I get asked a lot for help in regards to what a new business startup should do to develop a web presence and what provides the biggest return for investment. To help answer this question as concisely as possible, without you having to pay me a consulting fee, I have tried to share my insights in this blog post.
1. Purchase a great content-rich professionally designed website
I have to say if you do not have a great website, and I am not talking about one your kid sister made, or one created using a GoDaddy template, then you will not be able to convey the professionalism that you need to convey to create confidence in yourself or your products to potential customers. Many startups come to me asking why they do not generate sales and when I look at their website it appears that they are operating on a shoe string. The Web is a great equalizer. Your business startup website can make your business appear to be large, established, and successful if it reflects true professionalism in content and in design. This is one of the most critical expenses that any new business startup should invest in. You may choose to work with our firm for a custom website or a Quick Launch website or select another web design firm, but you must have a good-looking professional appearing web presence.
2. Get involved immediately with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter
You’ve got to get the word out about yourself once you have a website. By updating your status and posting information, sharing and interacting online at a minimum of three times a day on these various sites you start to build an online presence, get authority links to point to your new website and inside content, and start to establish yourself as a contender in your industry. I have reviewed many social networking sites and these are the ones where I invest my own time (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn). I recommend in some cases setting up accounts under your own name as the business owner. I do not have one profile for business and one for pleasure. Small businesses need to just get involved with social networking and typically some of your very first customers will be friends, family, and social contacts.
If you take the attitude that social networking is a time pit and worthless, you will be woefully wrong and out of the loop. In fact the more you involve yourself in these endeavors with the attitude that you are sharing and providing information and not looking particularly to sell, the more fun you will have and the more fruitful the connections will become.
I have closed sales from social networking contacts. It does happen, really. But if you watch any of the networking I do myself you will see that I am open, sharing, providing information on a wide variety of topics and soft selling my own services only occasionally. I do not use social networking as a brochure or lead generation opportunity, but yet it has worked to bring me business over time.
3. Get started on Google AdWords
If you have the budget you really want your very next step to be advertising your products and services on Google AdWords. Don’t waste money at this point on Yahoo, MSN adCenter, Yoddle or other pay per click enterprises. Concentrate on AdWords. If you cannot afford a professional account manager such as myself, then get started using the simple to use Google AdWords Starter version. If you are advertising your services to a national audience be prepared to spend anywhere from about $1.25 to $3.50 or so per click (some businesses will pay much more). Don’t go into this expecting to pay $.05 per click and set $150 per 30 days as your monthly budget. Allocate $500 to $800 for the first 30 days of clicks and set your maximum click cost to a “market reasonable” setting. Make sure you set up special landing pages for your ad group themes and have conversion tracking installed. Review your program often to make sure that your money is working for you and is an investment in the future not an expense.
4. Build great content on your website under your domain name using a blog
Now we’re moving into maintenance mode on your website. You must be adding to and growing your web presence over time to attract search engine robots, improve your placement organically, and to provide opportunities for readers to connect with you. There is no better way to do this than using a blog. Blogs build website traffic, allow for keyword dense topics to be discussed and housed under your domain name, and build “web authority” for your site over time. It is not necessary for you to have a professional blogger write for you. Although we offer this service, there is no replacement for your insights as the business owner, but you must be a consistent writer however and provide interesting on-topic information and resources in your blog posts.
5. Focus on customer service in all you do
I have found when I first started out that it was easy to do the work, but hard to find someone to pay for it. Here is where top notch customer focused customer service is key for a new business startup. You must provide free information and help initially to prospects, then move them to a paying customer status, and then finally make sure that you do everything possible to satisfy them. My own business started out solely as a word of mouth referral service and now earns a six figure income. When you build your base on happy customers, rewarding referrals, and provide real advise and value to customers, your business will grow.
If you have other recommendations for a business startup, just leave your comments to this post below. I’d love to see what you think is important.
If you feel that you need a more personalized plan and review of your own business’ current statistical information we do provide consulting services for $90 per hour. Much of the information on what you can do and how to do it however is provided as free content on our website and blog, so we invite you to dig deeper and browse our content. You’re sure to find a wealth of information in both locations.