I'm not gonna lie, the list of small business marketing best practices is a long one. And ask ten business owners, and they probably will all have their favorite way of attracting new customers.
But. Out of all those opinions and all those possibilities, I'm going to draw a line in the sand.
If you, as a small business, can only do one marketing-related thing, there's no doubt in my mind what that one thing is: you must put up a well thought-out, mobile-friendly, and useful website.
Why? Well, we live in a digital world, folks. It doesn't matter if you are a 100% brick and mortar boutique, a world-of-mouth only service company, or a side of the road coffee hut. People do their research online. People expect—and will look for—your website.
And here's the thing. If done well, your website is your business brochure. It it the chance to tell people what is so amazing about your business without ever meeting them in person. It can drive them to through your door with special offers, entice them to submit inquiries, and express to them what makes your business unique. It's also the one expression of your brand, the one environment, that you completely control. It should not be an afterthought.
Convinced? Good. Now that we've got you this far, here are a few dos and don't on website design (stay tuned for a full how-to-build-your-website blog in the near future):
Tell people exactly what you do and how you stand out from the competition
Make your preferred method of contact really easy to find
Showcase special products and services
Think about how you want people to use your site, and make sure your site supports that (do you want people in the door of your coffee shop? Showcase how inviting it is. Include a map, and information on events. Want people to ask for more information on your service? Make sure you have a lead form handy and obvious)
Focus so heavily on cool design that people can't easily navigate to the information they need (pro tip: ask an older relative to go through your site. If they can't figure it out, you may want to rethink your design. Unless, of course, your target market is super hip young designers!)
Put up a placeholder site and forget about it
Have so little information on your website that people feel like visiting it wasn't worth it.
Forget to make contact info easy to find
Add a ton of copy. Remember, people don't read.
Got all that? Here's one last thought: building a great website doesn't have to be a massive undertaking. There are a lot of website platform companies out there (I like Wix and Weebly) that make it really easy to put up a professional looking website quite quickly. You don't need to write a lot. You know your business. Relax, and have fun highlighting what makes your business so great!
Happy small business marketing!
Katie & Theron