Stay Focused on Long-Term Business Goals

I’m a mountain biker. I like the outdoors and I like speed. But with speed comes risk, so I’ve learned a couple of techniques to minimize the danger. For example, when the path takes a sudden turn, I don’t focus on the tree in front of me, frozen. I turn my head to look where I need to go. That small physical shift keeps me going in the right direction.

Now to put this into a business context. . .

There will always be twists and turns on the path to success and if you only focus on the obstacles in front of you, you will get bogged down in day-to-day operations and your business will suffer. Look up every so often and make sure you’re still headed towards achieving your long term goals.

Take time to brainstorm. Develop strategies and schedule their implementation. Do your best to stick to the schedule even when there are fires to put out, otherwise important tasks will be left undone. That simple shift won’t take up too much time. It mainly requires planning and discipline and will ensure that you reach your destination intact.

AdWords Search Ads Lead Your Ideal Customer To You

Imagine a giant room filled with one-million consumers who have one minute to find what they are looking for. 10 of them are in the market for a widget. You sell widgets. Could you reach those 10 people in one minute if you wandered into the crowd and started calling “widgets for sale”? If you posted an ad on the wall, would any of the 10 people see it and give you a call within one minute? Probably not.
Now imagine all of the consumers pulling out their smartphones and Googling what they want to buy. The 10 people that Google “widgets for sale” are presented with an ad for your widgets. From the ad they can go to your website to learn more and buy, or they could click to call you directly. Done in under a minute.
Don’t go looking for your next customer. Use AdWords and they will come to you.

Use Social Media to Turn a Negative Into a Positive

One of the ways businesses use social media is to engage dissatisfied customers. We answer their questions, address their concerns and may even reward them. In other words, we provide them with good service and we do so in public where others can see us bending over backwards for our customers. That’s good for the brand.
So don’t panic when you see someone complaining about your business online. Do your best to resolve the issue and, if that isn’t enough, don’t lose your cool, move on. The community will see that you have been reasonable and no one can fault you for that. We all know that there are people out there who just like to make a stink.
So, use social media to tackle issues head-on and turn a negative into a positive.

Optimize (SEO) Your Website Sooner Rather Than Later

If your business doesn’t have an optimized (SEO) website, you are missing out on a lifetime of opportunity. Because, the sooner your site is up, the sooner it goes to work for you 24/7 and the sooner it starts growing alongside your business. Keep your site updated with business-relevant content and it becomes a record of your company’s activities, a testament to your experience and, therefore, a valuable marketing asset. But all of that takes time. Luckily, a website can also serve as the destination for an AdWords campaign.

How to Keep Your Business Afloat While Your Industry Is Sinking

I’ve been doing some keyword research for a recording studio website and I’m sorry to say that it seems like there isn’t much going on in the SA music industry. Not many searches for producers, mastering engineers or other music industry players. Why? Didn’t the SABC institute a 90% local content policy about a year ago? Shouldn’t that have put more music makers to work and revitalized the industry by now? I looked it up and this is what I found.

Yes, the SABC interim board plans to reverse the 90% rule because it’s putting SABC radio stations under financial pressure. In other words, the rule hasn’t stimulated the growth of the SA music industry because South Africans don’t want to hear South African music. We don’t listen, so it isn’t profitable and radio stations can’t afford to play it.

The 90% rule was supposed to increase demand for local music. Are people listening to non-local styles? Are local musicians not looking to their roots for inspiration and innovation? Perhaps more needs to be done to inspire and empower young musicians who will then develop new local styles before imposing a 90% local content rule.

The SABC should focus on profits because, if the SABC goes out of business, there will no longer be a national platform for local music. Rather survive and use a portion of their profits to put instruments in childrens’ hands and music teachers in their schools. Learning an instrument and playing traditional styles in groups from a young age would go a long way towards developing unique local music that could be exported to the world. Yes, it would take time, but it would benefit the economy in more ways than one. It would put more studios, clubs and musicians to work and it would help the next generation develop their minds and their self-confidence which can only be good for the future of this beautiful country.

Graph of South African Hip Hop Keyword Trend

What does all of this have to do with digital marketing? Well, I identified a problem through keyword research and have proposed a solution. The same research can also reveal opportunities. For example, the graph above indicates that SA musicians should look at producing hip hop, and that the recording studio in question should have a webpage dedicated to South African Hip Hop. Because, until local musicians find a new, uniquely South African sound, they, and other music industry players, have to make a living producing something else. In other words, you can thrive in hard times by capitalizing on trends and Google’s made it easier than ever to identify them. Good news.

How to Create a Website

How to Create a Website (Short Version)

  • Do keyword research.
  • Determine site structure/URLs.
  • Produce/add optimized site content.
  • Add a Tag Manager bin to the site.
  • Set up measurement tools.
  • Set up an email service provider and an email contact form.

    Should I Build It Myself? (Long Version)

It’s tempting, especially as a small business owner, to save a few bucks by building your own website. I built my first site myself several years ago using WordPress. I had no previous experience and it was tough, but I did it and learned a lot. So, it is possible to construct your own site and I encourage you to do so if you have the time. But I would also suggest that you consult with a digital marketing strategist before taking the plunge.

Digital Marketing, like any specialty, takes time (years!) to master. Yes, you can build your own site, but will it attract traffic? The traffic that is most likely to engage with your business? Do you know how to set up goals on your site and measure success? Do you know how to set up and manage PPC ads so that your campaigns get more effective yet cheaper to run? Do you have the time to produce a quality piece of content every month? A lot goes into creating and managing a website that works for your business and if you don’t at least get the basics right, you don’t have a prayer of ever getting out from under the competition online.

A Digital Marketing Strategist will help you get the most out of your website. Actually, it’s a mistake to keep talking about your website in isolation. What your business needs is a “web presence” that includes a website and possibly PPC ad campaigns, social media accounts, email campaigns and a blog. So, in addition to all of the specialized tasks you have to get right while planning/building your website, you have off-site tasks to manage like a pro once the site is built. Not many entrepreneurs have the time or expertise to do it all – and do it well – while attending to the day-to-day management of their business.

I know it sounds like I’m discouraging you from creating your own website, but my goal here is to make sure that you understand what is involved so you don’t waste time and money building a site that does nothing for you. What I usually suggest to clients on a budget is that I create their basic on-line presence (an optimized website, measurement tools, social media accounts, etc.) then teach them how to manage everything going forward. Getting that solid foundation in place first gets the SEO ball rolling ASAP and buys the time necessary for you to learn how digital marketing works from the top down through social media and PPC advertising management.

A website paired with other digital marketing strategies will help grow your business if done right. Yes, you can build your business’ online presence yourself, but it will take a long time and won’t be nearly as effective as if you had at least consulted a digital marketing strategist first. In the long run, the attempt to cut corners by creating your own website without specialized knowledge will end up costing you both time and money, two resources that business owners hate to waste.

Contact me to get it right the first time.

How do I get my business on Google Maps?

When people search for a product or service online, they often include their location (e.g. craft beer johannesburg). Makes sense. If you live in Johannesburg and you want to buy some craft beer, you set out to find the place closest to you that sells it. And if you own a micro-brewery and your product is available in Johannesburg, you want to show up in the results of that search. That’s what local search is all about, search query + location. So how do you get your business to show up in search results when someone searches for a business like yours and includes a location near you? You’ve got to get on the map.

Okay, so I’ve just Googled “craft beer johannesburg” and what’s the first thing that comes up? A map. That map shows restaurants and bars in the Johannesburg area that stock craft beer. The owners of those businesses have all registered their companies with Google My Business so that they show up on Google maps and in relevant, location-based searches.

One possibly tricky part of registering your business with Google is that Google has to verify the location of your business to finalize the process. They do this by sending a postcard to your business address. On the postcard is a verification code that you then have to punch into your Google My Business account to confirm that you have received the postcard at the given address thereby proving that you are indeed a legitimate business at that location. Simple, not tricky.

Where this process can get complicated is when your office is at the same address as another business. It happens. And if you use the same address as another business, you run the risk of being merged with them in Google-land. Not good. If you have this problem, add a suite number so that your address is unique. If the building you’re in doesn’t use suite numbers, give yourself one. But make sure no one else in the building has given themselves the number you want to use.

This process could also be complicated by the fact that your business is in South Africa and South Africans don’t always get their post! Kidding aside, this could actually be a problem though it’s never happened to me. Stick to it, stay in touch with Google and you will surely come right. And, by all means, don’t change locations before verifying your original location with Google! Major hassle. But, to be fair, in order for the process to be secure, some things should be a hassle.

Maps help people in your area find your business and people close to one of your distribution points find your product. So, getting your business on Google maps literally, will help put your business on the map figuratively.

Feel free to contact me if you need help navigating this process or if you want me to create a super-cool, customized, layered map for you like the one above. Click the icon in the top left corner to select the visible layers. Click again to hide those options. There are many ways a map like this could be exploited to promote a business.