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We have been talking about relationship websites, and how microbusiness can get more from referrals as a result. We suggest you use this tool as a central hub for bootstrap marketing, to build your website for your small business in Fredericksburg. Today we will be discussing specific tools and methods you can use to achieve this level of utility from your site.

The Real Value of DIY for Micro-businesses

The first and most important thing is that 99% of what you want to accomplish can be completed by spending time and not dimes. What micro-business owners need to strengthen their businesses are do-it-yourself options. Then – as your business grows- you’ll get to decide where time might be better spent, and when it’s best to write a check.

I have met with Spotsylvania & Stafford business owners and spent much time and energy assessing when to pass off responsibility and effort to another person. These owners are out there networking, getting referrals, and creating events, but they need to do a little bit more to market themselves and their companies. Some of them have a few dollars to spend and some have only a few hours to spend and they are figuring where to draw that line, at least for the time being.

So we’ve got those basic things set up – logo, business cards, flyers, website, Facebook page, etc. After basic marketing outlets are set up, most of us are spending time networking, serving customers, thanking them for their business, and reconnecting regularly with your book of past clients. And then we sit back and hope they send us more business. We hope they will remember us this time next year. And by doing that, we’re completely dropping the ball. We’re missing an easy opportunity to keep our business growing steadily by simply staying steadily engaged with past clients and past leads.

To solve that problem, here are the next steps  we recommend.

First: The Power and Reach of Newsletters

The easiest way to keep this going is via a consistent monthly newsletter. It does not have to incredible. It just has to be in their inbox every month. This should be an extremely soft sell, with no call to action and it doesn’t even need to have a special offer. Just extend a bit of value and helpfulness. This will also assist with your referral numbers.

For example, you could cover 5 Things to do this Winter to Keep Air Ducts Clean, or What to put in you Recycling. Say you are a realtor in Fredericksburg – you could give a rundown of the crash of 2008.

The newsletter must be regular, reliable, and provide value to the customer. They must be reminded of you and be exposed to your name over and over and over again. Reminded that they did business with you, and that you did a good job, and that you’re making an effort to continue to add value to them and help them out.

We recommend you send out e-newsletters on a monthly basis. Big businesses send out newsletters constantly, inundating us with emails on a daily basis. We can assume they must do this because they know it works. Micro-businesses do not always pick up on this and apply it to their businesses. Start systematically “keeping in touch” adding value regularly, and in the long run your business will benefit.

On-site Blog

middle aged couple looking at company websites in Stafford

Tieing closely into the Newsletter is the company blog. If your putting out that monthly newsletter – you should also host that content on your company blog. This blog can be built right into the website. (In fact it should not be a separate blog website.)

There in one big reason to have a company blog on your Relationship Website…

It’s a referral tool! “Hey so-and-so you should read this article by Acme Company. I’ll send you the link.” That’s a referral! You’ve just made yourself easier to refer. Now your happy customers and dedicated referral partners have an easy excuse and a tool to use to refer new leads to you!

There are two other good reasons…

The first of those reasons is that it impresses new referrals (leads). See over time you are creating a repository of helpful articles, tips, and information. Certain personalities will be immediately impressed by this when they land on your website, having been recently referred to you. They will see that not only is your company active, but helpful and knowledgeable!

The second reason is that your business blog becomes repository of helpful information to your existing/past customers. A year or two may pass and then suddenly they will want to read “that article about XYZ that our electrician/plumber/agent/handyman/stylist/coach/etc wrote ‘a few months back’”.  (I’ve learned that it’s always “a few months back” even when in reality it was over a year ago.)

Having these on-topic articles be added regularly on your website will help a little with your Google rank as well. And if your business grows to the point that it can benefit from full-service SEO or Digital Marketing  then your marketing agency will be thrilled to discover that you’ve already got a backlog of content and activity that they can build upon.

Email Blitzes and Massive Discounts

A special offer email blitz can be valuable if done right. However, most micro-businesses don’t have a plan. Discounts should not be an always thing. We have found notable success in offering a GREAT discount, but on occasion. Whether it is an offer or unique opportunity, what we have observed is that one email alone does not do the trick.

The general public does not always have time to do something with the dozens to hundreds of offers to which they are exposed per day. Most people will see and then forget – regardless of whether it was a worthwhile offer. With their lives, home, and work – it falls to the wayside. This is why sometimes you must inbox the same offer multiple times over a short period. For example if you’re running a special one weekend, send an email the Friday 7 days prior, the Monday 5 days prior, the Friday it starts, and again early the Sunday it ends.

This is a great tactic to use when implementing a speaker series, or recognition ceremony as well!

Social Media Tool Bag

african american man using website in fredericksburg

Small business website owners need to know which platforms are right for their interest and age group. Facebook works for most and then depending on your target market you should usually choose one more from Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. For a micro-business I don’t recommend worrying about more than 2 platforms (with rare exceptions.)

Being present on these platforms is important, but encouraging those with whom your business interacts to like you on facebook via invoices, email signatures, and follow up communications in general is a valuable action space. Build into your regular process asking your customers to LIKE your page and leave a review. Literally print it on every Invoice! These reviews will also will drive people to like your social page.

Having the page set up properly, professional images that fit the screen, the logo in the right shape and size, hours, services, are all part of an effective social media presence. We suggest you update your page a minimum of 3 times per week – with 5 or so being best. Remember, you want customers to hear from you regularly. If they go to the page and there is nothing to see, they may actually worry that your business is closed! A few paid ads don’t hurt either – with a few dollars per day assisting in your reach. The content you put out there will provide more returns if you boost regularly and consistently.

We help a lot of clients by creating a consistent presence on social media in Fredericksburg with our social media management service. If you are interested in learning more about how we can handle that for you, please let us know.

Tying These Tools Together

Please don’t try to start this all at once. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to make a recommendation on which option is the first right step for your business. Usually it’s the newsletter.

Second, don’t try and plan a year or even next month. Just do this month’s ASAP and get this ball rolling. Here’s a recommended starting checklist:

How To Promote Your Small Business Yourself (DIY)

  1. Choose a super narrow topic for your first newsletter.
    We’ll use a business consultant for this example. “My first newsletter” is not good. “Why I love what I do” is better but too deep of a topic for now – you’ll wear yourself out and never get the next one started. “Why Sarah needed to fire me” is better. It can be kept short (3-5 paragraphs) and it can cover a specific problem-solution-outcome or “case study”. Plus the title would certainly pique someone’s interest!
  2. Rough Draft – Use whatever technology is easiest for you. Send it as an email to yourself, type it into a Google doc, or even just record yourself talking to your phone, but get it down. 15 minutes and no more.
  3. Revise – Clean it up and make it flow.
  4. Edit – Get someone to review and edit your work.
  5. Publish – Get yourself set up on Mailchimp, load your customer list up, pick a SIMPLE template, throw your logo at the top, and send it out. Let’s go!

After the first month is out there, you can start adding a piece at a time. Again, just make a small improvement each month.

Long-term plan

  1. Plan topics for every 6 or 12 months
  2. Write, edit, and publish to your company blog
  3. Send it out as a newsletter
  4. Post to social media
  5. Boost on social media
  6. Re-post to social media after 2-4 days.
  7. Create a quarterly special promotion and send it 3-4x in quick succession.
  8. Work two to four weeks in advance

Got Questions?

As your business grows, we know you’ll be busy doing bigger things. Give us a call to discuss how we can help ease your load executing these important strategies while you focus your personal time on bigger and better things!