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Why Design Your Own Website

Having your own business means taking control of aspects you often never imagined you'd get involved in. Web design for example is a classic case.

As a web designer I've worked with people who both take control of the design aspects and those who leave the design to me.

The Good The Bad and The Ugly

To date I've yet to work with a company that "takes control" that has not made alarming content and design errors. Fortunately in most cases I've been able to gently talk them down from the ledge. But it's never a sure thing.

As a designer the customer gets what they want. Even if what they want is going to lose them business in the long run.

Why is Taking Control of Your Website A Bad Thing.

There's only one reason. Lack of expertise. In this case yours.

When is taking Control of Your Website a Good Thing

There's only one reason. Lack of expertise.

Every web designer started somewhere. And I know of no web designer that was perfect the first time around.

But take into consideration that my first website ever. Ranked number #1 for years, for a highly profitable keyword! The companies website became the sole source of new leads and the company grew year in and year out.

Why? because I had a background in public relations, I was personally acquainted with the business the website was for, which means I knew who the customer was and what they wanted. And I had been doing the companies printed and email marketing for years.

But!

Not every new web designer comes from that sort of background.

It's possible that you as a business owner might observe that your web designer does not understand what it is you represent or your online goals. At that stage you need to take control and turn that web designer into a pixel pusher.

Will the end product be everything you wanted in the beginning AND generate the leads you anticipated. Possibly not, but weighed up against the alternatives, and it's better to take control than to leave it and sit with a mess.

Bad Reasons for taking Control of your website are:

Keeping costs down. That's the number one reason a website performs poorly.

Ideally you would have someone like me on the payroll. A graphic designer, marketing expert, business owner, website designer and developer. All that person does day in and day out is increase your exposure on the internet.

Ideally your monthly financial plan sets aside 13% of gross profit, every month for advertising. Your online marketing gets a portion of that and you have a marketing strategy where both your printed and online marketing works hand in hand.

In this scenario there are no surprises. Your costs include a monthly salary and you know that your advertising will not exceed 13% GP. Marketing strategies work around the current scene (current gross income). Business expansion is measured by statistic and there is a fair amount of certainty that business expansion will occur over a period of time.

In addition your business sales and production staff are fully integrated with the marketing and advertising that's on the go and utilizes quality control and after sales service. In other words your business is geared towards making your customers journey, everything they expected and more.

You run all the needed activities by statistic both weekly and monthly and handle problems before they impact on the inflow of new business.

However this ideal scene is seldom or if ever in place.

The normal scene is that marketing and advertising is relegated to having a brochure on hand when needed. Sales staff answer phones, prep quotes, and visit clients. If things are going really well you spend money on lunches and the occasional expo. Marketing and Advertising becomes a part of the Salespersons job description.

In reality there's no one steering the ship. No one plotting a course and directing everyone's efforts so that goal is achieved.

Even when you hire a Manager, their job then becomes similar to a policeman's where they are pushing salespeople to produce. Making sure that Facebook is not being accessed and that telephone calls and petrol kilometers are really for business use and not private use.

The Reason Behind Cost Management

Anyone who signed a blank cheque for web development would be a fool. On the other hand expecting to get everything you need to grow and expand your company in a pre made format is simply not possible either. What I'm talking about here is expecting to get a quote up front.

But that's what happens.

Why, because there is no course plotted, no goal set, (see Bad Reasons For Taking Control Above) which means that there is no one steering the ship. All it does, is go wherever the waves and the wind push it while everyone is very busy pumping the bilges keeping the ship afloat.

You see another ship here and there and they say "Ahoy Matey" "We have a Website, You Need One Too, You Cant Survive Without One" and off they fade into the distance.

And so it came to be that you discovered that a website could make life easier. For very little effort you could have customers knocking on your door, instead of you knocking on theirs. But, you detected a big scary problem. This was not an off the shelf solution. It was custom!!! and the costs were all over the place.

Long story short, this led to web designers coming up with set amounts. Web designers have to eat too. And they'd rather sell you a single patch for the holes in the hull than no patch.

Yes there are other holes in the hull and you still end up going around in circles working day and night to keep the ship afloat. But at least you have one less gaping hole to worry about.

The next best solution is to go for the "custom" website, but sit there like a hawk making sure not one extra little thing is added to the job spec that increases the costs.

Then what happens is the website works, meaning you start getting more business in through the door. Things get a bit easier. You can hire more crew to pump the bilges. People can now get eight hours of sleep as opposed to four. There are more smiles, life is better.

But that was the wrong thing to do, the right thing was to buy more patches for the hull. ie expand more, get even more clients. And to do that using what worked in the first place. Your website.

Once a ship is floating now you can plot a course and steer it.

5 Top Mistakes Business Owners Make with Their Websites

  1. Buying a website off the shelf. Going out, having a look at a site and saying, mmm that looks good, I want that one.
  2. Using the website to promote your own brilliance and service excellence and then styling it up with your own unique design sense.
  3. Having no system in place to share and analyse sales leads once the website is up and running.
  4. Leaving the website, not maintaining the spam filters or adding new content.
  5. Having no other marketing or advertising in place and or not aligning your other marketing or advertising with the website.

Professional Web Designers are Competent

The whole point of marketing and advertising is expansion. It's not about making money and damn the client. No, its about growth. Marketing is insightful and inclusive, for that very reason it is a key part of upper management.

Web designers are often not considered to be in this inner circle. Yet a good web designer will often be very interested in this part of your business, understanding as they do, that if they correctly portray you and your strengths and tactfully avoid showing up your weaknesses, while at the same time phrasing your service or product in a way that appeals to your customer, that ultimately you will flourish and prosper.

Ideally you would keep your web designer on speed dial, you'd bring him or her in on the monthly or quarterly reports, sit and set goals regularly.

Yet in all my years I've never heard anyone give credit for their success to their web designer. In fact I've only ever once heard a client bemoaning the loss of their web designer. Why, because the designer created a website that brought in tons of leads. Years later when a problem cropped up, the lady couldn't find the web designer again and got someone else to do the website. The leads dried up and her business bombed out.

If you're interested in finding out more about how to maximize your websites lead potential.

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Strategy vs Tactics

As a business owner it's easy to get bogged down in the day to day running of your business. The idea of strategic thinking vs tactical thinking might seem more like something that somebody else does. Somebody with more time, less problems and more money. Don't be fooled. Anyone can think strategically as long as they understand their competitors and their clients, which lets face it you as a business owner already have an excellent idea of.

Strategical vs Tactical Thinking is Simple.

Strategic thinking in business, is as simple as:  Action aimed at expansion with the knowledge of how the opposition will react. Knowing what they will do (be it one action or a multiple choice of reactions) and having your next move, based on their possible reaction, planned and ready for implementation. Whilst at the same time continuing your initial action aimed at expansion.

Tactical thinking would be that which is more immediate. EG Sales team meeting targets. Production schedules maintained. # of New Customers.

Tactical thinking is crucial to achieving expansion. In a world where everybody only uses tactical thinking, expansion would not be a problem. Everyone would just be getting on with their own thing. Or would they?

What happens when your competitor considers your business a hump in the road to their own success. When they decide to implement some strategical thinking!

How easy would it be for your opposition to expand and grow bigger  than your business? Is it possible for them to get your clients to move across to them? Would your business survive this?

Fool Proof Expansion

There is evidence of the reality of the business world all around, whether you know about it or not. Yet there remains one foolproof way to weather any storm. Flourish and prosper!

How you flourish and prosper is up to you and your abilities. One thing remains true in every case however. You need more clients!

You need more people believing in your product or service and wanting them.

Achieving that requires marketing and advertising. Getting the word out about your product or service. Getting that word out in a great enough volume so that the demand for your product exceeds all other demands.

Think Big

When a challenge comes along it may require tactical thinking to win the battle.

Strategic thinking is the knowledge of how the opposition will react. Knowing what they will do (be it one action or a multiple choice of reactions) and having your next move, based on their possible reaction, planned and ready for implementation. Whilst at the same time continuing your initial action aimed at expansion.

Don't just win the battle. Think ahead.

When a competitor attacks either overtly or covertly. Handle the emergency, but understand where the weakness that allowed that attack to occur, came from. Remedy it, but understand too what it took for the opposition to make that move. Understand that they stretched their resources in some way in order to effect that attack. Ask yourself if it is possible to maximize your expansion because of their momentary weakness.

Think Big, Think Beyond the Battle.

 

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SEO Case Study – Small Business Web Design

After nine years this small family run business had grown accustomed to budgeting. Some months left them short and relying heavily on that once off job that would occasionally come along to fill the deficit.

Due to the nature of their work (a labor intensive industry) they like many other small businesses in this category did not have a website and felt unqualified to manage a social media site like facebook.

The Decision is Made to Invest in a Website

Having consulted with a friend the owner decided to invest in a 4 page website.

Careful consideration was given to the area the business operated in and how best to optimize the website for that area, their terms and conditions were re-looked at. The planned website also pushed him to settle on a minimum price for their service.

In the end they had a Home page that clearly defined who they were while also highlighting their array of services.

A Services page that incorporated their terms and conditions.

A Pricing page that listed how they arrived at their pricing with a specialized form designed for visitors specifically needing their services and a Contact page with a general enquiries form.

A Facebook Page is Created

With the website live, it was now a matter of creating a Facebook page and populating it.

Prior to creating the page, research was done to establish what topics in and around the clients industry were trending.

From this, an idea was formulated on how the client and his family could post regular photographic content to the site.

The family was brought together and everyone agreed that the Facebook plan could work.

The page was created and Senior members were trained on how to upload content.

With everything tested and working, the website was launched and Google Analytics immediately showed visitors were going through to the site.

The Wait for Ranking Begins

After the first month, the site was analysed but had not yet managed to rank for any keyword other than the businesses name.

A handful of visitors could be seen to have visited the site. However consulting with the owner revealed that no telephone or email enquiries had been received.

It was clear that the traffic getting through to the website was in fact the clients own friends and family.

Four months later and despite being the busiest time of the year for this business, not a single enquiry has been received from the website.

Google Rankings had been checked yet Google had still not ranked the website for anything other than the companies own name.

Search Engine Optimization Begins

Towards the end of October the client invested in a standard SEO Package and two keywords were decided on.

SEO Actions were implemented see SEO Packages for details and the changes were implemented on the 30th October.

7 Days later the website was ranking on Google in positions #53 and #29 respectively.

Prior to the Search Engine Optimizations Google Analytics had shown a steady decrease in site traffic.

After the implementations traffic started picking up. November and December showed a steady increase both for traffic and ranking position. By beginning December the website was ranking #6.

THEN THE COMPANY CLOSED FOR DECEMBER

Of Note is that while no direct enquiries were made from the website during November or December, a client from years before, somehow got hold of the owner and requested a new quote.

January Starts With a Bang

On returning from their annual break the owner reported that the phones just started ringing and did not stop.

Every day brought one or more enquiries. With the third week of January showing 17 enquiries for that week alone.

By the start of February, daily schedules were being reshuffled to accommodate the influx of new business.  By the end of February the log book was full with on-going regular business.

Concerns started being raised at the companies ability to cope with all the new business,

However the phones and online enquiries did not stop, by the end of March the business had reached it's full service capacity and began turning eager customers away.

Analysis

We've all heard about internet success and this story is yet another example of how a business can completely turn around as a result of a website.

In the case of this business it took less than 50 Visitors a Month. 

During the website build all the way back in August. Industry Research was conducted. The aim of this was to establish what a typical customers key concerns and requirements would be.

When meeting with our client we took careful note of what was required and then with all the information in hand, combined it into a format that met both our clients expectations as well as what our research had indicated was key for his clientele.

Establish Your Target Market

In our clients case their services are sought after by a large target market. They prefer however to only deal with a specific segment of that market. Mainly due to factors of workforce size and the management thereof.

This meant that the website had to rank for search terms that their preferred target market would use. In this case home owners as opposed to corporate's.

Code Your Website For Only Those Who Want Your Product or Service

Having researched your industry and established which "long tail search terms" (Word searches of 4 or more words) are most likely to be typed in by a serious buyer. One then goes about designing a website that caters for their needs. ie Clearly communicates that your service or product is the solution to their needs.

The result is that not only are the people who visit your website likely to be serious buyers but your website will most likely convert these visitors into an enquiry or telephone call in short order.

This two pronged approach is what accounted for our clients high conversion rate.

However as was observed until off page SEO occurred the website did not rank. By combining the off page SEO with the pre-built on Page SEO our client achieved #1 Rankings for local searches.

Keyword Phrase #1 Search Results

Image of Google Search Results

Keyword Phrase #2 Search Results

Image of Google Search Results

Our client operates in a highly competitive field. There is a small chance that linking this article to their website, could pave the way for competitors to push his website out of it's top spot by doing their own SEO.

According to Google data, their major keyword gets searched 1300 a month.

Unleash the Power of Your Online Marketing Today!

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Make Expansion a Reality

With so much legislation about what can and cannot happen during the hiring process. Acquiring new staff can seem overwhelming to small or medium sized businesses.
 
This doesn’t exclude the challenge from big business. Yet the risk of hiring an employee is greater for a smaller company.
 
In reality the incorrect hire can have a huge impact on a small business. Even small things can whittle away at a businesses viability.
  • Productivity less than expected.
  • Employee disengaged. (Spends time at work focused on personal life)
  • Unexpressed negativity towards company values and goals.
More serious issues include:
  • Stating some untrue competence on CV which the business then relies on.
  • Expressing negativity of company to colleagues.
  • Outright criminality.
 
In the case of a small business, lack of expected production by an employee often has a direct result on profits.
 
In those cases where an employer dismisses the employee as a result. It can occur that they still run off to the Labour Department or the CCMA. Taking with them any story they believe will exonerate their behavior.
 
In this situation the business must defend against a system funded by their very own taxes. Using up yet more of the companies profits.
 
This is not a fiction, it is a reality.
 
Our countries laws do not permit discrimination. They are set up to protect as many people, from as many walks of life as possible.
 
The challenge is to create a system that is law abiding while retaining the owners autonomy.
 

The Ability to Produce the Desired Result.

 
Successful people posses many characteristics. Be they business owners or employees.
 
In all cases though, the ability to produce the desired result exists.
 
Choosing the right employee requires dedication and commitment. You wont always get it right the first time. Hiring a candidate with a proven track record might not be affordable.
 
Look for the following characteristics.
 
  • The ability to produce.
  • The ability to carry out an instruction.
  • The ability to produce at speed.

You Will Need a Team!

How you grow your business is your business, but you will need a team.
The very employees we discussed earlier. These are the people that will grow your business.

Your Goals Count

What would you be able to do with a staff that supported you and your goals?
A team that believed in your business, i.e. You!
A team like that does not walk in the door, you, your personality, your goals and visions are not generic.
Regardless of who you are, if you have a business that’s survived more than a few years. Then the fact is, that you are doing something right.
That thing or 'things' you are doing has resulted in income, for you and your staff.
The fact of this is that there are people who owe their very livelihood to you and who you are right now. Don’t let anyone deceive you into thinking otherwise or make it seem less important.

Finding The Right Team

The solution lies with you. Take responsibility. Eliminate focusing on how tough things are.
Great people are people not robots, not slaves. You’re in this to achieve a goal/s and make money, great. But your people are also in it to achieve a goal/s and make money.
Don’t stand in their way, open a door, even if it’s a crack. Use commission. I'm not saying give more away than you currently are for the same lackluster performance.
Make your staff work. It doesn’t have to be fair, but it does need to make sense. There does need to be opportunity involved.

A Win Win Game

Achieving your goals requires winning on many levels. Closing that big deal. Boosting production. Winning or losing at these day to day activities is what business is all about.
While you're focused on that big goal and the rewards it brings don't neglect your staff.
While you might think that it’s not your job to make your staff wealthy. Don’t be surprised when they take their good ideas, their passion and beliefs and your training, somewhere else.
When you fail to recognize and reward the abilities of a great team member you are stunting your own growth.

Reward Up-stats and Penalize Down-stats

Build a culture at the office.
Reward staff that produce in excess of what they were hired to.
But if the guy or gal is a clock watcher, you have someone on the team who is not a part of the team.
They're at work for the pay, they're interested in their own lives, lives by the way that your money pays for.
When you find that, realize that you need to step up your control, either inspire these people into being at work and giving their best efforts at work, over and above what is expected or find someone who will.

Re-Commit To Your Own Goals

Ask yourself how committed you are to your own goals and purposes.
Maybe you need to change the way you think.
Maybe you need to invest in yourself.

Control got you to where you are today.

Manage what you have so that it grows and expands. Your ability to control is what got you to where you are today. Keep that going.
 
Controlling others is often harder than it is to control yourself. But don't give up. This is the key to expansion.
 
Install or boost systems that report on the key areas of your business. Use statistics to manage.
 
Let your managers and employees manage their areas based on the same system.
 
In time this frees you up from controlling every aspect of the day to day business. Leaving you free to expand into other areas.

Unleash the Power of Your Online Marketing Today!

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