Broomfield Chamber of Commerce

Do You Have These 10 Things on Your Business Website? You Should.

150 150 Lauren Finamore

Written by: Christina R. Metcalf

If you’re a small business, you probably bootstrapped your website content, picking it up here and there, copying what you like from other sites (hopefully not word for word), and adding as you go. That’s the way most small businesspeople do it unless you’re lucky enough to know someone who offered their writing services or have it in your budget to have it written for you.

But do you ever wonder if you have the type of content that will transform the casual web visitor into someone who buys?

Here are the components you need on your website to ensure more sales conversions.

Top 10 Most Critical Website Content

Don’t let this list overwhelm you. While it’s extensive, you can check these things off as you go or work with a copywriter and designer who can accomplish most of this quickly.

If you want more sales, you need these things:

  1. Keyword rich content. You need people to find you, but you also want them to read your content. It takes finesse to write for humans and search engines. Make sure you have plenty of keywords in your text for SEO but that they work in a way that will also be appealing for your audience.
  2. Mention of where you are. Your website can be seen all over the world and you’re not the only “Columbus” out there. Somewhere you need to mention your area. This not only tells visitors if they can come take a look in person but also helps with SEO and local web referrals. Many businesses incorporate the mention of the surrounding areas in their content, not just in the footer.
  3. Call to action. People are spending time with you. Give them a next step with a call to action. Make sure your CTA matches the page the visitor is on. “Learn more” linking to additional resources is a solid choice for introductory pages. “Work with us” is better for more in-depth content.
  4. Links to social media. Most people won’t continue to return to your website to interact with you, but they will check to see what you’re doing on social media since they are already there. Make sure you only include the sites you are active on. There are no prizes for listing the most social media profiles.
  5. Things you’re doing. If you host events or are participating in a festival, make sure people know. Tell them where they can find you outside of your business.
  6. Your personality. You don’t want to look (and sound) like everyone else. Let your personality shine through in your content. Even if someone else is writing it for you, make them aware of what tone you want and give them examples.
  7. What your audience wants. This may sound like broad advice, but good content reflects what your customers and potential customers want from you, whether that’s information/education, entertainment, or inspiration. A hardware store, for instance, may find DIY project content gets a lot of engagement or visits than straight text, while a florist may find that an album of floral designs is its most visited area of the website. Experiment with different types of content and media to see what gets the most action.
  8. Internal and external links. You want people to spend time on page, that means you want them to “hang out” on your website and get to know you. You do this by keeping them interested and giving them things to do. That’s where internal links come in. Use them throughout your content to help visitors explore in-depth. For SEO, you also want external links to high-ranking websites (always have these links open in a new window/tab so visitors can get back to your content easily). High-ranking websites like industry or news sites can be beneficial, linking to your next-door neighbor, less so.
  9. Visitors want to feel safe. Talk to a cybersecurity person to find out not only how to achieve it, but what assurances you can give your audience that they are safe with you.
  10. Affiliations, awards, and testimonials. If you are affiliated with any community groups (like the chamber) or have won awards, add them to your site. If people are saying amazing things about you or you have excellent reviews, post them. These things will all serve as a testament to your value and improve your trust rating among new visitors.

 

These things are just the beginning of what you need in a high conversion website. There’s a lot more you can do but start off with these basics and you’ll be setting yourself up for success.

4 Myths You Need to Bust Before Hiring an Intern for Your Business

150 150 Lauren Finamore

Written By:  Christina R. Metcalf

As summer approaches, and it does every year at about the same time, business owners start to think about ways in which they can use the extra help of available college students. Back when I was a college student at a small liberal arts school in the Midwest, the undergrads waited each spring for the internship listings to be published. Once they were we poured over the ones that were in exciting cities with large stipends. The review took about three minutes because they just didn’t exist. “Exciting city” always equaled free labor.

Today, employers have less leeway in what they offer college students. While there are some college programs that “pay” students in credit hours, and thus prohibit employers paying them a salary, most do not and that means businesses are faced with the “to pay” or “not to pay” question.

Myth 1: There Is No “To Pay” or “Not to Pay” Question

If you’ve been lining up a bunch of busy projects for the summer in the hopes to land some free help, get over it. While I’m not an attorney, I can tell you this paid versus unpaid intern question has come up in court several times and the employers ended up paying the interns after all. Mega publisher Conde Nast was sued by former interns in a class action suit for not paying and settled for $5.8 million. NBCUniversal settled as well.

The only “free” work out there isn’t really work. If you created a program that was more of a hands-on apprenticeship where you spent time teaching and everything was done under your tutelage, you may qualify for a free intern. However, the guiding principle in deciding whether interns deserve a salary is if what they do could be done by a paid employee, as in would you hire someone to do what they are doing if they weren’t available? The Department of Labor also has a six-point test for deciding whether interns should be paid or not.

 

Myth 2: Interns Are Good for the Bottom Line

At first glance, it would appear interns are great for the bottom line. Even if you do give them an hourly wage, it’s usually much lower than what you’d pay an employee. But the amount of time you’re going to invest in an intern isn’t going to make this a cheap labor solution.

If you create an intern program it should be out of a desire to bring new energy to the workplace, instill a love of your industry in the new generation, and/or as a way of giving back. With the salary and the mentoring you will be doing, it will probably cost you more than if you simply hired a temp or a virtual assistant.

Still, there’s something rewarding about an intern program. Amy Baxter, founder of MMJ Labs told OPEN Forum, “…although we enjoy having extra people and energy, the value we have gotten from interns hasn’t helped the bottom line. It’s something we enjoy, and it’s a great way to expose entrepreneurs to the startup world. We’re really doing the program to give back.”

 

Myth 3: Today’s Interns Are Just Looking for Experience

Yes, they want experience but not experience filing or shredding documents. They want real business experience and many of them will want input into the projects they work on. Today’s interns are looking to make a mark on what they’re working on, not just add a line or two to a resume.

They may be interning to try and decide if they want to work in your industry or not. Most of them want to get broad exposure to what working in the field would be like. Filing doesn’t do that.

 

Myth 4: Interns Want a Job

Some interns are hoping for a job at the end of the internship or at least a contact they can add to their network and someone to circle back with upon graduation. But some interns are considering several fields and they may be testing the waters in yours. Others intend to go into business for themselves and they may be interning for you just so they can see how a business works. Understanding their motivations will make it a much richer experience for all involved.

Bringing on interns can be very rewarding and these myths should not stop you from exploring that option. You just need to be honest about your business goals and why you want to develop an intern program. If it stems from a desire to see things differently, give back, or bring in a new energy you’ll most likely be satisfied with the results. If you thought it was a good way to cut costs, look into virtual assistants.

10 Things to Do for Your Business Instead of Watching TV

150 150 Lauren Finamore

 

10 Things to Do for Your Business Instead of Watching TV

Written By: Christina R. Metcalf

We all have the same 24 hours in a day. While we may have different responsibilities, the most productive people learn to use their time in valuable ways no matter how little of it there is. They quickly grasp the best way to use “stolen minutes” in between projects or appointments. Some even keep a non-critical to-do list of all the things they want to do when they have those unexpected moments. That way they can make the most of them when they appear.

But if you want to take your day back and get some of those mission critical things done that you never seem to have time for, you may need to be honest with yourself. Instead of waiting for an opening in your day, create one by taking back your night.

After all, how much is binge watching TV really helping your business?

We get it. You need that down time after a busy day. You don’t want to think. You’re burned out. TV is easy. You’re spending time with family. Whatever your excuse is as to why you’re losing hours in your night staring at a screen, you could be moving your business or yourself forward. If you need to unwind that way, give yourself an hour, not three. Here’s what you could be doing instead with just 1-2 hours each night.

Better Yourself or Your Business in 1-2 Hours a Night

Use your evening time wisely and you’ll see results quickly. In the time it takes to watch a movie, you could be:

  1. Learning something new. Not sure how that nurture email should go? Want to learn more about customer engagement techniques? There’s a video on YouTube for that.
  2. Growing your follower count. Take time to have conversations with people on social media. Comment on their posts. Answer their questions on yours. Share content. Give to get.
  3. Creating a lead magnet. Stop procrastinating and create that lead magnet or think about different types of lead magnets. Choose the type you’d like to create and hire someone to get it done.
  4. Looking into freelance or virtual assistants. If you want more time in your day, consider all the things you can give someone else to do for you. What activities are worth your time, and which are not. Outsource what can be done less expensively than your hourly charge. For instance, if you can get someone to create website copy for you for $50 an hour and you bill clients $200 an hour for your time, creating copy is an inefficient use of your time when you could be doing things that are billable at a higher rate.
  5. Researching what your competitors are charging. Adjust your rates or prices if need be. Costs are increasing. Are you still turning a comfortable profit?
  6. Looking into grants and contests. There’s still a lot of money out there. Some grants can be used for fun things too like curb appeal. Contests can get you new exposure and grow your audience.
  7. Setting goals for the year. You don’t have to do this in December. In fact, you should look at your goals periodically to make sure you are on track and that they still fit your business. Don’t forget your professional goals. When you work for yourself, no one is there reminding you to learn about a new marketing trend.
  8. Reading online materials that are critical to your business or industry. Follow pundits and industry gurus and take time each day or week to stay on top of trends.
  9. Assessing your insurance and legal needs. Think about risk in your business. Are you covered? Reassess periodically.
  10. Taming the next day. Look ahead to tomorrow and organize how you will tackle the day. Focus on what must be done and plan to do that first before the fires break out.

 

While TV is a nice brainless way to unwind, if you feel like you never have enough time in the day, chipping away at couch time is an easy tip to become more productive. We can’t give you more time in your day. But with fewer hours in front of the TV, you’ll feel like you have a greater number of hours than usual.

 

 

36 Creative Ways to Bring More Attention to Your Business

150 150 Lauren Finamore

Written by: Christina R. Metcalf

Do you need more attention? Do you feel like your business isn’t top of mind in your community? People won’t buy from you if they don’t think of you. While the easiest way to increase sales is to upsell existing/current customers, the second-best way is increased exposure. These days—to stand out—you need to get creative. Here are a few ideas to help get your business the attention it deserves without breaking your budget.

  1. Host a contest on social media.
  2. Sponsor a chamber event or provide a donation in exchange for recognition.
  3. Sponsor a youth sports team.
  4. Start a Facebook group in an area that interests your ideal target market. Real estate agents, for instance, might start a group based on community happenings.
  5. Write an eBook showcasing your talents, special knowledge, or expertise. Give it away.
  6. Host a class at your local library.
  7. Host a drop in Q&A in a public spot in your town.
  8. Celebrate a national day with a giveaway (like a free drink with every slice of pizza on National Pizza Day).
  9. Advertise at your local movie theatre.
  10. Be a guest on a podcast.
  11. Write a guest blog for a site that is popular with your target market.
  12. Set up your Google My Business page.
  13. If you are a service provider, look for ways to attach your company name to your work. For instance, a painter may ask the homeowner if they may place a sign in their yard while the work is completed. Some companies offer discounts for that.
  14. Place an advertising wrap or window cling on your car.
  15. Advertise in a program for a large graduation or popular community event.
  16. Apply or be nominated for a “Best Of” contest. They may be hosted by your city, chamber, or a local group.
  17. Speak at an event and ask if you’re able to provide brochures or ask for sign-ups for your list at the end.
  18. Email past customers and those who have shown interest in you. Send them deals.
  19. Create a VIP group that receives special benefits for a minimal investment (like free shipping).
  20. Become part of a monthly subscription box.
  21. Pay for search results.
  22. Use targeting on social media ads.
  23. Host a party or open house at your place of business. Offer door prizes, swag, and/or free food.
  24. Use retargeted ads.
  25. Purchase a chamber banner ad, website ad, or directory placement.
  26. Advertise with your local CVB or get your business added to the local tourist map.
  27. Look for online directories in your niche and add your business information to them.
  28. Ask for referrals. Answer reviews on review sites.
  29. Create cool swag and give it away to employees, partners, and vendors—walking billboards.
  30. Post to local Facebook groups. Be solutions oriented.
  31. Tie what you do into current concerns. For instance, if you work in cyber security, now is a good time to talk about the current concerns. Educate your audience through the production of free resources aka content marketing.
  32. Get into video. Bonus points if you can entertain your audience, not just provide good information.
  33. Trade website space with other businesses.
  34. Advertise on a restaurant menu.
  35. Use Messenger ads.
  36. Create a text offers list (with your customer’s permission, of course) and text out flash deals.

Marketing needn’t be expensive. If it provides good return on investment by bringing in more money than it costs, it’s invaluable. With these ideas you can play around with the right mix to find what works for you and provides good return and conversions.

5 Wellness Ideas for Your Business

150 150 Lauren Finamore

Written by: Christina R. Metcalf

Whether your team works from home or in an office, whether you are a business of one or one hundred and one, taking care and making time for wellness is becoming increasingly important. Stress levels because of what’s going on in the world around us are increasing. You may not even be aware of the outside stress someone is under.

Making sure you create an atmosphere where wellness is stressed and made a priority is critical to successful performance. Stressed-out employees make more mistakes and have difficulty making good decisions.

5 Wellness Ideas for Your Business

Host a Walking Zoom

If your team is working from home, encourage them to get outdoors for your next meeting. Ideally, they could walk and get some exercise with you but if not, encourage them to take the meeting outside (or if weather doesn’t agree, encourage them to try a new spot away from their desk). A change of scenery can be a pleasant uplifter and spur on conversation before the call.

Host a Sleep Challenge

Create your own 8-hour sleep challenge where you ask employees to track their sleep and challenge them to get 8 hours of rest every night. Deduct points if someone sends a late-night email. Reward them at the end for those who improved their sleep.

Most people have a competitive side. If a sleep challenge doesn’t work for your group, challenge them to something else like a movement challenge to become more active.

Bring in a Stress Reliever

Whether you bring in a masseuse or someone to talk about making mental health a priority, a professional stress reliever is a good idea to help ensure everyone has coping mechanisms in place when things get stressful, or they feel themselves getting overwhelmed.

Set Expectations

If your employees face the public, they could be under a lot of stress and may not always be treated well. Make sure they know you support them. While you never want a customer to be verbally assaulted by an employee, the same should be true for your staff. Make sure they know that while customers should be treated with respect, that is a two-way street.

Clarify Sick Days and Establish Protocols

Many people come to work when they are ill because they either need the money or they don’t feel like anyone is doing their job when they are out. The thought of the pile of work awaiting them when they return makes taking time off seem like a burden and stress inducer.

You can talk about wellness all day but if someone who is sick feels unable to take time off to recover, you run the risk of increased stress prolonging recovery, not to mention their contagion infecting your team. Make sure everyone in your business has a backup person for their work or at least the most pressing part of what they do. If someone comes in with an obvious illness, send them home. Don’t make them feel like their health is secondary to the work. That won’t end well for either of you.

If you want your team to be more productive, you need to make wellness a priority. This does not happen purely by saying it’s true. You must lead through example in showing wellness is also a priority to you as well.