actually local

Many small business owners don’t know that their local website designer actually isn’t local at all. They are actually farmed out and outsourced to overseas people for a fraction of the cost, driving up the profit margin of the person.

I am 100% behind entrepreneurs who have found this as an opportunity to grow their own business, offload some of the design work and make a buck. But, in our Alamance County community, we have a huge number of small business owners who pride themselves on only buying and selling American made products. We have farmer’s markets and restaurants who only serve locally sourced products. And when they buy from a local company, they believe that they are supporting the local community and economy when they hire a local website designer.

In addition to the general local commerce implications, there is another HUGE problem in hiring a website designer who isn’t building the website locally.

If you need changes made to that website in the future, there is no guarantee that the person you hired will actually be able to make the changes that you need to be made to your website. And, they may not be able to get in contact with the person that they hired who built the site in the first place. That forces them to hire someone else which drives up the cost to YOU.

On top of all of that, you also have issues in terms of the ability for that outsourced person to be able to speak to your audience. Our community here in Mebane has created a way of life. So making sure that people who are being hired to speak to your potential clients and customers actually know HOW to speak to them and what they need to hear in order to make a buying decision becomes very important.

Ask your website designer if they outsource projects or if they keep it in house.

Number 3. Cheaper never means better

Unfortunately, like in many industries, there are always people who are willing to do it cheaper. But understanding that IT doesn’t just mean putting together a newer looking website.

In the web design industry, there are a number of freelancers or one-man-shops that just turn around and sell a theme that they bought in a theme store for $45 back to customers for $500-1,000. Taking this approach with your project is going to short change you before you even get started, will not solve the actual problem that your business has, and is shortsighted.

One rule of thumb that we always encourage businesses to remember is that if the person is unwilling to take the time to meet with you and spend a substantial amount of time in discovery and roadmapping for you, then they are not working for you.

Make sure that the website that you are having designed is built to solve your problem rather than just be art on the wall.

Number 4. But that doesn’t mean that the most expensive is best

In our area of Mebane and Greater Alamance, small businesses that are looking into hiring a website designer have a large spectrum of who they can pick from. And a lot of them do fantastic work. They create a solid product that is intentional and helps make our community stronger.

But for a small business owner, feeling as though you have a tremendous dollar figure that you need to invest in your project at the outset in order to be able to get any type of return isn’t necessarily true.

Making sure that you are hiring a local website designer who understands the value that the website brings to your business and that they are pricing accordingly is very important for setting and controlling your budget. They also need to understand the problem that they are working to solve for you and do their best to make the best decisions that they can for your money.

This isn’t an indictment on bloated web design prices. Different projects have many different requirements and also have a much different value proposition (think Coca-Cola getting a new website versus Hank’s Hardware). Just make sure that the value to your business is properly being reflected in the budget.

Make sure that your local website designer is able to articulate the value of what you are receiving and that they understand their responsibility to execute on their plan.

Number 5. Avoid the Generalist

While there are a lot of people in our area and across the web that claim to be experts at everything, the reality is that is largely impossible.

Different platforms and tactics around the web have different needs. If you are building a website, then you need to have particular abilities and experiences that allow you to do that. If you are a search engine optimizer, then you need to have specific knowledge and skills to execute on your promises. If you are a content marketer, then you need to be on the cutting edge of social media and content marketing trends so that you are able to flex and grow your client’s strategy accordingly.

Many website design agencies will claim that they are able to do everything.

Make sure that the person that is solving your problem is a specialist in the execution of your solution. Otherwise, your problem usually won’t be solved.

Number 6. Make sure you will be able to update the website and that they have some type of documentation to help you with that

If you aren’t able to update the content of your website, the pictures, the text, the blogs, the videos, etc., then you will never actually build your website into your marketing plans and strategy as a fully functioning tactic.

Making sure that you have a platform that allows you to easily update the information on the page is critical for small business owners and nonprofits. You don’t have a ton of time to spend parsing through code, waiting on ticket requests, or trying to reach their fly-by-night designer on the phone. So having the ability to make updates quickly and easily on the site becomes essential.

And if you are having problems? You shouldn’t have to do any of those things either and you shouldn’t be expected to go out into the wilderness of the internet to find the answers to your questions. So having tutorials, how-tos, a knowledge base and even videos to teach you how to use different elements of your site is a great customer support addition for you and certainly, empowers you to be able to do things yourself. Unfortunately, some designers choose to retain control so that they can charge you for updates and changes.

Make sure that your website designer has specific support mechanisms in place to help empower you to manage and update your website.

Number 7. Make sure that their design is intentional for solving a problem rather than just becoming art

When you are building a website, you need to make sure that you are creating a tool to solve a specific business problem. Website design, while being design, is not fine art. Austin Knight is the Senior User Experience Designer at HubSpot. In a recent blog post as well as in a talk at the Internet Summit in Raleigh he said ”

Creativity plays significantly different roles in design and art. Good design is not creative simply for the sake of being creative. It is creative for the sake of serving a purpose or solving a problem. Art, on the other hand, can be creative simply for the sake of being creative, because that is precisely the value that it provides.

Basically, art is creativity that has the ability to stand alone with any need for purpose. Meanwhile, design is intentionally used to achieve a purpose.

Make sure that your website design is oriented around solving a problem first and then developed with creativity that helps support that intended purpose.

Wrapping Up

Choosing your website designer can be complicated and can make you feel uncertain. When in doubt, ask to speak with some of their past clients and actually do so. If they aren’t willing to give you names and phone numbers of past clients that are willing to talk to you about their process and what it was like to work with them, then they are not the designer for you. Ideally, they should already have this information available.

We have put together a little checklist for you to keep this in mind as you are working through hiring a local website designer. Just put in your information below and we will send it right over. Keep this by the phone and with you while you are talking to designers. That way you are able to refer to it and know what kinds of questions you need to be asking.

KSR Designs

Helping small businesses and nonprofits build websites and content marketing strategies that activate growth

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Tactics and Strategies for using Social Media to grow your local business https://www.weareksr.com/north-carolina-social-media-management/ Wed, 24 Aug 2016 17:33:52 +0000 http://wordpress-36010-76931-212147.cloudwaysapps.com/?p=14560 One of the biggest challenges for business owners is managing the customer acquisition cost and the ability to make recurring sales off of these customers. After creating a product or service that satisfies the holy grail of product market fit, the next step is making sure you acquire new customers at minimum expenditure or even […]

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One of the biggest challenges for business owners is managing the customer acquisition cost and the ability to make recurring sales off of these customers. After creating a product or service that satisfies the holy grail of product market fit, the next step is making sure you acquire new customers at minimum expenditure or even free and keeping existing customers engaged. The right social media management can do both for your local business in North Carolina.

To put a background and perspective on why social media is important for your business, here are key statistics to put to heart:

  • 81% – percentage of buyers who research products and services online before making a decision
  • 18% – percentage of users who make local search and made a buy within 24-hours
  • 77% – percentage of B2C businesses that have acquired a customer via Facebook
  • 8% internet penetration in North Carolina
  • 68% of U.S adults have a smartphone
  • Over 4.5 million Facebook users in North Carolina
  • 65 million monthly users of Twitter in the United States
  • 5 miles – the radius around which the buyers buy from

These statistics go to show the importance of taking all marketing channels seriously, especially social media channels where the cost of acquiring customers is very low and sometimes free. And for a state having 71.8% internet penetration and growing, local businesses have no choice than to be active on social media.

Having established the importance of prioritizing marketing through social media channels, it is imperative to understand the tactics and strategies to maximize their usage.

Strategies To Increase Social Media Engagement

  1. Stick to an identity: There has to be a link between your brand, and all your social media channels. From logos to colors and tone, everything has to align and point towards your brand. People should spontaneously know it’s your brand. This requires in-house coordination to make this happen.
  2. Research, Research, and Research: You cannot just decide to focus on a particular social media channel simply because of gut feeling or because it has the most presence. Rather, let data guide your choices. Tools like Buzzsumo, Ahref Content Explorer and Mention allow you to spy on your competitors and analyze specific keywords that are related to your industry.

You will get insight into which platform they are getting the most shares and key influencers – blogs and social media handles – that can help drive traffic to your profiles.

  1. Use the power of free: Creating a high-value free product can have a massive pull on audiences. SaaS businesses give free trial with the same value as paid subscription for a limited time, blog owners give out free ebooks, confectionaries share coupon codes etc.

These create a viral effect where satisfied users tell others about the product, and share your profiles with friends and family both online and offline.

  1. Post relevant information and sometimes entertaining ones: People follow your profiles because they want relevant information. However, relevant doesn’t equate to boring. Try to sprinkle humor and personality to your messages. Make your followers know it’s not a robot behind the profile.

Ensure the promotional messages you put out are few compared to the relevant and entertaining information you put out. People don’t really like being sold to.

  1. Plan contest and giveaways that drive traffic to your profile: Contests engage followers and users in a different. You tap into their competitiveness to promote your brand and create awareness. For example, you can create a contest around people liking your page, but make sure the reward is worth their time.
  2. Use Visual content: Adding a picture to a tweet can improve the retweets you get by 35%. People are visual, and pictures and infographics can capture the message more than words can. More so, they easily go viral because the message is usually instantaneous.
  3. Be responsive: Social media enables real-time communication. Use this to handle queries and customer requests quickly. Also, join the conversation about your industry, and creatively use trending hashtags that are closely related to your business to create awareness for your brand.
  4. Your best hand should handle your social media channels: This is a no-brainer really. Make sure the person handling your profiles is social media savvy. That is, knows the type of audiences obtained on the different platforms, and can create posts that capture these audiences. If you don’t have any in-house, you can hire someone new or use a freelancer pending when you can hire a social media specialist in-house.
  5. Create a synergy between your blog and social media channels: There’s a need to create a pull between your blog and your social media channels. Share your new blog posts via social media and increase the chances of getting new subscribers to your blog. Also, allow users like your social media profiles through your blog.
  6. Also share your profile every way you can: Getting new followers should not be limited to the social media profiles. You can include your social media profile in your emails, staff complimentary cards, brochures, store walls, letters and all avenues you send messages through.

Conclusion

Always remember that your social media management and strategies should not just result in large follower numbers, but increase sales and make raving fans for your business in North Carolina. It’s about adding value that attracts your target audience before dropping promotional messages.

Why spend so much on other marketing channels when you can leverage on the “free” nature of social media to acquire new customers? Think about it and make use of the listed social media management strategies, and watch your business grow in North Carolina.

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5 Questions you need to ask your small business marketing consultant that will make you money https://www.weareksr.com/5-questions-need-ask-small-business-marketing-consultant-will-make-money/ Wed, 17 Aug 2016 13:35:53 +0000 http://wordpress-36010-76931-212147.cloudwaysapps.com/?p=14547 To be candid, the reason businesses exist is to make money by providing value to needing customers. However, you need to spend money to make money. One of the channels businesses cannot afford to be tight-fisted about is the marketing department. No matter how great your product or service is, you still need to put […]

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To be candid, the reason businesses exist is to make money by providing value to needing customers. However, you need to spend money to make money. One of the channels businesses cannot afford to be tight-fisted about is the marketing department. No matter how great your product or service is, you still need to put them in the face of those who need them.

You need leads – serious leads you can convert to more sales. Hence, the reason small businesses engage the help of small business marketing consultants in different capacities to come and have a peek over things, but before you give them the full reigns over things, you should ask them the following questions.

Question #1: Can you describe your marketing consultant firm and the kind of clients you have worked with in the past?

What this does is give you a bit of history about the firm and the setup behind the scene. You’ll want to probe further by asking if everything is done in-house or some parts are outsourced. This is not necessarily a bad thing; it just gives you a handle on what’s within their control.

Also, the kinds of clients they have worked with can show a pattern – if you’re a B2B, you want to deal with a small business consultancy firm that deals with such.

Question #2: What will they be doing and how will they be doing it?

You should know exactly what you’ll be paying for, and their approach to this question will speak of the nitty-gritty details that will go into their marketing plans. This will also include a timeline for feasible and measurable plans.
It also helps if they can put a number to goals and the target. Be careful, however, not to get carried away by a swat of promises that are not achievable especially from where your business is presently at.

Question #3: Can you give us three successful case studies and one or two failed case studies?

With this question, what you want to hear are real numbers; where they met small businesses and the impact of the small business marketing consultant after working with the small business. You want to hear the number of leads generated and the percentage of sales converted.

How they increased engagement on social media, how they grew email subscribers in XYZ days. And you should also check with those clients. They might not necessarily have failed before, but a particular strategy might have failed in the past. You need this admittance to give you confidence that they won’t hide anything from you.

Question #4: Technology is rapidly changing marketing strategies, how do you adapt to these changes, and what strategies are in place you never get left behind?

You need an innovative small business marketing consultant that has strategies that are in line with latest successful strategies. They must show a willingness to change and be able to show how they are doing this.

Question #5: How do we measure ROI?

This is very important. How do you measure success and lack of it? What metrics does the business consultancy firm use to measure their own success? Identify if it differs with your expectations. You don’t want a small business marketing consultant that settles for less. If they can’t meet your goals, then don’t bother.

In the end, these questions are only a guide, you can and should ask more questions no matter how trivial it seems. Perform your due diligence before paying a dime for any marketing consultancy.

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5 small business digital marketing tactics to watch for the second half of 2016 https://www.weareksr.com/small-business-digital-marketing-tactics-watch-second-half-2016/ https://www.weareksr.com/small-business-digital-marketing-tactics-watch-second-half-2016/#respond Thu, 23 Jun 2016 18:34:33 +0000 http://wordpress-36010-76931-212147.cloudwaysapps.com/?p=14465 As we are wrapping up the first half of the year, it is time to reflect a bit, find the gaps, and strategize how your business is going to level up for the second half of 2016. So let’s discuss some small business digital marketing tactics that will help your business grow in 2016. We have […]

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As we are wrapping up the first half of the year, it is time to reflect a bit, find the gaps, and strategize how your business is going to level up for the second half of 2016. So let’s discuss some small business digital marketing tactics that will help your business grow in 2016.

We have seen some things in the first half of the year that will carry over into the second half and even grow. I don’t anticipate that any major changes will happen in the second half of the year until we get closer to the holiday season unless some new major players or releases happen.

It is important to understand that these are just tactics and are not strategies. You shouldn’t go out tomorrow and start building any of these into your marketing plan just because they are listed here. You should sit down with your marketing strategist to discuss and analyze which of these hits your audience where they are and in the right mind frame that you are looking for.

Facebook Live

2016 brought us the open access to Facebook Live which allows people to live stream to people about, essentially, whatever they want. Businesses can also use the tool as a way of connecting with their customers and adding value. People love buying from people they know and this is a great way to get to know your customer.

This feature is a direct competitor to Twitter’s Periscope but has the added value of being able to tap into the existing audience of ideal clients that you have already built on Facebook without needing to exit to another platform. Periscope, on the other hand, is more robust for finding new broadcasts but requires that you go off of Twitter to watch the streams unless you want to watch it as part of your Twitter feed.

Some examples of ways that you can use Facebook Live are doing a video blog post or a vlog. You can do AMAs or ask me anythings. You can do regular office hours where you answer questions, give advice and do some high-level coaching.

To get started using Facebook Live, Facebook has published some very high-level tips on how to use Facebook Live.

In 2016, this should be the fastest growing tool for small business owners. It can be a tremendous asset when competing with the big box stores and staying front of mind as we move into the shopping season.

Website Optimization

You’ve been hearing us talk about optimizing your website for a while now. But there are still a ton of people who are either still using the same old website without any type of optimization toward conversions, bad copy, not strategically built or just slow.

Making sure that your website is driving people down your funnel and toward that conversion should be the primary objective of your website. It should be adding money to your pocket and not just be some artwork that you get to look at from time to time. You should never be questioning whether your website is actually working to grow your business. It should be working as a round-the-clock sales person for you and be your biggest and greatest marketing asset.

As technologies continue to improve, internet speeds get faster, and customers continue to shop online for everything from products to services, we will continue to see websites being optimized for business growth and more businesses that don’t take the time to shape up this channel of their marketing strategy will continue to suffer.

Snapchat

Snapchat is the fastest growing social media application in the world. The only competitor for that spot is Instagram but the reason that Snapchat is ahead is purely because people are realizing that there are so many more uses than sending pictures no one Small business digital marketing tactics for the second half of 2016should ever see to someone else. Instead, it is a great way to send micro-content to your followers and provide snippets of value to their lives and businesses, ingraining you as a leader and expert to them.

Another awesome thing that Snapchat lets you do is in the direct messaging. Sure, if you have 1 million followers, sending a personal message to each of them would be difficult, almost impossible. However, if you pick 1% of those or even .1% of those followers and send them a message, give them a little inspiration, just tell them to go out today and kill it, be 1% more today than they were yesterday, to those 1,000 people you could change their lives but at the very least will change their day. Then you will have a brand advocate for the rest of their lives.

And if you want to get some value from me, add me for tips and tricks by signing up for Snapchat and pointing the camera at this code.

I don’t see businesses failing because they don’t move to Snapchat for the second half of 2016. However, if you are in a market where it makes sense and you have a competitor who starts to build it into their strategy and it makes sense for your audience of ideal clients, then you may find yourself falling behind.

Building your community

This may sound obvious but if you go into the top trending apps in the major app stores, all of the top apps are some form of a group application. The top 10 trending apps for social right now in the Google Play Store include 5 dating apps, 2 chat apps, 1 football community app, a video streaming app, and Tumblr.

All of those apps (with a minor and arguable exception of Tumblr) tell me one thing. Despite people having a phone in their hand all day every day, despite the infinitely more accessible world that we live in, despite the instantaneous opportunity to connect with everyone from Joseph down the street to Mark Cuban, we are still lonely. We are looking for others who are like us, who will accept us, and who we feel like we can connect with.

Utilizing this functional need as part of your marketing strategy is a definite and undeniable way to build brand equity with your customers and clients and to grow your network of committed community members who have already qualified themselves as interested in your products or service offerings just by being part of your community.

You obviously can’t just go out and start hitting them with sales messaging. You have to provide value to that community to gain from it and you do that by being one of them. Many many many businesses are built off of scratching your own itch, building a product or service that fills a need that you yourself have. So making sure that you show yourself as a person who shares the same needs as the people that are members of your community is CRITICAL when trying to connect with them. If you can’t connect, you don’t exist within that community and you will not gain from it.

The rest of 2016 will see more and more businesses continue to capitalize on the equity that comes from being part of a community. Many businesses will succeed because they invest here and once the holiday shopping season hits, they will be top of mind.

Instagram

If you have been paying attention, then seeing Instagram on this list shouldn’t surprise you. Instagram is still an extremely powerful tool for storytelling in your business a well as a largely untapped resource as a local marketing tool.

Some markets, especially software and businesses like CPAs have a hard time finding a place that this type of graphic-based marketing can work for them. They don’t necessarily have a job that lends itself to photography on a day to day basis.

I would argue that it is even more of a benefit for these types of businesses to work with tools like Instagram because using imagery is a great way to tell a story that works for your business and allows the customer to connect with you. We can’t all work in a children’s museum or be a rowing club. So finding the right images with the right messages that build the story around your business and around your community is even more important.

Wrapping up

Digital marketing will still need to be the cornerstone of your marketing, whether you are a rural small business or urban. Mass print doesn’t carry any weight anymore and personalized print is not scalable. Take a long hard look at your current marketing strategy and see if there is a place that one of these tools make sense. Try it for a little while and evaluate. Always be evaluating.

If you aren’t sure of how these tools could be built into your marketing plan, please let us know. Reach out to us and we would love to sit down to discuss your ideas and give some thoughts.

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Why your not growing your business using your website https://www.weareksr.com/growing-your-business-using-your-website/ https://www.weareksr.com/growing-your-business-using-your-website/#respond Wed, 08 Jun 2016 18:49:34 +0000 http://wordpress-36010-76931-212147.cloudwaysapps.com/?p=14414 Too many businesses overlook their website as a critical and key marketing asset. They view their website more as something that they have to do to avoid falling behind the competition. They put together a website as though it is something that they have to do rather than something that will be impacting their bottom […]

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Too many businesses overlook their website as a critical and key marketing asset. They view their website more as something that they have to do to avoid falling behind the competition. They put together a website as though it is something that they have to do rather than something that will be impacting their bottom line for the next 3 years. Growing your business using your website is not something that small business owners think about naturally. It is more about just filling in the gaps and they view the lack of a website as exactly that.

Part of the issue there is with the education around the use of a website as a marketing tool to grow your business. So I wanted to take a few minutes to discuss growing your business using your website.

Your website is much much more than a yellow pages listing.

I get phone calls regularly from businesses who say, “Well I need to update my website because it looks out of date.” They are more focused on making sure that their website looks fresh than making sure that they are using it as a cornerstone for their marketing efforts.

Growing Your Business Using Your Website

Content marketing is a great way to build your website into a lead generation machine. Content marketing utilizes strategic mediums to build communications channels with your desired customer.

In an interview with Inc.com,  Michael Brenner, head of strategy for NewsCred and a Forbes Top 40 social media marketer said “Small businesses should be even more focused on content marketing than larger brands. Small businesses don’t have the luxury of massive budgets that are over-weighted in ineffective advertising. But they also need to drive brand awareness and leads with limited resources. Content marketing is a great way for small businesses to do both.”

But I don’t know how to use my website for growing my business

There are countless resources across the web that are happy to show you the basics of what you should be doing to utilize your website as a marketing asset. If your website is not driving your business as a key component, then you are leaving money on the table.

Here are some basic steps that you should put in place to get the most out of your content marketing efforts:

Define your goal

If you don’t know where you’re going, you definitely don’t know how to get there. You need to identify what your objectives are before you can begin to define a strategy that works for your business and place your targets. Here are 3 questions to get you started. Who is your audience? How do you want to grow? How do you want to define your business?

Identify your subject matter

Much of this is going to be determined by your audience’s needs. A great place to find some of your first pieces of content can be right in your email. What are the 3-5 questions that you hear over and over again? Don’t worry about things like “well if I give them all of that information, then they won’t need me anymore.” That is never true. Your audience wants to see that you know what you are talking about. Sure, a couple of people may choose to paint the corners around the windows in their home, but, because you are being found because you are answering questions and showing up in search engine results, the number of new leads coming your way will far outweigh the DIYers.

Determine your strategy

You know who your audience is. You know how you want to present your company to your audience. Fantastic. You are already ahead of 90% of businesses who are trying to use content marketing.

Now here are a few questions you can ask. Where is your audience online? What types of content are the right types of content to reach your audiences? Graphics? Videos? Blog content?

Staff and Build

The reality of content marketing is that it takes up a large amount of time. Having someone who can take care of the content creation, curation, development, publishing, calendars and communications associated with your content marketing efforts will help you substantially.  The person that you hire should have a basic understanding of content development (from idea to editing), taxonomy, the ability to manage content workflow and scheduling, understand content repurposing, SEO and social optimization, local optimization, and, probably most important, they should know how to measure and communicate content effectiveness. Otherwise, they won’t know if the effort and money that is being put in is or will return on your bottom line. The reality is that if you are really focused on growing your business using your website, it is going to take a lot of work but it is work that will pay off.

Content marketing won’t work in my industry

If we can put it frankly, bullshit. Content marketing is being used everywhere from the big Fortune 100 brands to small agricultural businesses and auto mechanics. The reality is that, as Brenner said, content marketing is a critical component for local businesses because you are able to talk about your local community, associate it with the services or products that you offer, and begin to drive more organic search traffic to your website. Further, if you are using this tool properly, you are cross-pollinating with your social media platforms to allow yourself to build a reputation online reaching those customers locally so that you are gaining authority and thought leadership.

I’d love to talk to you about growing your business using your website. Please click here for a free 15 minute call to discuss your thoughts and answer some of your questions around content marketing. 

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9 Ways to Boost Your Business’s Website Credibility https://www.weareksr.com/9-ways-to-boost-your-businesss-website-credibility/ https://www.weareksr.com/9-ways-to-boost-your-businesss-website-credibility/#respond Wed, 01 Jun 2016 17:55:48 +0000 http://firebreatherdigital.com/?p=6058 In all of the websites we have reviewed and rebuilt over the years, we have seen some terrible loss of opportunities within communities. We have seen some businesses that have been prominent leaders in their communities in the beginning but been passed over by new competitors coming into the community. These new competitors don’t start […]

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In all of the websites we have reviewed and rebuilt over the years, we have seen some terrible loss of opportunities within communities. We have seen some businesses that have been prominent leaders in their communities in the beginning but been passed over by new competitors coming into the community. These new competitors don’t start out with word of mouth referrals. Most all of them start out with a website.

So we put together a list of 9 guidelines that you should use to ensure that your business’s website is putting the right foot forward in gaining credibility.

Guideline 1: Make It Easy For People To Verify Your Claims

You can build web site credibility by providing third-party support (citations, references, source material) for information you present, especially if you link to this evidence. Even if people don’t follow these links, you’ve shown confidence in your material.

While reviewing websites, I regularly see testimonials that are text only from people with names like “Greg G.” I’d suggest that most people, when they see this kind of testimonial, don’t find it as convincing. Use testimonials from Facebook, Yelp, or other review sites with a link back to the original review. If you don’t have an external source to link to, you can show photos of the people leaving the testimonial.

If you’re showing news media logos to claim that you’ve been mentioned in those sources, you need to link to those sources.

Guideline 2: Demonstrate Your Expertise

Do you have experts on your team? Thought-leaders or authorities? Be sure to give their credentials. Make that clear. 

Across your website, you need to show expertise. Mention years of experience, qualifications, industry or community recognition and more. Show things like time spent working in the community. This time of activity shows an acceptance of your business by 3rd parties.

Conversely, don’t link to outside sites that are not credible. Your site becomes less credible by association.

Guideline 3: Show That Honest and Trustworthy People Stand Behind Your Site and Business

Show there are real people behind the site and in the organization. Next, find a way to convey their trustworthiness through images or text.

As a basic must, you need to show the owner’s photo and name – something many websites fail to do. The next step is to have About Page content that is engaging and trust-building. A bunch of random history information that isn’t going to help new clients purchase from you is not helpful.

Guideline 4: Make It Easy to Contact You

A simple way to boost your site’s credibility is by making your contact information clear: phone number, physical address, and email address.

This comes back to Guideline 2. We’ve seen all manner of variations when it comes to contact forms. One mistake is particularly glaring is overloading website guests with unnecessary form fields.

Wanting to contact you doesn’t mean they’re ready to become a member. Give them a clear avenue to reach out to you and, instead of asking a bunch of questions about what their goals are, and what type of membership they think might work for them, keep it as simple as possible.

Guideline 5: Design Your Site So It Looks Professional and Not Intimidating

We find that people quickly evaluate a site by visual design alone. When designing your site, pay attention to layout, typography, images, consistency issues, and more. Of course, not all sites gain credibility by looking like IBM.com. The visual design should match the site’s purpose.

How to Apply This? Start right here

Guideline 6: Make Your Site Easy to Use (And Useful)

We’re squeezing two guidelines into one here. Our research shows that sites win credibility points by being both easy to use and useful. Some business owners forget about users when they cater to their own company’s ego or try to show the dazzling things they can do with web technology.

The importance of following this guideline cannot be overstated. Think about removing old Flash elements, making your site usable on mobile devices, and making sure the opening headline of your website is clear. If people can’t navigate your site easily to get to where they are trying to go, they will move on. There are too many competitors out there today for them to try so hard to become a customer.

We strive to make our layouts painfully simple to use and navigate. This raises average time on site and reduces bounce rate.

Guideline 7: Update Your Website Often

People assign more credibility to sites that show they have been recently updated or reviewed.

Upcoming seminars, webinars, social events, etc. all show that your business is active and running.

Remove dates from your blog posts, especially if you’re not blogging much. An out of date blog looks inactive and makes you look substandard compared to your competitors.

A site looks like it was built over 10 years ago will lose access to new members. Just a fact. How are people meant to know whether you’re alive or not? Call you on the phone? Many if not most people hate the idea of calling a business if they’re not sure what’s going to come on the other end.

Guideline 8: Be Mindful of your Promotional Content

If possible, avoid having ads on your site. If you must have ads, clearly distinguish the sponsored content from your own. Avoid pop-up ads, unless you don’t mind annoying users and losing credibility. As for writing style, try to be clear, direct, and sincere.

If you’re one of the few business’s with ads for other businesses (it happens), take it down. To work so hard to get a visitor and then send them to another website is… well odd. Remember that these people, more often than not, searched to get to your site. So Google Ads is going to show them ads relevant to their search history, you know, your competitors.

Guideline 9: Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem

Typographical errors and broken links hurt a site’s credibility more than most people imagine. It’s also important to keep your site up and running.

To fix grammar or spelling is important and cheap. You can easily hire someone through a number of online resources to edit your website for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors.

In order to identify broken links on your site, look into services like Broken Link Check which will work through your entire website to identify broken links.

Wrapping Up

Making sure that you are hitting all 10 of the above points is something that you should be taking care to focus on before moving on to other things like Facebook marketing. Your website is usually the 1st or 2nd thing that people come into contact with when they hear about or look into your company. Making sure you nail all of these will only help you turn more of those people into new members.

Let’s have a quick 15 minute chat to discuss your business’s goals and what you are trying to accomplish. Complete the form below to schedule a quick call.

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The Three Magic Words to Change the Way You Approach Your Business’s Marketing https://www.weareksr.com/the-three-magic-words-to-change-the-way-you-approach-your-businesss-marketing/ https://www.weareksr.com/the-three-magic-words-to-change-the-way-you-approach-your-businesss-marketing/#respond Wed, 25 May 2016 13:45:30 +0000 http://firebreatherdigital.com/?p=6077 Whether you know it or not, you are depending on this principle. If you want to be an effective new customer-creating machine, you have to take people through 3 steps of adopting “you.” The better you are at moving more of the right people through these stages, the more successful you and your business will be. Here’s […]

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Whether you know it or not, you are depending on this principle. If you want to be an effective new customer-creating machine, you have to take people through 3 steps of adopting “you.” The better you are at moving more of the right people through these stages, the more successful you and your business will be.

Here’s the three stages you need to walk people through to get and keep those customers:

1st – Know you

The more obvious of the three is probably getting people to know you or hear about your business in the first place. Usually these are done through things like websites, social media, friends, referrals, Groupon, Yelp, Google, or any other form of marketing. Making sure that you put forward the best foot is the best opportunity you have to make sure that your people KNOW you instead of have brushed up against you at one point or another.

2nd –  Like you

In order to start to get buy-in and gain in the areas of retention and referral sales, at this point, the individual has engaged with you and your business’s brand/personality. Your communication with them should be much more personal and on a one-to-one level rather than from a “we are here and you are there”-type of corporate speak. This is your opportunity to really bring these customers into the fold.

3rd – Trust you

These are your brand advocates. Show them the proof as to why you’re a great business for a variety of reasons and they will take the risk of spending their money and their reputation on your business. This is where you have empowered your army to go out on your behalf and start recruiting people into your business.

Developing relationship capital is essentially how people work on a day-to-day basis. You are never willing to go as far for someone that you know versus someone that you truly trust.

When you affiliate yourself with premium ideas, techniques, businesses and partnerships, your customer begins to identify you alongside of those brands. You get to capitalize on the reputation that comes from those businesses.

The other end of this same equation can be compared to cold email marketing, phone calls or even at networking events. You know that you haven’t developed any trust or even “like” out of that person so you know that it is going to take more work to get them to that point.

Everything you say about yourself in the copy and photos on your website, your social media, your podcasts, your stickers, your uniforms need to use this principle.

Let’s have a quick 15 minute chat to discuss your business’s goals and what you are trying to accomplish. Complete the form below to schedule a quick call.

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3 Reasons Your Website Needs to be Mobile Optimized https://www.weareksr.com/3-reasons-website-needs-mobile-optimized/ https://www.weareksr.com/3-reasons-website-needs-mobile-optimized/#respond Wed, 18 May 2016 15:14:00 +0000 http://wordpress-36010-76931-212147.cloudwaysapps.com/?p=14377 You are about to fly out of town for a few days on a business trip. You haven’t packed yet. You finished your presentation but you forgot it at the office, so you need to stop by there. You call a cab and they show up 20 minutes earlier than you planned on. You are shoving […]

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You are about to fly out of town for a few days on a business trip. You haven’t packed yet. You finished your presentation but you forgot it at the office, so you need to stop by there. You call a cab and they show up 20 minutes earlier than you planned on. You are shoving things in your luggage and run out the door.

You turn after locking the door and see your lawn that hasn’t been mowed in 2 weeks. You put your luggage in the trunk, open the door and pull out your cellphone before slipping into the back seat.

In May of 2015, Google told the Wall Street Journal that in 10 countries including the United States, searches on Google devices outnumber those on desktop computers.

Your customers are just like you. Today, we will discuss three reasons why a mobile website for your company shouldn’t be near the bottom of your priority list but should be a key component of your most valuable marketing asset.

Your customer is mobile

The scenario above may or may not seem extreme to you. I would assume, however, that you have experienced this type of scenario at least once.

Being available where your customer is is critical to your websites success. Today’s consumer demands that what they are looking for be easily available and fast so that they can move on with the other things that they need to worry about.

Easily Accessible Contact Information

If a customer has to go through multiple steps on your website to find your contact information, they will never reach out.

Keeping as few steps as possible between your customer and you is a must for driving those conversions. During a website design project, everyone says that they want the website to be easy to navigate. Usually, they are talking about where the menus are on the page and being able to get to them easily.

Easy to navigate and digest for your customer means something entirely different. They know that they are being brought down a sales funnel. They don’t have a problem with that, otherwise they would have already left your page. They do, however, expect that things will be properly laid out on the way through that funnel so that they are able to make that conversion when they are ready.

Imagine in the scenario above if you are looking for a landscaping service and there is no contact information, just an email opt-in. Is that the person to help you in your emergency situation?

Staying Ahead of Your Competitor

Amazingly, despite threats and warnings from Google as well as impacts to revenues, a substantial number of businesses still do not have mobile websites. Rather than meeting their customers where they are, they are relying on that customer to return to their website on their own.

This gives small businesses the opportunity to stand out from the crowd and compete upmarket by offering what your potential customers are looking for without them needing to do any additional work.

While you are in the back of the cab, you browse through 3 landscaping service provider websites. Two of them are just desktop sites. The 3rd is a mobile responsive site that provides direct contact information that is easily accessible. Which of those companies appear more reputable and reliable?

Let’s have a quick 15 minute chat to discuss your business’s goals and what you are trying to accomplish. Complete the form below to schedule a quick call.

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