Every Small Business Needs a Business to Thrive
This webinar was recorded on May 4th, 2021.
Thank you all for being here today! My name is Jeffro, owner of FroBro Web Technologies. I help small business owners build out an attention-grabbing online presence, and leverage that presence to get more clients for their business.
Today’s webinar will show you three main reasons why every small business owner needs a professional website, and how it can be used to make your business thrive. There will be some time at the end for questions. And I know everyone is busy so I want to honor your time by jumping right in.
Let me start with a story and perhaps you can relate to having a similar experience. In 2014, my wife and I moved into our first house. It was in a new development, and one of the requirements was that you had to get your landscaping done in the first 3 – 6 months.
So naturally, there were lots of flyers and knocks on the door from various landscapers in the area who were looking for business, since they knew we all had to get it done. So I got business cards, I walked through the yard explaining what we wanted done, and got a few quotes. Ultimately there was one landscaper who had a reasonable price and we liked the travertine work we had seen him do on one of the neighbors houses. We hired him.
At first, everything was great, they got to work and started getting things done. But then progress stalled, and I had to hound him a bit to keep going. Turns out, he got in trouble for doing business without a valid license, and he was staying away so as not to get busted.
Here’s the thing – his business card did have a license number on it, so I took it at face value and never looked it up. But now I did, and it turns out it had expired 7 years or so prior. Long story short, I kept hounding him until he got the job done, but there have been quality issues that have appeared since then.
So why do I tell you this story? Because after that experience, I’m much more picky about who I hire. If I’m hiring any kind of contractor, you better believe I’m going to check that license number. But you know what I’m going to check way before that? Their website. If they don’t have one, I probably won’t hire them unless they come recommended by someone I trust.
In today’s modern world, if you don’t have a website, you don’t look established. Maybe you’re not really serious, or maybe you’re going to disappear tomorrow with my money. Maybe you are hiding something, like bad reviews or poor quality work.
Now obviously, those are just some assumptions that come to my mind, and to the mind of your prospects. But of course there are other reasons not to have a website: you don’t know how to make one, you don’t realize you need one, you aren’t tech savvy or you are worried about the ROI of paying for one. Or you are just too busy — 4 out of 5 small businesses employ only the founder (https://fortunly.com/statistics/startup-statistics/), so it ends up being just one more thing to do.
The bottom line is: there are three main reasons a small business owner needs a professional website. Reason #1) A professional online presence. Just by having a clean, professional website, your perceived value and reputation go up. You sidestep all of those negative assumptions that I mentioned earlier. Reason #2) Branding. If you ever want to be recognized as an expert in your field, or better yet, as a leader in your industry, you need to have a website to showcase who you are and why you are the best. Every detail plays into this. For example, which email address sounds more professional and trustworthy: firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com ? Obviously it’s better to have your own branded email. Reason #3) A whole new world of prospects. By being online, you now have access to ads, search engines, landing pages, directories, and a myriad of other ways to find new customers (and arguably more importantly, allow customers to find you).
So let’s dive in a little deeper on each of these. Reason #1, a professional online presence. You want to make people feel good about your business. You want them to want to hire you. A website allows you to overcome objections before they are even raised. Let’s talk about a specific example. I have a commercial landscaping client whose website I maintain (I didn’t do the design on this one, just the implementation). With landscapers, a common concern is that they are some fly-by-night operation that is going to disappear and leave you hanging. If you have a website, you can have a nice About section that explains when you were founded, you are a family owned business, and you have all of these happy customers. Here you can see the before screenshot. First of all, they actually had a website, which is good. You can see they had the right idea, and their site actually had some content that was able to be repurposed on the new site. But the design leaves a lot to be desired. Let’s look at the new site, and you tell me the difference in your first impression.
The design is much more appealing, and you get an actual image of some landscape work instead of a generic shot of some grass. The messaging is also improved. The old site said “we handle all phases of landscaping with a customer-focused approach”. It’s hard to connect personally to a phrase like that. The new site conveys basically the same message in a much more human way: “We bring your vision to life.” Is that a customer-focused approach? Yes, it’s their vision. It’s implied that all phases will be handled, since “we bring it to life”. I don’t know about you, but I feel much better about hiring the company behind the second website. It’s a much better impression. Plus their license number is right at the top, hyperlinked to the CSLB website so you can put your mind at ease that this company is on the up and up.
Also, did you notice the old site didn’t have an About page? That’s a huge missed opportunity. Here’s the new About page, which explains who they are, what they do, why you should work with them, and it even mentions how they give back to their community. Doesn’t this make you want to work with this company over some other one who is only out to make a quick buck?
Okay, enough about reason #1. On to reason #2, branding. Before creating a website, some companies don’t even have a logo. By going through the design process, you come away with a brand identity that can be duplicated across business cards, email signatures, letterheads, invoices, product labels, mailers, you name it. Similar to reason #1, this consistency builds trust and reputation.
I have another client who has been going through this branding process. The company is Good Stuff Coffee, and their brand is built around their mission: to hire former foster youths to work in the business and provide them with a living wage, a car, etc. So we redesigned the website to tell that story. Here’s the old site: You can see it looks like every other blog site template. And there’s a whole bunch of text that makes you want to stop reading. Plus there’s no About page, by the way.
Now take a look at the new site: much more visual, with concise text that conveys what the brand is all about in a sentence or two. Again, I encourage you to think about your first impressions when viewing these different pages. It makes a huge difference in how you feel about the company right off the bat! And the messaging was improved as well. The old tagline was “Do good things with good stuff”. While that’s marginally clever, it’s also very vague. That’s why cleaning up the verbiage is so important. Improving the logo, product labels, etc. has also been a big part of stepping up the branding for Good Stuff Coffee. Which, by the way, is now available in several Sprouts locations in Orange County. It’s gotta look good on the shelves, and when someone reads the label in the store, the first thing they will do is pull up the website. Having a well designed website with intentional messaging is critical, and your website anchors all of these branding efforts.
Okay, final reason for today, a whole new world of prospects. Now that we have created a professional website that conveys who we are and why you should do business with us, you can leverage that website to get more clients. But a great website doesn’t help you if nobody sees it. There are two main ways for people to arrive at your website: the first way is they did a search for something they want or need, and your site showed up in the search results. A lot of people think there is some magic here to trick the search engines into showing your website. But the truth is, if you provide real value and helpful information, you will be rewarded for that. Of course there are ways of formatting that information to make it look better in the search results, and you can always have certain search terms in mind when writing copy for a page. That’s the first way people see your site, is that they are looking for you or someone like you.
The second way is that you pay money to get in front of someone who might want or need your service. So while search traffic is more passive or organic, paid marketing is a more proactive way to approach things. Many companies do a combination of both.
Search engine optimization often “feels” cheaper, since you aren’t directly paying for the traffic that comes through. However, you are at the mercies of what somebody happens to be searching for, and there is a constant tweaking if you want to take advantage of current search trends, etc. So while it’s good to optimize your site to be found for the products and services that you offer, most businesses shouldn’t stop there.
When you start running paid campaigns, whether it is a billboard, a Facebook ad, or something else, the ROI is important. Unfortunately many forms of advertising are “fuzzy” in that it is difficult to know exactly how many people heard/saw it. For example, radio commercials are a fuzzy area. You can’t know exactly how many people heard your ad so you don’t really know your reach, and it isn’t targeted. However, you can mitigate this information gap by setting up a designated landing page or promotion code specific to each campaign. That way if someone buys something from your site with the coupon code “KTLA50”, you know they heard your radio ad. You still won’t have a measurement of the actual conversion rate, but at least you can put a price on cost per lead or cost per customer.
When selecting what type of advertising to do, you need to know what you are offering and who you are trying to reach. A small business doesn’t have the luxury of scale that Coca-Cola or Apple have, so we have to be very specific.
One of my clients is a mental health outpatient clinic. I did a full redesign of their website to better capture their brand and improve the visual professionalism. But right now I want to highlight some of the other things I’ve done for them. They have expanded and they opened a new office in Beverly Hills. But Beverly Hills was a totally new market outside of Orange County, so they didn’t have relationships built up over there yet. They typically rely mostly on referrals for new business. And mental health is tricky since you probably don’t want to market directly to the end client — there is stigma in some circles around mental health, many people are in denial about their condition and would never self-select as being in need of help, and some are in such a mental state that they are incapable of seeking or asking for help.
With that in mind, I realized our target to reach was not the patients themselves; it is the local providers that will refer patients to Oak Health Center. So we put together an informational packet with a letter introducing Oak Health, a flyer that includes details about the vision and services offered, a business card, and an insurance flyer so they know which insurance is accepted. We put this in a 9×12 envelope so it stands out from everything else in the mail pile and helps insure that it gets opened. There are often pediatric offices who don’t have a good place to send patients in need of psychiatric or psychological help. There are also independent therapists who don’t know where to refer someone when it is clear they will be needing medication. So by introducing the clinic to these folks, the hope is to make some connections and start creating referral sources that will continue to pay dividends for many years to come.
In addition, to complement this physical mailing campaign, we began running google ads that target these pediatricians, therapists, and others who have received the mailing. This way we pop up in multiple places and get them thinking about us.
On top of that, we did a follow-up campaign where the office staff would actually call these folks about a week or so after to make sure they got the packet, offer to answer any questions, and basically create another touch point.
Another thing I did is booked the CEO on a couple of mental health related podcasts to increase visibility and further position Oak Health as a leader in this industry. Dr. Park was featured in episodes for podcasts such as the Psych Central Podcast and Mental Illness Happy Hour.
Plus we have added the new location to Google Maps business listings, and we are trying to get on other online directories for mental health services.
Obviously this goes beyond the typical approach of just running online ads. But in this case, each of these methods work together to achieve our goals of putting the new location on the map and generating new sources of referrals.
And remember, the website is the anchor for all of this activity. On the podcast, Dr. Park directs people to the website. The flyers in the referral packets point to the website. Google Ads point back to the website. The website enables you and your business to be found in this universe of prospects.
Let’s do a quick recap: a website allows you to have a professional online presence. It centers your branding. And it anchors your marketing efforts by expanding the world of possibilities.
Here’s what I want you to do: if you know of a small business owner who either doesn’t have a website, has one that’s bad or just okay, or they have a decent site but don’t leverage it to help grow their business, send them to frobroweb.com/connect. On that page, have them submit a message and choose “Book a Consult” as their subject. I will schedule a free 30 minute consult to help them create a professional online platform that they can use to expand their reach and increase their revenue. I want to make sure they are not their industry’s best kept secret.
A couple months ago I was going for a walk and I ran into our old landscaper who I had hired when we first moved in. I was surprised that he was showing his face in our neighborhood, after all the problems he caused. But he told me that he got things sorted out, got relicensed, and is doing everything the right way this time. I said “great, good for you” and I really do hope that he sticks with it and creates an honest career. If only he had hired someone like me a long time ago, then he would have had enough customers to pay the bills and stay compliant. So don’t be like him. Don’t wait until the point of desperation to invest in your business and do things right. A professional website and marketing plan can be the difference between another failed company and one that grows to support your family for generations.