In this article I’m going to tell you how all micro business can get clients or increase their profits whether they are a small local shop, a service biusiness, a consulting firm or even a micro on their way to build an entire industry.
This seems to be a hot topic, either micro business owners finding out there is a different way to easily land clients or do more business, or the fact that so many micro businesses still don’t have websites, which I’ve already written about before. They still don’t understand the power of the website and the online world, they don’t understand that a website is not an accessory, but an asset.
It doesn’t matter whether you operate on a local, national or international level as a micro business, you need a website and this is the last time I am going to say this. Not because I think that will persuade you, but because I know it won’t. You want to know why and what it is going to do for you, what results you can expect. I would too if I was in your shoes, so that’s what I’m going to talk about, as well as I do on the rest of this blog.
First of all, it’s good to read the previous article I wrote, because it will fill you in on the basic understanding of what a website represents today and uses an analogy of what “it was” 20 years ago.
About a week ago I’ve found myself in a situation where I had a client who finally decided to have a website made for his micro business, which was great, but his understanding was that a website is just a space where you slap some text on that sounds professional and gives basic information, like listed projects and contact, and that this will get him clients. I may be a little exagerating, but this is what it comes down to. To be clear about something, he is very successful and experienced at what he does, but he has no marketing knowledge or any idea how to use internet for business.
Although a lot of you might not be in the same situation as he is; you’re more technologically advanced, you spend a lot of time online and you want to learn all about this for your micro business, your understanding might not be so different from his although it seems so to you.
First of all, a website is not something that is done in a couple of days and it’s not only about making it look graphically appealing. You can do that, but all you will do is spend money and have no use of it. All of the steps don’t concern you much, but to be able to start grasphing, here is what it takes.
You start by researching your market online and offline, other companies in the business, competitors, client’s searches, terms the use, etc. You pick a domain name (web address name), hosting and all the other technical stuff. You also have to talk to your client about their expectations from the website and the content they would like to put on. Then you discuss all about their clients to be able to taret the right set of people, adjust the website to them and write it in the best possible way having all that in mind. There is also organization of content, visual communication, lots of coding, optimization, integrating marketing techniques, generating traffic, etc. And yes, it’s all necessary.
It’s not as scary as it sound though, because lots of micro businesses have made their websites on their own (without any coding knowledge) and had great success. But to get back where you perspective might not be so different from my client’s is that he did not understand that a website really is an asset.
Think of your micro business website as your virtual real estate. You probably didn’t know this, but about 85 per cent of people will search for your business online before they decide t come to your shop or office. 85 per cent! And online is where they make their decision. They want to get to know you and see whether you’re worth their time. So you can see your website as your virtual shop or your virtual office. The idea of a virtual real estate comes from a different perspective. You can build up your site that holds a lot more value then that.
What makes websites a lot more powerful then you see from just a look at them is that they are “places” that hold your customers and prospects without any obligation, and it makes them stay because they are provided with value and maybe entertainment. The key here is that you can leverage that. It’s not only about helping the prospective customers make the decision to call you or to come to your store and building rapport, it’s about using your website as a business funnel, as an online shop, as a means of communication and as a place to collect their information and ask them questions.
From all of the reasons you might not jump into making a website from day one, I will probably mostly understand you if you’re not crazy about the social media, if it still bothers you on some level. Because every website has to get traffic in order to be able to produce an expected outcome, today a lot of important traffic comes from social media. So let me give you my oppinion.
I’m not so crazy about social media either. I like facebook more then twitter because I think you can’t write an advice or something really helpful in 140 characters. To me, it is for famous people from the eintertainment industry or for people who use it to get updates from various sites. I like the RSS feed reader better (because it waits for me). My opinion is probably like that because we, in Europe, are not so crazy about these thing. We’re not crazy about hype and we still want to keep a lot to ourselves in terms of time and information.
Though, I have used social media a lot in my previous businesses and I will say that they can work really well. Even if you don’t compete to be on top of popular social bookmarking sites, even if you don’t befriend people you don’t know on twitter and facebook.
Social media can and is used every day as a powerful refferal and communication tools. It’s much easier to spread your word online. Just think about the many (micro) businesses you’ve searched for or found out about on the web.
The most powerful leverage technique is building a list. If you are not doing this as a business you absolutely muct start immediately because you have no way of following up with your customers and clients. Why would you go through all the trouble of getting a customer and them letting them go? That would mean you need to take as much effort go get people to buy from you the second time as it did the first. You don’t want to do that, because there is as easier way.
Through a list you can easily leverage the relationship and build an easy communication stream. The best way to build a list is to do it online.
Why? First of all, because it doesn’t cost you anything to do the mailing and you can do as much as you want.
How is it different from the spam you receive in your inbox every day? It’s different because you ask them permission to email them, so if they say yesm they expect to hear from you.
What do you send them? You send them information about new arrivals, discounts, offers, give aways, what is of value to them, you talk about an interesting project you are working on if that is something they might be interested in, or a client if they can learn something from it, an educational newsletter…
How often do you send it? Not every day and not every 6 months when they have already forgotten who you are. Email them when you have something to say and offer. That’s all.
Remember that your website is your virtual real estate, the better you make it, the more value it will bring you. You can leverage it in many ways, but the best way that will bring in much more profits is by building an email list.
And have in mind that your perspective as a micro busness owner might be different from the perspective of your client or your customer. Find out what their perspective is and use it to your advantage. Don’t ever be affraid to learn or do something new yourself. We all keep learning…
If you’ve found this article helpful and interesting, please share it you your social network of choice, facebook, twitter or any other. Also leave me a comment about your thoughs, old/new perspective on micro business website or your experience with having a list of customers. I always appreciate the feedback, when it comes as email or comments. Thanks!
photo courtesy of Yasuhiko Ito