Why You Don’t Need A Complicated Website

With so many different features and technologies, it's difficult not to over-complicate a website. The fact is that you want to have a website that is usable so that your users can have the best experience, however, most of the times, a clear interface is all that you need.

When you own a website, there's nothing worse than seeing a possible customer leaving because you annoyed him with something that you have complete control over.

The major advantage of having a simple, clean, and clear website is that when someone visits it, they can focus on what they want to see and it will be easier for them to make what you want them to do.

Here are some tips that will help you evaluate whether your website is too complicated:

#1: Designing With People In Mind:

When someone clicks to visit your website, you only have a fraction of a second where they judge it. Despite you might want to make people think or just show them how sophisticated they are, most people won't find it beautiful and will immediately hit the back button.

So, the simpler the website, the better.

#2: Easing The Process:

You can have the most amazing idea for your website but if it's too complicated, if it demands people to look at it for more than a few seconds, you're losing potential customers.

Just put yourself in the shoes of your first-time visitors for a second. Sometimes you're just browsing the Internet, looking for something that picks your interest. And suddenly, you enter on your website, where you are "asked" to think how it works and where you can access the information you were looking for. With so many different websites online, why the hell would you stay when you can easily find what you were looking for on another website that is cleaner and more intuitive?

This is why it's so important to follow people's expectations. Despite you need to make yourself unique and different to stand out at the same time, this doesn't mean you forget about your users.

The human being has the ability to prototype and stereotype. For example, if you're asked about a girl's color you probably say pink. If someone asks you about a furniture, you probably think about a bed or a table.

And with a website, this works this way as well. If you're selling ice creams, you most likely tend to have some beaches images, or the sun, for example. You won't have an image of a mountain covered with snow.

#3: Meeting People's Expectations:

No matter how much technology or different features you use on your website, there are things that will remain the same. Just to give you a simple example: can you imagine an e-commerce website without a call-to-action button where the user can easily buy the item he's looking at?

What you need to make sure is that, in the case that you have an e-commerce website, instead of making a huge selection of different colors and features to use, you should rather let the product shine. So, one good bet would be using a lot of white space and just plain colors.

Despite a website can have an amazing design for some while for others it's just junk, the fact is that the human brain keeps working the same way and it works the same for everyone. So, over-complicating a website is just like putting a STOP sign on your website and telling people to go away.

5 Books Every Small Business Owner Needs To Read

Here are five really powerful books that I think can help anyone wanting to kick start 2017. You don't have time to read try Audible for 30 days free and get two books to keep.

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens - Benedict Carey

The book's promise is to help the reader understand how the mind learns, and share some practical tools and techniques, so that whether you are a student getting ready for the semester finals, or an adult trying to acquire a new skill, be it a physical or intellectual one, you can do it in a better way without beating yourself to death with not-very-efficient repetition and practice sessions.

It achieves its goals: simple yet effective techniques that are the results of memory and learning research of the past hundred years are described in a very concrete manner. They are also contrasted with traditional approaches, often sprinkled with personal stories of the author during his school days. Any university or high school student can empathize with at least one of those personal stories, and this helps the book to have a strong connection with the reader.

Get it here.

 

 

Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable - Tim S. Grover

It is a very solid book with content whose principles can be applied to any business or are of life where one wants to create and have an iconic experience. I have to say that anyone looking for motivation need look into this book. Not motivation that comes in fancy fluff, but real motivation from accomplishing things by putting in the work. People who are not cleaners don't get it, but those who never put a name to it, will smile. Tim S. Grover's straightforward examples do not tell anyone what to do, but listening to the examples about the best, the unstoppable, the Cleaners, made me reevaluate my strategies.

Get it here.

 

 

 

 

Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers - Tim Ferriss

What he has crafted here is perfect. It is an encyclopedia of ideas one can use to add value and subtract weight from your life. It is two books in one as you read the literal piece and then read the metaphor within. This metaphor would have you reading a section on kettle bell swings as prescriptive for overcoming fear. In this way I think the Kindle version is essential for its search function.

Get it here.

 

 

 

 

The Maxwell Daily Reader: 365 Days of Insight to Develop the Leader Within You and Influence Those Around You - John C. Maxwell

This is a great daily reader to remind leaders of important principles and ideals. I read this each morning at work and use it to provide a focus and goal for my leadership each day.Sometimes you just want to read the days ahead. Some of these pages are:

Everyone influences someone (January 26)

Passion increases willpower (July 23)

Where people need patience from you (September 18)

The power of collaboration (November 16)

Get it here.

 

 

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity - David Allen

The title may imply that this is a blueprint for chronic busy-bodies, but what is at the core of the author's teaching is actually about removing roadblocks in order to have more open time for creativity and spontaneity. You aren't going to get a bunch of mystical and esoteric abstractions with this book. What you will get are concrete and testable actions that will help you get a handle on all of the things you want and need to do. This isn't just a book for business professionals or executives; literally anyone can apply these principles to their daily lives and see an improvement.

Get it here.

Is Your Website Doing More Harm Than Good

Is your website inviting people in?

Is your website inviting people in?

You already know how important it is to have a website for your business. However, is your website doing more harm than good?

More than 80% of people will immediately exit the website if it has an outdated design. But it's not only a matter of appearance. In fact, Google prioritizes mobile-friendly websites in organic searches.

But why should this matter to you?

When you have a website, you're looking to build an online brand. So, you need to drive online traffic to your website. However, if you don't have a modern design and if you're website isn't mobile-friendly yet, this can be hurting your business.

Paying attention to the algorithms that Google, Bing, and Yahoo! use to rank the websites as well as knowing what consumers are looking for and how they are doing are crucial for any business. When you're not making an effort on both fronts, people may not even be able to find you because you're not ranking well on major search engines, or they simply find you but they quickly hit the back button.

According to a Google study in many countries, people do search Google more often using their mobile devices than using their desktops. And this includes the United States as well.

Here are the 3 main reasons why your website may actually be doing more harm than good to your business:

#1: The Website Isn't Mobile-Friendly:

Simply put, all you need to do is to make sure that, no matter which device people are using to visit your website - either smartphone, tablet, or desktop, they see the same website but adapted to the size of the screen. The visual presentation may need to be slightly changed to make it easy for your visitors to navigate when they're using a smaller screen.

Despite this may seem a bit overwhelming if you're reading it for the same time, you need to know that WordPress templates are already responsive by default.

Plus, a 2015 Google update to the algorithm said they would be prioritizing website-friendly websites.

#2: Your Design Is Outdated And It Doesn't Provide A Good User Experience:

mad-at-computer.jpg

Putting it on an extreme, consider that you have the best product in the world. However, you have a website with flowers in the background and the color scheme is just strange. Well, as soon as your visitors click to see it, half a second later they're clicking the back button.

Design does matter. However, you need to balance a good design with a good user experience as well. People expect some things to be in certain places. Like the navigation menu, for example. They expect to find it on top or bottom. If yours is in existent or is cluttered, they won't see it.

#3: Your Website Isn't Optimized For Search Engines:

You can have the best-designed website in the world, but if it isn't optimized for the search engines, they will not rank it. So, you won't get visitors.

One of the things to have in mind to rank well on search engines is to make your website mobile-friendly. Then, you need to take care of SEO, like using the right URLs, keyword tagging, among others. This will make it a lot easier for people to find you in search engines.

Stop Using Facebook As Your Website

On April 2015, Facebook announced that they had 40 million active small business pages . Despite the huge number, this hardly is a surprise for anyone. All in all, it's free to create a business page on Facebook and from there you can reach millions of users.

Knowing about these factors, it's normal for a small business to create their own Facebook page as well as get many followers there. However, when you only create a business page on Facebook but you don't actually have a website for the business, it's not a good idea.

Facebook business pages have a lot of limitations. So, you just can't do everything you want. Here are the some of the limitations you'll need to deal with:

#1: One of the best things about Facebook is that you'll able to see in real-time, the "likes" you're having. So, you know that you provided enough value for someone to like your page. And this person will continue to get the updates that you keep making on your page. So, this is a great thing. However, things may not be that simpler.

If the person who liked your page stops visiting it or simply doesn't engage with your posts again, Facebook will start to not show your posts on this person's News Feed.

At this point, you can only do one thing: you'll need to pay to promote your posts to people who previously liked your page, and hope you can engage new people at the same time.

#2: One of the main things lacking to Facebook business pages is that they are not a website. In your website, you can have all the information you want available with one click. When you're simply using a Facebook business page, the information some people may want to find out may be somewhat hidden.

Despite you can have your logo, your background, contact information, your voice on the posts that you publish, among others, it's very different than having a complete website.

#3: From time to time, Facebook, as other social media networks, do update their algorithms. And even if you were having a huge success with your Facebook business page, any update can ruin your entire business.

When you only rely on Facebook to show your business to the world, you're subjected to their policies.

#4: One of the most costly mistakes that you can have when you have a small business is not taking the time to create an email list. An email list is where you have the contacts of people who are interested in what you're selling, customers, people who gave you their email to get a free bonus, etc. And having an email list is crucial. However, when you only have a Facebook business page, you just can't build one.

Overall, you should have a Facebook business page. No question about it. However, you need to have a website for your business. This is how you'll build your online presence.

Why You Need A Website For Your Small Business

When you're starting your own small business, you have a lot to think about. There are so many things you need to evaluate from your suppliers to you customers, how you're going to get your business known, how you can be better than the competition.

However, there is one thing, one crucial thing, that you need to do when you're opening your doors - having your own website.

We live in a technology world, where having a smartphone or tablet are essential to make us connected to the world. Just look around you. Wherever you go, you see people either making a call, looking at their Facebook or Twitter accounts, chatting with their friends, making purchases through their mobile devices. This is not something that will likely happen; it's already happening. And if you want your small business to be a success, you need to make an effort and have a website. Here are 4 reasons why having a website is crucial to your small business success:


#1: Drive More Customers:

Either when someone wants to buy your product or to simply contact you, they will turn over to your website. It's just not possible to have an offline business that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But you can have your website running all the time. And every second is great to make a sale or to get a contact from a prospect.


#2: Get Your Small Business Known:

Even when someone wants to buy a product or service offline, it's not that unusual that they ask their Facebook friends or check the products reviews online before they buy it. When you have a website, you're making sure that despite people may want to buy your product or service offline, they can do it online as well. And you'll be there ready to answer all their questions and deliver everything they need to complete the sale. You will have a presence not only offline as well as online. And this can help you attract more customers.

 

#3: Marketing Strategies Are Affordable:

When you compare the costs of driving a marketing campaign for your website online with offline, you'll see that the online campaigns are more affordable. And you'll also get one extra advantage: you'll be targeting the audience that is looking for your product and not a whole bunch of people who may not even be interested in it in the first place.

 

#4: Measuring Results:

When you have a small business, it's important that you always keep measuring the results you're getting. This is the only way you have to see what's working, what's not, and why. By evaluating these, you'll be able to make better decisions that, ultimately, will drive your business to success.

When you have a website, everything is measured, and it's very simple to do it. You can quickly see the visitors you have by month, week, and daily, what is driving people's attention (this is particularly important when you're selling multiple products and services), the percentage of people who buys from you, repeated customers, free prospects, the people who contact you, the feedback you get from your clients and prospects, among so many others. Even when you drive a marketing campaign, you'll know how much visitors it got you, how many converted into customers and prospects, among others. This will help you see if the campaign was successful or not and whether you should run it again or not.


As you can see, having a website opens the doors to your small business success. It's not impossible to succeed without a website, but it's so hard that it isn't even worth it. So, what are you waiting for? Start your business website now!

Advantages to Making Product Videos

1. You competitors are not doing it

You need to assume that your competition is already using video (or at least still images) to bring the customer closer to the in-person buying experience. When your customers are looking for information about what they want to purchase, they will come to your site over your competitors’ if you have more in-depth information or tools about that product for their research. Even customers who are looking for the cheapest price are researching first, and you need to establish yourself as a reliable source of information. Doing that will bring more people to your site, thus creating an opportunity for the sale. So what is your return on investment? Value for the customer, and a positive increase in perception of your brand; win-win.

2. It creates a brand 

In today’s online landscape, there are now blogs and reviewers for every major product and service category, and many of them are posting online video reviews of newly released products (as well as product un-boxing videos, group discussions, etc.) and 90% of consumers say online reviews impact buying decisions. Do you want reviewers defining your product for you, or would you rather have your own online video highlighting what you prefer to show about your product? Don’t let others define your brand. Your product videos should be taken to the next level by adding some brand personality. And you also have the ability to use video to respond to questions and comments quickly and effectively and if you can be even a little creative it’ll be an excellent and engaging customer service experience for your audience!

3. Video brings in more traffic

Search engines like video, which gives you an SEO advantage. As mentioned above, your customers are looking for information on your product, and if you have videos on your site, Google, et al.  will take notice. We’ve established that your customers are looking for information on your product and the search engines aim to connect them to the best source of information. Using a strategy that incorporates simple video should be part of any penetration or growth strategy whether you sell online or not. Start slow, make a video that answers a question you hear a lot. Make it simple and clear, and then work your way up to online branding nirvana. One company that has seen tremendous benefit with this strategy isBlendtec. They started the “Will It Blend?” campaign, which entertained millions by simply blending everything under the sun. Nothing was off limits, including anything from smart phones to lawn ornaments, and posting the videos online to exhibit their product, entertain and grow their audience, directed more traffic to their site.

4. Sales, Sales, Sales

Having online product videos also provides a sales advantage. It is easier to sell people on the benefits, features, and uses of your product with video. Video can show more elements and variables about your product than still images. You can demonstrate its benefits, answer questions about scale, colors, size, usage, or any important aspects you want your customers to notice about your product. This leads to trust-building for your brand. Video equals better engagement, and better engagement typically leads to faster easier sales. Do you have any videos for your products online now? Would you like to create some? We’d be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about it, so please contact us to learn more.

I Bet Your Small Business Missing From The Second Largest Search Engine?

YouTube processes 3 billion searches a month. Unfortunately, many businesses will never show in a search done on that second-largest search engine because they haven't made video content a part of their digital marketing. (I'd note here that YouTube videos also display in Google search results.)

Video content should be a pillar of your digital marketing strategy because it is only second to face-to-face interaction as a tool to humanize your brand. When people are searching YouTube, they are actively trying to learn more about products and services. It is extremely easy to share YouTube videos via social networks, or embed on websites or blogs.

Part of what you do for your business marketing online is trying to increase your digital footprint. You want people to find you. You need to be discovered before people can fall in love with you or your brand.

Here are 11 quick reasons why you need to consider adding video to your online marketing strategy:

  1. Again, YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world. Why aren’t you there?

  2. Not everybody reads blogs, on YouTube you’re tapping into a possible new audience

  3. YouTube videos are shown on Google results

  4. Video is the best next thing to actual face-to-face interaction and it’s much better to humanize your business than written content

  5. People search YouTube to learn about products and services more than any other social network

  6. Video is easier to communicate and educate your prospects and existing clients around your products

  7. Video is easier to consume than written content

  8. Many of your competitors have no presence on YouTube, but they do on Facebook and Twitter

  9. The opportunities to produce great video quality are reachable to any size budget (even your smartphone can be enough)

  10. Videos, specially YouTube, are widely viewed on all kinds of screens (PC, mobile, tablet)

  11. YouTube videos are super easy to distribute to other social networks and to embed on websites and blogs

Ten Videos Real Estate Agents Can Do Today

Creating a real estate video marketing is a great way to stand out from the crowd. Listing videos remain the most popular video agents produce. But there are so many more ways to use video than that. Creating these videos make your audience more aware of your business and generate new leads. Below are ten video types to add another layer to your online marketing presence. The best part with all these videos is they have longevity so you don’t need to change them often.

1. Interviews

Buyers and sellers you’ve worked with in the past, respected business people with popular ventures in your area, professionals working in other facets of real estate (e.g. mortgage lenders, architects, construction company executives).

2. Make a top 10 list for preparing for an open house.

3. Make a top 10 list for sellers preparing to put their house on the market.

4. Make a top 10 list for sellers before they move.

5. What trends are you seeing in your current market?

6. What to look for when choosing a real estate agent.

7. Tell us why you like the company you work for.

8. Top 10 FAQ

9. New construction vs. established homes.

10. Explain to sellers how to stage their home before putting it on the market.


Most of these ideas can be done in a single afternoon, the interview will need to be setup but move to number 2 in the meantime. If you’re only making listing videos, you’re missing out on many other opportunities to use video marketing for your real estate business!

Ways Small Businesses can use Video

If you’re not using online video content to draw in traffic and new customers for your small business, you’re behind the online marketing curve. Video is a huge platform in the online world.

Need a couple of ideas?

Educate Beyond Your Brand

Many companies put out training videos that show how to use their products, or portray their services in action. That is an amazing first step that unfortunately many companies don’t take, but there are a few problems with limiting educational videos to your business offerings.

First, you only have so much content to pull from. Second your videos are all going to look like advertisement.

It’s important to remember that when online consumers look for video content, they’re not looking to be marketed to. They want something that adds value. So instead of focusing on education for your brand, think about any complementary ideas or services you can illustrate on video for your visitors. For example, a florist might offer simple flower care and arrangement tips videos.

There are plenty of possibilities to share valuable content to your visitors.

Give a Peek Behind the Curtain

As I mentioned before video can be emotional, but it also gives you an opportunity to put a human face on your brand. When you show consumers what happens behind the scenes at your business, you help them realize that you’re offering more than just a product or service—there are real people they can relate to behind it all.

For a small business this huge. We offer a level of service that large companies cannot. There are many ways to do this. Have a series of staff interviews, show the day in the life at your shop, do a walk through of your studio, office or warehouse.

Giving you customer this level of intimacy is something they don’t see everyday and is a great way to generate interest in your small business through online video content.

 

Startups and Small Businesses: The Importance of Professional Headshots

Just because you’re running a start up doesn’t mean you should skimp out on a ‘professional image’. In fact, it’s an important component that will add further credibility to your business and your team. You want people to take you seriously. Cropping a candid Facebook photo from your profile, just because you ‘like it’ – isn’t going to work.

Benefits

Benefits of having professional headshots include (but aren’t limited to):

  1. Companies will take you more seriously
  2. Brings personality to your website
  3. Consistency/uniformity (staff should be shot by the same photographer)
  4. Package your startup to be in a position to attract new business and encourage your existing clients to talk about you (in a positive way)
  5. Increase your credibility by paying attention to the small details

Attracting new business is always the focus of any business. Having professional headshots will add a certain ‘wow’ factor and encourage people to want to do business with you. Unfortunately, as cliché as it may sound, people will judge a book by its cover. An unrefined look will deter people from contacting your company.

Leave It to the Professional

Don’t fall into the entrepreneurial mindset and attempt the DIY photo shoot (do it yourself). Invest some money and let the professional worry about lighting, backdrops, retouching, styling, etc. – you’ve worked hard, treat yourself and your team.

5 Benefits Of Video On Your Website

Video can also play a key role in your website’s media.  Video has become a very cost-effective form of communication which allows you to demonstrate your product and service benefits in ways that photos and text cannot.

Here are 5 benefits of using video on your website:

  1. It’s Visual – people tend to look for a visual experience when surfing the web, and video has an inherent appeal to audiences. Most of us would prefer to ‘see’ something before we are forced to ‘read’ something. While we tend to skim through any large blocks of written material, we will almost certainly take the time to watch a professionally produced video presentation.

  2. It’s Sticky – Video can help make your website ‘sticky’. Not unlike when a prospective customer walks into your place of business, your goal should be to keep them on your website for as long as possible learning about your services in order to increase the chance of making a sale.

  3. It’s Emotional – A video demonstrating how a product works along with customer testimonials would provide solid evidence that the product can indeed solve a particular problem. It sets off emotional triggers that static text cannot, ultimately influencing buying decisions.

  4. It’s On Demand – Unlike a traditional sales pitch, a video can be experienced “on-demand”. Anyone interested can view it anytime he/she wants simply by visiting your website.

  5. It’s Versatile – A video which has been produced for your website can be repurposed elsewhere. The cost can be leveraged by distributing the video offline on DVD as a general sales tool.

The Benefit Of Professional Real Estate Photography

Photography is not just an important element of real estate marketing; it’s fast becoming the most essential one. More than 80% of today’s house-hunters use the internet to research properties, and these prospective buyers rank photography as the most important tool in searching for a home online. Many agents are content to take a few pictures with a point-and-click camera. Unfortunately, due to their limitations, these cameras are often incapable of capturing the true nature of a property. Spacious rooms become small, dark and uninviting; windows with jaw-dropping views become walls of white light; stunning architecture warps into strange and unappealing angles.

Great photography can draw a buyer in. Bad photography can turn them away. A professional photographer has the skill to show a property at its very best. My passion is to ensure these spaces look as beautiful in print as they do in real life.

The benefits of professional real estate photography are numerous:

Generate Leads

Online listings with professional photography generate an average of 61% more page views than their point-and-click counterparts.

Sell More Consistently

Homes priced above $200,000 are more likely to sell when their listings feature professional photography.

Command Higher Prices

In 2010, a brokerage called Redfin surveyed MLS systems around the U.S. and discovered that listings with professional photography sold for higher prices than their counterparts. On the low end ($200k to $300k asking price) these listings sold for an average of $935 more. On the high end ($1m and above) the average increase was $116,076. Listings in-between these extremes typically saw an increase of $5000-$20,000. Even on listings with lower asking prices the financial benefit outweighs the cost of hiring a professional photographer!

Impress Current Clients

Your clients want to know their listing is in good hands. High quality photography shows them you’re committed to the exceptional presentation of their property.

Attract New Clients

Beautiful photography is an excellent way for an agent to showcase their professionalism and marketing savvy, and it gives them an impressive portfolio with which to attract potential clients.

Professional photography is a crucial component of an effective online marketing strategy. I offer this service at a competitive price, and in most circumstances I provide 36-hour turnaround so that your listings get online as fast as possible. I'm here to help you sell your properties more effectively than ever before!

The Headshot Philosophy

The headshot, like everything you do in business, and in life, is all about attitude. A positive attitude will almost always be more successful than expecting to fail. Your attitude in the photo is actually more important than what you wear. It is more important than whether or not your tie is straight or your hair is combed. It is more important than the color of the background or, well, almost anything else.

Don’t get me wrong. All of the other elements in the photo (cloths, hair, jewelry, background, light, etc) are vital elements and will effect how people perceive the person in the image. That is to say, it will effect how they perceive you.

Tip number one: interview your photographer carefully. You want to get great value from the photographer. But value is determined by how successful the photoshoot will be. And that is directly related to how comfortable you feel with the photographer.

Tip number two: If you are going to get a hair cut, get it a week before the shoot. This way, the cut will grow in a little and you will have some time to get used to how your hair looks and feels.

Tip number three: Plan your outfit in advance. If anything needs dry cleaning or ironing, take care of it. It is the little things that can throw off a great photo. Wrinkles can be distracting, expensive to retouch and can be taken care of in five minutes with a hot iron.

Tip number four: Wear what you feel comfortable in. A brand new outfit, if it doesn’t fit right or makes you feel awkward, can make you tense. An outfit that is an old friend can help you relax and let the real you out. Bring a few different outfits. But don’t bring something that you don’t like. Remember that being more conservative for your headshot wardrobe is often better.