Monthly Archives: February 2013

Small Business Website Design Powered by WordPress

rls energy - small business website design rlsenergy.com
Rob Sepeter of RLS Energy contacted Connection Group for a small business website design. Mr. Sepeter found Connection Group when he visited a website we designed for a local retail gift and nursery shop, Hidden Trail. Hidden Trail Gift Shoppe specializes in nature themed gifts for home and garden, plus fresh plants and holiday greens. The website design quickly communicates this nature and environmental niche.

Although the original RLSEnergy.com website functioned and had similar content Mr. Sepeter felt the website design was not reflective of his clientele or the environmental nature of the products he offers. Another issue Mr. Sepeter asked us to address was the inability with the old site for ease in updates. Connection Group needed to set up a back end content management area where he or a staff person could easily and quickly edit website content, without having to have a PhD in web programming and development.

RLS is a start up company and serves customers throughout Michigan. RLSEnergy.com didn’t require a lot of automation or bells and whistles that e-commerce websites and some larger company websites often need. Connection Group solution for the small business website design that RLS Energy needed was to set up a website powered by the WordPress content management system (CMS). Choosing WordPress allowed us to keep the cost effective for the small business owner and also allow ease in website updates by any staff member. WordPress also offers numerous plug-ins that assist blog and small business website owners with automated features to help with SEO, comments, calendars, pretty much anything a website manager could need to optimize a website for effectiveness. Information on website and blog plugins are a whole different post but are an important considerations when looking at blog and website solution for your small business.

rls energy logo small business website designRLS Energy is enjoying the new environmental website design and in just one half hour content management training session they are now able to easily post project and merchandise photos and updates. Do you think a WordPress blog or small business website design would work for your company? Connect with us and let’s talk about your digital marketing and communication goals. We can help you choose the best blog or website solution that will grow with your company and allow you to control updates at the level you desire.

Stay connected!

February 2013

This month, we’re continuing to provide you with information that you can use to build and market your small business. We understand that diving into online marketing comes naturally to some, while others prefer leaving those tasks to a trusted brand manager. There’s useful information for both camps in this edition of Connectivity!

brand management circlesThe Web and Your Brand

Your choice: Brand Manager or Website Designer
In this article on our blog, we look at how you can decide whether you need a full-service brand manager or hire out just the website design and do everything else yourself.
Read More…

Connection Group website and blog samples using WordPress


DIY Alert! Build Your Own Blog or Website
A Simple Guide to Launching Your Small Business Website and Blog

Sometimes start-up businesses can get away without using our web design and development expertise to have a web presence. As your business grows we know we will continue to serve you and we can’t express how very important a web presence is for businesses right now. Would you believe there are still 49% of small businesses without websites? There is no reason for this (and no, a Facebook page doesn’t cover it – we discuss this too…) Take a look at our recent blog post to get step by step instructions…Read more…


Project Spotlight Event Promotions Print and Digital SolutionsMonthly Promotion for January 2013 is 15% off Full color brochures and sales sheets

A Simple Guide to Launching Your Small Business Website and Blog

websites-blog-samplesSetting up and launching a business website is a must if you are to succeed in marketing. Whether you’re hiring a website designer or doing everything yourself, having an online hub is vital. There’s simply no way around it, and today we’ll show you how to create and launch your small business website. We’ll focus primarily on setting up a self-hosted website using WordPress.

Before that, though, a number of folks may question why they need self-hosted websites for their small businesses, when there’s Facebook, Twitter, and so on. Setting up a business site involves a bit of time and financial investment, while Facebook, Twitter, and a host of other social media outlets are free. So what are the benefits to running your own website versus relying on third-party social media?

Facebook vs. Self-hosted Site

It’s true that a business website probably won’t be able to attract the gazillions of users that are on Facebook and Twitter combined. However, a small business owner should still build a strong online hub for the following reasons:

1. Ownership

As “king of your online castle,” you own not just the domain, but all the content in the site. By registering your own domain, you’re not just sitting on someone else’s property. Setting up your stand-alone website builds your authority in your niche, and adds to your legitimacy as a professional business owner.

2. Stability

The nature of social media means that its content changes rapidly by the day – or the hour! Updates that you’ve written yesterday may no longer be visible today. Not so with websites and blogs. Posted content is available on your site as long as it’s online. Such evergreen content will continue to help you build your brand and increase your search engine ranking.

3. Control

As the owner of your website, you control everything that your audience sees about your business. You decide what the content will be, and the action steps that will be available to your site’s visitors.

These are just three reasons why investing in a self-hosted website will bring you a greater return than spending all your online marketing efforts on social media.

That said, we’re not saying that you should concentrate solely on your website.

In fact, the opposite is true.

Being active on social media is essential for marketing your brand. If you’re building an audience online, you should be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. However, none of these sites should take the place of your website.

Your website should be the hub of all your online efforts. Social media should be outposts used to drive your desired audience to your website, where they can then make decisions to purchase your products or engage your services.

Setting Up a Self-Hosted Website and Blog

When we talk about setting up your online site, we also mean getting a blog up and running as part of your website. Having a blog offers advantages than a static website doesn’t have.

In terms of posting evergreen, useful content that will help you rank high in search engines, there’s nothing quite as easy to use as a blog. Posts and pages are what will give your website/blog depth in your niche topic. And blogs are inherently set up to make frequent posting quick and painless.

The steps below outline the process for setting up your blog from scratch:

1. Register your domain name

For maximum SEO benefits and brand recognition, your domain name should be www.yourbusiness.com. You register your domain through one of many domain registrars, such as HostGator, GoDaddy, NetworkSolutions, etc.

Registration must be renewed yearly. You can save money by registering domain for several years at a time.

2. Secure a hosting service

A webhost is the physical server where your website and data are kept. Many hosting companies also offer domain registration. You pay a fee for using the server space and bandwidth to run your website.

3. Install WordPress

WordPress is one of the best and easiest software to use for blogging. The software itself is free, and is available to download at WordPress.org. Some hosting companies offer a one-click installation to your domain.

4. Install a theme

While WordPress comes with a pre-installed theme (or blog design), you may want to install a different one that will better suit your business and your purposes. There are many free themes available for download. These may be accessed within the WordPress software or downloaded from WordPress.org.

For better functionality and a more professional look, you can also purchase a theme or get a website designer to create a custom look for your website that will grow with your content. Full disclosure, there are some restrictions with WordPress and other blogging software templates. Most small businesses will be well served with most of the templates but when you start to add more bells and whistles to your company website you may need a more robust custom template that will handle custom programming.

5. Start blogging

Once WordPress and the theme are installed, you can start creating content for your website. Login through www.yourbusiness.com/wp-admin/ to start posting pages and posts for your new online hub.

If you’re a DIYer, these first steps will help you launch your small business website and start building an audience online. However, if you’re not the type to dive into domain names and WordPress themes, you may want to look into having a web design or marketing company do these for you. The important thing is for you to get your brand in front of your audience, and establish yourself as an expert that they can trust with their business. And a well-designed small business website is the cornerstone of your online marketing strategy.

Should You Hire a Full-Service Brand Manager or Just a Website Designer?

web-design-brand-managementA couple of posts ago, we talked about how to be your own brand manager for your small business.

One of the first tasks in launching your brand is to set up a self-hosted and professional website. As a business owner, you can hire a web designer, and then do everything else yourself after your website is up and running.

However, after working to build a business, not every business owner will have the resources needed to take on the myriad tasks involved in brand marketing. While there are advantages to doing everything yourself, it may not always be feasible for everyone.

There are times when hiring a full-service brand and communications manager is best for your business. A full-service brand manager takes care of everything your business needs to attract more customers, establish and maintain a robust online presence, and present a consistent and professional company image.

This includes tasks such as creating a custom website, setting up social media accounts, providing content for webpages, blogs and newsletters, and providing consultation when needed. Some brand management companies, like Connection Group, even offer additional services in advertising and print communications such as corporate brochures and any item that communicates your brand message to your customer.

Today we’ll talk about how to evaluate whether it would be best for you to be your own brand manager, or if you should entrust the tasks involved in marketing to someone else. Some of the factors you need to consider include your available time, resources, expertise, interest, ability, and skills. We’ll take a look at three of those factors below:

Do You Have the Time?

Time is one of the most valuable resources of a small business owner. Many entrepreneurs put in far more hours than a full-time worker. What many don’t realize is that managing a brand (not just a company) requires a huge investment of careful thought and time.

Are you able to put in the hours needed to build a website or Facebook page, write press releases, blog articles and social media posts, craft newsletters, create visual displays, and monitor customer engagement? These are just some of the tasks that a brand manager can do for your company on a regular basis.

Do You Have the Expertise?

Launching an effective marketing campaign requires specific skills and knowledge. If you’re going to build your brand from the ground up, for example, some of the skills that you will need are website development, search engine optimization, graphic and print design, familiarity with social media, writing, and marketing ability.

If you don’t already have this type of expertise, ask yourself whether you are able to spend the time required to study and gain the skills you need.

Do You Have an Interest in Marketing?

Having a passion for your business and having a passion for marketing your business are two different things. In the same way that the skills required to make a product or provide a service are different from the skills necessary to spread the word about that product or service, your excitement over what your company offers may not translate to excitement for the type of marketing needed to reach and cultivate new customers.

As a business owner, one of the decisions you have to make is to weigh the benefits of investing in a skilled brand manager versus putting in the time to do it yourself. How many hours are you willing to spend on marketing every week? Do you have the knowledge, skills and interest to carry it through to the long-term?

If you would like to know more about what a full-service brand manager can do for your company, contact us today. Connection Group offers a free initial consultation. We can assess where you are in your online brand and marketing efforts. If all you need is a professionally-designed website, we can do that for you too. Remember, that first consultation is on us!