By working together we can make a big splash with your clients.

Turn Your Small Business’s Virtual Space Into Real-World Success

Turn Your Small Business’s Virtual Space Into Real-World Success

When you are ready to enter the world of online sales, you want to capture as much of the market as possible. In today’s technology-reliant world, this means being digitally diligent. In other words, you have to harness the power of the web to work for you.

And if you haven’t already, now is a great time to establish your business entity. LLCs, for example, are a popular choice for small businesses, as they can separate your personal finances from your business finances — which will help protect you in the long run. LLCs also help establish customers and clients, so it’s important to register through a service like Zen Business at the beginning of your adventure through the world of business.

Keep reading for a few tips from District Creations on how to turn your online efforts into real-world success.

It Starts with a Website

You already know that to sell online your business needs a website. However, it is not enough to simply pop a page on the internet. You have to put some thought into both design and the site’s capabilities. Today’s customers want visually pleasing, easy-to-navigate (from desktop, phone, and tablet), and engaging websites. In addition to written, audio, and visual content, a user-friendly website provides quick access to convenience features, such as one-click calling and GPS navigation.

If you aren’t a web designer, there are tools you can use to make a website that won’t look like a DIY endeavour. Wix, for example, allows you to use galleries as well as optimize for mobile. If you want a more comprehensive site with custom features (like the ability to take payments or a full online store), it’s better to work with an agency like District Creations, which can create a beautiful and optimized website tailored for your business.

Shopping in a Snap

Your website is up and running. That’s great!  If you have products to sell, those need to be available for purchase online. Customers are impatient and likely won’t be willing to choose a product, call you on the phone, provide their credit card information, and then wait for shipping. Instead, make sure that you have a functional e-commerce platform and, just as important, a fast and secure payment processing service. PC Mag’s Editor’s Choice is Square, but there are many others that support not only online transactions but also mobile payments and allow for third-party integration through services such as PayPal.

Keep in mind that people shop online for convenience. But, many are often searching for reviews from other shoppers, so make sure that each item you sell clearly shows a star-rating.

Accounting and the Internet

Now that your website is ready, you’ll also want to make sure you can keep your books straight. While hiring an accountant is one option, there are many software programs that will help you keep tabs on your financials without assistance. QuickBooks, Freshbooks, and Sage Accounting are a few examples. You will still want a CPA to walk you through tax season, but these and other programs can handle most day-to-day accounting tasks.

Assistance, Please

Whether your business runs solely online or on a combination of platforms, having a virtual assistant can keep you organized. First, as Rescue A CEO explains, you will have access to help around-the-clock. Your assistant can help you grow your business and will keep things running so that you can focus on your specialty. Beyond a virtual assistant, if you have remote workers, you can’t be without a virtual meeting service. Having your workforce spread out across the state (or across the country) means it is difficult to get everyone together. Your virtual assistant can organize online meetings so you can involve your team in all pertinent projects.

This is not a definitive list of all the help you’ll need for your web-based endeavors. However, the above tools are valuable assets. They can help you find success by utilizing services and assistance that can boost your bottom line.

by Amy Collett

Digital Marketing Tools

Digital Marketing Tools

Historically businesses used traditional marketing tools, such as telephone promotions, billboards, events and business flyers. Today, people are using the internet and missing out on digital tools is a lost opportunity. In some cases, like social media, the digital marketing tools are relatively inexpensive and are easy to scale up as your business grows. They can also allow your marketing to target new types of customers.

Digital marketing can be broadly broken into 3 main categories:

Long Form tools

 

A. Website

There are two kinds of websites:

  • Business-to-consumer (B2C) promote and/or sell products and services to retail consumers., and
  • Business-to-business (B2B) promote and/or sell products and services to businesses.

Irrespective if you are marketing directly to consumers or marketing to businesses, you will want to employ similar techniques in order to generate interest.

Customers find you via word of mouth (such as networking), or advertising.

How it works:

Customers may find your site through web searches, or be directed to it by word of mouth or advertising.

Tips:

  • Make sure that your website is well branded and kept up to date.
  • Focus on the benefit that the product or service will bring the client.
  • Respond quickly to customer enquiries.

B. Search engine optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a technical process where you optimize your website content to compete better in organic search engine results improving the visibility for products or services. This translates into more people visiting your site.

How it works:

Search Engines use mathematical formulas to attempt to serve the site visitors better and give them what they are searching for. Robots on the search engines visit all of the websites and store the information in a database. When the person performs a search they use keywords, questions or phrases, and the robot tries to match the search term to the terms in the database. Adjusting your content to better match the way that people search and provide them with the answers they are looking for will improve your chances of visibility. Find the terms relevant to your website and adjust your content and structure to improve your search engine ranking.

Tips

  • Use keywords, phrases and questions in your headings, content and metadata.
  • Use heading hierarchy to map out the structure of your page or blog post.
  • Provide fresh content regularly.
  • Provide cross-links to other relevant pages to improve link popularity.

C. Content Marketing

Content marketing uses storytelling and information sharing to engage the audience and improve brand awareness. The aim is to have the reader perform an action like signing up for the newsletter or purchasing an item with a low value. This creates trust. The Content can be blog posts, podcasts, videos, ebooks or white papers. It should provide value and promote trust with your brand in order to create a long-term relationship with the client.

Blogs are the most common form of content marketing and  can be used to share informal updates, stories, information about products, services, and events.

How it works:

Create blog posts on your platform and you may want to invite other content creators to write guest posts for you that will also promote your brand.

Tips:

  • Post regularly and include images, and audio. Video is key.
  • Write in a conversational tone.
  • Promote your content over social media channels.
  • Respond to comments in a timely manner by writing something, not just “liking”.

D. Webinars

Online video presentations can share information and address questions the audience has about your product or services.

How it works:

The participants register and are provided with log in instructions and a link to the webinar via email.

Tips:

  • Keep content short and visual. Focus on the advantage to the audience.
  • Engage the audience.
  • Don’t be salesy. You can provide a discount for one of your packages at the end.
  • Interact with the participants during the session.
  • Provide clear information on how to contact you. Email the participants with recordings or other materials after the session.

Short-form tools

A. Email  or Opt-in Marketing

One of the most valuable forms of marketing is email marketing. These are current or potential customers who are receiving messages from you because they elected to do so. It is your job to keep on providing value to them so that they do not opt out. This is the easiest audience to provide a relationship with and convert.  Personalize the messages by including the recipient’s first name in the subject line. Keep an eye on the metrics to make sure that people are actually opening your messages.

How it works:

On your website you can invite people to join your mailing lists or offer a freebie in exchange for an email. Purchasing and enquiry forms can include permission disclaimers.

Tips:

  • Make sure that the recipients have given permission to email them. Respect requests to leave the list.
  • Do not sell the information to other businesses.
  • Maintain your database and use it to share meaningful communications.
  • Occasionally, ask for feedback.

B. Online and display advertising

Advertising displayed on third party websites such as social media sites, apps or search engines may take the form of banners, text, images, video and audio. These may offer information or link directly to your website.

Pay Per Click

The most common form is known as Pay Per Click (PPC) and is used to display ads on search engines and their affiliate sites. For example, if you do ads on Facebook, you will be offered ads on Instagram via the same platform. The ads are displayed at the top and sides of a page of search results. You see them while browsing the web or the specific app. The ads run as long as you continue to pay.

How it works:

Advertisements can be placed on high-traffic websites that offer content relevant to your business or industry. PPC is used in search engines to link content to specific keywords and directs the user to your landing page or provides an immediate Call Button on-site.

Tips:

  • Research the text to use keywords in your content.
  • Keep the text lean. Stay focused.
  • Anything that is not directly connected to the message should be excluded.
  • Keep video or animations very short. People have a small attention span. Include subtitles on videos.
  • Include a call to action. Ask them to message you or to call.

B.   Social Media Channels

Social media marketing may be deceiving because posting on social media is free. To be effective you need to post consistently. The time that you spend is worth money. To maintain a consistent presence may require an investment. Social media channels can spread brand awareness of your business, offering, and industry. In some cases you may be able to earn customers from these channels.

How it works:

By interacting with others on social media, you can build your network or community, and spread awareness of your business. What channel are your audience hanging out on? That is the one you should pick.

Tips:

  • Post consistently.
  • Content should be short and entertaining. Use images and video. Video content should include sub-titles.
  • Writing about controversial topics can win a lot of followers and lose a few friends.
  • Respond to reader comments with more than a “like”. Try to promote discussion.
  • Use hashtags. Often people search the channel using the hashtags. Tag individuals or businesses where appropriate.
  • Remember to look at your analytics to gauge the level of engagement.

C. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a form of influencer marketing. Influencers on social media have content that goes viral – that means that their views spread exponentially. They engage their audience with content such as posts, videos, podcasts or blogs.

How it works:

Influencers on social media have channels that span thousands of followers.

Brands reach out to them in order to offer compensation for promoting their company to their audience and gain more leads.

Tips:

  • Use provocative messaging that inspires your audience.
  • Use a lot of video.
  • Keep the message very simple.
  • Do not try to primarily sell to people. If they only see sales content they will leave.
  • Ask the audience to share and subscribe.

Conversational tools

Conversational tools are often overlooked as a way of engaging with your audience.

A. Social Media Comments

Social media comments enable you to connect with potential customers. Engaging with others in the community can promote your brand, help build relationships and generate interest  about your  offer.

How it works:

Whilst you can comment on replies to your business posts, it is as effective to reply to other people’s posts in a manner that brings value. The more you engage, the more the social media platforms will promote your content.

Tips:

  • Make sure your comments are relevant to the post. Do not attempt to sell to everyone.
  • Comments should be short and focused. Attempt to connect with people’s emotions.
  • Tag people who you reply to. Make sure your content is your own or attribute it correctly.

 

B. User-generated Content

 Your customers, users and network partners may generate content about your offering on their channels. Promoting your content on another business channel improves your SEO and also your chances to convert.

How it works:

Publishing on other people’s networks or co-writing a post is a good way to increase the visibility of your blog or content.

You can invite networking partners to create posts relevant to your channel, or ask them to link to or promote posts created elsewhere.

Tips:

  • Encourage contributions from readers and people connected to your industry.
  • Reach out to others and ask if they are interested in a guest post related to their content.
  • Acknowledge contributions in a timely manner.

There are a variety of tools available to support you in achieving your marketing and sales objectives. It can be challenging to know which are the best fit for your business. Consider the demographics of your audience and where they are likely to hang out during their work or leisure time. The channels that you choose should fit the client and her habits.

The content that you create should be relevant, entertaining and informative.

How to approach building a new website

How to approach building a new website

What do I need to build a website?

You have a new business, interest, gig or side hustle and you want a web site to inform your audience what you are able to do.

What do you need to set it up?

Primarily content: text, video, and images.

Think of your elevator pitch. What do you tell people in the first two minutes when you meet them?

That is your home page.

Ok. You say. If I have that how do I make it http://mywebsite.com?

Let’s start at the beginning and discuss hosting options and domain names.

Decide what platform you are going to use.

Are you going to use a platform that hosts the site for you or do you want to host it yourself?
Drilling down to details: Are you going to go for a free site to get started like WordPress.com, Wix, Squarespace, Blogger or Weebly? Are you going to host your site yourself and have full control?

What is hosting?

Think of a website like a home in a neighborhood. In order to build a home, you need a plot of land. In the website neighborhood, you cannot purchase your plot. You can rent it from year to year. That is the hosting. In order to have a home, you need services like water and electricity. The hosting company provides the services that you need to build and make your website visible as part of your plan.

A web host, or web hosting service provider, is a business that provides the technologies and services needed for the website or webpage to be viewed on the Internet. The software is stored on special computers called servers.

Hosting flavors

  1. Hosted
  2. Self-hosted
  3. Hybrid – hosted with extra functionality.

 

  1. Hosted
    Hosted platforms provide a package deal where they take care of the heavy lifting and more complicated technical details such as software updates, hosting payments or web server management so that you can focus on building your site and content. Examples are WordPress.com, WIX, Weebly, SquareSpace, and Blogger. Many offer free trials to test the software.

The advantage is that if you have your content ready you can quickly build a website. I built a travel blog on WordPress.com in 20 minutes that would normally take about 10 hours on a self-hosted platform. Usually these platforms are free.The drawback is that functionality is limited. I call these micro-sites. They are similar to a Facebook page. That means that your website is a page on their larger site and includes their domain name. For example https://mywebsite.wordpress.com, or https://mywebsite.wix.com, etc. If you want to move your site to a different service or the company goes out of business, you will lose everything since you do not have access to the files or code.

The rules regarding content are very strict. If someone reports your blog, your site may be suspended without any notification and you can lose your content.

  1. Self-hosted

Building a self-hosted site gives your greater flexibility. You can choose the content management system (CMS) you like for your website. Hosting usually includes domain registration services and you can auto-install your CMS, like WordPress, Shopify etc. Many include tutorials on how to navigate the CMS in the Help section. WordPress is free. You do not need to pay to use it and can download it directly from https://wordpress.org/download/

The advantage is that the website is in the files and database on the hosting platform. You have access to that so you or your developer can easily pack that up and move it elsewhere if you are unhappy.  There are no restrictions to the functionality of your website. Extra functionality on WordPress sites is provided by software plug-ins. For example, do you need a contact form? There are plug-ins for that. Do you need an online store, or merely want to provide a way for clients to pay you online? Plugins provide that functionality. Many of them are free. In addition, you can have someone customize a plugin for you specifically only if you are on a self-hosted site.

  1. Hybrid

This is actually a version of a hosted platform. You pay a fee and gain extra functionality such as a domain name that does not include their domain name ( https://mywebsite.com), options to accept payments via the site, run ads and upload videos. The functionality changes from platform to platform.

Comparison of Hosted vs Self Hosted Websites

 

FeaturesHostedSelf-hosted
Service providersWordPress.com is a hosted service where you can set up a website or blog that runs on WordPress.WordPress.org is free software that you can download and use on your hosted account.
CostFree up to 3GB space
Pay for extra functionality
Free
Hosting costs about $4-$10/month
AccessRequires you to sign upRequires a web hosting account
Enables you to have a website within minutesMost hosts offer one click installation of the software.
FunctionalityNo pluginsUpload your plugins
No code accessAccess all code
Limited theme options (look and feel)Upload your theme or build one yourself.
Your host may run ads on your siteMake money by running ads on and selling goods from your site.
You can track activity using Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel
URLSubdomain of wordpress.com
https://mywebsite.wordpress.com
Use your custom domain name
https://mywebsite.com

 

Can I switch from Hosted to self-hosted?

It depends on the platform.

WordPress.com, Tumblr, Movable Type and Blogger users can move their content, i.e. posts, pages, comments and associated images to a self-hosted account. However, the structure of the site will not be transferred.

As far as I know on other platforms there is no automated way to transfer content.

Which one should I choose?
Choose the one that is right for your situation and budget.

Think of Lemon cake.

When I want lemon cake I go to Starbucks and buy a slice.

The problem is that I like my lemon cake to have pecan pieces inside and I don’t know of a company that provides that.

That is why I often just bake my own.

The hybrid option is to purchase lemon cake mix from the grocery store and add pecan pieces to that and bake it.

Which one do you prefer?

If you need a website that is scalable, definitely choose self-hosted.

You can have someone help you to set up your site.

What is a domain name?

The domain name is the name that your website will use in order for your audience to find you. For example https://blockbusters.com. It is actually a translation of the IP address used by computers to find the location of your website and translate the numbers into something that is user friendly for humans.

Where can you get a domain name?

Most hosting providers will provide domain registration for free for the first year. If you are anxious to get yours immediately, try GoDaddy.com or namecheap.com. If you are not in a hurry wait for deals on major US holidays. If you purchase domain registration for 3 years it may indicate to search engines that you are invested in your business and are not a pop-up site.

Domain registration needs to be renewed every year. If you forget, you will lose your domain.

If you do not purchase domain registration from your hosting company you will need to point the site to the hosting account.

If you are on a hosted platform, you do not need to purchase domain name registration since it will be provided by the company
mywebsite.weebly.com

Think carefully about the relevance of the domain name and how it relates to your business or interest. If you are selling shoes then it is less likely for clients to find you if you call your site themagnoliatree.com unless they are familiar with your brand.

I believe in keeping it short, sweet and easy to pronounce so that users can remember it.

Numbers confuse people. If you include numbers the visitors will not know whether to spell out the number or type the numeral. They will never find you.

Steps for self-hosted WordPress sites:

  • Install WordPress
  • Choose a Theme
  • Install Content and Pages
  • Download plug-ins
  • Publish

The last step is one that is often forgotten and can endanger your site.

  • Maintain

A good site provides new content regularly via the blog and always keeps software up to date.

The rigors of life often cause us to forget our website. Ignoring the software updates can make the site vulnerable to hackers.

New content can be loaded onto the site a few weeks in advance and released on pre-determined days.  Search Engines boost sites that have new content and demote the “Halloween sites”.

If you are unable to commit to updating and maintaining your site, you may like to have someone take care of that for you.

Having a website is like printing a business card. The card cannot help you if it’s sitting in your drawer. The site needs to be promoted. When people visit the site, they will notice that your last post was from 2 years ago. If you have posts that are still relevant from some time ago, consider editing, adding something new and giving them a new date to freshen up the site.

Leaving some older content is helpful since potential clients will realize that you have been in business for some time.

 

 

 

 


I help people who are interested in building self-hosted sites using WordPress. I help them choose a hosting provider, register their domain names, install WordPress and build their website according to their specifications. Once the site is complete if they are interested, I show them how to make small edits and load blog posts onto the site. This can be performed from a mobile device whilst waiting in line at the MVA…

In the coming weeks, I will be expanding on some typical questions that clients have asked in our coaching sessions.

 

 

 

Zen Rabbit – Networking Strategies for The Quiet People

Zen Rabbit – Networking Strategies for The Quiet People


Ignore mom’s advice. Talk to strangers!

     –Lori Saitz

 

Lori Saitz of Zen Rabbit  is an unusual person. When I interviewed her she told me that she  used the failure of her gratitude cookie business, Zen Rabbit Baking company, to jump start her current business of helping quiet people build networking connections.

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Mari Geasair – More Clients, Less Stress

Mari Geasair – More Clients, Less Stress

To business that we love we rise betime,
And go to’t with delight.


Antony and Cleopatra, IV.iv

Meet  Mari Geasair with More Clients, Less Stress and AuthenticTherapyMarketing.com. Mari serves clients who are service-preneurs such as therapists, healers, creatives, and other service providers who seek to make the world a better place through their unique talents.
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Nannette Minley – Marketing Strategist

Nannette Minley – Marketing Strategist

This week I attended a Meet Up where a person spoke about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). The talk had some interesting tips and insight; however the speaker did not fail to mention that his authority was based upon the fact that he has 10,000 followers and had written a book on the psychology of marketing. He invited us 3 times during the talk to email him and get his white paper without an opt-in.

According to my understanding this is the opposite of what Nannette Minley does. She coaches entrepreneurs trying to make an impact with customized marketing strategies for their business. The focus is on their vision and clarity rather than determining success in terms of 10,000 followers or the six figure slogan.

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