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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.

Marketing Your Small Town Business

Marketing is not a one-size fits all process – small town business marketing ideas differ from marketing ideas that work in a city. In order to be successful, you must cater your marketing toward your target customer audience and reach them appropriately.

Small town market demographics

The first thing to do is to figure out how to market yourself to your customers. Who are your customers? Where do they spend their time? What are they interested in? Once you determine who you are marketing toward, then you can start to work on the marketing.

Look up the demographics of the area before you start to market – find out who is in your audience. Are you marketing to a community with young children, stay at home parents, church-goers, Veterans, eco-conscious vegetarians, farmers, Spanish-speaking agricultural workers, or motorcycle riders in their 50s? Do some research before you start.

Develop messaging for the local culture

Once you know who you’re marketing to, you can develop your messaging in accordance with the local culture. Messaging is part of marketing strategy and is important to lock down. Depending on the town, the population may have conservative religious and political views or be focused on sustainability and town preservation. Family values and town traditions may resonate more with small town or rural community than innovation and technological change. Read the local paper for news about the area to learn more about the community so that you can resonate with people.

Structure your messaging to mirror the tone of the small town or area that you’re marketing to. Hunting humor that is appreciated by one community with a hunting culture may be offensive to another community seeking to protect an endangered species.  Keep local culture in mind when marketing to a small town or rural community.

Online marketing for small town businesses

Online marketing efforts in less populated areas will differ from online marketing efforts in more populated areas. In a small town or rural area, you will be marketing to a smaller number of people. Depending on your business you may have a lot or very little competition. If you don’t have a lot of competition, your business will be easier to find online. But, just because you’re easier to find online, doesn’t mean that people are looking.

Rural customers are less likely to have high speed internet than customers living in cities or even small towns. High speed internet is costly in rural areas and landscape like mountains in some small towns makes internet service unreliable. While internet at home might not very common, that doesn’t mean that online marketing is out of the question. Many people living in small or rural towns use their cell phones to access the internet instead of a home computer. What does that mean for your business?

Mobile responsive websites

If you are marketing toward people in small towns or rural areas, your business website must be mobile friendly. Google is cracking down on mobile responsiveness for websites. Websites that are not optimized for mobile devices like cell phones, tablets, and iPads will be ranked lower in search engine results than websites that are mobile responsive. Check here to see if your website is mobile responsive.

Mobile responsiveness is important for your business – if potential customers cannot access your website online, they cannot learn about your business. If your website doesn’t pass Google’s mobile-friendly test, Perihelion can build a mobile responsive website for you.

Online directories

Registering your business with online directories like Google+, Yelp, and Yellow Pages is important when you’re marketing in less populated areas. Depending on the town, people may not travel in the direction of your business on a daily basis and may not see that a new business has opened for weeks or maybe even months. By registering your business with online directories, potential customers who are looking up your type of business on Google or Yelp will come across your business when they need it.

Not only are online directories good for reaching local customers, it will also help you get found my people driving through the area. If you’re opening a business that is off of a major transit way, you may pick up customers passing through. You never know who is looking for your type of business on their road trip to visit the Largest Ball of Twine.

Advertising online

Facebook or AdWords advertising may beneficial to marketing in a small town. With Facebook Advertising, you can build your ad’s audience based on demographics or a geographic radius. You can run the ad on desktop or on mobile devices. You can even cater the ad toward locals who Like specific Facebook pages like the local Chamber of Commerce or by profession, like farmers.

In a small town or rural area, AdWords can help your small business get found on local geographic searches more than other companies. If you’re seeking to build an online presence, or are a seasonal operation looking to make a splash, a Google AdWords campaign can give your business a boost while organic traffic to your website builds up.

Downtown The Dalles

Downtown The Dalles, OR

Build trust and a good reputation

In a small or rural town, you can be sure that word of mouth referrals will be a good way to get the name of your business out. But in order to get people talking about your business, you first have to gain their trust. Don’t barge into small town claiming that you’re the best thing since sliced bread. Aside from the fact that sliced bread is pretty great, people simply will not trust you. If you go in trying to establish relationships with other business owners before establishing a rapport, they will think you’re trying to scam them.

Small towns and rural communities are tight-knit groups of people. They know their neighbors, probably grew up together, and help each other out. This type of community is great for a business’s reputation, but you need to earn the trust of a rural community first and build your reputation. Start by introducing yourself to people before marketing yourself to them. The most important part of selling your product or services is helping people.

Get to know the people in the small town or rural communities – not only will they learn to trust you once they know you’re genuine, but they will also open up to you about themselves. This will enable you to figure out how your business can help them – an integral part of your marketing messaging.

Getting the word out about your small town business may seem daunting, but by using these methods, you can soon be on your way to successful marketing!

Support The Organization That Supports Your Community

Why Join A Chamber of Commerce

Click to Enlarge

We are 5 months into a new year with new opportunities to grow and renew. But it’s also a time to look at expenses and re-evaluate where we’re spending our resources of time and money.

Among the decisions that many local area business owners will face this year is whether to join or renew their membership in our local Chamber of Commerce.

If you don’t want to support a local organization that supports you, your business and community year round then don’t join the chamber of commerce. If you don’t want to support the group that is often the first personal point of contact with an opportunity to make a positive first impression for people considering visiting or relocating to our community or the surrounding area then don’t support the The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Chambers of commerce have been around for decades.  You might say that with the Internet and social media a chamber of commerce is not needed. You might say it is not always the first point of contact for information because potential visitors and new residents can surf the web to get information on The Dalles and surrounding communities.

While it is true that people can gather a lot of details on the Internet it is also true that information may have been placed in prominent digital locations with the help of the local chamber.

And, regardless of where or how potential visitors, new business owners or residents got their initial information, the chamber often serves as the first real personal point of contact for those folks. If they have already done research and determined they might like to pay the city a visit there’s a good chance they may pick up the phone or make a point to stop by the chamber offices on their first visit for a more personal contact.

On the down side, like most investments, joining a chamber of commerce has cost associated with it. There is the cost of a membership and the potential cost of time to attend meetings and show support at public events by helping out.

Each of us needs to weigh the positive and potential negatives of joining or renewing our membership. We need to evaluate whether money spent or the time invested in going to ribbon cuttings, helping out at events like the annual NW Cherry Festival, the Starlight parade or other events is worth our time.

That is one of the positive attributes of supporting our chamber. It offers a wide variety of networking opportunities and we can pick and choose which ones to participate in. If we want to get full value for our investment we will get involved in at least some of those events and activities.

For a new business starting up the outlay of dollars and lack of available time may deter the owner from joining the chamber. On the other hand, what good is investing in a new business if there are no customers and if you are not taking full advantage of marketing opportunities.

Your firm may have a web page. You may be aggressive in your social media marketing. You may know people in town already. Regardless, there is nothing like the personal touch of meeting potential new customers and clients face-to-face and one-on-one.

The chamber offers plenty of those types of opportunities. The organization also does a lot to help support its members with publicity.

The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce offers increased exposure for your business through its Website, its Social Media Posts, Membership Directory and through other avenues both online and offline such as photos and mention of new member’s ribbon cuttings published in the pages of local newspapers.

Even if your products or services are something a person might not need on a routine basis just the fact that you are a member in good standing of the chamber helps validate your business to potential customers. For visitors and residents alike, being a chamber member can give a business the needed boost for having people make contact when the need does arise.

Networking can be a pain if you’re cold calling. But if you’re in the same place, whether it’s the annual membership meeting, a chamber hosted ribbon cutting or monthly meeting, it is easier to make those contacts.

Being a member of the The Dalles Area Chamber of Commence by itself is not going to make or break your business. But it can be an important part of your business’s marketing plan.

When time comes to consider joining or renewing membership please support the organization that supports you, your community and your business throughout the year and throughout the decades.

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.

10% Discount on Website Designs

Your would be customers are using the Internet and their favorite search engine to find a product they want (that you carry) or a service they need (that you offer) and if your business is not online, guess what, they will go to your competitor!

This is why thinking of Web Design should be your first and highest priority if you want your business to be found online.

Moreover, if your business is not on the world wide web, next to your competitors, then a) your existing customers will think you are not serious about running a professional business, and b) you will be making it easy for your competitors to reap the rewards of having an online presence!

Think about it! In this day and age, how many would be customers are still using the yellow-book to find a service they need, or a product they want to buy, and that you carry?

Mostly, none! And that’s because they are using the Internet, via their desktop, laptop or their smartphone to find your business! At Perihelion Web Design, we make professional web design affordable to small businesses!

Whether you like it or not, a would be customer will someday search for you online, and when they do, what do you want them to find?, nothing, or worse still, your competitor’s business next door?

Don’t let customers slip from your hand – Make them come to you instead and reap the rewards of having thought of website design now, and not later!

Your small business can grow and make you more money

Don’t you want to grow your business, reach more customers and make more money? We all do! Or are you afraid of not being able to manage your growing business? Don’t worry because when that time comes, you will be able to hire someone else to manage your business, while you are sitting at the beach with a large glass of ice cold lemonade (Did you think I was going to say ‘Beer’?)

There is a lot of money to be made online! And if you don’t start thinking of designing a website for your business, and get your share of the pie, your competitors will have no problem taking your share! So get up and start now by calling us at 541-965-1897

Who we are? A full-service web design company!

We are a full-service, US based web design company headquartered in The Dalles, Oregon! We focus on small and mid-sized business owners, like yourself, unique website design needs. We have years of web design experience, for national and international clients, and would be more than happy to work with you and your organization to develop a high-quality website to meet your unique needs.

Why choose us for all your website design and development needs?

Simply put, you should choose us for all your web design needs because we want you, and your business, attain a web presence, attract more customers, and boost sales all while keeping your cost low!

Today’s design trends are leaning more towards adopting the ‘minimalist design’ idea than the old ‘Let’s add more bells and whistles – that serve no purpose, and wow the visitors’ approach! 

At Perihelion Web Design, we believe in bringing more targeted traffic that came to your site for the sole purpose of buying your product or your service, than visitors what will just ‘wow’ your site, and leave – Leaving your register just as they found it!

We will design a site from the ground up, or redesign your existing site to make it more effective for your customers and your business needs.

Save up to 10% on our web design services

Call us today, at 541-965-1897, to save up to 10% on our web design services! We can help you choose the best design package suited for your business needs and budget.