The Benefits of Having a Website for Your Small Business

The Benefits of Having a Website for Your Small Business

If you’re like most people you spend part of your day online. Whether it’s making a purchase at your favorite store, arranging for grocery delivery or keeping up with your friends on social media, the internet has become an integral part of our lives. So I was surprised to learn that almost 55% of small businesses don’t have a website (2013 survey carried out by Google and research company Ipsos). My first thought was, “that can’t be true” but as a website designer and online store owner, I have a bias. Since I’m curious and like to continually educate myself, I decided to find out why.


What was the number one reason businesses cited for not having a website?  

“We don’t need one.”


This is often the case with a business owner who is comfortable with doing things the way they’ve always been done, especially in the case of older established businesses. While it can feel safe and secure to stay in the slow lane, the world moves at lightning speed today and if you can’t keep up, your business will be forgotten or worse, not even found. For an exercise, do a search on Google for companies in your field and see how many companies appear in search results that list only and address and phone number. The answer is few if any.


You’ll never know true success until you step outside of your comfort zone.


You took the giant step to start your own business or took over the ownership of your family run business. Consider the decision to have a website as one more step forward on the road to success.


How can a website help your business?

Your website can function as a valuable customer service employee. In its most basic form, a company website can relay details on:
  • Location
  • Store hours
  • Contact information including phone number and email address
  • Directions to your store
  • Photos of your physical location
  • Any additional details customers may want to know such as parking availability and any in-store events that are taking place

Having a homepage, a contact page, and a testimonial page is all you need to get started. If you have a service company like a painter you can add a gallery page of before and after photos to demonstrate your capabilities.


Why does this matter?

The internet is now the go to place to find and research companies, not the Yellow Pages. Your customers will benefit from being able to find your company when they are looking for answers to their problem. Plus they can access this information 24/7 from the comfort of their own home. Your competitors are most likely online and you don’t want to lose out to them because you don’t have a website. Your website gives you a great opportunity to communicate how your service or product is better than your competitors.


Having a website helps to build trust with customers. It puts a “face” to your business. If you have photos of your location they add credibility and customers will get a better sense of who you are. When your competitors have a website and you don’t it can put doubt in the mind of your customer. With the increasing competition for market share, doubt is the last thing you want entering the minds of potential customers.


In addition, you’ll gain time in your day to work on your business and have less distractions because customers will be able to have many of their questions answered by going to your website instead of having to call you. For a minimal investment you can reap big financial rewards for your company.


How can a website help a brick and mortar store?

A website with online shopping acts as a second location for your business. Multi-channel selling has many benefits. Main Street foot traffic in many areas is a fraction of what it once was due to the convenience and growth of online shopping. When you add an online store you have the opportunity to not only gain back lost foot traffic but you’ll also be able to reach a wider audience. Both of these are good for your bottom line.


In addition, customers will have the option to order online or check product availability and purchase in store.  This can give you a competitive advantage over stores who only sell online as you are able to offer customers the instant gratification of having their order the very same day instead of having to wait.


Your customers will have the convenience of shopping anytime of day, from any location and on any device. When they compare products, they’ll be able to include yours in their comparison. Here is where you have the opportunity to differentiate your products from your competitors so you become the clear choice. Adding customer friendly features such as customer accounts, favorite items, order history and product recommendations help personalize the shopping experience, build a relationship with them and turn them into a loyal customer.


Need a boost to your marketing efforts?

Your website can complement traditional marketing efforts and for a much lower cost. If a customer hears about your business from a traditional advertising source, they will be more likely to visit your website as the next step. From your website, you’ll be able to collect customer email addresses that will help in targeting your marketing efforts and assist with lead generation. From this list, you can email customers a monthly newsletter or the latest promotion you are offering. You can also offer your website visitors tips, how-to’s or e-books to help them. This also works to build trust and develop relationships.


So what are you waiting for?

The many valid reasons for having a website for your small business far outweigh the reasons for not having one. Depending on your needs, a website can be designed with a minimal investment and the potential increase in business and sales far outweighs the cost. But, the number one reason why you should have a website for your business is, your customer wants you to have one.


As the old saying goes: “The customer is always right.”


Need help designing your website? DLJ will work with you and your budget to build a website that works for your business by differentiating you from your competitors, building relationships with your customers and increasing sales. Contact us to get started!
How to Be Competitive Without Going Broke

How to Be Competitive Without Going Broke

You’re sitting at your desk in your office. It’s another day of struggling to make ends meet. You thought owning a small business would give you financial freedom, more time with your family and give you control over your future. The reality is anything but. Expenses are high, sales are low and there is little if any money left.

You see your dreams slipping away as your competitors with better cash flow gain more customers while your company slowly fades away. But before you raise the white flag and quit altogether, know that you CAN compete even if you are small and have a limited budget.


Your dreams can come true; all it takes is your time and a little creativity.


The Power of Your Story

As the founder of your small business, you are in a unique position to personally connect with customers by sharing your story. Your story also helps to set you apart from the competition. We’ve all had someone tell us to just be ourselves, and it’s also a valuable trait in business. You may not be accustomed to talking about yourself, but in this instance, modesty is not the best policy.

Today’s customer values authenticity in the companies they buy from. They want to know the real you, form a relationship with a company they can identify with and one who shares similar values. While product features are important, what customers really want to know is:


Who are you and what you can do that your competitors can’t?


Help customers identify with you by sharing your values, passions, as well as any hurdles you’ve overcome in business and in life. Any ties your business has to the community where you’re located or a cause you’re involved with are a plus. You can show that you’re more than just another business out to make money.


The goal is to leave a lasting and favorable impression in your customers’ minds. It’s not about being the same as your competitors; it’s about being different. Focus on what is unique about you, your product or service and how you alone are the answer to your customers needs. Seth Godin


What is your special something?


Be Proud of Your Strengths but Humble of Your Weaknesses

You may think you know what they are, but it’s your customers’ point of view that counts. If you’re not sure, post a survey on your website or send a feedback form to customers after they’ve made a purchase. The results will help you pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses.

Needless to say, emphasize your strengths and address any weaknesses. Focus on the areas that are mentioned the most. Even your weaknesses can be used to connect with customers when you tell how you listened to customer feedback, made changes to resolve the problem and how it’s improved your business.

Does the positive feedback point to an area that will help you stand out and give you a competitive edge? Focus on creating a niche in this area and become the go-to source for it. Specializing in this area can be the key to your success.


How can your unique strength give you a competitive edge?


As a small business, you have a distinct advantage of being able to pivot quickly and change while big businesses often find change difficult to implement. They also don’t have your ability to specialize. With numerous products and services to sell, salespeople can have difficulty knowing the subtle details of every product. You will now be in the position to provide customers with an experience they can’t get anywhere else.


Don’t be one of the masses. Be the leader.


Get Ready to Shine

Now that you’ve defined who you are and how you will set yourself apart from the competition, it’s time to get the word out. Many small business owners make the mistake of thinking that the only way to make sales is to sell to “everyone.” The fear of missing out on a customer causes this “spray and pray” mentality. Unfortunately, the end result is often a depleted budget with nothing tangible to show for it. You’ll get a better ROI when you target only those customers who are most likely to make a purchase from you.


Avoid the spray and pray approach.


The internet is often the first place customers go to get help so you should consider your company website to be your online storefront. First impressions are critical as you only have a few seconds to quickly convey who you are. You need to clearly show what benefits customers will enjoy when they do business with you that they can’t get from a competitor. All of your work so far should be incorporated into your website copy as part of a buyer experience built around your target customer.

If you’re short on advertising dollars, content marketing is a cost effective alternative. It uses the power of the written word to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined target customer. There are several methods of content marketing you can employ. Company blogs, email, social media and your website copy are some examples.

Just remember that whatever form of content marketing you employ, quality and consistency are crucial so customers get to know, remember and get accustomed to your company. If you need help with this, a content marketer who specializes in helping small businesses can be a valuable investment and can still cost less than traditional forms of advertising.

If you are a local business, your current customers can help promote your company. A company listing on review sites such as Angie’s List and Yelp is becoming essential. Not only does it help boost customer trust, it can also improve your local SEO. If you aren’t on any review sites yet, sign up for a free listing. Then ask your customers to leave their feedback.


Make Them Smile

Make every touch point with your company reinforce who you are and provide a memorable experience for customers. Nurture them in order to foster positive associations with you and treat each one as a valued asset. Let them know you will always be there to help and you’ll see customer retention improve. The individual attention you give each customer will give you an advantage over big businesses, leading to more new and repeat customers.


Make it your goal to always exceed customer expectations.


While larger competitors can always outspend you, as a small business owner, you can uniquely position your business to compete against them without having their budget. There are many additional ways you can make your business more competitive than what I’ve described here. You are only limited by your imagination! In the comments section, let me know how your small business stays competitive.

DIY Website Design – Do you have the skills to go it alone?

DIY Website Design – Do you have the skills to go it alone?

DIY websites

E-commerce sales growth is expected to top the trillion-dollar mark within three years.
In today’s competitive retail environment, having an online store to complement your brick and mortar store has become a necessity. Let’s face it, the foot traffic you used to enjoy isn’t coming back and if you don’t try to capture some of that lost traffic you’ll be losing out on customers and sales.

The growth and affordability of “DIY” website builders has simplified the task of making your own website. If you have the time and aren’t afraid of the learning curve, it can be a very good skill to learn. However, before you jump in and go the DIY route, there are a few things to consider.

The competition for the limited attention span of shoppers is intense. Your website needs to present your company and products in the best possible light to the shoppers who are looking to buy from you. While many of the DIY templates rely on splashy images for their homepages, you need more than just a few pretty pictures and a logo with a cool font to get visitors to stay and shop on your website.  You only have a precious few seconds before your visitor gives up and clicks off to another website.

What you so often see with DIY websites is a homepage with an oversize photo, a logo and a few pages with very little text and poor product photos. Pretty pictures and a logo are not enough to keep visitors on your website. While going the DIY route simplifies the process and maybe more affordable upfront, these websites often fail to answer the questions shoppers are asking such as:
  • Who are you?
  • What are your values?
  • Why should anyone buy your products?
  • How can you help them?
  • How are you different from your competitors?
  • Why should they trust you?

A visitor that leaves your website without taking an action provides little value to your business.


Why else is content so important? It’s a major factor in search engine ranking. Search engine crawlers can only understand text so a website full of photos but not much content is not going to rank well. Photos can improve the visual appeal of a website, but you need much more to rank well in search results.


Content has to be written to your target audience, so you must know exactly who that audience is and what message they want to hear. It’s what allows visitors to form a connection with your company and products. Today’s website visitors don’t respond to a one size fits all message. They want your content to speak directly to them.


Your content should be written for your customer, and include the keywords and search terms they would use to find your products. While a bare bones description of your products will certainly suffice and is quick and easy to do, it won’t satisfy today’s shoppers. Because there are so many websites to shop from, your product descriptions will need to stand out, explain the benefits and solve your customers problem.


The choice of words is integral to shoppers forming a favorable impression of your company. They visit your website because they have a problem they want solved, whether it’s finding the perfect little black dress or a gift for the person who has everything. You need to assure shoppers that your product is the clear choice for them by differentiating your products from competitors, building trust and encouraging them to purchase. This is one reason why content is so important in the design process.
The value of a good web designer lies in their ability to take all of the components and envision how they will fit together.
They will recognize the role of content in creating the best user experience, building the website to work with the content first and the visual aspects second. Unfortunately many website builder templates are structured the other way around.

It’s important to value web design not just for the simple template or splashy color scheme, but as the framework for the content that’s going to drive conversions.

While it might be more cost effective to go the DIY route instead of hiring a web designer, you should always read the fine print on these websites before signing up. Here are some of the pitfalls:

  • There are often monthly fees added in that over time erode the cost benefit.
  • In most cases you are required to host your website with the website template provider.
  • You can’t take your website with you if you decide to change hosts down the road, forcing you to recreate your entire website.

Time is also a factor to consider. However long you think it will take to build the website, plan on it taking much longer. You should always factor in the value of your time into the overall cost. The time you’ll need to spend learning and building your website will often take time away from building and running your business.

E-Commerce DesignYou only get one chance to make a good impression but with the right mix of design and content, you’ll be able to build a clear path to lead shoppers to your website, provide them with a memorable shopping experience and make the buying process as easy as possible.


The e-commerce landscape will continue to grow more crowded – whether you choose to do it yourself or hire a web designer, be sure to choose the option that will give your business the best shot at success.
How You Can Court Millenials Using Relationship Marketing

How You Can Court Millenials Using Relationship Marketing

millenial marketing

Here’s a profile brands drool over; the group of 18 to 37 year olds and their trillion dollar plus spending power, otherwise known as the Millenials. The largest and most influential buying group since the Baby Boomers, Millenials are continually changing the face of marketing. For brands, it’s tough to ignore their allure and influence, but they are a fickle bunch. If you don’t have exactly what they’re looking for, when they want it, they’ll skip right over you. So how can you attract them and better yet, turn them into long term customers?

To reach this influential group think two words – relationship and community. Those two words sum up what it is they’re looking for from your company and brand. While they may prefer the impersonal text message instead of face to face communication, they long to have a connection with the brands they care about.

When thinking of how to build a relationship with Millenials, think of how you would form a relationship with anyone in your life; what they would want to know about you, your values as well as what they would appreciate about you. No one likes someone who is pushy, brags about how great they are and isn’t interested in what is important in your life. Be careful your messaging doesn’t take this approach as this is precisely the wrong message to send to Millenials.

Millenials can see through anything that is overly commercial or that hints of being anything less than authentic. Boasting claims about how great your product or service is? You better be able to back those claims up because Millenials are highly educated and will research your claims before deciding to purchase. If you’re not completely truthful, they’ll broadcast it on social media.

Don’t try to be something you’re not or be swayed by what your competitors do because you think you need to be like them. Millenials want to experience the real you and how your differences resonate with them. So rule number one is, be authentic. PictureYou get one chance to make a great impression, so make sure the first impression Millenials experience with your brand is a favorable and memorable one. They will want to know what’s in it for them and you need to provide it.

Millenials are fans of online shopping, due in no small part to being the first generation to grow up with technology. They are heavy users of mobile devices to shop, research prices and get recommendations from their friends. They’ll pay for quality but would much prefer to get quality at a good deal and if you offer free shipping, even better.

If you haven’t updated your website, what are you waiting for? That circa 2000, out of style website won’t cut it with Millenials and you’re losing customers because of it. You need to look your best, and with mobile device shopping now equaling desktop shopping, a mobile friendly website is a must have.

Your website should have a clean design, without over embellishment and be easy to navigate. Stand out from your competitors and show how your brand is the best match for their needs. Don’t forget the impression your sales staff and customer service have on your customers. They’re like your family and are a reflection of your company. Every touch point Millenials have with your brand should reinforce the positive feelings and message they get when they interact with you.

Your values are very important in any relationship and this goes for relating with Millenials as well. They want to be valued as an individual and not one of many. Hence, they can be skeptical of big box retailers, instead preferring smaller niche brands. They want to know that their opinions are valued by you and that you understand what their problems and needs are.

Your job is to clearly show how your product can help them and make them feel good at the same time. They want to trust you, but you have to earn it. The opinions of their friends has an influence on whether to trust your brand or not. Loyalty programs add additional value to their purchase, so it’s not just about the price but about the experience of being a part of your brand.

What is the human element of your brand?  What does your brand or product stand for? Do you give back to the community, use environmentally friendly products or locally sourced goods and materials? Communicate in a language they can understand, be real and hold their hand as you listen and solve their problems.

We all want to experience a connection and feel like we matter. This is very true of the Millenial group. Think of them as many small tribes with diverse interests looking for someone to lead them. They want to be part of something and want to be heard so invite them in and listen to what they have to say. Listen in on social media and find out not only what they’re saying about your brand but what problems they need to have solved. Make them feel included by letting them co-create your brand experiences.

Listen to and respond to their feedback. You can show them you care by posting photos of them interacting with your brand and products. The goal should be to create a one-on-one or small community connection through the use of meaningful, useful and shareable experiences.

The foundation for communicating with Millenials should be based on content marketingthat is relevant, engaging, authentic and shareable through the use of customer events, social media, e-mail and blogging. It’s important to be aware of which social media platforms and devices your customers are using in order for your message to reach them at the right place at the right time. The much quoted dating phrase, “When you’re not looking you’ll find it” does not apply here.

A lasting relationship doesn’t happen overnight. Strong customer bonds are formed over time but with the right foundation in place, you will have a loyal following of Millenial brand ambassadors, eager to spread the word about the good vibes they get from having a great and lasting relationship with your brand.

DLJ Creative helps small businesses by providing innovative, creative strategies to solve their content marketing, web design and e-commerce challenges. Contact DLJ Creative at
Are you Guilty of one of these 7 Adwords Mistakes?

Are you Guilty of one of these 7 Adwords Mistakes?


Small businesses tend to have a love hate relationship with Google Adwords. It can be a very effective tool in your company’s marketing strategy but it can also eat through your advertising budget very quickly. Too often, small business owners take the DIY approach to setting up and managing their adwords account.

While Google has a highly detailed guide to using Adwords, how many business owners take the time to read through it? When they look at their monthly Adwords performance report, often they’ll see that their ads got alot of clicks but there is little else to show for it other than a huge hole in their advertising wallet. In this case, the easy way out is to blame Google or Adwords itself because after all, don’t they just want you to spend more money advertising with them?

If your ads are getting a lot of clicks but they’re not bringing the right customers to your website the cause is usually a poorly optimized campaign structure. Before you blow through anymore of your valuable advertising dollars, read below to see if you are guilty of any of these common mistakes in setting up and managing your adwords account.

1. Not using ad groups or not having enough of them:Having your keywords grouped into similar themes with corresponding ads is crucial to the performance of your campaign. Too often keywords are put into one big unwieldy keyword list tied to a few general ads. It’s important to have keywords match up with targeted ad copy so that you get relevant clicks because Google matches the ads shown with the keyword being searched.

2. Too many ads that click through to your website’s homepage or all ads clicking through to your homepage: Unless there is a specific reason why you want users to land on your homepage, each ad should click through to a landing page that is relevant to the ad. Users don’t want land on your homepage only to have to click through one or more pages to find what they are searching for. They will quickly leave your website and you’re basically paying them to leave. You need to give visitors a reason to stay on your website, not chase them off.

3. Not using the correct keyword match type: Using broad match keywords can be a good way to initially set up a campaign especially for a new website as it will bring in the most traffic. After the first month however, you should check to see what search terms are triggering your ads to be clicked and make adjustments to your keyword match types. Having too many broad match keywords can result in wasted clicks as your ads are shown to a wider, less targeted audience. You can edit your broad match keywords to either:

  • Phrase match – Shows when user searches for exact keyword or keywords phrase in exact order. Can have other terms in search query.
  • Exact match – Search query must exactly match keyword or keywords phrase. No other terms in search.
  • Modified broad match – allows keyword modifiers to increase relevancy.

Deciding what keyword match type to use in not an exact science. While broad match keywords will be triggered more often they may not result in relevant clicks. Phrase match and exact match will weed out irrelevant clicks but the flip side is you may get very little traffic. It all depends on what keywords you’re targeting and how often people are using those words in their search queries.

4. Not using negative keywords: Negative keywords exclude keywords that are not a good match for your product meaning your ad won’t be shown. They are a good way to target your ads for the most relevant clicks. A good way to find keywords to add to this list is to view the Search Terms report for your Adwords campaign.


5. Not testing and/or changing your ads – You should continually work to improve your ads. If you have one ad that is a solid performer, create another ad to test against it. You can try different headlines or the same headline but different copy or a different offer for example. You should never create your ads and then forget about them. If an add is performing poorly compared to others in the same ad group pause it and think of how you can re-write it for better performance.


6. Thinking your ad has to be in the first or second position: Yes, you’ll have better visibility but those top spots can be very costly. Some people are click happy and will click on the top two ads even if it’s not the best ad for them to click on. They just assume that since it’s the top ad, it’s the best one for them to click on. Maybe, maybe not and you’re paying for it. Having your add show on the side of the page can be a better option. The cost will be less and while it’s not the first add users will see, if they are serious about finding the best result, they’ll find your ad.


7. Not knowing what your competitors are doing: While you shouldn’t click on their ad, you’ll want to know what keywords they’re targeting and what landing pages they are using for their ads. The auction insights report in your Adwords account will allow you to see how your ad performance compares to your competitors.  For example, you can see how often your competitors’ ads are appearing above yours or whether one of your competitors has a higher impression share than you on an important keyword.


Once your ads are running your should continually monitor their performance and make adjustments as needed. Adwords is not a “set it up and forget it” platform. A successful campaign is built upon the right foundation with continual monitoring and testing to take advantage of opportunities for bid adjustments, new keywords, new ad copy, and conversions in order to continually improve account performance and lower your overall costs.


Are you a guilty party? Relax.  DLJ Creative is Google Adwords certified and can provide you with a solid performing pay-per-click program that will meet the goals of your company, maximize the value of your ad dollars and provide a positive return on investment.