Month: March 2020

Speaking to Your Audience During COVID-19

I struggled on what to write this week. If I should write this week, and if I did, what would I write about? Because I’m sure, like you, my mind has been thinking about all of the things. But in opening Symbiotic Marketing up as a resource to all businesses and all individuals during this time has been a blessing to me. While many are struggling to find their footing and are looking to the only platform we have now – digital – and this is something Symbiotic Marketing was built on and uses daily. I’m saying we are blessed because we have the background and we have the knowledge, but by opening up our services to everyone, I have been able to continue doing what I love and that gives me great peace.

So, with that being said, this week’s blog is going to be focused on speaking to your audience right now on digital platforms, specifically your website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn pages. I will touch on some things and give you some ideas of what you can do. If you need help, reach out. Because while we are all scrambling, we can also pull our resources together and help each other out. I am going to try to be concise and to the point, but as we all know, that may or may not happen. If you need clarity, please ask because your audience is acting very differently right now and needs to be treated differently.

Restrict All Sales Speak

It may be tempting to drive traffic to your digital outlets when talking to your audience online right now – that’s what they were put in place for! But here’s the thing. Like you, many people aren’t working right now and don’t know when they can expect to return to work. For anyone living paycheck to paycheck, this is an incredibly trying time and the stimulus cannot come fast enough.

While some may be “lucky,” my family included in this lot, to have someone who is considered essential and life sustaining and with this pandemic.  Our finances are more secure, but at what cost? Our family members are out working every day with people who may or may not have this illness and may or may not bring it home.

And the overarching fear that we all have, no one knows how long this is going to last or what toll this is going to take on our health care system. The stories are scary. Trying to remain informed is scary. We aren’t sure who or what we can trust right now. Our very sense of security has been shaken. This is why toilet paper and food are being rationed. And this is why any attempt at sales will fall flat right now.

Drop The Pretenses

The fear is too great right now. Too consuming. In addition to this, many are feeling frustrated. Frustrated because they can’t work or because they must work. Frustrated by the closed stores and lack of supplies. Frustrated because we just don’t know. We need a sense of order for our society to function properly and that has clearly been upset.

We need something we can control to bring back a sense of normalcy. And right now, there’s just a whole lot that is out of our control. As business owners, we always have something that we can be doing. But individuals, they may not have that luxury (if you want to call it that). As a small business owner, you have resources available that you use to operate your business. Think about how you can transition what you do into how you can help someone. And this does not mean instructional how-to things, you also can help someone emotionally by bringing a sense of togetherness and community.  Think outside of the box. Again, if you need help, reach out.

With this, you need to drop the pretenses that everything is okay. Because it’s not. Whatever your personal thoughts on this matter may be, empty shelves at the grocery store say otherwise. It’s okay to talk about COVID-19 because it is relevant. It is on people’s minds. But your page is not the place to spread the fear and frustration. Focus on positivity, long-term vision, and helpful information. Now is the time to build your brand and you will have to let down some pretenses to do it.

Speaking to Your Audience During COVID-19

Website

It is imperative that your website be clean and easy to use right now. It must drive any traffic you have coming in, to their purpose for being there. While it is a personal choice to make any adjustments to your website in light of COVID-19, know that if they are coming, there is a reason for it and clear direction is necessary.

As this is an ever-changing event, it is your socials that will be of key importance. Take the time now to make any adjustments you want to your website, but the main focus should be on reaching your audience where they are right now, and that is all over social media. Currently, audiences are making adjustments on all of the platforms but their main intention, their main source of use, has remained the same. With that, let’s dig deeper into social media.

Facebook

Facebook has traditionally been “all the things” about life, literally, ALL THE THINGS. But it has maintained its focus on connecting people, getting to know one another, and communicating. While some have already used the platform to bring people together for a common good – look at all the new groups forming and informative pages. You must take the time to evaluate and reach your audience on this platform now if you are on it.

This can be done many ways based on your specific business and your options are really limitless. Status updates, shares, photos, videos, Facebook live videos, YouTube videos, Zoom meetings shared to Facebook Live. In these, everyone knows that most people are working from home right now and with that comes certain, shall we say, unexpected complications?

Everyone I have had a video chat with this week has had the opportunity to meet Sir Barnabas AKA “Barney,” my pug poodle mix. And it’s okay! Because that is life right now. A few weeks ago, this would have really bothered me but now, we’re all in this boat together. It’s okay. And know that while everyone is getting a sneak peek into what it’s like in your home, you are getting a sneak peek into what it’s like in their homes too. No one has their shit together. Drop the pretense and embrace the chaos.

Instagram

Like Facebook, Instagram is dropping some of the pretenses. Things do not need to be as polished, but it does need to remain positive and informative. Everyone is struggling right now so anything upbeat, helpful, and true insight on what you are doing to help yourself are all things being discussed on this platform.

How this transitions into what you can discuss on Instagram about your business, is just that – helpful, positive, and let people in. We are social creatures and need socialization to survive. This is where you can dig more into your why, what you do in your business, and why you do it and go personal. This is the time you can make a really deep connection with your audience.

Twitter

Twitter has remained news and opinion focused. If you use this platform, try to stay news focused, informative, up to date, and pay close attention to trending hashtags and how they may be used to support your brand. This platform may be very time-consuming right now and can easily start to affect your mental health. Be careful of the amount of time spent on this and any other platform. If you are starting to feel tired, negative, irritable, frustrated, hopeless, angry, or any other negative emotion, it’s time to hop off and do something less stressful. Bake some cookies, Netflix and chill, anything that can give you a sense of peace.

LinkedIn

Rather predictably, as businesses nationwide started to close and transition over to virtual platforms, LinkedIn’s audience behavior took quite a hit. Thankfully, with the small business loans and grants that are being offered, this audience is finding their feet again. Again, helpful and informative are what this audience is looking for. We’ve had a lot of shit thrown at us in a short period of time, so make it easily digestible.

Just Be Real

While this is a broad overview, the sentiment remains the same. We’re all in this together and no one knows what to expect. This is a time when the full power of what social media is and what it can do for us as individuals and us as business owners can be realized. The way we work may very likely be forever changed from this. At Symbiotic Marketing, we were already set up to be primarily virtual, we were set up to work from our homes remotely and we have resources we use to make this work for us. But many of you are struggling because you do not have this in place. Let us help you.

Our proverbial masks are being taken down. There’s no where to hide. And why would you? You are a business owner. You are born to stand out. You are born to make a difference. You’ve got this. Throw your cape over your shoulder and just be real. That’s all anyone is looking for right now.

Special COVID-19 Announcement

Special COVID-19 Announcement

I have been struggling writing this week’s blog. Not because what I had intended to discuss is difficult but because, right now, life is difficult. I’m struggling. And no, it most certainly is not similar in any way to some of the very difficult decisions my fellow business owners are being forced to make. But to pretend that everything is okay and write in such a way is something that I cannot do.

I simply cannot pretend that everything is okay, because it’s not. While my daily routine has not changed that significantly, my mindset has. And that has me struggling. I have not felt a depression this deep in a long time, but I am fighting it. I am fighting it because you are fighting. Because we all have something worth fighting for.

Ladies and gentlemen, your time to step up and show your community how much you care is here. It is your time to shine and each of you, in your individual ways are doing it. Those of us who can, are continuing to work from home, providing the services we need to keep things moving. Those of us who are needed on the front lines are out there, ensuring our quality of life. And those of you who have closed and will be closing during this time, you are helping lessen the curve.

So many of you are showing your community how much you care, and I am overwhelmed with love for you and for the wonderful community I live in. When I find myself pulling in and allowing the fear take over, I look at you and know that I am not alone. Because we are not. And I believe each of us on social media right now knows this to be true. Let’s be honest. It’s where we are.

Even if we have neglected our business pages, we are still on social media because it is how we can communicate right now. And I am seeing some very beautiful things. Just an incredible use of technology, I am in awe of what some of you are doing to bring some sunshine into our lives.

We are communicating more than ever and with this, we have the opportunity to help in so many simple ways that can make a huge impact. And with this, I am hoping that I may be able to give back to you the support you have given me.

Starting today and until further notice, the Symbiotic Marketing Facebook Page will host an AMA (Ask Me Anything). Come and ask your questions, from social media marketing and websites, to marketing in general. I will PM you with questions so I can fully understand your question and any details needed and then help you with find a resolution to your specific issue. Pick my brain. In addition to this, I will be addressing as many questions as I can in a general format to assist others who may also have a similar question. These will be specific posts because at times, answers can get lengthy.

I know you may be feeling very uncertain right now and probably downright scared, but I want you to know that you inspire me every day. I am incredibly honored to be a part of this wonderful group of crazy small business owners. Because we are crazy. And you are my people.

I sincerely love you all and we’ll come out of this better for having gone through it together. I firmly believe this.

See you on the other side, Ray.

What, How, When? Social media etiquette explained

If I have learned anything in life, it is that at times, it is going to be hard. Some of the most beneficial lessons we can learn come from a hard place and sometimes, it’s that hard pill that we need to swallow. And, this may be a hard pill for some to swallow. But it needs to be said. Ladies and gentlemen, I need to discuss social media etiquette.

I get it. It’s hard knowing how to get people to look, actually LOOK at what you are doing. Knowing that you have less than a second to capture someone’s attention is beyond daunting! Add in trying to increase your page following, because more must certainly be better, and it’s easy to become so frustrated and overwhelmed you aren’t sure what to do. And that’s just your business page.

As a business owner, you inherently will have two accounts on Facebook and potentially two on LinkedIn. What to post, where to post, and how to share are all important because they affect your brand awareness. Likewise, who you are friends with and who you follow on your personal page affects your brand. Whether we like it or not, as the owner of the business, we are the face of the business. How you interact with those you follow, and how they interact with you says a lot about you and how you run your business. With that, let’s get into those hard truths.

1. For the love of all that is holy, leave dirty laundry offline.

This may seem like a given, but dirty laundry presents itself, even when we do our best to filter it. This may be someone shooting off on your page, responding to a comment in an ugly way, or even a negative review.

If it is something directly related to your business, respond in a respectful way (even though you may feel very differently) and offer to take the complaint offline. Period. “I am sorry you have experienced this. I will call you to discuss how we may be able to resolve this issue.” Keep it respectful and professional and most importantly, take it offline.

If it is related to you personally, you should remain respectful in your response but take the conversation to a more private space if necessary. Something as simple as responding, “I’ll PM you,” lets those who can see that conversation know that you have boundaries of what you will accept publicly and what you will not.

We all have that one relative who just won’t stop. Redirect to a more private area and save some face. Know that no matter what, some dirty laundry is going to come out at some point. How you handle it matters because nothing just “goes away” in digital.

This is not to say that you should not have opinions and show them online but keep it in check and don’t go overboard. When you start to feel emotions coming up, get offline, regroup and then come back to address it. When you are frustrated and angry, the socials are not the place to be until you can respond in a logical manner.

2. Be aware of who you are friends with and who you follow.

This is such an easy one to fall into. The more people on your personal page, will transfer to more people on your business page, right? Not necessarily. And, it may actually hurt your brand. Here’s the hard truth, people create fake accounts to snoop. We all know someone who has done it or have heard of someone who has done it. But it is more than that, especially this year.

There are things called “bots.” These are NOT people but look like people online. They often have posts shared to their newfeeds and are tagged in the posts. They rarely post themselves, and when they do, it is primarily directed toward an overall theme. If someone looks highly stereotypical in the type of posts shared to them or they themselves share and do not post anything personal – no status update, it is most likely a bot.

We are going to see an increase of bots this year because it is an election year. These are “individuals” who post highly politicized posts and posts associated with those values. The issue with these is twofold. First, by friending a bot, allows it to work like a virus and send requests to all your friends. Others will be more likely to accept it because you have, so it must be legit, but it isn’t. This discredits your integrity. Bots happen on business pages. They shouldn’t happen to personal pages.

Secondly, who you interact with says a lot about you. While you should have a diverse list of friends, it should be reflective of who you are personally. In accepting a request from a bot opens you up to more bots sending requests. This is why people make Facebook sweeps and clean their friends lists. They want to see from the people they care about (this comes back to the algorithm) and if you are someone who falls victim to bots frequently (we can see who our “mutual” friends are…) you may become unfollowed and you would not know.

A good rule of thumb to follow, if you think you may have received a request from a bot, do not accept it right away. Look at their newsfeed and something seems “off” let it sit for a few days. It won’t go away, but it will give you time to think about whether or not accepting this request will be beneficial for you. Come back to it later and if it still doesn’t seem right, it’s probably because it isn’t a person.

3. Be careful with emojis.

Oh, emojis. Aren’t they fun…? Here’s the thing. Emojis are meant to enhance and complement text. They are meant to show the emotion behind the words typed. This is an issue that many of us have faced. How to transfer tone and emotion through text alone is difficult, because while we (the one who is typing) is trying to be effective in communication, emotions don’t always transfer through. What’s worse, is the reader (the person who is responding) to what was written, may respond in a very different manner than what was expected.

I am sure I am not the only one who has written an email that I thought was very clear and concise and to the point, to have it received differently than I expected. We first tried to combat this with self-created emojis – colon, dash, closed parenthesis for a smiley face or carrot, 3 for a heart. But this has transformed over the years into the emojis we know today.

Now we have hundreds of emojis to choose from. Literally, anything and everything we can think of, including poo. Even more so, we at times, choose to not respond with any text, but rather just an emoji to show our emotion. This completely acceptable depending on the situation. Other times, we intermix emojis with our text, and that is acceptable as well, but only in small doses. This is important, because when we are online, we are looking to read what has been written. This is the expectation.

When you mix emojis throughout your text, or use them incorrectly, it not only makes what you are saying difficult to read and more likely to be dismissed, it also reeks of dirty sales. This is a ploy that has been used by many multi-level marketers (MLM) to help sell their products. If you are an MLM and don’t mind being associated as such, go for it. Just be aware that your posts are difficult to read and may not be read. If you are not, you should stop NOW.

The issue with this, is that by presenting yourself as an MLM through your use of emojis, you are presenting yourself and your business that you are not professional and that you may not be in it for the long haul. Let’s be honest, we have all met someone who has joined the MLM bandwagon, sold the product for a bit, and moved onto another. This is not saying that all MLMs are bad, because they aren’t. But the expectation has been set, lots of emojis throughout a lot of text sends a message that you may not want.

This is what too many emojis reads like.

4. Business should start with business and transfer to personal.

This one also seems to be a given, but it’s so easy to share from your personal to your business page – what can be the harm? This comes down to a fundamental issue. You are the face of your business, but your business needs to stand on its own. You are more than just your business and that’s how people know you. The goal of branding is that people know your business first, that is your brand awareness, and you secondly. The brand you build is the business you will have.

This is incredibly important. If you do not focus on your brand, you will be perceived as mixing business with pleasure. That is not to say that you cannot find pleasure in your business, hell, you should! Why else would you be doing it? But with that, you should start with your business first, and then share to personal. With this, you should also be speaking to two very distinct audiences and using two distinct voices, your professional voice and your personal voice.

What I mean is this, every week, I publish this blog and share it to my socials. I start with the business pages first, because I am building on that brand. I want all the work I have put into building the brand to be associated with it. I also write to the specific page audience in a professional tone. Then I share it to my personal page, using a personal tone.

Additionally, if you are sharing information about your business to other pages (such as groups), see if you can join the group from your business page. Some, not all, allow users to be able to do this. Not only does it continue to build on your brand and brand awareness – because you will be again addressing the audience in a professional tone, but you will also be free of spamming your friends and followers. Here’s the hard truth, if you only share from your personal page to these groups, any friends who are also members of the same group you shared to, see that you posted to that page. Now, consider how many groups there are devoted to things happening in the area and how many of your friends may be following those pages as well. It adds up quickly. And if your friends and followers see you are personally posting about your business to these other pages, especially in rapid succession, it looks like spam.

 

5. Posting, Commenting, Sharing

Professional Voice on Personal Page

While it may be tempting to share every post from your business page to your personal page and simply adjust your tone for the audience, you want to be careful of overwhelming your friends. The truth of the matter is that you are a different person in the eyes of different people. Yes, you are a business owner and that is a large part of your life. But you are also a friend, a colleague, a family member and these are your friends and followers on your socials. They follow you because they want to see all of your aspects. Not just one. No one likes to go to dinner with someone who only talks about one subject, and that what social media is, a place to catch up and connect with loved ones. Don’t be that person.

Remember, you are speaking to two very different audiences on your business page and your personal page. What you post on your business page should be specific to building your brand and increasing your brand awareness. It needs to be different from what you share on your personal page because again, you are building a brand that should stand on its own. Let me say this again – The brand you build is the business you will have.

With this, share highlights of your business page to your personal page. Treat them as you would sprinkles. Sprinkles are great on any sweet treat, but you wouldn’t want them in your salad or on your burger. So, be picky and choosing what you share to your personal page from your business. By sharing the exciting stuff, people will be more likely to see what you have going on. Use this to drive them to your page if they aren’t already there. And if they are, then they are working for you every time they engage with your post.

Here’s the truth, every time one of your friends likes, comments, shares your post that you shared from your business page, it widens the overall reach of your initial post. This is how friends and family support your business online whether they are aware of it or not. Increasing your reach organically in this way increases the likelihood of an increase in your page audience and more importantly, a quality increase in this audience.

These are individuals who are interested in what you are doing, the more you can direct them to your business page, with highlights of what you have, the more likely they will be to interact with your page going forward. You want them there, give them a reason to go there.

Professional Voice on Business Page

As a business page, you can follow other businesses as your page. By following other businesses as your page, you are building on your brand awareness through their brand awareness. No small business owner succeeds in isolation. There’s a reason why we have our own community and this needs to be reflected online as well as in person.

Liking a page as your page and then sharing highlights from their page, not only shows that you care about your community, but also increases your overall page reach. Sharing events is an excellent way of increasing your page reach because they inherently can increase engagement through more options.

One may like, comment, or share but also mark interested or going, all of which are engagement and are weighted differently within the algorithm. Remember, these are the figures you want. Sprinkle in other’s stories within your own and your page will begin to show the diversity your personal page should already have and from this, begin to stand on its own.

In addition to this, you will want to post specifics about your own business. That is the point of having the page to begin with! In posting about your business, you will want to be sure that you are posting frequently enough that you are not overwhelming your audience with what you have to offer. Having specials, events, and sales are great, but be sure you do not undercut your brand to be able to do so. Your business encompasses more than sales, share about what you do but also why you do it. Give helpful tips that you have learned. Discuss topics that would interest your visitors and they will likely come back for more.

Personal Voice on Personal Page

This is where things can get sticky for many, especially right now. Not only are we in an election year, when tensions rise, but we are also facing a global health concern. Tensions are high and emotions are all over the place. Every SINGLE one of us has an opinion and right now, it’s hard to keep that opinion to ourselves because these topics are forefront on everyone’s minds.

Here’s the hard pill to swallow. If you choose to discuss these topics, do so knowing going in that you are setting up for a debate. You will need to be prepared because if you do this, you need to be firm in your stance yet open for discussion. You need to be ready to admit when you are wrong, because that may happen. You will also want to be aware of trolls because you will be opening yourself up to them. Let me be quite firm, DO NOT ENGAGE WITH TROLLS. YOU WILL NOT WIN.

Your safest bet is to take a middle ground or keep your opinion to yourself. Because in addition to this, you need to pay attention. People will be ready for an argument and sometimes, some rather unexpected results may happen. Try to put out fires when they are small and respond to each comment individually if possible. Fires spread quickly when emotions are high, and a small fire now can lead to pretty significant repercussions down the road.

These topics aside, what should you post on your personal page? Everything you feel you would want to share on your personal page, just be aware that portions will be reflected on your business. This returns to how you present your business in a positive light, if your business page is on point but your personal page says there’s something wrong, there’s something wrong.

Here’s the thing, we all have those not so great moments in life. And some need to be shared, but not all. Personally, since starting this business, I have seen a great deal of loss in my personal life, which I have shared in some capacity on my personal socials. I did this because this information needed to be shared. But not all information needs to be shared. Often, during these periods of loss, I was struggling with other stressors, both personal and business related. This information was not shared, because it was not necessary.

Friends and family will respect that you are going through a lot but do not need to know everything on your plate. Although your emotions may be all over the place, it does not need to show publicly. In these times of difficulty, it may be best to take some time off from digital. People will understand and accept that you may need to “go dark” for a bit to regroup.

Or, you may choose to regroup publicly, and find posts that speak to you in a positive way. You may see on my Facebook page, that during some of the times of loss, I posted a lot of motivational and uplifting memes and posts. These were as much for me as they were for my friends and family. There isn’t a one size fits all option, but both are acceptable. Just be aware that if you go dark, you will want to put a time limit on it because people will want to know you are okay.

Outside of this, post anything that speaks to you on a personal level. Share photos from your life, tag your friends and family, share status updates about what you are doing, share other’s posts that are meaningful to you. Tell people about you, who you are and what interests you. If they like you, they’ll want to know more about you and how they can support you.

 

For more small business marketing insight, check out our previous blogs and come back next week when I will discuss what we mean by brand awareness and how to use it effectively in your business no matter how small you are.

 

Presentation Is EVERYTHING (Conclusion): Bringing It All Back Together

Websites. That glorious thing that we all know we need because it drives traffic directly to our business. It’s how we show we are officially in business as a business today. We know we need one because we know that’s where the people are – online. We also know that it’s a part of our sales funnel and how it collaborates with social media. But like every other post in this series, we are going to go deeper into what your website says about your business and how you may present it in a positive light.

While there are a lot of choices for platform builders, the two main components we discuss with clients are budget and visuals. Depending on the platform you choose, the overall time spent on visuals and layout can change drastically based on your budget. With that, a lower cost platform to operate, is going to require more time devoted to layout and visuals than one with a higher annual fee. No matter which platform you choose, what you have is really a blank slate to build on. So, let’s start with that and then dig deeper.

What Does Your Website Need To Say?

There’s a phrase tossed around in marketing circles, “Facts tell, stories sell.” Your website should tell a story, who you are and what you do. And like many stories, your website should have several “chapters.” A home page is an introductory chapter, it should give visitor’s an overview of your business. But more than that, it should tell a story. Start with who you are and what you do but also think about why your visitor should care. Because the more they care, the longer they stay.

This is what is known as your “bounce rate,” how long someone stays on your site before moving onto another site. Ideally, you want your bounce rate to be low. This means your visitor spent some time on your site looking around before leaving. The longer they are there, the warmer that visitor is in your sales funnel. But we’re not looking at individual people who visit and why. Nor should your website be focused on one type of audience in your sales funnel.

Your website should speak to cold to hot audiences. As such, you will want to speak to both at the same time but in very different ways. Your hot audience needs a clear and direct path to what they are looking for. Give them clear direction to find what they are looking for because they are in the decision-making process. Whereas, your cold audience, those who may have found you through a search engine such as Google, they need a bit more. This is where your home page, and what you say on it matters.

Start with the facts, who you are. This includes any representation of your business, such as your logo and any visual representations that reflect your business, such as the restaurant may show a close up of a foot-long. With this, tell your audience a little bit about your business. What you do and why you do it. Think of this as your “elevator speech.” If they are interested, they will keep scrolling.

Tell A Story

From here, the story should go more in depth. Give more details about what the site is selling. If your company sells goods, highlight the products but be careful to not overwhelm the viewer. Remember, if they are interested, they will keep going. Selling a service, will be a bit different. Rather than showcasing goods, you will want to showcase the finer details of what you offer.

How this differs from your “elevator speech” is important. From our own website, the first paragraph is telling the visitor who we are, a small business marketing agency. The second goes into greater detail, specifically the services we offer, how and why. Remember, you are telling a story so build on what is already known and go into details as you progress.

Determining what to add to from this point is up to you. If you have testimonials you would like to share, you may do so. But remember to keep them concise. Pick and choose those that are well written and showcase your business is the most positive light. Not all testimonials are going to be useful to the visitor so if you are looking to add this, be sure to find ones that highlight specifics about your business.

And most importantly, make sure the transition time between the testimonials allows enough time for the viewer to read it. While it is tempting to have a lot of movement on the site, remember, people are here for information. They need to be able to read.

Don’t Forget A Conclusion

All homepages need a conclusion. People need to know when they have reached the end. Then if they choose to investigate your other chapters, they may do so. But creating a conclusion to your page and doing so in a positive light can be more difficult than expected.

Many small businesses do this by creating a contact box, a link to socials, contact information, or a combination of all three. While some may consider this the conclusion, it is imperative that your site include a footer with a copyright. To go without it, not only sets you and your business up for any kind of infringement from the information on your page, it also suggests ignorance and oversight. Neither of which present your business in a positive light.

Writing Your “Chapters”

As websites tell a story, your pages are your chapters. There are some key pages that should be on your website no matter how large your business is: Home, About, and Contact. As we have already discussed what should be included on the home page and contact is self-explanatory, let’s dig into the About page.

Your about page should not only tell visitors about your business but also about yourself. Include an introductory paragraph about yourself, give a little background and what brought you to where you are today. Then discuss your business and dig into your why. This is important because the visitor was already interested by your home page and clicked on your About page to learn more about you and your business. They are asking to learn more, what can you tell them and how can you make them care?

More importantly, why should you care. This may seem like a little thing, but in fact it can make a huge difference in moving a visitor along in your sales funnel. Think about the last time you wanted to know more information about something, and you received a response that didn’t really answer your question.

I love my child and genuinely want to hear about his day, but “it was pretty good” doesn’t really answer my question. Now while I may probe with deeper questions, such as asking how his math test went, your visitors are not going to do that. They may check out your socials, but then you are asking them to move away from your site. If they are already this far, they are interested. Don’t lose them this far in.

Your other chapters are highly based upon your business. You may have items for sale that can be grouped together into different types, or you may offer a variety of services. Creating pages for these items allows you to go into greater details of the specifics of what you are selling. Be aware that each different type of item should have a different page but like items should remain together. Such as, a restaurant may serve both hot and cold subs as well as sides. You can create one menu page, and separate submenus for each type of food offered to showcase the specific items for sale, the hot subs, cold subs, and side order items. Your menu should be easy to navigate and easy to read. This applies to both the example restaurant’s menu and your website’s menu. The easier it is to navigate, the more convenient it is to use. And, as you remember, we’re all about convenience.

Creating Stunning Visuals

We all know that websites are more than just text. There are visual components as well, and that includes more than just photos and videos. While photos and videos may be placed through the site as needed, the overall theme, color scheme, and sizing matters. So, let’s break these three things down and see how we can use them to present the text and structure started in a positive light.

The theme is the overall layout of your site. Where is your menu bar? Along the top? Or along the sides? Does it have text or symbols? Your theme should be appropriate for your specific type of business. While symbols are a great way to have your site look more app like, which many of us are familiar with and know how to use, does it align with your specific business or your audience’s expectations?

Remember, we are looking to ease a frustration. Think about your target audience, what would they be more likely to be comfortable with using? When in doubt, simple and straightforward fair better long term that what is trending.

The theme also often includes a color scheme that may be used. While ideally, you will want to utilize colors within your logo for consistency, you will also want to be careful of how colors relate to each other.

There are what is known as complementary colors. These are colors opposite of each other on the color wheel: blue-orange, red-green, and yellow-purple. When used together sparingly, these combinations make a stunning statement because they draw the eye in. However, when used together in a larger capacity, such as the overall color scheme of your website, they can be overwhelming and painful on the eyes to read. No one wants to use a website that is headache inducing from the color scheme chosen, when in doubt, use what the theme suggests.

Sizing includes all aspects of visual sizes. This includes not only how large your photos are on your site, but also how this relates to your text, the font and font size. Font should be easy to read and should stand out from your other visual components. Your text should not be overshadowed by graphics, but rather, they should flow together and complement each other. You should also be aware of color scheme for your text. If it is hard to read because of the hues chosen, the size and style of the font chosen, won’t matter.

Font and font size should only change based on the portion of the page you are working on. Such as, a title should have a larger font size than a paragraph. However, you will want to keep these different types of text consistent throughout your site. Including the menu bar. It may not seem like a big deal, but to have text sizing different in the menu bar presents that portion of the menu is less important or more important than other pages. Your whole menu is important.

In thinking about sizing, also consider the size of your buttons, how people navigate through your site. Disproportionately large buttons drive the eye away from the text – the information that visitors came to find. Whereas disproportionately small buttons may be hard to find or make the site difficult to navigate. While click through buttons highly depend on the size site you have and how it operates, there are also other buttons to consider such as, your social media icons. *

*Note: As websites are meant for both hot and cold audiences, like your social media accounts, and it is not only acceptable but expected to have both highlighted on each, it is imperative that if you link your socials to your website that they are updated frequently. Linking your site to unused socials shows inexperience and ignorance of all digital media and can present as the owner being overwhelmed.

Bringing It All Back Together

With the visuals and text in place, and both are clear, easy to read and navigate, your site is ready for eyes (assuming you have checked visuals on both desktop and mobile views and ensured everything is operational). But how do we get the visitors to our website other than from our social media accounts? This is where SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes in. While this can be a very in-depth process as you grow, when you are first starting out, it is quite simple.

Each builder offers SEO capabilities, whether inherently built in or a plugin to be installed. Taking time to adjust your SEO settings allows search engines, such as Google, to narrow down a topic and sites related to that topic. As we know from our own personal use, the more detailed we can be with a search, the more accurate the results are. But what if we are just looking for something, or someone who can help with a project we need completed? This is where SEO comes in.

With SEO, businesses are able to use “keywords” that describe their business that helps search engines show your website to those people who are looking for your goods or service. This returns to what you do. In finding keywords for your site, be as specific as possible. Think about what your potential customers are looking for and how you provide a solution. Ideally, you want one word or phrase as your keyword. Depending on the platform you use, you may use multiple keywords per page on your site. Be specific and purposeful. Think about what people may search for.

Additionally, you may also have the ability to add a description to your specific pages on your site. This is the information shown to the person using the search engine. When using descriptions, be clear and concise as possible, this is your first impression, and may be the difference between someone going to your site over another.

Presenting Your Business In A Positive Light

No matter where you are at in your business or how long you have been in business, presentation matters. What’s more, even if you have fallen victim to some of the pit falls along the way, you can change the perception you are giving to others.

Think about yourself, your interactions, and what you are saying. Think about your audience and what they are saying. Get to know these people, because they are pretty cool people to know, yourself included. Remember, to get a little, you need to give a little, relationships go two ways.

From this, you can change the way you are communicating with others and present your business in a more positive light. Because as we now know, how you present yourself and your business matters. What you say and how you say it, from personal interactions such as networking events, to your businesses’ front facing details, and yes, even digital communities – presentation matters. It is attached to every other portion of your business. Presentation is EVERYTHING.

 

If you enjoyed this series, please check out our other blogs and check back next week for Social Media Etiquette. I will discuss those little things on your socials that matter, why they matter and how to use these platforms effectively.

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Chambersburg, PA