Startup & Small Business
Written by Brandi Bennett
Thursday, April 9th, 2015
Distributors are the companies or individuals that you use in order to get your inventory to your clients. They are designed specifically around the logistics of getting your materials to the people who have ordered your products or services. Your suppliers may even be distributors for other companies. These people and companies have a responsibility to you to make sure that your customers get what they have ordered within the agreed upon time frame. The question becomes how exactly should you treat these companies and individuals.
Employees Or Customers
Distributors may seem like they are your employees, in a sense, as you are paying them to provide a service for your company. On the other hand, your distributors, like your customers, have their own lists of demands. These demands must be met in order for these distributors to do anything for you.
If you are a small business, your distributor may simply be the post office, yet even the post office has its own set of demands regarding what and how you must ship certain objects. If you’re shipping lotions, for example, you must declare the lotions and follow specific protocols in order to ensure that they are shipped properly. Any liquid must be declared, as must anything flammable. The list goes on and on.
Are they working for you? Yes, they are delivering your goods to your clients. Are they your customers? Yes, they have demands that you must meet. Are you their customer? Yes again, without their services, you would have a difficult time getting your product distributed, and as such you have certain demands that they must meet as well.
If The Answer Is Yes To All, How Do I Act?
The answer is of course quite simple. Treat them as you would like to be treated. Explain your situation, explain what you are looking for, and determine if your distributor can meet your expectations. If not, thank them and move on to a different distributor.
The important thing is working to ensure that all needs are met, and the only way to do so is to act like a thinking, rational, and respectful adult. If all the relationships do not work smoothly, they will not work. You wouldn’t yell at your customer for asking something to be shipped next day when you offer next day shipping, nor should you yell at the person or company you are attempting to use to get that done.
Treat all distributors like both customers and employees. If you need something done within X amount of time, state this, like an employer would, but do so respectfully, in the same manner that you would use when you would talk to a customer. In return you will be treated like you want to be treated in a customer capacity. Supplier chains work the best when all aspects of the relationship are addressed and all are taken into account.
Image Source: Powered Play. (2014). Distributors. Retrieved from http://poweredplay.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/distributors.jpg
Written by Kevin Wood
Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
Social media is one of the most talked about topics in the online world today. Soon we may even have children with social media accounts before they even begin to walk. With all the hoopla around social media and all the social media “experts” telling you which strategy you should employ it can be difficult to make a decision.
After all, social media is a huge investment of time and spending too much time going in the wrong direction can be deadly for your business. In this post we’re going to explore the benefits of social media to see if you even need to be active on social media for your business to succeed.
Understanding The Current Social Media Landscape
Social media seems to have transcended the trend status and all signs are suggesting it’s going to be around for good. The real reason social media gets confusing is because there are so many different channels to be on and be effective on.
The ways of communication across each channel differs greatly, and your core group of customers may not even be using the network that you’re trying to build an audience on.
The landscape is very diverse and requires that you pay attention to the networks you’re using and the reasons you’re using them. If you’re not aware of the time you’re spending chances are you’re going to be wasting it.
However, just because a lot of brands are using social media doesn’t mean it’s right for your business. For starters, if you’re just going to mimic the same strategy that everyone else is, then you’re better off not going on social media in the first place.
Fortune favors the bold and your social media strategy is no different.
Some Businesses Don’t Need To Use Social Media
Before we continue it’s important to dive into the reason your business might not need a social media strategy. Think of social media as a means to deliver your message. If it doesn’t align with your customer base, then don’t use it.
For instance, if you run a personal sailing school and most of your students tend to live in the local community you might be better off leaving flyers around town, or hanging out at the local docks. Sometimes offline marketing can be better for your specific business.
Social media is a means of marketing for your business, but if the people you’re marketing to don’t hang out there, then it doesn’t make sense being on social media.
However, for the vast majority of businesses who should be considering moving forward with a strategy there are a few things you should take into account.
Constructing An Effective Social Media Strategy
At the heart of any good social media strategy is a good business. If your business doesn’t inspire your customers, or communicate your business in a clear manner, then your social media strategy isn’t going to make your business an overnight success.
Think of social media as an amplifier of your business. So, if you have a captivating business, then executing your social media strategy will be much easier.
1. Maintain Consistency
Think of your business as a friend that you trust. This person is always honest and tries to be as clear as possible, and they do their best to not send you mixed messages.
You want your business to be the same way. When you’re communicating across social media platforms make sure your message and tone stays the same, and make sure you’re always honest and open. That way people are more likely to trust you and be open with you.
2. Speak To Your Market
We alluded to this earlier, but you need to be on the social media platforms where your audience hangs out; that’s the only way to reach them.
On some social media platforms you can be more friendly and down-to-earth, while others are more geared towards business-speak. Make sure you’re in line with the communication standards of the platform, while still being honest with yourself.
3. Be Unique
Face it, no one wants to read a boring post on social media. There’s enough garbage to scroll through most of the time anyways, and you don’t want to continue adding to the noise.
You don’t have to be sensational, but you can be honest and show what makes your business unique from your competitors.
Make sure you emphasize these traits and at the end of the day remember, you’re speaking to humans, so act like it.
Written by Jessie Low
Thursday, April 2nd, 2015
If you operate a local small business that is dependent on sales from customers in close vicinity, then implementing a local SEO campaign is extremely helpful to your business.
- Increase your local brand awareness
- Target highly qualified traffic
- Drives more store visits
- Less competition than organic SEO
All of these factors lead to an increase in sales and have an impact on your bottom line. Here’s a basic checklist for a successful local SEO campaign.
Your Checklist To Local SEO Success
1. Optimize Your Website
- Page Title Tags should:
- Include your business name, keyword, and your city.
- Not have the same title tag on every page.
- Not be keyword stuffed.
- Not be longer than 60 characters.
- Enhance/Update homepage content.
- Have separate product and/or service pages.
- Add a customized location page. One for each location if you have more than one.
2. Implement Schema On Your Website
Add Schema Mark-Up to your website. Schema code helps search engines understand more quickly what your business does and where it does it. For example, make it easy for search engines to understand that you’re a lawyer in Chicago who deals in criminal law. Chances are you’re indexed faster and show up higher in the results.
3. Get a Google+ Local Listing & Optimize it
Have you claimed your listing? Great! No listing = No local ranking results in Google so go get listed now. An optimized Google+ local page entices potential clients and stands out against competitors.
Here are some best practices to follow for your Google+ listing:
Business Name – Add your official ‘doing business as’ (DBA) name.
Address – Format with U.S.P.S. guidelines.
Contact Info – Primary phone number should be your main landline.
Description – Create a unique and easy to read description of your business.
Photos – Add a profile photo, cover photo, and a few unique images of your business.
4. Get Local Business Listings (Citations)
Business directories (citations) are essential to your local SEO success. Make sure your NAP – Business Name, Address, and Phone Number – are consistent on all your listings. Search for citations in your industry and city, for instance join your local chamber of commerce.
Incorrect citations have a negative impact on your ability to rank locally. Search for any old/outdated citations, duplicates, or incorrect business listings that require updates or removal.
5. Get Reviews!
Positive online reviews not only help your business establish trust and standout from the competition, but reviews also help you connect with your clients, improve your services and build your reputation. Review sites available to consumers are Google+, Yelp, Facebook, and industry specific sites like UrbanSpoon and Avvo.
Request customer feedback through: follow up emails, after you complete your service, on your receipts and invoices, or through a review management platform, place review site stickers in your store like, Find Us on Yelp, or Like Us on Facebook.
Respond to reviews, both positive and negative reviews. This shows your customers you’re listening and value their feedback.
6. Create Local Content
Create local content that is relevant to your business and the city you live in. For example, talk about local events you’re involved in or review local events. If you are part of a local charity, tell your customers about it, use images, and link to the charity.
There’s endless opportunities when you use creative thinking about the events and businesses in your area of town.
7. Find Local Link Opportunities
Positive local links that point to your website impacts your sites ability to rank well geographically. It may seem challenging at first, but there are many ways to acquire links.
Not sure where to start? Brainstorm and evaluate what you already do as a company, for example:
- Do you have any local partnerships or business relationships?
- Are you a member of any business communities?
- Have you hosted an industry meet-up?
Still stuck in the brainstorming department? Review this guide to local link building.
This checklist is intended to help you successfully implement a local SEO campaign for your business. This is a great starting point for any business owner looking to enhance their current online marketing strategy from a local standpoint.
Whitespark is an online marketing company that builds specialized software and provides services to help businesses manage their local search. We constantly develop and grow our business to ensure our clients receive intelligent and viable marketing solutions.
Written by Brandi Bennett
Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
Nothing stays the same forever, and neither should your website. It’s important to constantly work to improve the content and quality of your website, but how do you determine when change is necessary? What changes should you make? These are both valid questions, and while we cannot provide you with all the answers, as some of that will depend on your client base, profit margins, and the like, we can offer you some tips as to when you should start looking to change things up.
This is huge. When you receive a notification that your site or any of the different programs, applications, widgets, templates, etc. that you use has an update available, do it. These updates are typically designed to address vulnerabilities. Your site needs to stay up to date. Make the change. Update your site. Your customers, your tech support, your staff, and your pocketbook will all thank you. It can be disastrous to fail to do this one simple step.
Granted, these changes will likely not bear any visible changes to your site, but they will keep the back-end safe which is just as important.
What About The Rest of It?
If you’re blogging, try to update at least two to three times per week. More if you like, but at least weekly updates are ideal. Keep new content coming and you will have repeat readers. If you have an e-commerce site, keep it constantly flowing – add new products or services. Change product descriptions to make them sound catchier if you notice a particular item isn’t selling.
You can even poll your customers regarding changes that they would like to see on your site and then determine how you would like to go from there. Not all the ideas are going to be ones that you will implement, but if half a dozen people tell you that they want the search options updated, there’s a good chance you should get on that. If you have no suggestions, go look at your site from a customer’s point of view. See the site as they would see it, try to see it as if you are seeing it for the first time. See where it looks cumbersome, see what you did well. Try to remove the clunky and the cumbersome and try to work to ensure that what you did well is done well everywhere. If you really like the way one item page looks and flows, try to replicate it on the others.
It’s natural to not want to update your site (the “set it and forget it” mentality), and you don’t have to update everything. If you like your background color or the template you’re using, keep it. If you’re using a black background and neon pink text, you may want to consider changing it to something easier to read, however. The Internet is constantly evolving, and your site should be as well. In working to determine the different things you like about other sites, you may find things you want to change about your own site. Inspiration can come from anywhere. Change is not a bad thing. Keep things fresh and your content up to date and attention grabbing and your website will flourish!
Image Source: Jelly Ranger. (2014). Future Self. Retrieved from http://jellyranger.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/futureself.jpg