There is no doubt that how we do business has changed dramatically since the world wide web presented itself. We have seen the demise of brick and mortar businesses all across our country. The last Blockbuster Movie store just closed as a good example. Changes in how we buy goods and services have impacted the traditional process. How we find companies to do business with has changed as well. Phone books and Yellow Pages have been replaced with web domains. Almost every business has some level of web presence these days if they want to stay viable.
When the time comes to sell a business, owners should consider part of the value of their company is their web presence. It is just as much an asset as inventory and real estate. That being the case, business owners that are thinking of selling should invest some effort in making sure their website is current and valuable and can be demonstrated as a generator of revenue. Some web designers do much more than host a site. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts are a good example of additional services that drive traffic and attract sales. Social media posts and ads directed to a target market can be shown to prospective buyers that your business is viable and current with today's marketing strategies. A discussion with the web hosting company should be part of the selling process to determine what is owned and if there are any contractual arrangements that would prevent a new owner from assuming the website terms and conditions.
Your website can be modified to include a "hidden" page that can be shown to prospective buyers that give information not visible to the public that could include sales helps such as a history of revenues, profitability, cost of goods, recent evaluations of inventory, real estate holdings, etc. Tapping into the full potential of a website includes working with your web team to promote the value not only of your products and services, but your business as well.
If Facebook ads and Print ads were in a competition, Facebook ads would win almost every time.
**The following is a conversation I had with a tourism based community about bringing more traffic to their town.**
We can target people on Facebook who are fans of "Explore Minnesota Tourism."
Just in the last week we have reached 3271 people in the United States who have expressed interest in "Explore Minnesota Tourism."
From August 27-September 6 we reached over 5000 people.
We have received engagement (a Like, Comment, Share, or Click-through to the website) from over 900 of those people.
The hard Facebook ad cost of reaching this captive audience was just: $49.86.
We have the potential to reach 180,000 people on Facebook who are interested in visiting Minnesota.
The circulation of the Explore MN magazine is only 32,750 households.
Our daily reach is estimated at 300-1700 people, based on effectiveness of the ad and the ad budget.
As you can see in the graph, interest is now waning in this ad that has attracted over 5000 people:
It takes more than just the Facebook ad budget to make an ad successful.
Each ad requires: copy, a graphic and photo, and a Call to Action.
Each ad also needs to be carefully watched each day.
Fans need to be engaged with. Questions need to be answered, etc.
Fans also need to be invited to become permanent fans of the page.
This takes time and resources.
Not every ad is successful.
But it only takes a few dollars or a few hours to see if an ad is working or not.
The most exciting thing about Facebook ads, is that putting money into it is like putting money into an investment portfolio. Every time we run an ad campaign, we see a gradual increase in Page Likes or Fans. Once we have a Fan, we can more easily reach him/her with organic posts and paid posts.
We started the summer off with 10,500 Fans, and increased that number by 100 each month--June, July and August--we're winning people over for years to come!
The Facebook Page's Fan base is roughly 1/3 of the Explore MN Magazine Ad circulation.
If we could use the magazine budget of $925 for their smallest ad (1/6 page), we could potentially reach as many as 9000 people A DAY.
With their largest ad budget of $3300, we could potentially reach 32,000 people A DAY.
[These are estimates from Facebook]
Going into Fall and Winter, this is the time to build our Fan Base, so we can remind them monthly to start planning their Summer Vacation in Rainy Lake!!
Let me know if you want to reroute your Print Ad Budget to more Facebook Ad Campaigns!
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When Waking Girl first started, we said YES to every customer who came through our door. Whether the project or client fit us or not, we made it work. Now, with a full clientele, we are limited on how much time we can dedicate to a client who struggles to be successful with us.
You may have just taken a pop quiz to see if you qualify to work with us. If you're curious about the answers we were hoping for, read on! You do not need to see your business and website the way we do. No pressure! :)
Q. A business must have a website to sell products or services:
We believe a business does not need a website to sell products or services. While a website can greatly increase sales and credibility, early deals and relationships can occur offline. Our most successful clients made their early transactions before ever having a website. We have found that many new business owners rely solely on their websites to generate sales. It is important to use multiple avenues to sell products and services, especially at the beginning stages of a business.
Q. The most important purpose of a website is to:
CORRECT: Generate leads and sales
We see business owners fail in their websites because they are more focused on making the website perfectly match their favorite color, than making it bring in $ales. This is a mistake! When clients follow our design direction, they generally see an immediate increase in sales and leads. Why? We have developed a method that make it easy for your customers to reach you!
Impress customers: studies continue to show that impressive websites don't always bring in new customers and sales. We want you to be proud of your website, but we also want your company to be approachable.
Display logo and brand: yes, we want to display your logo and brand. This goal is secondary to generating leads and sales.
Reduce my taxes: yes! Your website is a business expense! We love helping you reduce your tax burden!
Q. A business owner should take advice about web design from:
CORRECT: The web designer they hired
Intuition: can be super helpful. Let us know what your gut is telling you.
Business partner and/or staff: can be super helpful, but can also be distracting. Ask abstract questions of business partners, staff, family early in the process, like, "How do you want to feel when you visit our website? How do you want our new customers to feel when they visit the website?" Avoid specifics about design elements, colors, etc.
Articles: can be super helpful, but can also come across like you're micro-managing your web design team.
Q. A website is like a car and needs regular refueling and maintenance.
We believe a website is like a car and needs regular refueling and maintenance. Absolutely, yes! The trends of the web are changing faster than the rules of the road--and a website needs to be able to keep up. We utilize platforms and strategies that allow for easy updates and full site overhauls as the technological demands of a website, company and The Internet change.
Q. A business will fail if any piece of it is not running perfectly at all times.
We believe that growing companies do have a few failing pieces at any given time. Only the companies that have become stagnant have perfection in all areas of the business. To grow requires some trial and error. We access the knowledge base of hundreds of business owners to mitigate the risk of failure for our clients and decrease the time it takes to correct an error. We love working with growing businesses.
Q. My website budget is:
$1000/year to $1000/month
Programs also available for $1000/week website marketing budgets!
We believe it's important to have a budget for your website. While it doesn't need to be a major expenditure, a small, monthly amount of at least $100 can really help a website keep up with the changes in technology.
We strive to work with companies that we can help, by taking "web presence" off the plate of the CEO. We are a full-service agency and can handle everything from website rebuilds to maintenance to SEO and Facebook presence.
Do you qualify? We would love to hear more about your website--what's working for you now, what's not working; what's frustrating, and what about Waking Girl prompted you to reach out?
Q. I'm getting a lot of phone calls from Yelp, telling me that I'm missing out on business. What should I do?
A. My number one rule in sales is: if the company requires a team of cold callers, their product deserves skepticism and hesitation. It might be the best product in the world, it might be so good that everyone who finds out about it just wants to hog the filthy little secret to themselves.
Or -- it's just not worth talking about.
Either way, when you get a call from Yelp or any other cold caller, take a step back and get some expert input from someone who has dealt with the caller before.
Expert Input about Yelp Ads:
1) Do you have a Yelp page? Have you claimed it? Let's start there. That's free and takes about 15 minutes of your time. Go to Yelp.com, find your business, and hit UNCLAIMED. Follow the steps to set up your business Yelp account (different from your personal Yelp account).
2) Have you ever gotten a Yelp review before? Hrmm. Depending on your industry, Yelp may not be an integral part of your business. If you haven't gotten a review before, it may not even be integral to your own success. But of course, it might be crucial for your business' next phase of development!
3) Before advertising on Yelp, it's a good idea to drum up some 5-star reviews. But how!? We recommend and sell a software that helps you better communicate with your existing customers so they know how to leave a review, and so they won't forget! If you can't track down any 5-star reviews, you may want to rethink advertising on Yelp. Why? People who shop on Yelp also leave reviews. If the Yelp-iverse isn't jiving with your services--be cautious! Might need to change how things are operating before bringing on the critical masses!
4) Once you have a handful of positive reviews, and you've gotten comfortable with Yelpers, now you can consider advertising with Yelp. Ask the Yelp representative a lot of questions about cost per lead and overall traffic, and what is the competition doing. If you sell $5 drinks, and the lead cost is $10--this is not a good idea. If you sell $200 services, and the lead cost is $14--this could make sense!!
- Start with the smallest plan available to test the waters. Ask for a discount, and ask them to start the ads before the billing cycle begins.
- Make sure your Yelp page is set up properly with nice photos.
- Download the Yelp app to your phone so you can respond to questions right away.
- Set up an enticing offer so you get noticed!
- Evaluate each month to make sure you're getting your money's worth!
Contact us if you need help talking to Yelp. We can generally get a more honest answer because we represent hundreds of customers. Yelp would rather tell an agency the truth, in the hopes of getting 50 new customers, than stretch the truth in the hopes of just getting your business! Let us know if we can help
By now you've all heard about the incident at HUG High School. There was a student with a knife. Campus police disarmed the student by shooting him in the shoulder.
Lawsuits and drama ensue.
But wait! The date on this post is December 5, and the actual event happened on December 7.
And Linda from Facebook claims the event was planned for the 6th, and the media prepared for a big conspiratorial showdown.
Web designers modify dates on the web all the time. We backdate social media posts, blog posts, and any assignments that were supposed to be completed by a certain deadline. We can even modify the dates of an email (it's tricky and not sustainable, but yes, it can be done). Web developers have the power to time travel.
Here, I just traveled to the future:
Or did I?
The media has certainly given us enough evidence to think that everything they pump out is a massive lie, but in this case, we're just seeing journalists take advantage of Google's indexing rules.
Most likely the news websites prepare the framework for "Today's Hottest" article in advance (just like they do with the paper version). They don't know what's going into that slot when they prepare the framework, they just know that the hottest story is going there.
The date can be manipulated so that Google recognizes that story as "the story that broke first" and other journalists will refer to that story as the "seed" article and draw from it.
That's just media strategy. Not conspiracy.
When in doubt, ask your neighborhood web designer! She'll be the first to join you in the bunker if something is truly amiss.
Many business owners run into some confusion when it comes to setting up and managing their Business Fan page. Let's break it down into easier to understand concepts!
Your Facebook account is like YOU. It's unique to you, and no one is supposed to use your identity except you.
Just like your face and signature give you power over many things in the real world (your bank account, your kid's school, the DMV)--your Facebook account acts like your personal, verified signature and can give you access to many different online accounts.
Your Business Fan Page is something completely different. It might belong to you, you might have the ultimate say over it, but--teachers, nannies and other individuals can manage it. Yes, it's just like your child.
But this is a child you can hand off to a nanny without any guilt. Because let's face it--this stubborn child DID come with a manual, and Waking Girl has read it! :)
When giving access to your Fan page, we don't need your personal account information. That's like giving away your social security number--and should only be done in dire circumstances!!
Waking Girl handles Business Fan Pages for many of its clients. Just like with a baby-sitter, there is a protocol for assigning responsibilities to care for your kid. Give us the keys to your house, NOT the rights to your identity. We are not looking to adopt your baby.
Often times we learn that a client has two Personal Facebook accounts. That is the Facebook equivalent of masquerading with a stolen identity and fake ID. This can get BOTH of your accounts shut down, and can even alert child protective services to remove the rights to your metaphorical kid!!!!!!
Should I be panicking right now?!
You might be asking ^.
Nah, it's just Facebook. It's not THAT serious!
Steps for Facebook Success:
Question: How can I expedite my online marketing through blogging?
We received this question from a client that writes hefty proposals for multi-million dollar government contracts. When we realized that the client is an avid writer (they write proposals that dwarf most John Grisham books), we gave them the instructions on how to get writing, and GET RESULTS!
Here is an idea task list to expedite your marketing efforts:
Blog like a crazy person (blog as much as you can, as much as you want, every day and night)
DON'T WRITE DIRECTLY IN WEEBLY. Because technology.
BLOG CONTENT BANK (feel free to add your own key phrases!):
SOCIAL MEDIA BLAST
Now that you have your content ^, you can send it out to the masses.
To post on Facebook or Twitter or Linkedin:
Click on the Blog Title of your post. It should look like this:
Copy & paste the link and include your opening thoughts. NOT just the link. You can include the opening paragraph or two:
We are a content consulting company specializing in new business proposals. Our staff of writing, graphic design, and subject matter professionals work side by side with you to craft and price winning solutions.
Or say something like:
I had a lot of fun writing this article on the Top 10 Tips for Talking Trash. Somebody dared me to do it, and I did. And it was awesome. You'll never believe #7.
This is a must-read for business owners in the construction industry. Tag your construction owner friends (or just print it out and mail it to them, because they're not on Facebook).
START THERE- and let us know how we can help!
There are a billion ways to monetize your blogging brilliance. You may not be able to support yourself or family when you first get started (true in any business), but with perseverance and a little strategy, you can at least supplement your income and see what's possible.
Google Ad revenue.
You can add Google ads to your website. It takes a little patience to set up, but can give you an immediate return on your blogging bliss. Google: Google Adsense to set up an account and get started.
Google Ad Strategies:
-your audience needs to be the kind of people who click on ads. I built a website once for gamers. The website was a calculator that helped gamers gauge their risk in making different moves in the game. It was awesome. And useful. And gamers would pull up that site and keep it open all day. But they never once clicked on an ad.
Meanwhile, I put ads on a site for Republicans, and oh boy--they went nuts clicking for the whole 17 hours the ads were up. The (elderly) Republican leaders were trying to figure out how ads for Democrats ended up on their site! So they clicked and clicked and clicked to try to get to the bottom of things!! Whoops! Made about $25 before they realized I had the power to remove "the liberal blasphemy" from their site.
My most successful Google ad experience brought in about $100/month for several years (with almost no attention given to the website after the initial setup). The website was for a niche product, and customers were being driven to the website from other websites and marketing methods. People clicked on ads because they were in the market for a product, and the ads were generally related to their product search.
Ever wonder why someone is drinking a Diet Coke in a TV show? Product Placement! Coca Cola will make more money by influencing people to drink their product, than by telling them directly. Use Product Placement with Trade to get started. Want to get your hair cut, but can't afford the best salon? Ask the salon if you can do a trade--a blog post featuring your hair experience with links to their salon site, in exchange for a hair cut! Tip in cash, please!
Once you have a big enough following, you can ask for real money for these sorts of blog posts!
Offer blogs for SEO purposes to local businesses or businesses that hit your niche market (for a fee). Do a story about how awesome a company, service or website is--and include some helpful links to their website in the copy. It's really important that you link properly, or else your blog will come off as spammy, or it won't be effective for your ad client.
-When you're talking about a web design company, link the important words about their SEO services like this.
-Do not link like this: wakinggirl.com
-And don't bother to link like this: Waking Girl is cool.
Link the words that people would use to find the business in a Google search. That will indicate to Google that "Waking Girl" is a "web design company" and offers "SEO services."
Ask for a one-time fee or a monthly fee, or a set up fee + monthly fee (businesses will benefit as long as the blog post is up and traffic is coming to your website).
Run your own graphic ads on the sidebars, footers or headers of your website. Ask businesses or organizations to supply graphics that fit the space, and then charge a monthly, quarterly or annual fee for sharing your web space! Websites generally charge too much for graphic ads. Words are actually worth more than pictures in a blog. The only time an ad would be more worthwhile is if your EXACT readers should be the EXACT customers for the ads. So--if all of your single, mom friends in Mobile, Alabama are reading your blog, then a graphic ad for a Singles Speed Dating event for Moms in Mobile, Alabama would make sense. For ads, go for sponsorship. Who just wants to support you and identify with you to help you out and be a friend? Is there a Women's Crisis Center or a Church or a MicroLoan organization that speaks to you? See if they want to smack their logo on your website for a small monthly fee. If you really want to benefit the organization, take the time to write a proper blog post about them, too!
What to charge.
Google ads: Google will decide!
Product Placement: use this to trade whatever you can trade! Hair care, kid's activities, restaurants. Look for companies that have some extra time or product on their hands, and want to help you get started!
SEO: If you write up a full, engaging story on a business, that's worth at least $50. If you use some SEO, and target relevant businesses for your audience, that's worth as much as you can sell it for ($75, $100, $250). I prefer low set up fees with ongoing monthly fees ($50 + $5/month, and yes, you may pay for a year at a time).
Ads: $5/month to $500/month. Seriously--the sky is the limit. Try to give people both an ad AND an SEO blog post AND a product placement experience!
Important next steps:
Quantity! Go! Keep writing! The deeper you allow people into your life, the more valuable your blog will become.
Plug into your audience.
Seek out Facebook Groups that feature your target market. Who is your target market? People just like you! Find your people!
Check in with your sponsors.
Follow up regularly with anyone contributing to the cause; communication will help you find new ways to help, and that will ultimately boost your bottom line! :)
Blogs: the gateway drug to your new business.
I'm surrounded by business coaches and the industry has one magic formula called "THE SALES FUNNEL." Catchy, right?
Every once in awhile I get caught in the click-bait of a sales funnel and sign up for an email newsletter. Recently one of those emails explained what a sales funnel is. I almost gagged.
For those of you who haven't heard the concept, a sales funnel goes like this:
Billions of people are out there, and through offers and promotions, you'll catch maybe a hundred or a thousand of them.
Then, through frequent harassment (email newsletters) you'll narrow it down to 10 interested people who might want more information.
And eventually they'll want a Discovery Call (that's just a phone call where you find out if they can afford your services).
And then you sell ONE promotional package to one lucky winner who pops through your little funnel.
And then you create the package, and perform the services. And hope the customer doesn't dispute the charge on her credit card.
And rinse, repeat.
Wow. That's a lot of funneling for ONE sale.
Let's take a look at how the process can work if you just flip the funnel over:
At Waking Girl we do not use lead generation funnels, we do not send out solicitous newsletters. We do not waste our energy on trying to win you over before the sale. We save our energy for going above and beyond for our current clients.
Rather than turning thousands into one client. We've taken ONE client and turned her into thousands of clients.
Thank you, Antique Angel Wedding Chapel, for being our first VIP client!