3 High Impact Ways to Start Marketing Your Business Online

Where Does Fear Hold You Back?

A big issue that I see with business owners and internet marketing is F-E-A-R.  For so many who have been in local or brick and mortar businesses, marketing on the internet can be an intimidating process.  However, there is hope.  Small business owners are a brave lot.  I mean who else would risk it all to open their own business and put in grueling hours to follow a dream?  We didn’t build it to be mediocre, we built it because we wanted to make it happen!

You Must Venture Forth Online to Succeed

The business world has always been a fast moving train and with the internet, it has become 10,000 times faster.  The competition is not just down the street, it is across the nation– even the world!  But the good news is, just as the competition has grown, so has the market.  You can sell snow shoes in Houston and flip flops in Iceland.

3 High Impact Ways to Start Marketing Your Business on the Internet

  1. Get a Professional Website – One that has your phone number and address on the HOME page very visible.  Ditch the pretty fading in pictures that take your customers hours to load and the annoying pop -ups ads.  Get real. Get personal. And do it quick.  You only have 2 – 5 seconds to capture your visitors interest, use them well!
  2. Get a Facebook Fan Page – Facebook for business is a must for too many reasons to list here but my favorites are:  specials, ads, coupons, customer loyalty, business brand recognition, word of mouth (er… computer) marketing.  Lastly, it has become business standard to have a Facebook business page.  You don’t want to be the only business in your industry who customers can’t find on Facebook.
  3. Google Places and Local Listings – You must claim or create your Google Place page.  Most businesses already have a listing but just haven’t claimed it.  When you claim it you get to add all sorts of awesome, market-y stuff like pictures of your store, testimonials, hours of business, phone number, pictures of products.  The more you add, the higher you get to the top of the rankings in most cases.  So instead of being D or F on the little push pins, you could be B or even A.  Worth it to be listed first with lots of pictures and stuff for potential customers to look at?  Absolutely!

Just like eating the proverbial elephant, take internet marketing one bite at a time.  You don’t have to do EVERYTHING,  just do the smart things one at a time.

“If I can’t be daring in my work or the way I live my life, then I don’t really see the point of being on this planet.” ~ Madonna, rock star and entrepreneur 

Dare! Conquer Your Fears!

For more information about

online marketing and the latest ‘scuttle-butt’ around the web,

visit www.KrisKnopp.com

Secret Weapons of Website Design – The About Page

Hail the Power of the ‘About Page’

Did you know the ‘About Us’ page is the second most viewed page on a website?  Test this against your own behavior.  When a Home page catches your interest, what’s your first question?  If you’re like most people, it’s “Who are these guys anyway?”  Enter the awesome About page.

Don’t Lose Your ‘About Page’ Opportunity

Too many people write their ‘About’ page as a formal resume–dry, dull, b-o-r-i-n-g facts about all their accomplishments! (Yawn) And, wanting to impress the reader, they don’t keep it short either.  (Big Yawn!)  Sure people want to know about your experience and expertise but what they really want is to know who you are and what you can DO for THEM.

More than ever in our Facebook/social media age, business success is all about connection and relationship.  Gone are the days of standing above your clients, knowing everything and showing no weaknesses.  Customers want someone who ‘gets’ them and is a real human.   The About page is like introducing yourself at a cocktail party or networking event.  Reveal a little of yourself, make a connection with people, and tell them what you do and why you are excited about it.

5 Tips for Writing Your Awesome ‘About Page’

1.  It’s about you but not really. Think of your prospect when writing your website’s About page.  What are their problems, needs and wants and how can you connect with them emotionally?

2.  Be yourself and write conversationally.  If you’re funny, be funny.  Most importantly, be real and honest.

3.  Tell your story but keep it short and use subtitles. Your story is a powerful connector.  People are naturally wired to be interested in a great story.  Show how your experience has prepared you to help prospects solve their biggest problems.

4.  Make the next step clear. Always have a planned next action for your visitor.  What do you want them to do next?  If it’s visit your Services page, put in a call to action such as “Find out more about our services”.  Make sure this stands out with slightly larger font or a contrasting color.  Be sure to include a  hyperlink  or ”click through’.  Make it easy for them and they will be more likely to do it.

5.  Do show your credentials. Expertise is important but only once you’ve made a connection with your prospect.  If they like and trust you, most people do want to know about your credentials before they buy.  An effective way to do this is  list your credential at the bottom of the page with a subheading title “Experience and Credentials”.  This gives the reader an opportunity to review it, if they want.  To be honest, most people are more impressed with their own credentials that their customers are.

Get With the Times, Man!

The About page is truly an unsung and often untapped hero on the website.  If you can make the leap from yesterday’s dry, dull factual resume mode to today’s vibrant, emotional, connection mode you will harness the most powerful of the website secret weapons.

Next up in the Website Secret Weapons Series- Site Intergration also known as “Where the hell am I and how do I get back to the Home page”

As always, I welcome your questions and comments.  Leave one below.

Secret Weapons of Website Design – Layout and Reading Style

It’s a Work of Art, But Who’s Reading It?

One of the biggest mistakes a new website owner makes is not understanding the way a human ‘reads’ a website. If you are writing in big chunks of beautiful prose, spending a lot of time getting everything ‘just right’, read on.  You are in for some eye opening tips that will save you time, energy and money.

Don’t Make Me Think

According to Steve Krug’s book, Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition, website visitors are scanners.  They will scan headlines, bold, bright fonts, and interesting graphics until they find something that grabs their attention.  Then they click on it.  When I learned this, I groaned over the hours that I spent writing amazing prose for my website copy!

What’s more, you have only seconds (maybe nanoseconds) before find they something that catches their eye or they will click away.  Spending valuable time showing them a crowded, confusing Home page is definitely a business killing mistake.

Try These Tips to Improve Your Website ‘Readability’

1.  Visual Appeal. Think of your web page as more of a painting than beautiful prose.  Take a step back and take a visual inspection.  Ask yourself and your clients/friends:

  • Does anything stand out, pull the eye, hook you in?
  • Where does your eye go after that?

Evaluate the answers carefully.  If this is the path that you want your visitor to take then hooray!   If not, change it up!

2.  Break It Up. Break large chunks of content up with graphics, subheadings, bold/colored fonts, and bulleted points. This type layout gives the reader the ability to scan the page and establish a reference framework.

3.  Top Right Rule. Put your most important marketing message in the top right-hand corner of the home page. Studies have shown this is the natural flow of the eye. Often you’ll see a newsletter sign up or opt-in here.  The logic being that if visitors do nothing else, leaving their email address gives you a chance to send follow up communications.

4.  Navigation Bar. Put your navigation bar (your listing of web pages) across the top just below the logo/header. This is where most people expect it to be. Don’t fight it by listing your pages on the very top, bottom or on one of the sidebars.  This is a huge mistake and I see so many owners making it because they want to stand out and ‘do something different’.  While authenticity has much value, there are some basic structures that your visitors need to be able to rely on.  Predictability here builds trust, confidence and will translate into more time on your site.

5.  Above The Fold. Anything the visitor has to pagedown to see is called ‘below the fold’ and has a good chance of never being seen.  Put your most important items ‘above the fold’.

Recommended Reading

Another easy way to test how visitors use your site is to do a real live test.  Steve Krug gives a detailed description of how to do this in his book.  Basically, you get a few peeps to sit down, go through the site, and narrate what they are doing and why.  Then you can see what’s working and what’s not.

Next up in the Secret Weapons of Web Design Series, the importance of building a website that you can maintain yourself.

Please add your comments and questions below.  I’d love to help anyway I can.

Secret Weapons of Website Design – Site Integration

Make no mistake, lack of attention to site integration will bite you. Many web owners leave their customers to fumble through a site that is confusing and has no clear next step. Customers feel unsupported and abandoned.  In the biz, we call these people “widows and orphans”.  This leads to missed opportunities and missed revenue for business owners.

The Hansel and Gretel Shuffle

You may not realize it but retail stores are designed to move you through in a Hansel and Gretel breadcrumb like trail. They lure you in by putting eye-catching items in the window. Once you are in, your steps have been pre-planned by the big marketing team in the sky. They tempt with interesting items so you will move to the right and then the left. Then a display that requires you to move around it. On and on it goes until you look back and have walked a predetermined path through the store designed to showcase their merchandise.

Simple Strategies to Create a Highly Integrated Website

1.  Balance your creativity with predictability. People feel safe and comfortable when they can predict what will happen next.  So many of my clients want to get all creative and shake things up.  That is great, you need to put your personality out there but remember to keep your customer in mind first.  The solution for a confused website visitor is just a click away– a click away off your site that is!

Some marks to hit include:

  • Logo in the top left of the home page
  • Navigation bar preferably across the top but can also be on one of the sidebars.  However, this must be very visible.
  • Newsletter or Opt-In sign up in the top right sidebar area.

2.  Hyperlinks. Add hyperlinks throughout your site, linking to the next page in the site you want your visitor to go. Think of these as sign posts on a hiking trail.  What is the next step you want your visitor to take?  Talk about your amazing services on your ‘About’ page, then add a hyperlink to the ‘Services’ page right there. “Contact us for more details” should include a hyperlink to the ‘Contact’ page or your email. One great practice is to put this contact information at the bottom of every page.

Bottom line:  Always have at least one link to follow to your next service, product, or more information. Never leave them stranded on one of your pages. Make it easy for them and lead on!

3.  Social media integration. There are many new buttons, badges, and plugins that make integrating Twitter, Facebook and other social media stupid easy.  I recommend finding one or two social media sites to focus on and integrating them with your website.  You stand a much better chance for success if you narrow your focus, get that rolling and then build from there.

4.  To breadcrumb or not to breadcrumbs.  Breadcrumbs are the little headlines you see on a web page that tell you how you got there.  They are used to keep the visitor oriented to where they are and how they got there.  If you have a complex site, breadcrumbs can be useful.  However a well designed navigation bar and site integration can be all you need.  In the end it is a personal preference.  I prefer not to rely on them as they take up valuable web page real estate and I find them distracting.

Recommended Reading

These are just a few easy things you can do to improve your site integration and navigation.  I highly recommend Steve Krug’s Book Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition for more ideas and an in-depth look at site usability and integration.

Are You a Man or a Chicken?

Next up in the Secret Weapons of Web Design series – Web Page Layout.  Did you know your site visitors are not reading every line of your beautiful prose?  It’s true, we as humans tend to act more like chickens when it comes to reading websites.  We pick and pluck, scan and skip.  Next post I’ll share the secrets of how to layout and design your web pages for maximum impact with your visitors.

Solo-preneuring™: Get Paid to Do What You Love to Do

Do You Look Forward to Going to Work Every Day?

Do you enjoy your work so much that you can’t imagine doing anything else? If so, don’t read any further. But if you’ve noticed that Monday through Friday the clocks seem to run slower than they do on the weekends, read on to learn how you can get paid to do work you love.

Traditional Choices

It is generally believed that you have only two choices when it comes to earning your living: you can be an employee of someone else, or you can start a business and have others working for you.

As an employee, you have to perform up to the expectations of others — your bosses. That means working the hours they set, and doing the work they give you, in the way they tell you to do it. In exchange, you get the security of a regular paycheck. Of course, we’ve all seen in the last few years that there is nothing secure about anyone’s paycheck.

Entrepreneurs work on their terms, but that doesn’t mean they have it easy. Launching a business requires a commitment of time and money, and may take all of both that the entrepreneur can scrape together. Often, the entrepreneur has not gone from slave to master, but has merely traded one master (the boss) for another (the business).

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference”
~ Robert Frost


There is an alternative–Solo-preneuring. The Solo-preneur chooses the work he wants to do. She decides what hours she will work. He is not faced with the pressures of making a payroll, nor does he have to go, day after day, to the same old job. Most importantly, the Solo-preneur controls her own destiny. No other person decides her fate.

Solo-preneuring is getting paid for doing what you love. It is taking control of your work and your life. Solo-preneuring is a form of self-employment, but it is much more. It enables you to integrate your work and your life so that you feel good about what you do for a living.

The Solo-preneur has the best of both worlds–freedom from corporate bondage, without taking on the shackles of responsibility required to run a traditional business. Imagine waking up in the morning excited and happy. And doing work that is so in tune with your talents and interests, that it hardly seems like work to you. That’s what Solo-preneurs do.

The Solo-preneur finds ways to make money doing the things he enjoys, while minimizing or eliminating the tasks he doesn’t want to do. As a Solo-preneur, you may choose to do only one type of work. Or, you may combine two or more related functions (e.g., a desktop publishing business and a mailing service). You may even combine two or more completely unrelated pursuits.

My own experience is a great example. I enjoy teaching and speaking, so I conduct seminars and deliver speeches through my own company, and as a contractor for other companies. Writing is another favorite activity, so I write books and magazine articles.

Most of my traditional business experience is in insurance, and I am a licensed agent. Instead of selling insurance, though, I do contract enrolling. It allows me to use my insurance background as well as my public speaking skills, and I can accept work when I want it.

Secrets to Success

It’s important to remember that there aren’t a lot of rules about Solo-preneuring. The key is flexibility. Your enterprise can be as big or as small as you wish. You may start out small and grow to a large enterprise employing many others, or you may keep it small enough that you remain the only “employee”. You can pursue it full-time or part-time, or even in your spare time for extra income while you work at a traditional job.

The secret to success is starting small (without a lot of up front expense) and adding new profit centers to build your income.

In every other area of your life it seems that people will advise you not to “put all of your eggs in one basket”. No financial advisor would recommend putting all of your savings in only one investment. But when it comes to the key to providing financial security for you and your family, everyone from friends to a guidance counselor to your mom will tell you to go find a good job and stay with it. If that’s not putting all your eggs in one basket, then what is? We’ve all learned that the days of getting a job right out of school, staying there for 40 years, then collecting a gold watch at retirement are over. The work force is changing rapidly. And many people have found themselves pushed out of a company just when they need the job most.

The answer does not lie in the advice given to entrepreneurs, either. The entrepreneur is told to take all his time and money and put it into one concern. Think of nothing else, work on nothing else, and focus completely on making that one venture a success. The reality is that, even with that dedication, a large percentage of entrepreneurial companies do not succeed. So the entrepreneur is left with nothing after working night and day.

And whether you are an employee, an entrepreneur or a Solo-preneur, you will find that business cycles impact you. Various types of businesses are impacted differently by these business cycles. If you operate more than one venture, each will react differently to change. One may slow down while another picks up. In this way you are not going to lose all of your income because of changes in the economy.

Don’t tie your success to one job, one customer, or even one line of work. Be flexible and follow your wishes and dreams. Start one venture, get it rolling, then start another. The time and energy to manage multiple ventures will be there for you, because the work itself will energize you.

Mulitiple Streams of Income

Do you remember The Ed Sullivan Show? Ed often had performers who balanced spinning plates atop high sticks. These performers could keep ten or more plates spinning at a time by following a couple of simple principles: Start them one and a time, and tend each one as necessary. Think of Solo-preneuring that way. Start small, then build on your successes. Keep the whole thing in motion by tending whatever requires your attention today.

If your goal is to make $30,000, you may think that there is nothing you can do that would generate $30,000. That’s probably not true, but instead of looking for one thing you can do to earn $30,000, why not look for three ways to make $10,000? These enterprises may be related or not, you may do all of them part-time throughout the year, or you may do each one for only a short time each year. Whether you want to make $30,000 a year or $300,000 a year, the principles are the same.

Virtually anyone can be a Solo-preneur. The key to your success is having an interest in something and a way to make money with it. Most of us can easily identify our interests, so the next step is to determine how to make money with them. Once you start, the problem will not be coming up with ideas to generate income, it will be finding the time to put them all into action!

What Can You Do?

You have skills and abilities that others do not. We often undervalue the things we know and what we can do, thinking, “If I can do it, anyone can.” Well, “anyone” can’t. Maybe you are an excellent cook, or a Civil War buff, or you know all about computers. Whatever your knowledge or skills, they are of value to others. All you have to do is figure out how to package and market them.

Ask yourself:

  • What do I know that others don’t?
  • What can I do that others can’t?
  • What will I do that others won’t?
  • What can I do for others less expensively than they can do it for themselves?
  • Be open-minded and creative. You may not immediately see how to turn your interest into a profit center, but try looking at it from a different perspective. If you know how to make the world’s best cheesecakes, one option would be to bake and sell your cheesecakes. But how else could you use that skill to generate income? You could write and self-publish a cookbook of cheesecake recipes. Or you could teach a class on making the perfect cheesecake. There are probably many other ways that you could think of once you open your mind to the possibilities.

Get Started Now!

The best time to start is always now. Stop saying that “someday” you will take charge of your life and do what you have always wanted to do. Get out your calendar and look at every page. Do you see anything labeled “someday”? I didn’t think so. “Someday” is a code word for “never.” Don’t wait for the kids to go to school, or finish school, or move out. Don’t wait for the day when you have more money, or more time, or more whatever. And don’t think that you are too young or too old, not smart enough, or creative enough, or somehow not good enough to do this. There will always be more to learn and do, so don’t think that everything has to be perfect when you start.

How can you get started? An ancient Chinese proverb says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Take that single step today. It might be as simple as making a phone call to get more information about something that interests you, or you might sign up for a class, register a business name, create a flyer to promote your services, etc. Just pick a step, do it, then go on to the next step.

by Cathy Stucker, IdeaLady.com
Copyright 2003, Cathy Stucker

Want to know more about Solo-preneuring? This article is excerpted from the manual, Solo-preneuring: The Art of Earning a Living Without a Job, the self-help guide for those who want to escape corporate bondage and find success doing work they love. For more information, go to http://www.idealady.com/solobook.htm

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