5 ideas to get your business up and running online
Benedek is a business coach and website builder, while Cat is a design and branding specialist. Together, we help small- and medium sized business owners scale their business online.
We have all witnessed how businesses all over the world faced a new challenge, brought about or accelerated by the global pandemic: the need to reach your clients online and build up trust for your online business. Easier said than done though, as many of you might have found out. So in this post, we pulled together our experience and insights on what works and what doesn’t, when it comes to successful online operations.
Myth 1: ‘Your customers will find you, don’t worry!’
Back in the ‘old days’, this phrase might have worked; target audiences were categorized according to demographic segments, such as age, geographic location, marital status, etc. With the advent of the world moving online, ‘push marketing’ (TV, radio, posters, press) in many product and service area segments were suddenly exchanged for ‘pull marketing’, where customers with well identifiable need-sets ‘pull’ the information relevant for them…from the internet (or from social media channels). Think of need-sets as different, yet well identifiable needs of individuals, who, based on demographics might never come together…but based on their needs, and their online approachability, may now easily make up a single target audience. People with non-identified, yet feelable symptoms who haven’t found a cure in the traditional world of medicines and are open to non-traditional herbal medicines, as an example. Will they be living in the same town? Not likely. Are they in the same age bracket? Not likely. Will they be searching with keywords that they know about themselves? For sure. Will they find your business, if you are aware of what those keyword associations are and use them on your website? For sure!
Reality: So, customers will find you, if you are aware of their thoughts. And thanks to Google, these thoughts can be explored and discovered quite quickly, if you use a little creativity.
Myth 2: ‘You need to be really creative with how you write your copy’
Copywriting used to be the sole profession of advertising agency copywriters who wrote copy for large-budget marketing campaigns. Yes, creativity could make or break a campaign and sales numbers, but today, in the age of a myriad personal and small- or medium-sized business websites, most people and business owners will write copy themselves. Creativity is nice to have, but understanding your customers’ thoughts, desires and wished-for-benefits goes a much longer way for you than creativity in itself will ever do (ca. 80-20 ratio). Do some research with the ample available online tools as to what your customers care for, how do they think, what do they desire, when it comes to purchasing services or products you offer.
Reality: Your potential customers aren’t ‘looking for you’ though. They are looking to find a solution to a problem they are facing. They need to get a job done, and are looking for benefits and trying to avoid pains (as to what would happen if they didn’t find a good solution). You want to be a part of the available solutions for them, and your direct competitors might not even be the ones you think of. As a coach, my biggest competitors are not (only) other coaches, but self-help books, therapists, kinesiologists, workplace mentors, or available free articles on the net.
Myth 3: ‘All you need is a simple website (DIY), and the rest happens automatically – just get on with it!’
While it has never been easier to build your own website, it has also never been more difficult to oversee all the options and choose the right ones for yourself. And with regards to ‘automatically’, no customers won’t flock to your website just because it exists, irrespective of how good it looks.
Reality: A great (serving) website begins by understanding your own motivations and drive as to why you’re in the business you are in (see Myth 5, below). People have a very sharp sense for feeling when a business doesn’t have a soul, and only exists to make money. The next step is identifying what problems you are offering to solve (Myth 2, above), and writing about it in a compelling way, without being too pushy. Step 3 is design (see Myth 4, below) that serves the purpose of the business, and Step 4 is choosing a platform and hosting solution that you own and can take care of in the long run, without much need for IT people (once the initial setup and build has been completed). WordPress and Wix both provide great solutions, although both have their own Universe of plugins and extras that need to be installed to make a website work properly. The final and ongoing ‘thing’ you need to do is communicate with your target audience to stay top-of-mind for them. It’s best to think of your new website as a platform for attracting your target audience to find carefully curated and freely available information for them within the field that your business is active in. E.g. a business consultant/accountant will want to provide business tips, free resources, info on government sponsored business schemes, reminders on important dates, etc. for their target audience, among many other things. If you make people see the benefit and value of coming to your site – without wanting to sell them anything – you will be on top of mind for them, when it comes to hiring a great business consultant, because yes, they do know that you provide payable services as well.
Myth 4: The most important thing about my logo is that it is beautiful!
While it is important to have an aesthetically pleasing logo when it comes to effectively communicating your brand visually, there are a number of aspects that should be considered to ensure that your logo is not only beautiful, but resonates with your desired audience.
Reality: Your logo’s design should reflect the essence of your business including your values, purpose, personality, positioning, target audience, and should also consider your competitors, all while making a positive impression on those who come into contact with your brand. In terms of industry best practise, when it comes to logo design, your logo should be simple, memorable, timeless, versatile and appropriate to your industry.
It is also important to remember that your logo is not the only visual communication that should be considered when creating your brand, your logo should be used as a starting point to inform the rest of your brand kit, including your colour palette, typography, imagery, iconography, tone of voice, and key messaging. These should remain consistent throughout all of your brand assets for a cohesive impression.
There are many amazing artists and designers out there who can certainly design a beautiful logo, but when it comes to brand and visual identity design, it is highly recommended that you work with a brand identity design specialist, so that your brand’s identity (logo and visual style) is not only attractive but also meaningfully resonates with your target audience.
Myth 5: ‘People care about your service/product, not who you are!’
While it is true that you can sell services and products without a story behind them, it is much easier to do this, if your audience can connect with you and perhaps identify and like you for who you are. So, it’s worth to think about yourself first and foremost, when it comes to developing your business. I find coaching helps many clients to better understand their personal motivations, which in turn shed light on their professional motivations, leading to an overall clear picture of who they want to help and in what way, when it comes to presenting themselves online (their services and products). Customers always look for credibility and authenticity in service providers, so it pays off multiple times to spend some time on yourself figuring out who you are and what you want to be known for (either with a coach or someone that can help you uncover your hidden side in a good way).
So that’s our list, folks. For questions or comments, let us know below!