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Is Your Business Trapped In A Time Warp? 12 Signs that You Are Stuck & Will Lose Business To The Competition

Once upon a time we all lived in small towns, or at least tight knit communities and neighborhoods.  If you needed your hair cut you’d go to Kelly’s Barber Shop, you bought your sandwiches from Sub Shop #10, and the pharmacy on the corner didn’t belong to Walgreens.  Businesses didn’t have to market, network, advertise, tweet or blog about their services to get and keep their customers.  They offered their goods and services, and people came for them.  It’s how business was done.

That was then.  Welcome to the modern world!   If you think you can rely on your business surviving the old fashioned way, where people buy from you because they always have, stop and think again!  Even if you’re located in a sparsely populated burg, the town folk now have the internet, smart phones and all kinds of other techie gadgets… they can find it cheaper, better and quicker on Amazon if you don’t get your head in the game and convince them they want their money flowing in your direction.

Are you going to just trust fate?   You basically have two choices:  To be passive or to be proactive.   Obviously choosing to do nothing is about as passive as you can get… might as well throw in the towel now and save yourself the hassle and grief.  If you are immobile and stuck, you are in serious trouble.  The protective bubble you are wrapped in may feel comfy, but this cloak is indeed deceiving.  You are trapped in a time warp and will eventually lose your business to the competition.  Make sure these obvious issues don’t apply to you:

  1. RESISTING TECHNOLOGY: This is how you’ve always done things and this is how it shall be done.  You just keep it status quo and let the other guys use the new technology and processes.  Stay in this time warp and watch your clients high tail it away from you quicker than you can say 8-track tape or plastic pink yard flamingo.
  2. AVOIDING SOCIAL MEDIA: Can you say “FREE ADVERTISING”?  If you don’t have time to post things yourself, find someone to do it for you.  Take advantage of all the resources that are available.  Keep your name out there.  Let people look for YOU to see what you have to say… Don’t let them find your competitors because you don’t want to take the time…
  3. TRYING TO DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF: Why would you try to do it all?  Delegate!  If you can’t afford a staff, or if you don’t want one, at least get a Virtual Assistant to do the things you don’t like to do (or that suck up all your time!)
  4. USING A ROLODEX: Seriously?  How about a CRM or at the very least pop those numbers into your phone! Get an app like Inigo and exchange contact info with a simple text message even if you forgot or ran out of business cards! Who even has a Rolodex anymore?!
  5. GETTING THE SAME RESULTS AND STILL DOING IT THE SAME WAY: Hello… McFly!  If what you have done has been ineffectual, or at the very least yielding minimal results, why are you doing it the same way again and again and again?  Find what works!  Move on from what you have been doing.
  6. FORGETTING YOUR PURPOSE: Remember why you wanted to be an entrepreneur.  Maybe it’s time to reevaluate those goals and recall what got you onto the path of being a small business owner in the first place.
  7. NOT NETWORKING: You say you’re not a people person?  Well who do you think buys your goods and services?  Exactly!  Step outside your comfort zone and put yourself out there.   Use the opportunity to rub elbows with some people who may be able to help you grow your business.  Listen to other people… what are their stories?
  8. LIVING BY THE CLOCK: Business ownership is not for the meek.  It’s also not for the basic nine-to-fiver.  If you’re looking for a 9-5 gig, perhaps being an entrepreneur isn’t your thing.  You don’t have to breathe business 24/7, but you have to be open to the occasional early phone call or late appointment if you want your business to thrive.
  9. STAYING DISORGANIZED: Simple things like losing phone numbers, forgetting appointments and not being able to find important documentation will destroy you.  Can’t do it alone?  Get a Virtual Assistant to help you get your act together.  Don’t let your ADD stand in the way of your personal and professional success.
  10. RANDOMLY SWITCHING IT UP: Switching it up from time to time may sound like a good thing, but you need to let your ideas come to fruition too.  Constantly changing things around will not let you get an accurate feel for what works and what doesn’t.  Make sure you are constantly evaluating progress.
  11. KEEPING YOUR POSSE: Are some of your partners, staff or even the vendors holding you back?  You may love them but make certain you share the same goals and passion.  If not figure out an amicable way to go your own way.  Keeping your posse when they no longer share your dream is a big mistake.
  12. ALWAYS PLAYING IT SAFE: You need to take a risk from time to time.  Look around you.  What is your competition doing?  Why are you playing it so safe that you are blending into the background?

Being an entrepreneur takes courage.  It takes knowing when to walk, when to sprint, and when it’s time to run away from the habits that have you stuck… It’s knowing how to get out of your own way, how to move on, and how to get out of the time warp before you lose your butt to the competition.

Promote Black Friday & Cyber Monday Offers With AdWords Structured Snippet Headers

The extensions can start showing starting November 20

This post originally appeared on SearchEngine Land written by Ginny Marvin

Google has added two new short-term headers for structured snippet extensions designed to help merchants promote Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers in their AdWords ads.

Structured snippet extension headers for Black Friday will be eligible to appear in ads November 20– 27, which is that Friday. Cyber Monday headers can appear November 20–30. During the overlap period, Black Friday headers will trump those set up for Cyber Monday.

Here are some examples from Google of how these headers and snippets might look:

  • Black Friday: Stores open at 6 a.m.
  • Black Friday: 25% off electronics
  • Cyber Monday: 10% off sitewide
  • Cyber Monday: Free shipping on $50+ orders

Advertisers just have to enter one offer in the snippet, unlike most structured snippets, which require multiple values.

black-friday-structured-snippet

Structured snippets can be set at the account, campaign or ad group level.

This is the second push this week by Google to promote merchant offers during the holiday surge. On Tuesday, Google launched a new test that lets consumers subscribe to text alerts for Black Friday, Cyber Monday or holiday deals when they search on related terms.

Why your Brick-and-Mortor Store needs a website

In the mid-1990s, smart, forward-thinking businesses were asking some valid questions about whether to explore this new world called “The Internet.” Since the World Wide Web as we know it was still in its infancy, business owners were wise to be a little cautious about committing resources to something unproven that also threatened to disrupt traditional commerce methods.

Even analysts were hesitant early on—Newsweek columnist Clifford Stoll had nothing but disdain for the brave new online world in a 1995 piece. Economist Paul Krugman also speculated in 1998 that the Internet would grow slowly and never catch on as a serious business tool any more than the fax machine. Boy were they wrong.

This new model meant that people no longer had to visit a brick-and-mortar store in order to shop or browse. They wouldn’t see the great displays, and shop owners suddenly found that business was more competitive, since consumers now had easy access to products from anywhere in the world. Embracing the concept required a shift in thinking, spending, and merchandising for small business owners.

So while it was probably wise to be a little cautious and take a wait-and-see approach back then, these days more and more business leaders are concluding that being an online hold-out may cost you money. In fact, 93 percent of purchases begin with an online search, which means that without a website, you only have access to seven percent of the existing market.

You can see how having a website can help people in your community find your business. And that isn’t the only benefit. Here’s our list for why having a website for your business is an absolute must:

24/7 Exposure. Why put an end to shopping opportunities at six p.m.? Your brick-and-mortar location has “office” hours and people who wish to make a purchase or simply have questions will have to accommodate this schedule. But the convenience of a website, especially one that offers e-commerce, is that people can take care of their business on their own time. They can browse, shop, read your FAQs or send you an email—all while you’re sleeping or enjoying dinner out with your family. So quite simply, the more exposure you have, the better chance you have of making a sale.

New Customers. You probably have loyal shoppers who live or work in the neighborhood, but you are missing out on a whole other world of potential customers just because they don’t live in your zip code. Even if you distribute flyers, advertise in the local papers, and send out email blasts, you’re still limited to the customers you know, their friends and family, and other locals. Having a website allows you to tap into a national or international market that is already out there and grow your customer base—not to mention increase sales.

Easy and Cost-efficient. Sure, web design used to be complex when people had to calculate their own color values and program each element of a page. But these days there are plenty of free, do-it-yourself website builders, not to mention a slew of tutorials for all skill levels. WordPress offers thousands of drag-and-drop templates so all you have to do is find one that you like and enter your business’ information. Once you feel a little more comfortable with this basic set-up, you can look into plug-ins, which are smaller programs that can be added to your WordPress page to further customize it. BusinessNewsDaily suggests some other tools to improve your organization, including ways to make your website show up in searches better—which means more traffic to your e-commerce site.

Credibility. Research shows that 89 percent of today’s shoppers prefer to shop online over at a store for the convenience, and the younger generation may even be suspicious of a business’ lack of online presence. Including a website in your branding strategy gives you the credibility that consumers are looking for when they are at the point of purchase. Your website should include a blog where you (or someone you hire) writes posts about your product, service or industry in a way that makes you an expert and the go-to website for information or tips. This furthers your reputation and gives you more credibility, which can, in turn, lead to more sales.

Pre-sell Products. With a website, it’s easy to pre-sell your products that are still in the production process. All you need is one or two quality photos, an alluring description, and an availability date. Get people excited about your new product well before it ever hits the shelves, and gather the customers’ pre-sell orders through your website. Keep in mind that an online presence doesn’t exclude a brick-and-mortar shop; you can always allow shoppers to place the order online but encourage them to pick it up at your location. This is a clever way to get people into the store and create a reputation for being a business with stellar online and offline service.

Stay Current. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 470,000 small businesses close every year. This means that today’s mom-and-pop store owner needs to be a marketer, a social media strategist, a PR expert, a skilled salesperson—and, of course, have a top-notch product to sell. While this may sound like a lot, it is easier to do when you have a website, because much of it is taken care for you. For example, building a website with WordPress makes it simple to optimize your site with keywords for high search engine ranking (marketing), link up to all your social media accounts (social strategy), and include quality photos that, with your eye-catching product description, is sure to draw in customers (sales).

In conclusion, having a website for your store will lead directly to increased sales. So build or commission a website for your mom-and-pop shop and enable more people in your area to discover your local, personalized, in-store service!

Request your Free Quote and see how having a Website for your Brick-and-Mortor Store can help you.