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Giving Your Business The Edge: Simple Strategies To Outshine Your Competition

In business, you’re always in a race. It doesn’t matter whether you own a clothing store, an ecommerce empire, a medical clinic or an accounting firm. You’ll always encounter competitors. The key to success lies in being able to win the race, but how do you do this? If you’re looking to outshine the competition, here are some simple strategies to employ.

Customer service

There are few things more crucial in business than customer service. We’re all familiar with adages like ‘the customer is always right,’ but do you and your employees live by this rule? Outstanding customer service will not only increase the chances of clients returning and recommending you to friends and family, but it will also help you distinguish your brand from rival businesses. Focus on putting your clients first, go the extra mile to make sure every customer is happy and offer a personal touch. Every customer wants to feel valued. If they don’t, there’s every chance they’ll look elsewhere. One of the best ways to improve customer service is to ask for reviews and feedback. Take comments on board, listen to opinions, and work on bringing those review scores up. Listening is an essential skill in modern business.

Technology and equipment

Most businesses in this day and age are reliant on technology and equipment. When buying machinery, instruments or gadgets, look for quality, and focus your search on investments that will save you time, money and effort, and separate you from the crowd. Keeping up with new inventions and systems may enable you to produce better products or offer a wider range of services, for example. Whether you’re looking for new computer programs, medical supplies from sites like www.kempermedical.com or catering equipment, it’s vital to buy high-quality items that will improve the way you work. Buying is an excellent option for items you plan to use on a regular basis, while renting may be more appealing for equipment required for one-off projects. Keep an eye on emerging trends and an ear to the ground so that you’re familiar with innovations that may benefit your business.

Marketing

Marketing isn’t just about getting your brand name out there. It’s also about convincing buyers that your business represents the best choice for them. Your marketing strategy should highlight your USP, and provide answers to the question, “Why should I buy from you?” Tailor your strategy to the target market, make the message clear, and shout about your USP from the rooftops. You want everyone to know how you are different to your competitors. If you’ve got a campaign up and running, monitor its efficiency using analytics and market research. If the results aren’t as positive as you hoped or anticipated, consider making adjustments to extend your reach and make your campaign more persuasive. For more useful information about revamping an existing strategy, take a look at this article https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2018/03/15/15-tips-for-creating-marketing-content-the-resonates-with-customers/.

In business, you’re always going to be competing against other companies, and you need to make sure you give yourself the best chance of winning. If you’re keen to leave your rivals in your wake, hopefully, this guide has given you inspiration and ideas.

5 Ways Your Website Could Be Damaging Your Credibility

There’s nothing more liberating than starting up your very own business. To cast aside wage slavery and a corporate pay structure that’s actively working against you to insulate its own bottom line. To shake of the shackles of a job and a career that were not only letting your talents go to waste, they were slowly sapping your will to live. When you secure the funding to build up your own business from scratch and transform your idea into a reality, it can seem as though anything is possible. But the reality is that your business is just one of legions of similar enterprises, all vying for the attention of the same customers. And these customers know that in a buyer’s market they can afford to be fickle, no matter how hard you may try and earn their loyalty.

Thus, the savvy entrepreneur knows that in order to draw custom towards their business and away from their competitors that their reputation must be absolutely beyond reproach. Of course there’s a lot that goes into your business’s reputation. Every customer interaction in the real world and on social media, every telephone query, the quality of your products and service and even the design concept of your logo can influence your reputation. Here, however, we’re going to look exclusively at your website. Your website is, for many businesses, the first and last chance they will get to make an impression on potential leads. If your website does not reflect the values or quality of your brand, it can seriously undermine your credibility. And credibility is extremely important. Credibility determines whether or not prospective customers can trust you, and it’s vital that your website earns it.

What a bad website can do to your business

We’re long past the days when merely having a website was considered a boon for your business. While an online presence is somewhat taken for granted, whether your business uses eCommerce or not, a bad website can make an impression in the worst possible way. It can;

  • Create a poor or misleading first impression
  • Provide inaccurate or outdated information
  • Scare away leads and reduce conversion rates
  • Undermine trust in your brand
  • Send customers running into the arms of your competitors.

So, what could your website be doing to undermine your brand and damage your credibility? Well, if you haven’t given much care to the building of your website, it can actually be damaging your credibility if it has…

Outdated or amateurish design

Like the world of fashion, web design is subject to trends which come and go in accordance with technological changes and the cultural biases of users. As such, while your website may look just fine to your eyes, savvier users may find your web design to be outdated or lacking the professional veneer offered by others. In an age where most people now consume online content and make eCommerce purchases through mobile devices, the most egregious sin you can make is failing to ensure that your site design is responsive so that it looks great on a screen of any size. Moreover, a WordPress site that’s built using a ready-made theme can make your website look cheap, amateurish or homogeneous to the more practiced eye, no matter how great it looks to you. Look at the online presence of businesses you admire and work collaboratively with a talented web designer (here are some tips for finding one that’s right for you) to build a website that looks beautiful and professional while explicitly tailored to your brand.

Bad UX

Even a website that looks beautiful can undermine your credibility by providing a bad experience for the user. User Experience or UX is an important discipline which nascent brands can tend to overlook. A gorgeous looking website that’s hard to navigate or takes forever to load (keep in mind that a page load of just 7 seconds can increase your bounce rate by over 30%) can potentially be more damaging than a website that looks passable yet is a joy to navigate.

Poor quality content

Most new entrepreneurs understand the value of content marketing but fall victim to an overly simplistic mode of thinking. They know that content is king and that posting fresh content on a regular (ideally daily) basis is the key to getting an edge over the competition in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). However, this is not to say that quantity trumps quality. In fact, it’s the opposite of the case. Outsourcing your content to poor quality, low cost click farms overseas might seem like a cost effective solution, but the increased likelihood of poorly written, grammatically incorrect or (worse still) factually inaccurate copy will seriously damage your credibility and authority in the eyes of users.

Moreover, it might not even give you the SEO boost you were expecting. While search engines don’t share the minutiae of what affects rankings, it’s widely believed that measures of genuine engagement like scroll depth and time on page are of value to search engines. If users click off your content in seconds, it could do more harm than good to your SEO.

Your images

A picture is worth a thousand words. But if you’re personally responsible for all of the images that go into your content, it behoves you to brush up on your photography skills. We human beings are visual creatures and rightly or wrongly we make value judgments based on appearance all the time. Either outsource your images to a talented photographer or take the time to improve your skills in image capture and post production photo editing. Cheesy stock images are not recommended as they can cheapen your brand and make your content look like that of an amateur blogger.  

Outbound links

Finally, while link building is an important part of SEO, it’s important to remember that not all links are created equal. Some links can actually harm your search engine rankings and leave you with less than reputable and credible associations. This is why you should never link to an outbound source or site without first doing your homework and ensuring that your brand is in good company with theirs and establishing that they are both reputable and credible.

Remember that you only have a few seconds to make a very important first impression. All of these factors go into making that impression count.

Is Your Slow Website Slowing Down Your Business?

Your website is the face of your business, but if it’s operating at a snail’s pace, it may be one of the reasons why you are turning away your visitors. After all, no matter what your business offers, your site visitors will be able to find something else to meet their needs on the internet, rather than wait eons for your web pages to finally load correctly.

If your website is operating slowly, you need to get to the source of the problem. There are common issues for slowdown, and some of them are explored below.

  1. You have too many images on your website

Despite the visual appeal of images, be they photographs, logos, or icons, they can significantly slow down your website. On a technical level, you could implement a sprite sheet into your coding. If you are familiar with website building, you can check out this lesson on creating and using a sprite sheet in HTML and CSS to improve your loading times. If you are reliant on a website builder, such as Wix or WordPress, remove some of the images from your page, or reduce the sizes, and then reload your website to see if any differences have been made.

  1. There are too many ads

Using ads on your website is a useful way to make money,  but there is a caveat. Not only will they irritate your site visitors, especially when your page is overloaded with them, but they will also slow down your site. While you may be reluctant to remove the ads from your site, know that you will lose money if they are causing your visitors to vacate your website. Only use those ads that are generating an income for you, and commit to one or two, rather than overloading your site and the frustration level of your users.

  1. You are getting too much traffic

Can you ever have too many people visiting your website? The common sense answer is ‘no,’ especially when your visitors are generating income for your business. However, your server will struggle to keep up with the high volume of page requests, and to compensate for the high traffic, will start to slow down areas of your website. To counter this problem, you may need to move to a different web host, especially if you have ended up with a shared server. Ensure you have optimized your website first, as the host may not be the issue, but if problems persist, check out this guide to migrating to a new host.

  1. You haven’t updated your CMS

If you are using a CMS (content management system), such as the aforementioned Wix or WordPress, then you need to keep up with any updates when prompted. These providers are constantly trying to improve their services to you, and consequently your customers, so always update to the latest software and plugins when they are recommended to you. By doing so, you will have faster loading times as a result, and the chances of slowdown may be negated.

Finally

These aren’t the only reasons why your website may be running slowly, but they are the most common. Go through each of these points, and you may get your answer. If not, consider hiring a professional web designer to help you get to the bottom of the problem. Despite the expense, you will add to your profits when you no longer lose your valuable site visitors because of your slow-running website.

What common issues do you believe contribute to a slow loading website? Did these hit the mark or do you have something else to share? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment below!

5 Reasons Why Your Content is Turning Away Readers

5 Reasons Why Your Content is Turning Away Readers

Have you experienced this scenario? You write an article on a topic that should be exiting and relevant to your readers, but it doesn’t get the interactions you thought it would. The number of views are disappointing, there are little to no shares on social media and not a single person felt compelled enough to leave a comment.

The good (and the bad) news is that you are not alone. Especially if you are just beginning to grow your blog or e-newsletter, it can take time to build a loyal readership. However, this doesn’t give you a green light to sit back and wait for the fans to come to you. Part of the problem could be the quality of your content or how it is presented. Take a look at these 5 common problems and how to correct them to create better content.

The Title is Lame

The first thing that catches a reader’s eye, besides a great image, is the title. A great title should be two things: interesting and accurate. In the fewest words possible, you need to communicate just enough information to make someone want to read more. But be careful not to bait your readers with dramatic claims or questions that sound like something out of a tabloid. You’ll know your title isn’t doing its job if people aren’t clicking on the full article to read more or deleting the email before opening it.

Your Introduction Doesn’t Build Excitement

Let’s say you made it past the first hurdle of getting people to actually click on your blog or article to read more. You still have to prove to them that it’s worth their time to read from start to finish – and that opportunity comes in the first paragraph. Be sure to write an introduction that builds excitement and relevance. Preview the valuable information that is to come without giving away all the details.

You Lack Sub Headings to Organize the Content

Another tip for creating quality content that keeps people interested from start to finish is to use sub headings to organize your main points and make it easy for readers to digest the content in bite-size morsels.

It’s Way Too Long

Thanks to technology, we as a society feel like we always need to be multitasking. This means rarely do we give anything our full attention or more than a few minutes of our time before moving on to the next shiny object. Keep your content direct and to the point. When a reader sees he has to click through 22 slides of content or scroll down a never-ending page of words will quickly lose interest and move on to something that requires less of a time commitment.

It’s Not Mobile Friendly

Finally, you may be lacking readership because your content is not accessible where people view it most often – on their mobile device. Emails, blogs and websites should all be mobile friendly. There’s a big difference between reading an article that is formatted to fit on your phone’s screen and reading one that is not. Remember, you want to make it easy and convenient for your readers to stay and consume your content through the end. Remove every hurdle that you can!

Which one of these reasons makes you lose interest in reading an article or blog? Or is there another reason you’d like to share? Leave us a comment!

7 Ways to Use a Press Release Beyond Pitching to Media

7 Ways to Use a Press Release Beyond Pitching to MediaWhen a business has an exciting announcement, one of the most popular reactions is to issue a press release. Sometimes the news is indeed press worthy and you will earn a feature story, but more commonly it’s something that will never get picked up by the media.

So now you have invested your time and resources into creating a quality press release, but are left feeling like it was a complete waste. The good news is there are still a variety of ways in which you can get a bang for your buck out of this content. Here are 7 ways in which I encourage clients to utilize their press releases in addition to simply pitching it to media.

  1. Dedicate a section of your website to news and announcements

Businesses that find themselves frequently issuing press releases or making announcements should consider adding a dedicated “news” section to their website to archive this content. Upload your press release to the top of this page and also include a link to download the PDF version. Not only will this create fresh content for your website, it will also increase your press release’s visibility and SEO.

  1. Pull quotes and use on social media

Next, get that press release out on your social media accounts! The best strategy is to pull a few of the most compelling excerpts from your announcement and use them as a “teaser” to then direct people to read the full announcement on your website (once you get that “news” section added). Pull different quotes and update your social media accounts multiple times over the course of several days to fully promote your press release to your social networks.

  1. Post it to your blog

In addition to having a “news” section on your website, I also highly recommend starting a blog. This is the personal arm to your business where you can post valuable content that helps your customers get to know the people behind the brand.

Once you’ve issued a press release, alter it to function more like an editorial piece and post it to your blog. This means get rid of all the odd formatting of a press release, add a more creative, less “newsy” headline and weave in fun and personal elements into the content of the announcement. Include photos and relevant tags to increase readers’ interest and SEO.

  1. Promote it on Linkedin as a long form post

We talked about promoting this as a social media status update, but don’t forget about Linkedin’s long form post feature that is very valuable for promoting articles and announcements in full form. Use the content you posted to your website’s blog so that it appears more like an article than like a press release. Simply add your title, content and some photos and you’re ready to publish!

  1. Email it to your marketing list

Next, take your announcement and format it into an email template (by using an email platform like ConstantContact or MailChimp). Send this out to your business contacts and client lists. They should already receive regular news and announcements from you, so it makes sense that they would also be informed of this announcement as well. Include a call to action, if relevant, and link back to your website’s blog and/or news section.

  1. Include it in your printed newsletter

Many businesses have moved away from sending printed newsletters or publications, but some still do. If you’re a business who uses this as a marketing tactic, be sure and also utilize this to further promote your press release. Edit down the press release content to be a concise paragraph or two and compliment it with a compelling title. Then include this, along with other articles and announcements, in your next printed newsletter.

  1. Make it part of your annual report

Finally, for businesses who produce a quarterly or annual report, this is a valuable opportunity to also promote your press release. Take a similar approach to what you did for your printed newsletter and create a brief and to-the-point version of your press release. Include this in your “news and announcements” section of your report to showcase the recent milestones you’ve achieved.

BONUS TIP: So your press release didn’t get picked up by the media the first time you sent it out, well then try, try again! I’ve found value in waiting a few days after an initial dissemination and then slightly changing the subject line of both the email and the press release. I re-send this to the same media list and include a photo or two from the event (if one took place).

You never know if your first pitch hit a reporter on a bad day, got lost in a spam folder or the subject didn’t resonate with them. Re-sending just one more time will increase your chances of getting a press hit without becoming spammy or annoying.

What other tips do you have for getting the most traction out of your press release? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

Bennis Inc Has a New Website…And There’s Something In It For You!

Bennis Inc Has a New Website...And There's Something In It For YouHave you ever found that the service your company provides is sometimes the very service it personally lacks? It’s the same theory of “the cobbler’s children have no shoes.” As professionals, we often pour all of our talents and energy into serving our clients, that we forget to reserve a little to take care of ourselves.

I was a living example of this.

My website was three years old. It wasn’t broken, but it wasn’t a showpiece for the level of public relations and branding services I provide my clients. I needed to break out of my complacency, make the investment and update my website to something I want to show everyone I meet. And the New Year was a perfect jump start to make me reach out to a talented web design company that also happens to be a friend of Bennis Inc. David, owner of Nicely Done Sites, and I have shared clients in the past and I knew his team would understand my vision and come up with something even better than what I could have described.

The collaboration was invigorating! Our first kickoff meeting was on January 15 and the site pushed live less than one month later. We both acknowledged that this was an unusually fast turnaround time, but when it’s what you do for clients everyday, it’s to be expected that we were efficient with our respective roles in this project.

By now, some of you may have already jumped over to the Bennis Inc website to explore our new look. If you’re still waiting for an official invitation, join me by visiting http://www.bennisinc.com (I, too, now gaze at its beauty several times per day).

And here are some highlights of what you will find…

The homepage has just two slider images that communicate our most important messages. The images are high resolution, modern, elegant and timeless - all words I wanted my new website to embody.

The homepage has just two slider images that communicate our most important messages. The images are high quality, modern, elegant and timeless – all words I wanted my new website to embody.

Here's just one fun feature my website showcases - scrolling numbers below icons that highlight some of my most notable accomplishments. Necessary? No. Awesome? Absolutely.

Here’s just one fun feature my website showcases – scrolling numbers below icons that highlight some of my most notable accomplishments. Necessary? No. Awesome? Absolutely.

While I custom create my package of services for each client, I wanted to clearly and concisely give people an understanding of my specialties. This section of the website accomplishes just that.

While I custom create my package of services for each client, I wanted to clearly and concisely give people an understanding of my specialties. This section of the website accomplishes just that.

“That looks great, Stephanie, but you said there is something in it for me?” You’re right…there is!

My own journey of re-branding my business by updating my website reminded me just how powerful change (both big and small) is for any business. This is something I want to continue to spread to as many other professionals as possible! One of the most effective ways I’ve been able to do this for others is by helping them create or update their Linkedin profile content. Personal branding is one of my favorite aspects of public relations and Linkedin is a great way to accomplish this.

For this special “Rebranding” promotion I am offering a full Linkedin profile update for just $95!

Services include:

  • 1-hour initial phone consultation to discuss your current profile and goals for your new profile
  • New content for every section of your Linkedin profile
  • Up to 2 rounds of revisions based upon your feedback
  • Manually updating the content within your profile (or you may choose to do this yourself, if you prefer)
  • Suggestions and “industry best practices” for how you can continue to optimize your profile and take advantage of every opportunity available to you on Linkedin!

That’s more than $50 of savings from my regular pricing! This special price is limited to the first 10 clients who contact me on my new website contact form and setup our initial phone consultation. What are you waiting for?

If you are not 100% confident that your Linkedin profile is showcasing your talents and abilities in the best light possible, let me lend my expertise to help set you apart from other professionals in your industry! All you have to do is contact me on my new website contact form and setup an initial phone consultation.

And if you want even more inspiration for rebranding your own business, stick around for my 5-part series on “How to Rebrand Your Business” running each Monday from February 16 through March 16!

Topics include:

  • Do I need to rebrand?
  • Who are my customers?
  • What is my mission?
  • What is my unique story?
  • What is my action plan for rebranding?

Have a question about rebranding your business or want to share a personal rebranding success story? Comment below!