I was the editor of our school newspaper in high school. It was supposed to be a rotating position, but right away it was clear that I was the one who loved editing, correcting grammar, and cracking the whip on deadlines. I remember sitting in Government class, secretly editing articles and passing them back to my fellow newspaper contributors. It was a position that I loved so much that my plan was to pursue Journalism in college. (Until God made it clear that I should major in music. But that's a story for another day.)
An important consideration for any newspaper team or editor is the article that is "above the fold." You know the newspaper that's folded in half, lying on the stand at the end of the counter at Starbucks while you wait for your grande latte? You scan the headlines, right? You might pick up the paper and look underneath. But the most attention goes to article above the fold.
The same is true of your website. First impressions are everything and "above the fold" is valuable real estate. For websites, we want to maximize the first few seconds the reader is on your website. Is it clear what your business is all about? Does the reader know what to do next? Are the pictures visually clear on who the target audience is?
PLEASE don't waste the top half of your home page with announcements: "Enrollment ends soon. Hurry!!" or "We will be closed on Labor Day." These announcements are for your current clients. Use email for your announcements, not your website. Your website is mostly for new visitors. Potential clients. You have only seconds to win them over and to keep them reading. Please don't waste those seconds on "insider information."
If a reader can't decide in 3 seconds that "this is the place for me," then you've probably lost them forever. Use only 2 different fonts on your page, keep your colors clean and appealing, and use photographs that are happy, smiling, and that draw in your reader.
Make sure your address, phone number, and email address are front and center! This is super important for both current and prospective clients. Please don't make the reader search for this important information. Also, be sure to have a link to your Facebook page in the upper right hand corner. (Social Media is how clients can peak into the life of your business and decide if they want to work with you.)
First impressions are everything. If you are stuck on how to improve your site, ask a friend or co-worker to give you their opinion. Then listen and make changes!
I'm always interested in awesome (time saving) apps that other business owners are using, so today I thought I'd share with you a couple of my favorites!
1. Pages- This app gives you a shortcut directly to your businesses’ Facebook Page. You can quickly check notifications, respond to messages, pre-schedule posts, and see how well your ads are performing (without getting distracted by your newsfeed)! I use this multiple times a day!
2. Groups- If you’re like me, you are in many Facebook groups (and many you manage a few, too!). This app allows you to easily check on just your groups and the recent activity on every post (SUPER helpful if you’re the Admin!). Use this shortcut to get to your favorite groups (your favorites can be sorted to be seen at the very top). Not-so-favorite groups (like Garage Sale sites) can be hidden in your Newsfeed, but you can pop into this app and catch up quickly on everything you missed!
3. Evernote- I use this app every day, multiple times a day. I can easily search for my favorite book lists, resumes submitted via email (you’ll receive an Evernote email address which means you can send info to Evernote by just forwarding it from your inbox) with the notes you made during interviews, shared notebooks with your staff so you’re always in-the-know, favorite recipes, and user names and passwords! Hands down my favorite way to stay organized!
4. Our Groceries- My husband and I could not live without this app! Forget the grocery list in the kitchen or wandering around the store aimlessly. If I’m out and about or in my office and my kids tell me they’re out of toothpaste, I can quickly add it to the list. When I use up the last of the mayo when making supper, I quickly add it to my app, since my phone is always on me. If my husband is the one who runs to Target, he consults the list and grabs whatever was added by me! (Or vice versa.) Our apps are synchronized so we both have access to the list wherever we go!
Our team LOVES using Todoist to share tasks and sequences for various projects. You can assigns pieces of the project to various team members and get alerts when they are due or done.
This is totally just a fun app, but I love seeing pictures and posts from the last several years. I look at Timehop every morning and it's always fun to see what I was doing last year or 3 years ago!
What apps do you love? I can't wait to hear!
When I started my first company (teaching piano lessons), my mom hung up a flyer in the school break room where she taught. I got my first 2 students from that flyer. I made copies and rode around the neighborhood on my bike, tucking them between mailboxes, but that was exhausting work and I quit after about a dozen houses. (Ok, so I may have paid my brother to put out a couple dozen more.) I got 2 new students from that hot summer afternoon. After a couple years, I had the brilliant idea to try putting out a sign in my yard that said: “Piano Lessons” and I got another student to sign up.
It was slow growing and it was frustrating. I had no blueprint on how to gain new students and I felt like a tiny raindrop in a sea of advertisers.
The only training I had in advertising was from what I saw around me: TV commercials and billboards and magazine ads. I knew I couldn't afford those. But I had NO IDEA what else to do.
However, my instincts were actually correct with those flyers and yard signs, though I did not know it at the time: Relationship and Layering.
I was able to gain students from the first flyer my mom hung in her school break room because people knew and trusted her. They felt they could trust her daughter. Word of mouth was my primary source of growth for nearly 10 years because people trust their friends’ opinions.
A simple sign in my yard DID yield results because people trust their neighbors. (Our friendly front porch and beautiful flowers probably helped, too!)
The first focus of growing your business should be focused on relationships. People can sense when you truly care about them and their needs. From your first interaction, you are beginning to build your relationship with your customer. This relationship continues to grow and build with every interaction and every communication. You don’t need to ACT like you are a big business. You need to be a small business that cares. You need to have excellence in all that you do, but also be open and friendly and kind.
Layering is the result of using many different venues to get your message to your audience. You layer your results by gaining a few customers from each layer and by simple addition, you grow!
Here's how to layer with the tools you already have:
By having multiple layers of your message in various venues, you will begin to the see the results add up!
Here’s a little secret: You won’t grow your business by obsessing about your “brand.” If you spend all your time making business cards that match your website that match your letterhead, I guarantee this won't help you get new business. Focus instead on building relationships and finding as many venues to advertise in as possible. Focus on communication and showing people that you care.
Coke, Pepsi, Disney and Apple have instant brand recognition. You don’t have millions of dollars to spend on obsessing about your brand like they do. So don't try to copy them.
Instead, work on building relationships. When people like you, they trust you. When they trust you, they will buy from you. Make a list of 5 ways you will build your relationships with your customers. For more help, request a free call with us!
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!