Small Business Marketing is a specialised skill; it’s small businesses and startups that probably need our help the most, but will probably find it the hardest to afford us. But don’t worry; here are our best ideas for small businesses on a strict budget.
Professional Logo Design for Small Businesses
One of our favourite resources for logos for small businesses is the 99designs logo store. (The logo designers on our team always hate it when I give this little secret away!) It’s a little-known corner of the woods, where you can get a logo for $99 bucks that looks like you spent $1500 on it. Pay just a little more, and you can get the rights exclusively. And, it gets better: you can have your design customized within 24 hours! This is an absolute Godsend for small businesses on a budget.
Having a professionally designed logo in .eps format (which means you can blow it up to the size of a truck if you need to, for future marketing materials) makes any startup look and feel like the real thing. Plus, when we work on your website, we can match the colours, look and feel and style to your logo.
Here’s the link.
Website Design for Small Businesses
There’s no doubt about the fact that you will need a fantastic website. Hopefully you’ll have a logo professionally designed either by us, or grab one ‘off the peg’ from 99designs. Next step is to have your site designed.
The big mistake a lot of businesses do is put all their resources (budget, money) into the site DESIGN. this is because – and we admit it – design is the fun part. It’s probably the most creative fun you’ve had all year – choosing the colours, the fonts, the images, the layout. Copywriting and on-page SEO is not as much fun, not nearly as much fun. (We get that.)
But what if we told you that the amount you spend on website design has probably the least amount of relevance to the amount of money you’re going to make? Not that we don’t love good design – the contrary! It’s just for a small business, you can’t afford to get your web design wrong and have to do it twice; you have to get it right the first time – and do that on a budget.
Our agency’s responsibility, should you entrust us with it, is to help you MARKET YOUR BUSINESS online. Website design – the ‘design’ part – is only about 10% of that process. (We regularly re-design sites that don’t work for medium and large businesses who spent thousands or tens of thousands on their website. You’re a startup, or a small business. Like we said, you have to do it right first time.)
So what do we recommend?
We mentioned you should have a great logo (and now that we have shown you where to get them for $99, there’s no excuse!). After that, you need a website that has some good copy on it (which could be text, or better still video with text) – that explains how you can help people.
Yep; how you help people. That’s what you’ve got to explain; NOT so much why you’re so fantastic/how long you’ve been in business. People don’t care about that stuff (sorry) – they only care about ‘what’s in it for them?’ – Your future clients, that is. So, the best thing you can do is tell them, and preferably also show them, on your website, how your product or services can HELP them. And that, my friends, is the automated sales and marketing machine we’ll help you create. On a budget. And get it right the first time!
Seriously, once you get that stuff right, visitors to your web-page will be so busy being fascinated/entertained/delighted/educated by your fantastic content, they really won’t be examining your font and wondering if it would have looked better in a slightly darker shade of charcoal, or whether that magenta colour is ‘too girly’ or ‘edgy’, or whether a 5 pixel border with rounded corners and a translucent drop-shadow would finally give your site the ‘wow-factor’.
Don’t worry, we’ll do all that cool stuff for you! – but we’re just saying, if we gave you a choice of 20 amazing designs and you chose #17, that would just be because you liked it the best. If you had picked #14 (as the next client would have) – there is no difference in the amount of money you (#17) or they (#14) would have made.
That, my friend, depends on some very much more important factors, such as reaching your market (we’ll get to that) and making sure your web copy serves your market.
Design is the sort of stuff it’s far too easy to get bogged down on (because it’s fun!) – but if you’re on a budget, we really won’t let you blow your budget on endless design tweaks charged by the hour. (One day, you’ll be able to afford custom web design with us, and you can have as many iterations as it takes to get your site 100 percent perfect!)
As long as your site looks professional, is comparable to or better than your competitors sites, is tidy, loads fast, and is well laid out, it’s just a framework to deliver your content! I really think the days of a client choosing a business because of their lovely website, colours, or logo is over (apart from perhaps web design companies).
So, how do we do it? Cheaply, to fit your tight startup or small business budget?
Templates are a fantastic way to get a million-dollar look’n’feel on a shoestring, and nobody will ever know! Templates are laid out ready for you to just ‘drop in your content’, and personalise; and the site will look just as good as the example!
Content is important, and most first-time website clients don’t realise it. They think they just need a ‘simple one or two page site, a home page and an ‘About Us’ and maybe a Contact Page’ – but really, that doesn’t cut it any more these days, and neither does a paragraph each about ‘our services’.
You need to go into depth on things, so your clients can sort of get a feel for what you’re about, what you do, how you’re special, how you can help them, how you’re an expert at fixing their problems, and you also show them that you have credibility and experience with ‘their sort of problems’. You also need to show some sort of proof; case studies and testimonials can be valuable in some markets.
Yep; in some markets. Other markets, testimonials can look cheap and cheesy. It depends; and that’s why you need to consult with us. We can create you some great content that (let’s face it) you don’t have time to write. If you supply us with basically ‘bullet points’ of what you do, or we can find this out in consultation, we can flesh it out and do the rest.
if you’re wanting to rank on search engines in the future, content is all the more important. Simply, Google doesn’t really rank light sites that only have a few words on them and the odd picture and a ‘contact us’.
Small businesses almost never consider ‘how are we going to get traffic to our site?’. Unlike the early days of the internet, the late 90’s, when all you had to do was put up a site, paste 100 keywords into the meta tags section and it would ‘rank’ (because there were so few sites!) – nowadays, there are 12 trillion websites, and more being created every day, and you need to consider traffic (if you’re wanting to make sales or get clients to contact you after finding your website. That is, you need them to be able to find it first, in order to visit it.
Free traffic is the best sort (from search engines) as it converts the best, but it may take you 6 months to get a foothold in the search engines depending on your niche/keyword, so that’s not an instant solution, and it does cost money. Getting caught up in the Twitter/Facebook lark (and doing it yourself) is about the WORST thing you can do, and a typical startup-mistake (we don’t have any money, and we’ll do our own social media.)
Hang on, you have a business to run, and you need clients! If you spend all your time on Facebook, all you’ll be doing is desperately trying to get fans and likes, selling on a site that hates people selling to them (because they’re not there for that) and after six months of tweeting self-promotional texts to your 80 ‘followers’ who really only followed you because their robot software found a keyword in something that you posted, and they’re only ‘following’ you so you might ‘follow them back’ and then they can sell their stuff to you – well, we’re saying, don’t go there.
We’ve got much better ways of getting you traffic from sources that are not only looking for information, but are ready to buy; and they’re looking for you. Traffic from search engines, that is.
Bigger businesses have figured this out, and allow a budget for SEO. Small businesses don’t realise yet that nobody will come to their website if they don’t promote it; and they don’t know how to promote it.
Either they do the aforementioned time-suck of Facebook and Twitter (which won’t work for them) or they put all their time into ‘live’ networking, giving out business cards – so the only people that visit their website might be one out of ten people you gave your business card to.
Networking is great, but it takes up all your time. Facebook and Twitter are valid, to about 2 percent of your SEO efforts (and that’s all). However because they are the ‘easiest’ to use, and because businesses think they have no money, they get sucked into the Facebook/Twitter trap time and time again.
What we suggest:
Figure out a budget that you can afford, and split that into 50% website, and 50% traffic strategies. If you’re in a rush, we can help you buy some traffic (that can start sending you leads TOMORROW). Don’t wait 6 months to figure out you’re not getting any customers or leads, and your big dream of your startup failed, not because you don’t have a great looking website, but because you never got any visitors to it, and therefore you didn’t get any customers; and had to sell the house/go back to a real job (etc).
let us help you. let us fit something – i hate the word solution, but let’s call it a strategy, a marketing plan – let us figure out the best thing to do for your business, based on what you can afford. If you really can’t afford anything but the bare minimum of services, we can show you how to ‘do it yourself’ (in terms of traffic) – and we have about 9 hours of training available to our clients to show them how to generate their own traffic.
but it’s amazing how many of our small business and startup clients ‘see the light’ and hand the task of traffic over to us, after realising (finally) that their time is better spent in their business doing what they do best, and letting us do what we do best.
please get in touch if you would like some help with your small business or startup website marketing.