Advertising your small business is stressful – with so many choices and, usually, so little budget how do you choose which channels to use and where to spend your money? It is important to find the answers, as knowing how to promote your small business in the best possible way sets you on the path to growing your market and expanding your reach. Reaching the right audience, in the right way, at the right time is the key to successful marketing, and it is different for every business, but there are some general things that can help.
Here are 4 free and 3 paid ways to advertise your small business in a crowded market.
Social Media Marketing
LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok – the list of social media platforms goes on, with Wikipedia estimating that there are over 130 different ones to choose from now! The key to using social media to advertise your small business is choosing the platform that your customers are using most, and then updating your page regularly. The only cost to a successful social media marketing campaign is your time investment.
If you have a list of customer (or potential customer) email addresses, using them wisely is a great way to market your small business. Send out helpful articles, sales messages, and rewards to those who sign up and you will create a faithful following that will convert as well as your social media audience, or even better!
Don’t overlook your website. If you are doing all this work to drive people to your website, you need to make sure it converts them into leads. Make the most of your data and analytics to ensure that it is working as hard as you are. Search Engine Optimisation is another great way to make your website do more for your business. By optimising your website to be found in the search engines you can increase the number of visitors, and with no direct costs, your only investment is time and energy.
Another fantastic way to market your business is by creating valuable content. This could be blog posts, videos, and even podcasts. It is a great way to express your brand’s personality and help you to find new customers. It can also support your social media and SEO work, so it’s a great option to use in combination with the other free marketing ideas we’ve suggested above.
PPC (Pay-Per-Click) marketing is a really effective way to market your business as it allows you to send your message to a highly targeted audience and set a tight budget. Google Ads and Bing Ads are the most common, and each gives you a chance to test multiple adverts and campaigns to see which performs best for your goals.
Instead of relying on organic growth in your social media profiles and pages, you can create very visual social media adverts and display them to a highly targeted audience. As well as giving you the opportunity to reach a wide number of people for a small budget, the advertising options on these channels give you access to a huge range of in-depth data which can help you to make future advertising decisions.
If you already have a bank of customer data or have run successful paid campaigns in the past, then remarketing is a great option. Remarketing is usually a cheaper option than other paid marketing options, and has a higher conversion rate.
Whatever your budget, whatever time you have to invest, there is a marketing solution for your small business. Take your time, make a plan and good luck!
If you’d like to speak to one of our team about how we could help you attract new customers with catchy and clever advertising tactics, you can get in touch here. Alternatively, pick up the phone and call us on 01600 891525 – we’d love to hear from you!
Design is probably not a priority for your business, but it should be. In fact, graphic design should be vital. It is what can make your business stand out from all the others. Without design there would be no logo for your company; your website would look boring; the packaging for your product will be overlooked. All in all, design is rather important.
For small businesses, design can present some challenges that may not be a problem for larger companies – for instance, budget size. Steve Jobs reportedly spent $100,000 for the Apple logo; this is a luxury that not every business has. However smaller bank balances do not mean that you cannot compete with the big boys.
Here are a few tips that you can take away to make sure that you get the most out of your graphic designs:
Do not go into any design project without knowing exactly what you want to achieve. A clear objective is key to a successful design. What is it you are aiming for: raising brand awareness? Increase website traffic? Increase profits? Who is your target audience? If you know what you are trying to achieve, you will be able to assess if the finished product has met your goals.
Now that you have your objectives, you can work on the design. Here are some tips for ensuring it is a success.
Design trends – look at current trends and watch how this can change to keep your brand up to date. For example, popular trends this year include muted colours and clever typography.
Colours – try to keep the number of different ones used to a minimum; and if you have brand colours, make sure that you use them.
Colours can have meanings, e.g., green tends to be associated with health, growth and nature, so depending on your message, you could find a colour to match the theme of your design.
Fonts – like colours, do not use too many different fonts. By sticking with a couple, making sure they are the same as your brand usually uses, and ensuring that they are easy to read, your design is more likely to be successful.
Keep it simple – this does not mean plain. As the saying goes: less is more. Stick with clean lines and try not to add any unnecessary words or images; remember that every element must have a purpose in great design.
White space – do not think of this as empty space, use it to your advantage. Pick an image for the background; a colour or pattern; or even incorporate white space into your logo. By ensuring there is plenty of space around your message, you will make it easier to read.
Looking at the designs of larger businesses can be beneficial. Companies like Apple, Nike, McDonalds, have millions to spend on their design work and keeping up with the latest trends, so take a look at what they are doing and see if it inspires your work.
Hiring a Graphic Designer would be ideal, however, some budgets may not be able to stretch to that, so take a look at the online tools that are available to help you do it yourself. From photos to software, there are plenty of resources that can help small businesses produce high-quality designs and graphics.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for something bespoke and original, get in touch with our team and discuss your requirements. Contact us here or pick up the phone and talk to us on 01600 891525.
Can you remember a time when you were drawn into a shop by a clever window display? Or perhaps put off from entering somewhere new by a confusing store front? This power of first impressions applies to the online world as much as it does to the high street, and it doesn’t just concern ecommerce stores. Service businesses should be equally aware of the impression that their website gives to potential clients, in particular your home page which is where the majority of visitors will likely enter your site.
You wouldn’t expect customers to visit a dated shop, and you wouldn’t invite clients into an unkempt office. So if you present your potential customers with a tired, difficult to navigate website, don’t be surprised if they don’t stick around.
Anyone who is undecided about your business can be drawn in or put off by your website, gleaning all that they feel they should know from a simple glance. So does your website communicate your brand values, current offers, or popular services? If you are unsure, let’s dive into how to create the ‘shop window’ experience for your website.
Firstly, before you get carried away with any big changes, make sure your website appeals to your target market. Just as the window display of a baby clothing store is made to make new parents go ‘aww!’ so your website should draw in your target audience. Think of it as your business values meeting the values of the customers you want to attract.
For ecommerce stores, ensure that your home page reflects the current events and seasons, whether it’s a Valentine’s Day banner, or a badge supporting an awareness month. Just as you would change a physical shop window display to keep up with the seasons, make sure your website stays relevant.
While you may not have a Valentine’s Day special for your service based businesses, keep up with the changing times, and make sure the first image your visitors see isn’t a dated award nomination!
That doesn’t mean that you have to wait for a special occasion like Christmas to change things on your website. Instead you should make sure to refresh your offers, banners, products and news articles regularly.
As well as enticing new customers to explore further, repeat customers will learn that visiting your website frequently will be of value. If the home page looks the same every time they stop by, there is little chance of them becoming regular visitors.
Updating your imagery and text regularly will not only encourage visitors to come back again, it will also assist your SEO efforts as search engines prioritise fresh content.
Finally, don’t look like everyone else. Imagine your website as a store front on a packed high street – how will you make it stand out from the shops around you?
It may seem like a lot of effort, but the more work you put into your website ‘shop window’ on a regular basis, the greater rewards you will reap.
Are you feeling inspired and thinking of injecting some fresh thinking into your website? Get in touch with our team and find out how we can help. Email email@example.com or call us on 01600 891525.
When lockdown lifts it will not be as simple as throwing open the doors and buying in fresh biscuits! Things won’t go back to normal on day one, and you are bound to have a lot on your plate, so why not use this time at the end of lockdown to give your business a ‘Spring Clean’?
If you Spring Clean your home you clear out the clutter, freshen things up and get ready for a brighter and warmer time to come, so why not apply the same principles to your business? Here are our top tips for getting your business organised, and making some easy improvements before things get busy again.
With everything else going on in your business it’s easy to let emails pile up. If you are flagging more than you are actioning, now is the time to clear the decks, get everything filed away and tidy your ‘to do’ list before the phones start ringing again. We understand that filing emails is not a pleasant prospect, and it is far from a fun task, but it will feel like a weight has lifted when you get it finished. While you are at it you might try tidying your folders and computer files so you can start back knowing where everything is, and having up to date back-ups of everything important.
If your business plan, marketing strategy or 5 year plan has been hiding on the top shelf over the last 12 months now is the time to look it out. Revisit your goals, actions and overall direction and see what still applies and what needs to change. Now is a great time to refresh that vision and start to get excited about the year to come.
Even the most well-organised of businesses can end up with a box of receipts lying on a desk gathering dust. If you are making plans and budgets, you need the most up to date information to hand, so now is a great time to review your accounts, sort your expenses and save yourself from any nightmares in the coming months.
If you haven’t looked at your website in a while, you are not alone. As your business grows, or pivots or changes, your website should move with it. Don’t let an out of date website damage your brand. If you aren’t able to do the changes yourself, you can at least make a to do list to pass to your developer and marketing team.
There are probably plenty more areas you will be able to think of to freshen up your business that you’ve been avoiding during lockdown. Spring cleaning and decluttering can make you feel lighter, more organised and less stressed, so why not give it a go?
And remember there’s support available to help you if needed. If you’re interested in talking to our team about how we could help you spring clean your brand image or revive the digital side of your business we’d love to hear from you. Contact us here for more information or give us a call on 01600 891525.
The prospect of a new website can seem both exciting and incredibly daunting at the same time. Every company will have different requirements and limitations according to the size of their organisation, resources available, budget, professional know-how and much more.
At LimeGreen, we understand that sometimes it’s useful to have a helping hand and a few pointers to help you make the first step in the right direction. That’s why we’ve put together these seven steps to take the worry out of your new website!
This might seem like a stupid question but it really is the first thing to consider. Is the new website a design-led decision in line with a company rebrand or are your requirements more practical? Often businesses can outgrow their original website but before dreaming up a new one, it’s important to ensure that this time it can grow with your business. This could save money in the future.
In order for any website to work, you’ll need a domain and hosting. Think of your website domain as the address for your website. This is what people will type into their web browser to reach it, e.g. www.limegreenmarketing.co.uk.
Hosting is where on the internet your website physically is or, the plot of land where it lives if you will! It’s important that you choose the right domain and hosting to suit your requirements. For more information, take a look at our article ‘What is Hosting?’.
An all singing, all dancing website sounds like it could be pretty impressive. If you have a concept that you want to use that reflects your brands ethos digitally then go for it! Online branding should always be consistent with offline branding. However, your design should never compromise your product or service or your ability to communicate clearly what it does.
Think about who uses your website and why? Are they looking for information? Are they looking to purchase a product or service? Is your website user-friendly? There is no point in having a website where people can’t find what they’re looking for.
Be sure to think long and hard about menus and site navigation. Equally a straightforward search feature and cataloguing or tag system for organising products could make life much easier for you and your customers. Remember, if someone can’t use your website, they’re more likely to go to a competitor.
So, you’ve got your new website up and running with a domain, hosting and functional, on-brand design. That’s it right? Wrong! It’s important to make sure that your website is Search Engine Optimised. Doing this makes it easier for popular search engines to read your site and determine its content and where it should appear in individual search results. There are lots of handy plugins that you or your web developer can use to help with the process. We work with WordPress sites a lot and recommend Yoast (read more here).
In addition to SEO optimisation tools, updating your websites content regularly can help improve its rankings with popular search engines. Including a blog and regularly posting new articles is one way to do this. Including social media streams from Twitter and Facebook on your website can also help.
Equally it’s important not to neglect your analytics. These will tell you who is viewing your website, how long they are spending on your website and where this traffic is coming from. Valuable information that shouldn’t be wasted!
There’s a lot more to your website than meets the eye. You’ll need a functional program taking care of the backend – a Content Management System – CMS. This is what organises your content and makes sure everything is where it should be. Your website visitor can’t see it but, trust us, they’d soon know about it if it wasn’t doing its job!
Call to Actions – CTAs – also play an integral part in your website. These are prompts on pages strategically placed to encourage the website visitor to complete an action, e.g. call us, book online, get in touch, buy now. These are designed to entice the website user to behave in a way that will benefit your business. Don’t forget to consider them in your design.
It’s a great feeling once you’ve got your brand spanking new website up and running but what happens going forward? It’s likely that you’ll need to make changes to pages over time or update products, company information and events, and it’s important that you can do this quickly and easily so that your clients or customers have the most up to date and relevant information. While some larger organisations may have the luxury of a dedicated in-house web team to do this, smaller organisations may need to outsource this work. So, it’s worth factoring this into your budget.
If you’d like to speak to one of our team about your own website, you can get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, pick up the phone and call us on 01600 891525 – we’d love to hear from you!
When you create a website you obviously want people to see it so you will need to publish (or upload) it onto the world wide web with a web hosting service.
Web hosting works by storing your website files in high-powered computers called servers. When someone types in your web address the Internet connects to the web server holding your website files and then transfers your website information back to their computer. From there they can surf and view the pages of your website, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Basically, web hosting provides the technology and services to manage these servers and their software, security, support, bandwidth, speed etc.!
Before you can present your brand new website to the world you need a domain name like www.limegreenmarketing.co.uk. To have your own domain, you will need to register it with a domain registrar. There are a large number of domain registrar providers on the internet such as 123 Reg and 1 & 1. If possible it is best to choose a domain register provider from your own country, not least because you will be billed in the right currency!
It’s quite common to get confused between a domain name and web hosting. Put simply: a domain name, is the address of your home or office; web hosting is the space in your house or office into which you place your belongings. It is often made more confusing because many domain name companies also offer services like hosting, email etc.
There are 4 main types of web hosting; shared, dedicated, VPS and Cloud.
While all types of hosting servers will act as a storage centre for your website, they differ in the amount of storage capacity, control, technical knowledge requirement, server speed, and reliability. Let’s take a look…
1) Shared Web hosting is where a large number of web sites are typically housed on the same server. This includes sharing the physical server and the software applications within the server. Shared hosting services are affordable because the cost to operate the server is shared between you and these other owners.
There are, however, some down sides, such as limits on storage and bandwidth, and the performance of your website is largely affected by the needs of the other websites, as you will be sharing the same server resources. The type of content on other sites on the same server can also have a negative affect on your website. For example, if you’re sharing a server with websites relating to religion, sex, or politics, these type of sites could be more prone to an attack due to their content, which – if you’re on a shared server – may in turn impact your website.
2) Dedicated Web hosting is where you have the entire server to yourself! This allows for faster performance as you are not sharing with other website owners. The only limit is the size of the server. However, this also means that you will be responsible for the entire cost of server operation.
This is a good choice for websites that are:
Require a lot of system resources
Need a high level of security
Typically, these servers start at around £200 per month and usually require a 2-year contract and setup fees.
3) Virtual Private Server hosting is a sort of fusion of the first two options. Your web site is hosted on its own virtual server so that it won’t be affected by the web sites of other customers. However, the server shares computer resources with other virtual servers. This means it is not a dedicated server i.e. the entire computer is not dedicated to running just one server software.
Virtual Web servers are a very popular way of providing low-cost web hosting services. Instead of requiring a separate computer for each server, dozens of virtual servers can co-reside on the same computer. In most cases, performance is not affected and each web site behaves as if it is being served by a dedicated server. However, if too many virtual servers reside on the same computer, or if one virtual server starts hogging resources, web pages will be delivered more slowly.
Done properly VPS can be the best option for medium sized websites as the head server is often of a very high standard. VPS is great if you are running WordPress or small Magento websites as all patching and upgrades are performed by the company managing the head server.
4) Cloud hosting is a server system that provides web hosting via multiple connected resources that comprise of a cloud. Whereas standalone servers and virtual servers can have limited scalability options and the potential for service disruption, a cloud host can provide you with:
more expense for added flexibility
good for site with periodic times of high use
How much support do you need to keep your website running smoothly? If you are an IT whizz, then perhaps not a lot, but for most of us we don’t have the time or knowledge. Choosing a web host provider that offers easily accessible, on-going support should be a consideration. And if it all goes wrong, what emergency systems do they have in place to get your website back up and running?
The web hosting company will own support of certain things; they’ll make sure that your physical webs server is online (which is a different thing from your website). However, if your website is hacked, they’ll probably not be able to help. And if you need additional functionality added, they’ll certainly be unable to help.
This being the case, you can imagine there are two tiers of support. The underlying hosting provider is offering technology and network level support; they may even offer some support on your website (to varying degrees). Your site developer may offer ongoing support on top of this; as these people are best place to update the website etc.
Your customers expect to gain to access your website 24/7 and quickly. And whilst nothing in life is 100% guaranteed, you need to make sure that your web hosting provider can supply an uninterrupted network connection and manage your server space, to ensure quick upload speeds. You get what you pay for here! There is a world of difference in reliability between a cheap hosting account and a premium plan from a tier 3 hosting company.
The last thing you want is your web site going down or being hacked. You need to ensure that your web hosting provider can give you peace of mind with:
storage of your data
higher security (if you need it)
This is one area where the initially cheap services create their additional bolt-on’s, these come at a cost. Different hosting companies will put different levels of security in place; your cheap and cheerful outfits will hardly do anything.
Again, be wary of the fine line here. The hosting company are traditionally less concerned about getting your website back online in comparison to the web server itself. There is an important and subtle difference and having someone to support the actual website itself is of benefit here.
We all hope our businesses will grow. So it makes sense to ensure that your server can match your expansion by providing additional space and services as and when they are required.
Using a server based in the UK will help your SEO. You will have preferences on local searches compared to websites outside of the UK. And when you target UK customers you will benefit from a faster web loading speed, based on the fact that the server is located far closer to the customer. It has been noted that Google prefers faster servers, so the shared hosting is only really recommended where Google placement is not so important, maybe a local club website or nursery in the local area.
CDN (Content Delivery Networks) also assist with this. This is a system of distributed servers (network) that delivers webpage images and other web content to a user based on the geographic location of the user, the origin of the webpage and a content delivery server.
Fast hosting is crucial to SEO. Google are hot on measuring how fast your website is as they know, statistically, how many people drop off websites as load times increase. Performance on cheaper companies like 123-REG and Go DADDY can be sluggish. Having a relationship with a company who actually cares about this side of things is beneficial, someone who will benchmark the performance profile of the website and make adjustments where needed.
In order to transfer the website to the hosting company they will ask for temporary access to your domain name provider.
If you have email addresses with your domain name provider, then these will stay there unless you ask them to be transferred over to the hosting company to manage.
When your site is ready to go live it needs to have its “A” record changed to point to the new Hosting web space. This is a relatively simple task that informs all the DNS servers (those servers that translate numbers to sensible name’s) that your website name now resides at this new address. It can take anything between 12 to 72 hours for this process – known as DNS propagation – to take effect.