In case you missed it in August, I had the pleasure of being a guest on the business radio show, Building Your Business with Hugh Connelly on WBCB 1490AM. Univest Bank partners with WBCB on this series to help small businesses reach their goals. Univest Small Business Banking President Hugh Connelly and other industry experts share insight, solutions, and tips to help your business prosper.
During the show we discussed the importance of branding for small businesses and how to build your online presence. Listen to the full radio show or read some of the highlights from the show below:
Sales and marketing are more complicated now with how much time is spent online and all the competition that is readily available with the click of a button. As a small business owner or non-profit there are questions you are probably asking yourself like: should I even spend the time building my online brand? Or, how do I build an effective brand strategy? We address these questions and provide examples that help guide you in building a successful web presence for your business.
Why should a small business care about branding their business?
For a small business there is so much competition today not just with other small businesses, but with large online retailers like Amazon, as well. This shouldn’t discourage you, though! People shop small business for the experience and to build a relationship. For this reason, you need to be able to answer the question, “Why you?” Potential customers need to know what sets you apart.
How should a small business encourage positive reviews?
Online especially, people are more inclined to spread negative news and reviews. It is important to encourage the spread of positive reviews of your business. These help to balance and bury any bad reviews. Here are a few tips to encourage positive reviews:
- Make it easier for someone to post a good review. Do you know the steps yourself?
- Make it simple and brief.
- Make asking for reviews a part of your regular processes.
Not responding to bad reviews is a mistake, but recognize that one or two bad reviews will not kill your business if they are offset with positive mentions and information.
What steps should small business owners take to make sure they have an effective brand strategy?
Tell your story online
As a small business you need to differentiate yourself from your competition by telling your story online. How does your business stand out? In order to tell your story online, you need to identify your audience first. Who is your customer? Be specific. If you try to reach everyone, you will reach no one.
Remember: your website is not a brochure, it is your online front door
Consider your business message and how your message has changed throughout the years. As your in-person message changes over time, so should your online message. A basic website doesn’t have to be expensive, it depends on the content you want. Also, it is essential that your website is mobile-friendly. Fun fact: Google will actually down-rank your business in search if it is not mobile-friendly.
Can’t I just use my Facebook page as my business website?
Social media is just that: social. The problem with making Facebook the center of your online brand is it is rented land, meaning Facebook controls the landscape. For example, most of your fans will not even see what you post unless you pay to boost your posts.
Claim your business on Google
Claiming your business online with Google is easy at https://www.gybo.com/business. Once your business is claimed on Google you can post events and specials that show up directly in a Google search. You can create these posts directly through Google My Business.
Build your email list
There are three types of traffic that visit your site:
- Paid traffic-generated through advertisements, so once the ads stop, the traffic stops.
- Earned traffic-generated through social media and blog posts, great but it can take some time to build up traffic.
- Owned traffic-the people you can contact whenever you want i.e., your email list
The key to building owned traffic through your email list is providing quality and relevant content. Consistency and repetition also help build an online relationship with customers. It takes seven touches before someone starts to recognize you. When building your email list the process follows the know–like–trust model. Meaning first your potential customer needs to know who you are, then like who you are, and once they’ve done those things they will trust you with their business.
Remember that your online advertising campaign takes time. When you have generated traffic from your online campaign you need to focus on how to keep them coming back. Also, build your campaign around real life ie holidays, back to school to relate to your potential customers.