As a small business owner, one of your jobs is to manage your brand online and off. In addition to reaching new customers and growing your company, you need to maintain an online presence and use it to achieve your goals.
While you’re good at what you do for your business and customers, you may not be quite as savvy when it comes to the internet. So, we put together this checklist for managing your website, and brand, as a small business owner. Putting these elements in action lets you take advantage of the opportunities that the web has to offer.
A. Have a Clear Message
Your business (and website) must have what is often called a unique value proposition (UVP), or unique selling point. What are you offering? Who is your audience? What message do you want to send?
Before you start creating or revamping your website, you must be able to answer these questions.
- Your offer is simply your roster of products or services and their corresponding prices.
- Your ideal customer is the person whom you want to engage in your business. These are the people you want to attract to your website, and move to make a purchasing decision.
- Your message is what you want to stand out in your prospects or customers mind. Are you the most economical, the best quality, the fastest, or the most experienced?
What comes next is a bit more complicated: Identifying and crafting your message. This is where the “unique” comes into your unique value proposition. What makes you uniquely qualified to offer these services? In other words, what makes your business different from the rest?
These are things you must think about before you set up your online hub. In order to have an effective website, you must identify what makes you different from all the others that are offering the same thing. If your business caters mainly to your local community, you would want to include that as part of what makes you stand out. You know your customers by name, you provide a personal touch to your services, and so on.
Once you know your message, you must present it in a clear, concise, and consistent way, which brings us to the next point.
B. Unify Your Brand
Everything that has your company’s name on it – whether it’s a business card, a logo, or a website – is part of your brand. They must all work together to get your unique message across to your ideal client.
Here are some practical tips that will help you with brand management in a way that supports your day-to-day work:
Your website must be self-hosted and be on a relevant domain name.
Self-hosted simply means it’s not a free service or platform, like Blogger or WordPress.com.
When your buy your domain name, it should be “yourbusiness.com” (example: connectiongraphics.com). Make it easy to remember, with no numbers or special characters except if it’s part of your company name.
A self-hosted site on a good domain name tells your customers that you’re an authority in your field. They can trust you with their business.
Create a unified look that reflects your company and mission.
The image your business presents must be consistent across all types of communications, whether it’s online or not.
The first place to start is your company logo. If you don’t have a logo, get a professional designer to make one for you. Use it on all your communications.
Pull colors and design elements out of your logo and use them in your website, e-newsletter, letterhead, promotional materials, etc. For example, if you use a clean sans-serif font on your business card, don’t go for swirly artsy types on your website.
Set-up online outposts.
Whether or not you like being on social media, it’s now practically a requirement for any business. You need to set up and maintain “online outposts.” These in turn will direct your ideal customer back to your website, and toward a decision to purchase.
These outposts include blogs, social media and newsletters.
C. Create Effective Content
Now that you have your self-hosted website and relevant online outposts, you need to turn your attention to the elements of your site that will turn your readers into customers.
Your business website must have the following:
- About page (what your business is about, who you are, your qualifications, and other special attributes that will make the online reader want to do business with you)
- Easy-to-navigate information about your services and/or products
- Different ways to contact you (via contact form, address, email, twitter, Facebook, etc.)
- Option to subscribe to an email newsletter or RSS feed
- Secure product page and shopping cart, as needed
- Regularly updated information about your services, products and related topics
The last item on the list above will help your clients know your business better, as well as help you get found in search engines. The best and easiest way to do this is to maintain a blog. High-quality and regularly-updated content will establish you as an authority in your niche.
As a small business owner, an effective online presence begins with and is established by a clear message, a unified look and effective content. If you’d like to learn more about how to manage your brand online and off, sign up for our newsletter, Connectivity.