Website Design Tips – A Small Business Road-Map to More Online Leads

Designing a website when you’re a small business is different than what a Fortune 500 company would do. While large companies may have the nationwide brand recognition and many people linking to their site, you probably do not. This poses a challenge in ensuring that visitors to your site are well informed, they are directed to what they need to see on your site, they can easily subscribe to your site, and they leave with the impression of a very professional company As a small business owner myself and a website designer, I’ve compiled the following critical tips on designing your website.

Overall Design

– Clean
– Uncluttered
– Light-weight

The overall design of your site should be clean, uncluttered, and light-weight. By clean I mean that it should be a more simple design as opposed to lots of shapes, contrasting colors, and unreadable fonts. You can still have a very unique design but your customers will thank you for keeping it clean. This also leads into keeping it uncluttered. Have only the essential links, pictures, and widgets on your web page. The days of providing a real service by having the local weather or a dancing baby on your home page are over. Keeping your page uncluttered will let visitors focus on what is really important. If you have too much for one page, split it into two pages and use a call to action in the original page to direct the visitor. You also must keep your design light-weight as in smaller pictures, no crazy flash/animation, and use of background colors as opposed to images. This will ensure your web page loads quickly on a visitors browser and will make it much more accessible.

Content – Content Formatting

– Quality, Original Content
– Direct and to the point
– Small paragraphs for easy reading
– Easy reading font
– Font to background color contrast

Content is critical for a small business. Your web design must account for showcasing your content and providing good content for search engines like Google. This will definitely help with your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Ensure that your content is original quality content that doesn’t have too much fluff and gets to the point. I have been to websites before where after a couple of minutes of reading, I still don’t know what they do. Be direct and your visitors will thank you!

For formatting your content, you need to ensure that you have at least a 12 point font, which isn’t a crazy unreadable font. Stick with the basic fonts for your main content. Color is important so make sure that the contrast between your text and the background doesn’t make it unreadable. You don’t want too similar of colors so it’s hard to read and you don’t want a contrast that hurts your eyes to read (i.e. neon green on a black background).

Call to Action

– Include on every page
– Ask for what you want
– Explain the benefits

If someone is coming to your website, make sure they do what you want them to do. Many small business websites forget about asking the customer to buy a product, sign up for their list or whatever else you want them to do on your site. Be specific and include a call to action on all of your pages. If I want you to sign up for my newsletter so I can provide you with information and market my products to you, I need to sell you the benefits of being on my list. My call to action might be “Sign-up Today!” after explaining the benefits. If you don’t ask them or get them to take action, many times they won’t.

Capture Leads

– Capture an email address
– Entice with free products
– Low barrier to entry

If someone is visiting your website, you need to capture their information. They are obviously on your website for a reason and you need to give them the opportunity to learn more by capturing their information. Good website design for your small business should account for how you will capture their lead information. I like to make it a low barrier for entry for my visitors. You sign-up for my newsletter by providing me with just your email address in the side bar or the hover page that I display after you’ve been on my site for 7 seconds. I sell the benefits of getting free information and I make it easy. I will also offer a free product like a free report but I make the barrier to entry a little higher. If you want my free report, in addition to your email address you will also have to provide me with your name and phone number. Guess what makes great leads to call on?

There are many aspects to great website design for small businesses and I’ve really only scratched the surface. I suggest doing a lot of research on the subject so you can end up with an online presence that sets you apart from other businesses in your industry. There are many professionals that do a great job with the design and professionals that do a great job with the optimization and lead capture. Not many do both so make sure you do your homework.

Lead Generation For Small Businesses In Slow Times

Lead generation is a key activity for virtually every business, no matter the size. And in times such as these, when the economy is on a downturn, it is even more important that companies apply time and attention to new business lead generation.

Here are some tips which small businesses could find useful in driving those revenues up:

1. Get creative and effective in generating more from your existing customer base. I know this has nothing to do with new business lead generation, but it is far easier to accomplish and quicker to earn payback. Current customers will be far more inclined to buy from you than brand new, un-developed contacts. You could ring up customers who’ve stopped doing business with you.

Based on their past buying profile, you could create a special offer package for them. You could invite them in for a special event. You don’t have one planned? Plan one. Reward them with a bundle of specially priced items, perhaps available only to selected customers to celebrate your xyz anniversary. (Replace the xyz with something appropriate like, years in business, since opening of new store, birth of first child, launch of major product etc.)

Think about how you can approach those old friends, and you could earn instant additional income for your business.

2. Make it a habit to ask your latest customer if they know of anyone else who would benefit from the product or service that you offer. Most business or geographic markets are small worlds’ unto themselves. Now some of your customers won’t want to give you any names, particularly if your product or service has provided them with a competitive advantage. But you will be surprised how many customers will be happy to furnish you with names of their contacts who could be in the market for what you offer. While we’re talking about this technique, don’t forget to apply it to point 1 too.

3. Review you. What do I mean by that? Well, you could start by refining your positioning. Take a close look at your company, your product, your competition and your customers. Identify and define your ideal potential customer. What problems are they experiencing which you have the means to help them solve? Why should they go for your solution instead of your competitors’. Now, communicate this competitive value message to your prospects.

4. Manufacture yourself some media coverage. How do you do this? It’s all in the story. Create a Press Release and have a story with human interest at the centre. At least some of the media will be interested in covering it, giving you free publicity along the way leading, we hope, to new business. So where’s the human interest if you sell product x, or service y?

Well, do you have anyone in your business who is well known and successful in another field, like sport or the arts? Has anyone in your business won any awards? Has your business, product or service won any awards? Have you received some great testimonials from existing customers following the special event you organised for them during point 1. If they haven’t given you their testimonial, it’s probably because you forgot to ask for them. Right?

Survival could soon be the name of the game for many small businesses. Lead generation is essential, and can be tackled in many ways. In today’s economic climate, it’s down to you to be as creative as you can.

Lead Generation for Small Business: A Simple and Effective Strategy to Follow

Lead generation for small business is one of the simplest and quickest ways to increase the number of customers and generate more revenue. That may sound like a bold claim, but in fact it’s borne out by facts from the real world – numbers of sales.

Here is why

Lead generation for Small Business

is such an effective strategy, and why you should certainly use it in your business.

Market differentiation. It sounds like a complex and difficult concept, but all this means is that generating leads makes you stand out in the market and appear different from your competitors, and that can only be a good thing. Most businesses – and that includes your competitors – will focus on making sales (for the most part a completely ineffective strategy) and will appear the same to your prospects.

It looks at the long term. Your prospects want to buy stuff, but they might not want to buy it just yet. If you concentrate on lead generation instead of making sales there and then, you accept this fact, and concentrate on getting your prospects to get to know you first.

More chances to sell. Funnily enough, by not concentrating on sales, lead generation gives you more chances to sell. In effect, you concentrate on building a relationship with your prospects, and selling over time.

Once you understand the importance of these three points, you can start to put a system together to get your lead generation moving. The first thing you need is a way to collect contact details, and as many as possible. This can include emails, postal addresses, phone and even old-fashioned fax (yes, some people still use them). But of all these, email is the best, simply because it’s cheap and convenient, and the strange thing is that most businesses are not taking advantage of it at all.

One of the best ways to collect email addresses is to advertise a page on your website that gives something away for free, especially some free information. A great method is to write a small report about how to choose a provider of your service. Titles can be things like: “Seven Things You Need to Know Before You Choose A…” then insert your business-type (electrician, plumber, house decorator etc.)

The great thing is that this makes you appear the expert, and probably nobody else in your market is doing this. In short, you’re starting a relationship by giving something for free, and also increasing the perception of your business as the best one to go to.

Once you have your prospects’ details, you can email them regularly, giving even more valuable information, and sell to them over time. This almost always leads to an increase in business, and great conversion rates to any offers or promotions you run. Even better, most other small businesses won’t have the courage to do this, or simply won’t be bothered to try, and that puts anyone who does do it at a great advantage.

All you have to do is simply put it into practice, and reap the rewards.

So what are you waiting for?

Merchant Cash Advance Steps in During Recession to Save Small Businesses

The global credit crisis has seen banks struggling with cash deficit, barely managing to stay afloat. Small businesses have obviously been badly hit with the drastic drop in consumer disposable income. With no money coming in from consumers, and banks not approving loans, small businesses have been shutting down or on the verge of it.

The Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) industry has saved many small businesses from closing down during the economic downturn. MCA providers focus on the future performance of the business rather than its current financial situation. If the business has an acceptable credit history and shows good credit card sales, business owners can get a merchant advance within 2 weeks to support their business.

The survival of small businesses is integral to the economy

Small businesses contribute to the U.S. economy in a big way. According to the 2004 census, there were at least 25 million small businesses in the United States, with 600,000 new businesses adding to the count every year. These businesses account for at least 50% of the employments in the private sector.

Closure of small businesses leads to the loss of wealth and employment in the economy. Lack of funds is forces small businesses to lay off employees or shutdown service. It is vital that small businesses have the necessary funds to survive this lean time and continue to generate revenue and employment.

With this end in mind, the U.S. government in 2008 and 2009 facilitating funding of banks to prop them up and encourage business loans. However, getting loans from banks is still very tough, even with good credit scores. The approval process is stringent and time-consuming. A failing business cannot afford the time lost in waiting for a loan when it needs funds urgently.

MCA providers have an efficient system that allows businesses to get the business advance fairly quickly. The funds can be utilized immediately to keep the business going while it adapts to the new economic environment. MCA providers have played a key role in keeping many businesses on their feet.

MCA industry – a successful player in the new lending market

The new lending market is seeing the rise of the MCA industry. Traditional bank loans are still an option for business financing but need to rethink their loaning strategy to be useful to struggling businesses. The MCA falls more costly than a bank loan, but it places trust in the business’ capability to perform. The MCA provider gets a percentage of the credit card sales and is with the business in good times and slow times. As MCA does not require posting of collateral, the business owner is saved the worry of losing personal assets.

The MCA industry is regulating itself to shakeout disreputable providers looking to rip-off desperate small business owners. Top MCA providers are setting a benchmark for other providers to ensure the MCA industry stays in business.

Small business funding is a lucrative industry. With the change in the lending market, more players can be expected to enter the arena to fulfill this need. Small business owners will have the option to choose from various financing sources. In today’s unpredictable environment, the MCA industry stands out for its convenient, fast and flexible financing options.