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Top 5 Signs It’s Time to Update Your Website

website update
If you are a small business owner, these days you know you can’t move forward without a proper website. It’s likely that no one needs to convince you that you need an online presence to survive in the business world. It’s also likely that you already have a website for your brand or company.

That’s great!

Now, it’s time to decide if your website could use a refresh. Just like a physical store, your website needs constant care, maintenance and upgrades. Fonts go out of style, content gets outdated and user preferences are always evolving. There’s the constant battle with Google to get good search rankings and keep customers clinging onto your pages.

Likely if you have a well put together website, you just need an occasional refresh to make it appear cleaner and remain up to date. Here are the top 5 signs it’s time to update your website:

1. Content is outdated
If you remember back to the early stages of building and planning your website, you might recall needing a ton of content written. Many business owners barely glance again at a lot of the content once it was posted. This is an easy area to refresh and update. If your website has a lot of pages, consider slowly reading over each section to decide if the content is current or needs a little reviving.

Always consider if the content still fits the tone of your company. Sometimes the voice of your company or brand has evolved, and the language within your content needs to reflect that change. You may even consider hiring a content writer to address these areas if it seems overwhelming. However, you must be sure that your brand matches your content or your customers might get confused.

2. It’s not mobile friendly
It’s easy to forget the mobile user when it comes to your website. This is an area that must be done better as many more people are browsing the web on their mobile device. A user’s experience on your site can definitely make or break your business. You can be missing out on a lot of sales.

Google definitely gives more points to sites that are mobile friendly (remember mobilegeddon?) It’s really a no-brainer to make your website easier to navigate on a mobile device.

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3. It’s sloooooow
You could easily be losing customers before your page even loads. Kissmetrics found that if your company’s page takes longer than 3 seconds to load, then 40% of people will bounce. That’s right, they will not stick around to see if your page will load. That’s huge!

Loading times not only hurt your customers, but they also hinder that darn Google search ranking you’re so desperately working so hard at. You want your customers to enjoy your website and stick around for awhile. They will only hang out if the page loads quickly.

4. It’s in Flash
As if you need yet another ranking hindrance, if your website is so outdated that it still uses Adobe Flash, then I’m here to tell you that Google and other search engines will not index your website, leading to poor search rankings.

Adobe Flash was once all the rage. Developers could use Flash to make super amazing vector graphics and animations. They still can, but they won’t be supported on many devices.

Apple products like the iPhone and iPad do not support Flash. Users also need a plugin installed to use it anyway. At this point, there’s no advantage in using Flash.

If you do nothing else to refresh your website, at the very least update it so that it no longer uses Flash.

5. You’re sick of it
It is totally reasonable for you to hate your own website. Maybe you’re tired of the color, the font or the pictures are old and outdated. Maybe it is difficult to navigate. Maybe you’ve heard someone mutter some unfortunate adjectives describing your site. That’s ok! If you don’t love your own website, then chances are, many other people are not in love either.

Take the time to write down everything that you do not like about your website. Check with other people to see if they are finding the same things bothersome. It just might be time for a big refresh project. Many business owners are truly happy once they refresh and make the proper updates. Don’t be embarrassed to give out your company’s website URL.

Final Thoughts
There’s a millions reasons to refresh your brand or company’s website. You want to be proud to share your URL and keep customers engaged with your site. All websites evolve and it’s likely that it is time for you to change it up a little. You can refresh it in small ways like making it more mobile friendly or completely updating the content and colors. Either way, it is time to be happy with your website.

 

Doing Direct Email Marketing the Right Way: with Orion Sol Consulting

direct email marketing

If email marketing isn’t part of your direct marketing campaign strategy, then you are totally doing it wrong. Marketing in the 21st century must have an email component or it doesn’t make much sense. Your goal is to create an audience and check with them to remind them of your product or services. While this may sound easy, it can be a tricky and a delicate situation. At Orion Sol Consulting, we have the experience and the right touch to get the response and interaction you are looking for.

Direct email marketing can be very engaging and exciting for your audience. You can share with them a sale that is happening, an event you are hosting or news from within your company. The goal is to not annoy your customers, but also deliver an exciting message that keeps them interested in your brand. There are a bunch of strategies for increasing open and click rates, increasing engagement and having a happy database of customers. Here are the top five things we offer with our direct email marketing campaigns from Orion Sol Consulting.

  1. The Strategy
    Before one email even begins to get written, you need a strategy that has been built and tested by the professionals. At Orion Sol Consulting, we know exactly what works and what doesn’t. Our goal is for your audience to be captivated by what you send in your emails and genuinely interested in your brand.
    We will determine how many emails to send and when to send them. The last thing you want is a bunch of potential customers who are just too annoyed with the frequency or content of your emails. This is a common mistake that happens, even though it might have been done with good intentions. This will ultimately lead to a high number of unsubscribers, and will leave you scratching your head.

***Don’t worry, we have the formula to keep your audience happily opening up your messages and aware of your brand without being annoying.

 

  • Email Design
    Once we’ve established the frequency and the goals of your direct email marketing strategy, we work on the development of the email. Designing emails takes some finesse and artistry. We strive to create emails that are bright and shiny, so the reader definitely wants to click on them. We have experience in creating appealing subject lines and content that is appropriate to your reader. We will work hard to target your customer with relevant informations that is captivating.

 

 

  • A/B Testinga/b testing


    While we have experience and formulas that work well, not every net casted gets all the fish. We always do A/B testing. This means that we test out what works for your targeted audience in several ways. We can test subject lines, content and call-to-action buttons. Different groups of people are attracted to different things and we know just how to find that out.

 

 

  • Client Engagement/Nurturing
    Our clients come to us with varying degrees of email lists. Some clients have barely anyone on their list, while others have a decent database. At Orion Sol Consulting, we will work with you on any level. We will fish for new clients and work to keep your current list interested and happy. The relationship with your database will be a work in progress. You develop real relationships by staying in touch, sharing news and sending offers in a positive way. You can be very personal with your lists and develop an outstanding rapport with increased sales.

 

 

  • Enhancements
    You can really bring your brand to life in a direct email marketing campaign. It is all part of your marketing strategy to attract, gain and maintain a database of consumers that are interested in your product or services. Our emails are personalized and styled for each segment within your list. We know how to nurture them or cut ties when necessary. We understand some segments may need a specific boost, while others might have an easily trackable behavior or pattern of purchase. We can enhance your email marketing to fit those needs and make your brand stand out above the rest.

 

 

>>Final Thoughts<<
Some of the direct email marketing techniques have become more difficult and sensitive over the last few years. Our consultants stay on top of trends and know that what worked 2 years ago might not be working today. We revamp, refocus and see that email marketing is still a thriving strategy in just about any industry. Let Orion Sol Consulting show you how to get great opening rates and more clicks than you’ve had before.

What do your social media followers want?

So, you’re a small business owner that has accepted or maybe even fallen in love with the world that is social media. Whatever your stance on social media may be, at this moment it is an important and an essential part of your marketing plan. Your best bet is to get somewhat comfortable with it because it is here to stay awhile!

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No matter where you currently land on the scale of social media interaction, you have to have it. So the question becomes, what do your social media followers want from your small business?

Your small business social media plan needs to be a little different from your personal page. In fact, you should have two distinct accounts. Personal opinions or beliefs may be unattractive to potential customers. It is best to separate the two.

Let’s take a look at what your social media followers want from your small business.

  1. Your followers want to know who you are
    When a potential customer searches for your business in the social media world, they are looking to see who you are. Make sure that all of your social media bios and profiles are filled out. Followers will not be impressed with a page that is only partially filled out.

    Next, you need your business branded and your audience to know what you stand for. Here’s a quick checklist to see if your business is branded:

    >>>Do you have a logo? It should be clean and easily recognizable.

    >>>Do you have a branding message? Going beyond the product, the message should say what your company is all about and what it stands for.

    >>>Does your brand have a voice? This should be made very apparent in the way you communicate as your business on social media. You can be straightforward, fun, sarcastic or even snarky. The important thing is to be true to your brand.

    >>>Do you have a tagline? A motto? A short statement that is catchy and captures the essence of your company is great to promote in your social media communities.

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  2. Your followers want to be engaged
    Your social media efforts should not be just about your product. You want your followers to be engaged with your content and genuinely enjoy following your profile. Some people follow the 5:3:2 rule. This rules states that for every 10 posts, 5 of them should be from sources that are relevant to your audience, 3 should be your own creation and 2 should be what I like to call “fluff and stuff” or fun stuff that humanizes your company (like hey, there’s really a person sitting behind a computer posting this stuff).

    Here are some quick ways to increase engagement with your followers:

    >>>Pose a question: nothing gets the ball rolling like asking a question. Keep your followers going by continuing the conversation throughout the comments.

    >>>Share a visual: research shows that visual content gets shared 40 times more than any other type of content.

    >>>Consider doing a contest or a giveaway. Nothing grabs attention like a freebie!

    >>>Link yourself to other websites or industry leaders.

    >>>Ask! Ask for a review, ask for an opinion. Just ask your audience to participate.

  3. Your followers want to see authenticity
    Being honest is the best attribute you can put forth with your business. Followers want to think that it is you behind the screen and not some inflated marketing firm, giving canned responses with robots. Even if you are outsourcing your marketing efforts, you can still make the time to be authentic.

    Need tips for being more authentic? Try these:

    >>>Post more pictures of the inner-workings of your company

    >>>Attributes posts to your employees

    >>>Try holding a conversation by replying to a comment as it comes in real-time.

    >>>Share things that are current to stay current

  4. Your followers want to see your authority
    Once you mastered the branding and communicating aspect of social media, you want to focus on being the authority in your industry.

    While this may seem abstract to some, there are ways to address authority in your social posts, and here’s how:

    >>>Explain what makes your company unique and top ranked

    >>>Share positive customer feedback or expand it into a shareable story

    >>>Don’t hesitate to share awards your company has won or has been celebrated for

    >>>Stay current on industry trends

Some small businesses struggle to gain an audience, but keeping them can prove to be just as tough. You must find out what your social media followers want from your small business. Luckily, these tips and tricks should keep your current followers interested and coming back for more.

Small Business Outlook for 2018

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2018 is set to be a great year for small business owners all across the nation. With stocks soaring, unemployment steadily dwindling, business confidence at an all time high and opportunity knocking at every corner, the outlook has never been so good for many entrepreneurs. This year just might be the best we’ve seen in a long time, but there are going to be new trends to get used to in order to be as successful as you can if you are a small business owner.


The Trends of 2018

Catering to Millennials
We cannot have a business discussion in 2018 without mentioning the $600 billion dollar (and rising) market that is the Millennials. If you want a piece of that pie, you need to focus your marketing on this crowd connecting to your brand. You need a deeper, more experiential focus. Many businesses are going to profit big on a niche market. If your business name has buzzwords like microbrew or artisan, you are definitely on the right track with this group. They want to feel special, especially since they’re used to always getting a participation trophy.

Made in America
Perhaps one of the most recognizable and understood slogans of recent history was (and still is) Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign. Whether you like his administration or not, his first year in office has definitely made some waves for the economy and brought many jobs and investments back to this land. His administration has made changes to trade agreements and re-examined tariffs that have people paying close attention to products being able to be made in America again. As a small business owner, this could mean not having to outsource any part of your company offshore and continuing your effort to keep your company involved in the local community, as much as possible.

Popularity of Contract Workers
A very cost-effective way for some businesses to thrive is on their ability to use contract workers. Instead of hiring full-time employees that need benefits and a babysitter, contract workers are used in a much more efficient manner. They’re affordable, flexible and usually do a better job at the project you need them for. In fact, 42% of employee based businesses already are using contract workers, and that number keeps on rising.

Goodbye cash
Physical cash is becoming less and less popular. More and more transactions are taking place online and with credit cards, that there’s almost no reason to carry cash these days. Apps are becoming popular with payments options and tips. Going cashless can also be safer and more efficient for bookkeeping when it comes to your small business. Many customers are beginning to expect a cashless way to pay, so now is the time get onboard.

Crisis Preparation
Looking back at 2017, America definitely struggled through some very tough natural disasters. Hurricanes and wildfires did a ton of damage. These types of crises have many business owners wondering if they could withstand a total loss. Many business owners may not know if they have their data backed up and how they would maneuver through a significant loss should they have to deal with a crisis or natural disaster. Your best bet is to make sure you are prepared now, so you don’t have to scramble later. You can learn more about disaster prevention and prep here.

 

The Bad News in 2018

Facebook Changes
Early this year Facebook announced that users would start seeing less ads. Some people jumped for joy, while many small business owners started growling in disgust. Ads are expensive as they are, but to know that your audience size may dwindle down even lower is frustrating. Some people have pledged to move on to other social media platforms. It will take some more time before we see the true effect on this change.

Hacking is on the rise
As we continue to put more and more data online, it only increases your chance of getting hacked. It might be your personal information or your business that gets hacked, but it’s happening exponentially. Companies that lose your information are not punished very harshly, so there’s little incentive to keep your personal information locked down. The problem is that many consumers don’t think about being hacked until it happens to them. This year it will happen, so your best bet is to get protected and find a security plan for your personal information and your business.

 

The Year Ahead
As we move further into what should be a positive year for small business owners, no one can completely predict how everything will flow. Your best bet this year is to stay protected, educated and be as flexible as you can be. When you see a changing of the tide, just roll with it. Successful small businesses will be prepared, focused and ready to take any changes that may or may not happen in 2018.

 

Top Mistakes Small Companies Make When Starting Up

small business success

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm – Winston Churchill

When you hear that 9 out of 10 startups are bound for failure, it tends to seem very disheartening to begin a small company venture at all. Being told ‘no’ is an awful feeling, but some small business owners are able to dig their way out of the trenches into incredible success. Starbucks is one such example. Owner, Howard Schultz, was told ‘no’ over 200 times before his dream was realized. Could you imagine where we’d be without Starbucks? But, could you, as a small business owner, suffer through that many shut doors?

While having a lot of enthusiasm is important for small business success, there are also a plethora of mistakes that many small business owners make that are fatal to their future. Here is how to steer clear of common failures, keep your enthusiasm and drive it home to success.

  1. You must have a plan
    Gone are the days of flying by the seat of your pants, if such a time ever existed. In today’s business world, you must have a plan, and it must be solid. Even a simple business plan created on an online app can help you organize your thoughts, and put action into your vision. Without a plan, you’ll easily get lost and find it easier than ever to give up.
    Be sure to also include a plan for your personal life. You may need to quit your day-time job to make this business a reality. Are you ready for that?

  2. Spend money on experts
    The cold hard truth is that you don’t know it all. Sorry, but you don’t. Business can be complicated, but some of the best dollars you shell out should be on expert advice and planning. You need someone with experience in your corner to guide you through the legal papers, the negotiating of terms or the launch of your product or business.

  3. The thing about money
    While you should spend money on certain things for your business, money will not solve all your problems. Money is a tricky thing to handle, and every penny needs a purpose. Many entrepreneurs spend it in the wrong place or at the time. This again, is where spending money on the experts can lead you to spend your money appropriately in other places. A whole bucket of cash will not solve all your business issues. Once you really let that sink in, you can move forward to strategize just how your business can grow.

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  4. Let’s talk about growth
    So many entrepreneurs and wannabes envision their business or product taking off. They imagine moving from their garage to a 25,000 square foot manufacturing facility or the ability to use machines to package items instead of doing it by hand. These dreams are great and will happen with the proper timing and scaling. However, many businesses scale too fast. You can’t have one great effort at fundraising and think you’re golden. Again, hiring the proper experts to lead the growth and guiding the absolute right place to spend the funds will give you the best chance for longevity. Trust me, it is easy to blow through one Kickstarter campaign fund. Scaling too quickly is a surefire way to demolish your dream.

  5. Get it in writing
    In the world of business, you must seriously trust no one. Everything you do within the confines of your business must be in writing. Any and all agreements should be upheld with a written agreement, period. Sometimes, the people your trust the most will stab you in the back the quickest. There are thousands of stories where best friends and family members steal or sabotage the efforts of an entrepreneur. Do not let that be you.

  6. Fearing the “F” word
    Fail. No one likes the word and no one likes the feeling of failure. Of course, there is a silver lining here. Failing at an aspect of your business does not have to be the end of the road. Every time something doesn’t work out perfectly, you can take it as a learning tool instead of a failure. You can think of it as an experiment in which the outcome was not desired. Now, take that experiment and change it up a bit to see if you can achieve the desired results. Almost every company on the planet has failed at something at sometime in their existence. It is ok. Fail a little now and learn a lot for later. Dust yourself off and keep it going.
    Enthusiasm can be difficult to keep going after failure. We get it. Failure can feel so depressing and you may want to give up. Trust me, this is the time to learn and grow.

 

In the end, many startups fail for many different reasons. This is just a taste of mistakes you can make when trying to launch your business or product. Heed the advice from the experts, spend your money intelligently and never let your guard down. Don’t be afraid to fail and always take an opportunity to learn and grow.

 

Don’t Follow Your Passion: Top Tips for New Small Business Owners

Nov 14

In a recent Prager University video, actor and producer Mike Rowe explains the dirty little lie we’ve all been told about following our passions to live our dreams. It immediately sounds like a rather depressing and degrading video. However, in reality, he’s absolutely right. You can check out his video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVEuPmVAb8o&t=164s

There are really so few people that can actually turn their passions into successful businesses. And it’s not to say that you should throw your passions away. If you are looking to become a new small business owner, sometimes it makes sense to find what service or industry works first. Rowe proves that it is possible to start a business that you may not be overly passionate about, but turn it into the success you desire.

To not follow your passion is definitely tip number one when looking to start a new business. Sometimes you need to see where everyone isn’t, as stated in the video. Once you grasp an industry and choose your new small business, here are some other top tips to live by:

 

  1. Have a vision, make a plan
    Once you’ve picked the small business you desire to run, you must have a vision and a plan. Get them out of your head and onto paper. Share them with your family and your business partner or mentor. A visual representation of your plan and your goals will speak volumes to getting off the ground. Also, be patient and flexible. You may find that your plan needs tweaking along the way and that is all par for the course.

  2. Don’t be afraid of failure
    There’s almost no story of ‘from rags to riches’ that doesn’t include some sort of failure along the way. Failure is good. Failure means learning, growing and becoming stronger. Mistakes and bad decisions are bound to happen. It only matters what you do after the fact. Did you learn something? Did it give you the opportunity to try it another way? Heck! The chocolate chip cookie was a mistake! Sometimes failure is priceless.

  3. Become your brand
    Stand up and shout it from the rooftops! Let anybody and everybody know what you are doing. Be proud of your new business and show it off in every way possible. If you’re not proud and excited for your new business, who else will be?

  4. Take advantage of freebies
    The best things in life are free! Luckily, we live in a day and age where there’s plenty of freebies for marketing and business management. Do the free trade shows (if you can find them), join the free Facebook business groups and most importantly…do social media because that’s free too! You do not need to be a social media whiz to get started. It is important to set-up free accounts across all platforms and get familiar with posting, liking and sharing. It seems these days that you are not a legitimate company unless you have the proper social media channels working for you.

  5. Delegate
    It is very likely that you will find your hours being sucked up very quickly when starting a new business. Great leaders will have a great team behind them that they can trust. When the time is right, you need to find, hire and train a stellar group of employees. What will make the business work best for you is when you learn to delegate. Many business owners tend to micromanage and essentially mismanage their time. If you can’t trust your employees with day to day tasks, then maybe you have the wrong employees or you have a control issue. Delegating tasks is crucial to building and maintaining a great small business.

  6. Do what works (no need to reinvent the wheel continually)
    Often new and budding small business owners think they need to do something completely different from the competition, but often that is not the case. If something is working in your industry, then you should go for it. Sometimes, copying your competitor is actually what works best.

  7. Put the customer first
    I can’t tell you how many times I have had a bad customer service experience from an entrepreneur. I was shocked and quite frankly, disgusted by the way I was treated. When you have a small business, you need to treat your customers like gold. Always have a smile and put on a positive vibe. Work hard to never say ‘no’ or ‘I can’t.’ Leave those phrases on the curb and work on providing exceptional customer service. Even if you cannot help a customer, turn it into a positive. If it means you do not get the sale, don’t worry. When a potential customer has a good experience that only helps enforce a positive reputation.


Final Thoughts

In the beginning of this blog it was suggested that your passions are probably not lucrative and that’s ok. What can happen is that your new business can become your passion. Maybe selling insurance doesn’t sound thrilling, but you find that you are helping people and educating them on making good decisions, which then becomes your passion.

Small Business

In the video, Rowe urges you to follow opportunity over passion to find success. Set your passion aside and search for the opportunity, then the rest is really up to you. Your small business can become your passion and your old passions can remain your hobby.

 

Too Early for Christmas…? Nah!

Whether your favorite combination in life is Jingle Bells with a hint of eggnog and a dash chestnuts roasting on an open fire or you side more with Scrooge himself, there’s no denying that the holiday season is once again upon us. We should be also well aware that this means many people are more likely to be opening up their wallets (us included) to buy all the hottest gadgets, accessories, excursions or the latest and greatest toys on the market. What this should really signal to us is opportunity. This is the time to get noticed and get people checking out your services and ready to hit ‘buy now!’ Here are some great tips and strategies for your holiday marketing campaigns during the most wonderful time of the year.

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Set a SMART goal
Don’t get too lost with all these crazy tactics unless you have a clear and defined plan. This may not be the most magical, tinsel laden part of the plan, but trust me, we’re getting there! A SMART goal stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based.
In order for your SMART goal to work, you need to have it start off by being rather specific. This means answering the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘where,’ ‘when,’ and ‘why.’ Once you’ve specified the goal, it needs to be measurable. You need to pick which metrics to track and how you will monitor the progress. The goal should also be something attainable. It’s important to set a goal that will not be too easy, but push your company to the next level. It should also be relevant or realistic to your business and future progress. Finally, your SMART goal should be time-based, meaning it needs a time-frame that creates a sense of urgency.
A few extra tips for your SMART goal is to begin by writing it down. You can’t just have wonderful ideas and goals floating around in your head. Get them all down on paper. Be sure to constantly review these goals, especially the results. Are you on track? Can you be doing better? It is ok to adjust your SMART goals, but be sure you clarify these with the team. Lastly, celebrate! When you’re able to start seeing your successes, you need to share that with everyone you know. It will definitely boost morale and encourage further achievements.

Get in the holiday spirit with social media
Sorry to all those Scrooge lovers out there, but you need to get into the holiday spirit first and foremost to drive sales. This means creating posts and content that directly relates to the holiday season. We’re talking reindeer with red noses, bells that jingle and yuletide logs. People go bananas for the holidays and they love to feel warm and cheery. Your social media needs to reflect this feeling and invite your customers to spread the holiday cheer by opening their wallets.
For starters, be mindful of dates. This means having appropriate messaging for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday along with the traditional and less traditional celebrations. Get your messages scheduled and arriving early. And, don’t forget your hashtags.
Your holiday social media campaign needs to be relevant and thoughtful. It could be a contest, a discount or a raffle, but you need to get your customers engaged and that usually means making them act or react. People also love comedy, cats and holiday trends. Speak to your customers. Get in their heads and bring on the holiday cheer!

 

  1. Personalized Promo Codes
    For all the small business retailers out there, promo codes are the way to go, especially personalized ones. It is an easy gift that you can give a select group of your special customers to give them some warm fuzzies this holiday season. Show your customers that you value their relationship and that their are part of an exclusive, members only club. 
  2. The final countdown
    If you’ve been scrolling through any Facebook or Instagram feed, you almost can’t miss some type of countdown to the holidays. Christmas lovers go nuts over how many Mondays are left before Old St. Nick shows up. You can countdown to the holiday itself or make a specialized countdown for your holiday deal.
    There’s even a free way to create a landing page with such a timer. Ontrapages provide an easy and free way to create a timer for your exclusive deal. The beauty with this timer is that it can stay visible past the deadline. If a customer clicks on the page past the due date, you can have them re-directed to another magical and jolly page of star wonder.
  3. Carry yourself through to January
    The best way to end your holiday campaign is to make sure it carries your business into the following year. January can be a tough time for sales, so your campaign should also begin to target that time. Part of your holiday goal should include building brand awareness, loyalty and engagement that lasts. Nurturing your new customers and audience is great way to gain even more sales when the holidays come about next year.

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Even if your favorite jam isn’t Jingle Bell Rock, this is the time of year to let heaven and nature sing for your marketing campaign efforts. This is the time to introduce new tactics and enjoy a chance to jingle all the way. Sleigh bells are ringing, so we’re hoping you were listening to these holiday marketing campaign ideas.

 

SEO, Blogs & You!

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Writer’s block…have you had it? Know what it feels like? For many, the block never fades away and it prevents many small business owners from getting a blog or content up on their website. It can be hard to get off and writing on the right topic and even on the first sentence. Writing can be a daunting task that requires creativity, concentration and a desire to turn words into poetry. For many small business owners, that is a task often left for someone else or for no one at all.

The truth of the matter is, if you are a small business owner, you NEED to blog. Here’s why:

The internet has not only become a place to share selfies or buy the hottest brand name shoes, it is a place where millions go to search and find information. People are not only searching for answers to silly questions like if Jedi actually exist, but many people really do research information and you can be the authority on that exact information. In fact, you ARE the authority in your field, you just need to blog about it!

So why blog?

The need for small businesses to blog is two fold. First, your blog serves as your stage. You need to get up on it, in front of the people who are interested in your expertise and sing to them (figuratively of course, most of us really can’t carry a tune). Secondly, search engines are watching you. They are creeping around every corner and taking note of the words you are using and how it relates to their very specialized algorithm known as the very confusing and super scary Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Don’t fret, SEO isn’t that scary. In fact, using just a few key phrases and being consistent in your blogging will get that scary SEO algorithm thing to notice you.

Your Stage

When you use your blog as your stage, you are telling the world that you are the whiz, the hotshot, the master and whatever else thesaurus.com tells us is similar to the word, expert. You know your industry better than the average Joe and you just need to show it by having a consistent blog and then by having an audience. Here are the tips to set your stage and fill seats to maximum capacity:

  1. Just start
    Seems silly, but it’s true. You need to just start  writing and finding a consistent routine. Monthly is fine, but getting an article out weekly or daily is even more awesome.

    Now, if you are the type that finds writing a blog similar to getting a tooth pulled at the dentist, then you are in luck. Blogging can easily be outsourced. There are platforms like upwork.com, which allow highly qualified individuals and people who actually like to write to offer their services to you at killer rates.
  2. Gather your audience
    You can’t just let your blog sit there, you need to make it dance a little to attract an audience. A great way to fill your seats is to share it to your social media accounts. You have social media accounts right? It’d be a shame if you didn’t have social media either. You need both in this day and age!

    Hint! Have a signup form for your blog that is easy to find. Subscribers to your blog may differ from your social media followers….you need both!

    Hint, Hint! Be sure that your social media buttons on your blog pages to make it easy to share. People like easy, just like you do.
  3. Don’t be boring
    Now comes the fun part. Get a personality and write like it. People want to read a unique piece that captures and holds their attention throughout. Be the authority, but don’t be boring. If you are outsourcing the writing, be sure to let the writer know just how you want it to sound.
  4. Provide value
    Being a little silly, cheeky or goofy is fine as long as it is followed up with valuable information. It is great to paint a funny picture, but you also need to drop the other shoe and incorporate the value you bring in your industry. Personality plus value will equal a blog worthy of many subscribers.
  5. And now you have “street cred”
    Having a voice (personality) and delivering a blog with value (stuff average Joe didn’t already know) will provide you with credibility that is important to have online. You have potential customers in your audience and they are more likely to buy from your business when you establish authority and trust.

That scary SEO thing I mentioned earlier
You pretty much can’t talk about blogging unless you discuss the dreaded SEO thing. You’ll miss the big picture of blogging if you forget about the SEO part because your blog will be just as hard to find as a DMV with short lines. Here’s a quick way to get that SEO incorporated into your blogging:

  1. Keywords matter
    Your blog post should center around a keyword. That keyword needs to present often in  your post, but not so often that it seems like you are trying too hard. Keywords should appear in your title, header tags, alt-text and most definitely in your first paragraph.

    It is important to research appropriate keywords for your industry. You want to be competitive in your industry and you want search engines to take notice. Lucky for you too, there are tools that help with this. Check out this Ad Words Tool for some help with keywords.
  2. Even more boring: backlinks
    Having other websites link to you is also important for SEO purposes. This is called your backlinks and basically, the more you have, the better. Having attractive blogs with information that customers and other businesses want to share is fabulous.
  3. The additional boring stuff
    If your website uses WordPress, then you have many plug-ins that will make blogging for SEO purpose easy peasy. You will want to take a closer look into internal links (linking your blog to other parts of your website), header tags, image names and alt-tags.
  4. Maybe not so boring
    Additionally, if you are the proactive type, you could offer to be a guest blogger for another (more well-known) business. If you can find an industry leader that is not your direct competition, but related to what you do, seek them out and offer up a contribution to their site. Networking can catapult you into your first sold out show. It doesn’t hurt to ask, right?

Ok, so long story short, your small business needs a blog. Outsource it if you must, but the bottom line is that it must be done. It also must incorporate some of the scary SEO practices as discussed. To be the rockstar you’ve always dreamt about you need to build the stage (your blog) and fill the seats (with potential customers). Be the authority and jam out at the show that was created by you.

 

Setting Up Your Small Business for Online Success in Phoenix

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Studies have shown that 70-80% of people will research a business online before making the purchase or even entering a box storefront. It is no wonder that digital online marketing is more important for a small business than ever before. America is plugged in, online and ready to research and buy products.

Small business owners in Phoenix are taking notice and trying to figure out how to get a little slice of the digital pie. The great news is that there are easy ways to get your business online and noticed for less than you think.

Once your business has been launched, you will need to create an online presence and eventually an online buzz. Keep in mind, you do not necessarily need to do this all on your own. There are many experts in Phoenix, like Orion Sol Consulting, who specialize in launching businesses in this exact fashion. Right now, consumers are very in tune with researching products and you want to make sure that yours stands out. Taking it to the bare bones, you’ll need the following to get off and running:

Brand
Website / SEO
Social Media Accounts
PPC
Blog
Email Campaign

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Brand
To be a the top of your game, you need to have a brand or a recognizable identity. This is usually in the form of an eye-catching logo and tag line. Having an identity that is recognized not only promotes consistency, but also creates brand loyalty. People become loyal to brands that give them a good feeling and positive emotions. You need to know your audience and create a brand that speaks to them.

Designing Logos is definitely best left to the professionals. There are many companies like fiver.com that offer freelancers to make bids for logo design at a very low price. Be aware that you do get what you pay for. If you expect your company to go far, it is wise to invest in a logo that will stand out and attract the right crowd. Digital marketing companies, like us at Orion Sol, have the expertise for creating a logo to get you in the game.

Website
You pretty much cannot do anything online without a well optimized and designed website. Your website now becomes your storefront. It must tell the viewer who you are, what your product is and how you are the best in Phoenix’s Valley of the Sun.

Optimization is also key when building and designing a website. Some of the factors that will help your website’s ranking include things like using relevant keywords, length and quality of your content, how often you post new content and more.

It is estimated that 90% of people do not go past the first page results when searching on Google. You want to be on page one without a doubt and having a well optimized website will help get you there.


Social Media Accounts

When you consider that 81% of Americans have at least one social media profile, you know that your company must get into the social media game. In the past it has been seen more has an extracurricular activity, but now it is booming with advertising and interaction. It is a way to get personal with your audience and engage them like never before.

Social media accounts can help with search engine ranking and improve your local awareness. You will want to be sure to get a Facebook, Google business and Yelp account setup. These particular platforms will help establish your local authority in your industry and give a chance for your customers to review your service.

The content you post on social media platforms is also important. Your audience wants to see fresh, consistent and current content. A successful online presence will also get people liking, commenting and sharing your posts.

Finding a Phoenix Social Media Marketing firm is certainly one of the first steps you will want to take.


PPC

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is a great way to launch your business into the digital world and start directing web traffic to your site. You will need to develop a strategy, understand your target audience and targeting keywords. PPC can be a very successful way to advertise immediately to your target audience, increase profit margins and provide measurable results.

The strategy of using PPC can become convoluted if you are not well versed in using it. Many small businesses are better off finding a PPC expert to develop the objective and execute the plan. Every platform that PPC can be used on has its pros and cons, therefore it is often best left to the professionals.

Blog
Blogging is a very important part of digital marketing and setting up your small business for online success in Phoenix. The importance here is that blogging directly correlates to your ranking on search engines like Google, just like the other content that is on your website. The strategy with blogging is for your company to become the authority in your field through writing content with desired keywords that will in turn, produce great ranking results.

You might be a small business owner that finds blogging a daunting task. Blogging needs to be done consistently and with proper keywords to make it useful. Most businesses end up outsourcing their blogs to freelancers or marketing companies. Outsourcing your blogging means you will likely have higher quality content and allowing you the extra time to focus on other aspects of your business.

Email
Email marketing continues to be an important part of online communication. Especially once you have established an audience, keeping them informed about your company and products is vital. Fortunately, there are inexpensive and even free programs that can help you organize your email list, newsletter format and replies. Automation is key here, as you again want to delegate your time wisely.

If your small business is ready for online success in Phoenix, there are many steps you must take before you start getting noticed by your target audience. Make sure you check all of these off your list and then expect great things to happen in the digital marketing world.

Your NEW Small Business Marketing, Website Design, and PR Firm in Phoenix!

Your NEW Small Business Marketing, Website Design, and PR Firm in Phoenix!

Orion Sol Consulting was created as a Freelance Network to bring tenured Fortune 500 level talent, to American Small Businesses who are looking for PR, Social Media Marketing, Marketing, Advertising, Website Design, SEO and PPC services, but don’t have the budget to afford one of those trendy downtown firms.

Founded by Forest John Moriarty after working for over 12 years in the SEO, and Digital Marketing world, Orion Sol Consulting was born from his desire to bring the industry’s top talent to small business at a fraction of the cost they normally would pay.   Every Freelancer working with Orion Sol Consulting has to meet the strict criterion of having worked for a Fortune 500 company, having at least 10 years of experience in their field, and are now themselves a small business owner.    Why such strict guidelines for the freelancers?  Because with this combination of attributes, our freelancers are some of the industry’s best talent, who have a business acumen far exceeding the “20 something” college graduate working at a trendy downtown firms.  In addition, who better to serve small businesses than their fellow small business owners?

Website Design Services and Prices can fluctuate immensely based on how custom the design is, what sort of back end functionality is built into the site, and how many other programs or software need to be installed on them.  While Orion Sol Consulting’s is based in Phoenix Arizona, it’s website design freelancers are all over the United States.

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Our Social Media Marketing and Management Services are more than just gathering likes and shares.  While engagement is important effectively generating new sales, new customers, and repeat business should always be the main goal.

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Pay Per Click Management, or PPC is such an important starting point for many small businesses.  Orion Sol Consulting’s freelancers who handle this service were trained directly by Google, and so we have the edge when it comes to getting the best ROI for your tight budgets.

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Nothing builds YOUR BRAND™ like a hot PR Company in Phoenix.  Orion Sol Consulting’s PR freelancers are based in the Valley of the Sun, but our experience and PR hits are national in scope.   Local News, Trade Publications, and National News can all be leveraged to help give a small business the reach of their larger competitors!

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SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, has often been seen by many small business owners as “magic internet voodoo” that no one seems to understand, and while they know they need it, but they don’t like not knowing what they are buying!  Orion Sol Consulting will not only explain how SEO works, the steps needed to make it work, they show their work!  Just like in grade school, we show our work, every last detail, so the small business owner knows exactly what they are paying for, and if it is working.

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Email Marketing and Direct Mail Marketing can leave top of mind impressions for your current or potential small business customers.  Doing this effectively and in a way that genuinely “wows!” your customer is key.  Orion Sol Consulting goes to great lengths to make sure we ignite their inbox, and mailbox!

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If you are a small business owner in Phoenix, Scottsdale, or anywhere else in Arizona, Orion Sol Consulting will come to you!  If you are not in Arizona, we have freelancers all over the country who can help.   Reach out to us today, and see how our small business owners can help your small business!