7 Deadly Sins of Small Business Web Marketing
Coming Ice Age for Small Business Dinosaurs
Ok, we've heard about how Walmart rolls into town and crushes the mom and pop Main Street USA small business.
You've survived that round. Now what? Get ready. Here comes small business extinction 2.0 -
Now you are not only competing with the neighborhood bully. Now you're fighting every Shanghai factory, every work at home mom (WAHM) operating off her kitchen table, every mobile road warrior laid off from corporate America, who can deliver your product or service faster, better or with less hassle.
These lean and mean velociraptors are hungry. They are crawling the web like so many Google spiders because, yes, Virginia, they are using Internet technology to their advantage - and to your detriment.
What Does Your Web Marketing Have in Common with the Dinosaur?
So, While You Were Sleeping..
..thinking tomorrow will be just another day of opening shop, guess what? It starts with that Friday night regular who suddenly doesn't come by to check out the latest new releases. Ever heard of Netflix? They have, and so have their friends on Facebook, sharing their latest favorite movies.
Sure, some things are hard to duplicate. Usually, these are the "full experience" businesses - the Starbucks type hangouts or the local beauty salon.
But make no mistake about it, why does Jim and Pam need to drive to your restaurant for a quick bite when that taco truck just pulled up to their office building, alerting them via Twitter that they have a 2 for 1 deal on Korean BBQ burritos today?
Now that I have your attention, here are 7 costly mistakes that your competition can't wait for you to make:
Sloth - Don't Use Being Overwhelmed as Excuse to Do Nothing
Too many times we use various versions of this small business lament as a convenient excuse to do nothing. As a minimum, there is really no reason why small businesses do not at least review their profile on Google Places, (formerly Google Business Center). It's free and infinitely more effective than, say, the Yellow Pages. Think about it - these are new potential ready-to-buy clients LOOKING for you.
Envy - Don't Throw Out Your Marketing Game Plan Just to Copy the Latest Web Fad
Focus on integrating organic search into your print, TV / radio spots or other traditional ads. I can't tell you how many times I've seen ads without a URL - we're talking wasted space. Sure, sometimes the graphic artist is going for a certain look & feel, but often there is no good excuse to simply include your web address. Work on these easy but effective fixes before investing in paid search.
Lust - Don't Fall for Flash (Literally)
In traditional marketing, we're told to "sell the sizzle, not the steak." While this has a ring of truth with both restaurants and websites, you've still got to provide Prime Grade A content, so visitors have a reason to stick around. Otherwise, you're likely to not show up anywhere near the top 5 pages. Be honest. Ask yourself when was the last time you went beyond page 2 of search results.
With that said don't ignore the power of images for products. Good tagging will help the spiders to crawl your site and understand what you're offering. Likewise, video helps to make your services more tangible. A simple 2-3 minute clip made with your digital camera goes a long way. YouTube is now considered the 2nd largest search engine!
Greed - Don't Turn to the Dark Side
Beware the modern SEO version of travelling snake oil salesman who promises you the quick fix under his / her coat. At best "black hat" SEO tactics produce zero results in the long run; sure, there may be the momentary spike. At worst these practices can backfire - not only getting your site banned or blacklisted by Google, but possibly fines if the techniques involve spam email.
Gluttony - Don't Keep Things to Yourself
Do share links - while social media, aka Web 2.0, remains a mystery to most, it's really not that foreign. Think of it this way, how did you hear about the latest hot book or movie?
Well, the first answer might be Oprah - she's definitely still the six hundred pound media gorilla, and I'm not saying this to insult her weight. In fact, I think she just ran another marathon!
No, it was more than likely your best friend (or BFF these days) who made the recommendation.
This is worth at least another series of articles. But suffice it to say for now that ignore the power wielded by the hordes of Yelp reviewers and Twitter followers at your own peril.
Anger - Don't Get Mad, Get Going!
A simple well-designed site with indexed pages and clean pages, paying attention to how viewers look at content as seen in eye tracking heat maps, will go much further than expensive Flash-laden bells and whistles.
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