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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

5 Things to Know Before Building Your Own Website, So You Get It Right the First Time

ChrissyBiz Solutions brings you relevant and helpful information from professionals who not only know but listen to the needs of business owners and entrepreneurs. This guest blogger understands the tasks associated with Web Marketing and how strategic planning with clearly defined goals can lead to more clients and more sales:


Caryn Murray is a copywriter and consultant specializing in startup and small business Branding, Advertising, and Marketing. She is the owner of BAM! Copy Writing which provides a variety of multimedia copywriting services to businesses of all shapes and sizes around the globe. Her passion is in helping local small businesses in the Finger Lakes Region of Central New York where she is an active board member on the Phelps Chamber of Commerce, the Marketing and Public Relations Committee, and the Business Development and Tourism Committee. Read on to learn more about creating a website that fits yours needs and the needs of your market:


Many entrepreneurs and small business owners fall victim to building-their-own-website-without-knowing-what-they-are-doing. Of course this can be more suitable for a startup budget, and there are a variety of easy to use website builders and blogging tools that can help you get your concept online without investing more than your own time and energy.
However, an ineffective website can and will cause more damage than good for any start up or small business. 

With the right understanding of which elements make a website effective, you can save the nightmare of retracing your steps by getting it done right, the first time around. The following elements are all important things to consider before taking the next step in building your own website.

1. Why do you want a website? 

At the risk of sounding like your elementary school teacher… you shouldn't do something "just because everyone else is doing it." That's not a good enough reason, and an effective website needs a solid purpose to build a base on.

Perhaps, a more thought provoking question you should answer is:

What should your website do for you?
  • Do you want to sell your products/services online?
  • Do you want an informational website where potential clients can go to learn more about your products, services, or ideas?
  • Would you like to take an existing small business into modern media?
  • Are you tired of worrying that you might be losing potential clients who have asked for a website?
  • Do you want to test a business concept for market potential?
Whether you're running an advertisement in the local paper or building your own website, knowing what you expect (the purpose) is critical for generating a sufficient return on investment. (In other words: not dumping your money down the drain.) 

2. Navigation and Structural Development

A basic website provides limited information between a Home page, an About page, and Contact info. This might include hours of operation, prices, etc. Know everything you want on your website, and then create a flow chart to determine the navigational paths. 

Over time, you will want to understand how visitors use your website to create a more user friendly experience. Google Analytics is a powerful tool for monitoring specific data, including:

  • Traffic sources, such as referring web pages and also which phrases are sending search engine users to your website.
  • Which pages get the most views, and the amount of time users spend on each web page.
  • Your bounce rate (the percentage of traffic that leaves your landing or home page within the first 30 seconds)
  • Information about where your traffic comes from geographically
  • And much, much more…
With Google Analytics, you can determine which navigational paths have the highest conversion rate by setting and watching various Goals. You can use that information to adjust or even redevelop the structure of your website for a higher return on investment.

3. First Impressions and Branding

Premium or customized templates are always more professional than a generic template. It is very important that your website is consistent with your brand in the real world, so if you already have marketing collateral (brochures, business cards, etc.) try to stick with the same visual image and first impression.

4. Marketing and Promoting Your Website

If you build it, they will come? Not on the internet!

You do need to market and promote your startup or small business website.

The first step is to put your website address on any marketing collateral, but you can also purchase advertising spots in local media and release a press announcement about the launch of a new website (focusing on what's in it for the end user.) For a higher initial spike in traffic, use incentive. People respond better to incentives such as free coupons.

You can also reach new leads by marketing your website online.

Welcome to the web! There are new ways to market, advertise, and promote your brand/business/services. Surely you’ve heard that social media marketing is all the rage right now, but search engine optimization and marketing continue to be the most powerful way to get your brand in front of a targeted audience that is already looking for your products and/or services.

5. Content

The biggest mistake a DIY website builder can make is not putting enough effort into their website content. This element is - dare I say it - the most important part! 

Web content serves several purposes including:

  • Keeping your bounce rate low by providing an immediate first impression that is appealing, not intimidating. (This is in correlation with the graphic design of your website.)
  • Telling search engines what your website is about. Search engine optimization depends solely on the individual web page content. Using the right keywords and phrases at the right density is critical during the initial development of root pages, and that’s not including SEO content published in a well maintained blog.
  • Laying down navigational paths, including anchor text links (also supporting SEO) to create a user friendly experience beyond the menu.
  • Converting traffic into customers. The immediacy of the web provides an even bigger challenge in fulfilling calls to action. Most do-it-yourselfers often neglect putting in a call to action to begin with, let alone setting the mood for said action to be taken.
To learn more, please visit http://BAMcopywriting.com

Monday, March 14, 2011

5 Tips To Effectively Manage Your Time On Social Networking Sites & Social Media Tips For Your Business

If you are maximizing tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for your business, you may have reaped some rewards. Managing these sites effectively, spending adequate time on them, and not allowing them to waste your time, can be tricky. They must be properly used in order to be an asset, not a "time stealer." Below are 5 tips for small businesses to gain maximum benefit from these new marketing tools:

  1. To avoid wasting quality time on these sites, a schedule is essential. Set aside a minimum and maximum amount of time you will spend on these sites daily. Give them appropriate time slots throughout your day and get in the routine of adhering to it. Will you spend 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night? Or will you spend 45 minutes in the evening? It is up to you and your goals. However, you need to realize when your market is most active and will see whatever updates you post. If you are posting entertainment news at 6 am, that may not be very beneficial unless you plan to periodically re-publish the information.
  2. Once your schedule is set, divide up how you will spend that time -- what will you do with it? I suggest that you not only add value to your market, but also interact with and engage them. This can be as simple as RTing a quote of interest (set a goal of how many you will do per day), replying to @'s or questions, or asking direct questions they might find interesting and thought-provoking. Understand that leaving your page dormant can be damaging to your strategy and goals, and decrease your following. It will also be detrimental to time spent in the past building your reputation. Be careful not to ignore them or present yourself as an anti-social social networker. You do not want your market to begin ignoring what you have to say. You want them to become so interested in you as a person that they will click your link and actually see what you can offer them and share it with others as well. Social Media has been able to drive sales for my business using this tactic.
  3. Follow those in your target market, "don't preach to the choir." If you sell jewelry and have found all the biggest jewelry companies in the world, ask yourself if that is your market and how they will benefit you. If you mostly sell to new brides and college grads, start finding them and following them. Don't turn on your twitterfeed and forget about them; rather take some time to read a few profiles and see what information they find valuable. When you start following them, say hello, let them know that though you are in business, you are a real person! Stop the generic replies or one-size-fits-all approach. This saves time by having relevant relationships instead of building a following that has no use or interest in your products or services.
  4. Perform searches of keywords for tools like Twitter, or find similar pages that people have "liked" on Facebook. These are beneficial for targeting and time management in that you are filtering out those who you can build relationships with. They will also help you find questions that you can answer; people you can add value to; and give you new prospects. Always follow up with messages you receive. But once your time limit has passed, write down where you have left off and resume your duties at the proper time.
  5. Never directly solicit people with a sale or even coupon for your products. This is very annoying. Why should they purchase from you and not the other 15 people who sent them the same information? Instead, read their profile and provide a link to answer a question they have. Bring the customer to you! Social Media is not the new door-to-door salesman that everyone avoids, so do not turn your profile and reputation into such.
When you have clearly defined goals and strategy for your social media presence, you can effectively manage your time spent on social networking sites. Maximize your time by sticking to your schedule and creating one that is most relevant to your market. Obviously, an hour a day will be more than some need and not enough for others. But whatever time spent can be used to reap maximum rewards. 

How do you effectively manage your time on these sites? What tips can you contribute to other business owners venturing into these new forms of web marketing?



ChrissyBiz Solutions provides clients with customized, results-driven web marketing strategies. Our primary business writing duties include: article marketing,  search engine optimized web copy, blog content, social media, press releases, and newsletters  designed to drive traffic to your website and influence buyers decisions when purchasing products and services.

Contact ChrissyBiz today to discuss the impact that web marketing copy can have on your business.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Twitter Pitfalls, Marketing Mistakes, & Annoying Habits

Twitter is great for business! No doubt about that. Personally, I have been able to meet more than 50% of new clients via twitter without soliciting them in any way. But it can also be a nightmare if you are not careful. Here are some common mistakes I have found (and even participated in before I knew better):

  • No Bio -- How can people accurately list you or utilize you as a valuable resource if you don't even tell them what you do from the beginning. Be as specific as possible. Most followers will not even click your link if they don't know what you do.
  • Misleading Bio -- Your bio says you are a marketer, but your link goes to a dating site. This will get you blocked and reported for spam in most cases, especially by professionals who take their pages seriously and have tied it to measurable marketable gains.
  • Not Reciprocating RT's -- When someone RT's your link or quote, at least be kind enough to acknowledge it or reciprocate it in the near future. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you tweeters.
  • Inciting Fear or Negativity -- You want people to utilize your services or buy your products because it solves a problem they have or adds value to them. Writing negative tweets or inciting fear in your followers in very 20th century and does not work. 
  • Sporadic Tweeting -- If you are not tweeting on a normal schedule, you are more likely to be unfollowed. If your last tweet was 2 months ago and the next time you tweet is to push your product...no one is listening. Engage. Interact. Be genuine.
  • Not Following Back -- Major pet peeve here as it shows your immediate lack of interest in your follower. They know you cannot even see what they tweet, therefore the chances of you responding or purchasing their product or service is very low. I personally find it a tad rude and "snooty."
  • Ignoring DM's or Replies -- We know your account is probably automated, but check your inbox from time to time and respond back in a timely manner.
I could go on and on, but I am interested in what YOU find annoying on twitter. We can all learn from one another, so share your thoughts in the comments section below.


ChrissyBiz Solutions provides clients with customized, results-driven web marketing strategies. Our primary business writing duties include: article marketing,  search engine optimized web copy, blog content, social media, press releases, and newsletters  designed to drive traffic to your website and influence buyers decisions when purchasing products and services.

Contact ChrissyBiz today to discuss the impact that web marketing copy can have on your business.

Monday, March 7, 2011

LA Lakers @ Spurs Game | Lessons For Your Business Strategy

The Lakers were able to break the Spurs winning streak, redeem themselves from their past two losses against them, and put up lower scores in the last half because of their ability to gain the advantage in the beginning. How? It's all about strategy..

So let's break down the LA Lakers at Spurs game yesterday. How does it relate to your business?

Just looking at the scores from each quarter, you can see that the LA Lakers scoring was a declining slope with their highest scores in the beginning of the game and their lower scores near the end. The San Antonio Spurs, on the other hand had more sporadic performances. Their scores displayed peaks in the second and fourth quarters. 

Los Angeles Lakers  34    31   16   18

 San Antonio Spurs   13   24   15   31

From a business perspective, it would appear that the Lakers strategy was well defined before they came out to play -- clearly they intended to set the pace. However, the Spurs were more responsive in their strategy -- each time they scored low, they came back and almost doubled the score in the next quarter, almost hoping to redeem themselves. I compare this to a business that executes a strategy they've developed after carefully studying their market, versus a business that deploys strategy based on their competitors or variables that cannot be tied to long term success. 
But you can't just look at the scores if you want an accurate picture of what happened. They can be a little deceiving..

Even though the Lakers' strategy was well outlined and executed from start to finish, the Spurs outperformed in their Free Throw percentage and Fast Break points. 

Lakers were able to get more total rebounds (49), 14 of which were just additional chances to shoot after they missed the shot. How successful are you at turning mistakes in your business around successfully?

Even though the Spurs' total rebounds were 43 and they converted their missed shots more times than the Lakers (37% opposed to the Lakers 30%), it was not enough to win the game. Overall strategy is key!

Turnovers were 6 for LA Lakers and 10 for the Spurs. The Spurs basically gave the Lakers a chance to score 10 times (in addition to their lead...) 

Basically, the Lakers were able to gain the advantage from the onset (lead) , rebound the ball more (execute), turn it over less (keep the lead) , and shoot more successfully from the field goal and 3 point line (preparation before execution). 

The Spurs victories in overall free throw percentage, fast break points, and offensive rebounds could not overshadow their failure to gain more than a 2 point lead in the game. They were never able to set the pace, they were always looking to just stay in the game.

The same applies to business. It would be great to dominate in every area, but it does not take that to be successful. The Lakers stats were impressive but the still Spurs outperformed in certain areas, just not the areas that made a difference in the overall outcome. They were left in a position to catch up from the beginning, their opponent gave themselves the advantage by playing a consistent game, offensive in nature, setting the standard.

This same formula will be the key to your success. It doesn't matter what you do, what you sell, or the ideas you want to bring to fruition. What matters is your strategy. Do the research on your market and competitors, and develop strategies to execute -- then practice. Learn from leaders like Google, Apple, Kobe Bryant, and others who have always keep their competitors trying to "catch up." 


ChrissyBiz Solutions provides clients with customized, results-driven web marketing strategies. Our primary business writing duties include: article marketing,  search engine optimized web copy, blog content, social media, press releases, and newsletters  designed to drive traffic to your website and influence buyers decisions when purchasing products and services.

Contact ChrissyBiz today to discuss the impact that web marketing copy can have on your business.

15 Monday Motivators

We all know the saying "It's a Monday" followed by the wrinkled face and sometimes sluggish productivity. SNAP OUT OF IT! If you are an entrepreneur or work from home, you need to be excited! You work for yourself, answer to yourself, and can control your own schedule.

Remember these motivators next time you want to speak negatively about your Monday morning duties. 

  1. You are alive, and have an opportunity to impact your customers today at your own pace, in your own space
  2. Your attitude going into the day will definitely reflect in your work and productivity
  3. If you planned properly on Saturday or Sunday, you will be fine
  4. You determine your workflow and how you want to complete your tasks
  5. You decide when you want to take a break
  6. Your clients need you, else they would not hire you
  7. You can have unlimited amounts of caffeine or tea and save money by brewing it yourself
  8. No one will make annoying comments about your Pandora station
  9. No commute or secretly cursing the driver in front of you in the AM traffic
  10. You're saving money on gas 
  11. You're saving money on your wardrobe as well
  12. Your cell phone and internet bills can be written off at tax time
  13. Even the space you dedicate to your home office is a tax write-off
  14. No more avoiding the annoying co-worker at lunch time
  15. Lunch is what you want, when you want
These are just 15 motivators I thought of -- what are your Monday Motivators?


ChrissyBiz Solutions provides clients with customized, results-driven web marketing strategies. Our primary business writing duties include: article marketing,  search engine optimized web copy, blog content, social media, press releases, and newsletters  designed to drive traffic to your website and influence buyers decisions when purchasing products and services.

Contact ChrissyBiz today to discuss the impact that web marketing copy can have on your business.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

5 Saturday Sins of the Serious Entrepreneur

"The will to survive is a human instinct while being determined to thrive requires discipline and superior decision making abilities." - Chrissy

 

The title entrepreneur is so distinguished and elite. But are you? Or do you just work for yourself? There is a difference! Besides working on ongoing projects and catching up on the weekends, how do you constructively use your time on Saturdays?

Bottom line is that you need to be working HARDER for your business than you would for someone else's. If your bills were X amount and your hours did not provide the salary you needed -- would you not put in overtime or work as many hours allowed by your company? Of course you would. Read on to find out about bad habits you should avoid on Saturdays.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Anti-Social Social Networkers - Do's & Dont's

Social Networking is an integral component to any web marketing strategy, we all know this. However, execution requires attention-to-detail and interaction with your market if you want to reap any benefits from this form of marketing. 

Frankly, there are many what I refer to as "spickets" of information. That is, bloggers, business owners, and social media "experts" that ignore their following yet constantly drip out information. The information is of no importance if people feel you are not engaging them. Why should they listen to you? What makes you a better authority on any topic than the next expert?

In the beginning, I too fell into this category, until I sat back to brainstorm why my followers seemed deaf or just plain ignored me. It does not matter how well informed you are or beautiful your default picture is, when it comes to social networking, you must be SOCIAL.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Marketing Plan How To | Business Plan Component

If you can recall, I wrote about the different plans that when put together make up your successful business plan. Inclusive in this is the Marketing Plan which details how you plan to get the word out about your new business venture. There should be a clear message and direction in your plan and the following considerations are important to constructing a good marketing plan:

  • How will you inform people about your business?
  • What message are you trying to convey to your target market after you get their attention?
  • Specify the methods, technology, and resources you will use to deliver and reinforce your marketing message
  • How will you secure actual sales with this marketing plan?
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