Remaining Relevant

There is a lot of news noise right now. Rioting around the world. Recovering from a virus. Murder hornets. How to reopen. Will there be a second wave causing another shutdown? Oh, and the US has now returned to space!

How do you remain relevant with your customers and potential customers amidst all the calamity sucking up everyone’s attention?

Here are five keys to remaining relevant and continuing to flourish:

  1. Do not panic. If you make important decisions while panicking, you will regret it. Stay calm. Reach out to key vendors, customers and staff if you are in a difficult spot. But do not panic.
  2. Following closely on the previous point, stay the course. On March 9th, our outlook was rosy. The pipeline was filling up nicely and existing customers were ready to add new services. There was a two week period after that when things looked bleak as the pipeline emptied out and uncertainty ruled. But the spirit of free enterprise is strong in this country and our pipeline of new and existing customers began to fill again. You are not alone. Even businesses that are busier than ever understand that others are suffering. Stay the course.
  3. Communicate. Communicate to your customers what steps you have taken and are taking to ensure the safety of your customers and your staff. Communicate what is different. Our Church shot a series of short videos showing how things would work before, during, and after the service so folks can understand before they even go in the door.
  4. Leverage. You are not isolated and you have not been operating in a vacuum. Look through your contacts. Email or call people. I have received several very nice messages from my connections – messages just to connect and show concern. These are delightful and stick with you. Think about ALL of your contacts. Reach out to your LinkedIn connections. Try your Facebook friends. Of course go through your “rolodex” of contacts. Ask if you can help or if they need help that you might be able to do an introduction for.
  5. Get creative. My friend Mike Larkin started making videos. In a recent video he “introduced” his friends. He had printed off, for example, my picture from LinkedIn and my logo and had put them on a paddle board – showing my picture on one side and my business on the other. He proceeded to introduce several of his vendors and colleagues in the same way.  It is a delightful video that both shows he cares about folks and endears those of us mentioned to him.  Think about how you can do something similar – to both help others and draw your network closer to you.
  6. And of course there is a sixth key – use your website for each of these keys. Set it as the hub so that as the business climate, your people and your network know to come to your site for the latest and greatest.

You can remain relevant. It takes a bit of focus. Don’t be distracted by whatever the news is pushing as the latest thing to fear. Keeping your eye on your goals will help and of course, if there is anything EduCyber can do to help, let us know.

Between Maki and Brian, we know a lot of people. And we want to help. So whether it is something for your website or some other business need, let me know. Hiring? We know people. Downsizing? We know people. Need help with a local government? We know people. We want to help so let Maki or Brian know if there is anything we can do for you.

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The Road Ahead: Reopening

It doesn’t matter whether you are chomping at the bit to reopen or wish the government would keep things shut down until it is deemed safe, people are getting anxious. Even those wanting to stay in are getting cabin fever.

It is spring. The weather is getting nicer. People ARE going out. And every day more people are wanting to go out.

And that means that more and more businesses will be opening. How are you preparing, both personally and professionally for getting to what many are calling the new normal?

It is prudent, none of us wants people to die, it is just that some of us see the risks differently, to be prepared for the new normal. I’m not a fan of masks – the science, where it exists suggests that anything less than an N95 mask is more for show than for actual protection. But there ARE steps you can take to minimize the risk as you venture out:

  1. Wash your hands frequently. (I can’t believe that has to be mentioned but, as it turns out, washing your hands protects you from bad germs.)
  2. When you’ve been near or in contact with others, avoid touching your face until you have washed your hands.
  3. Wash your hands frequently (see a trend here?) and when soap is not available, use hand sanitizer.
  4. Be extra sensitive to the senior population. Most of the deaths are in this population – protect your Mom and Dad – or grandparents, or whomever you have in your life that is older.

And for your business there are also several steps you should take to prepare to reopen:

  1. Move your communications, data, and email into the cloud. This will help for any work-from-home people you have as well as distributing your touch points – you don’t have to have multiple sets of hands touching your inhouse server if you don’t have an inhouse server.
  2. Update your policies – whether you interface with the public or just have staff that you want to provide a safe environment for, update your policies – in writing and make sure your staff and employees all understand them.
  3. Celebrate Your Uniqueness – Take the updated policy from step two and consider what is different from your old normal. Highlight the differences. Consider if there are steps you are taking that might be different or better than the competition.
  4. Tell the World – Now that you have a clear policy and understand what sets you apart, tell the world! One of the first things people are looking for right now, is what is your COVID-19 policy – are you open and what steps are you taking so tell the world. Post it on your website. Link to your post in your social media, update your profiles in social media and in search engines.
  5. Turn a negative into a positive. What  do we think about the current pandemic? It sucks. But instead of dwelling on the negative aspects, look at the positives. First of all, listen to your self-talk. If it is negative, shout it down. You got this. We can make it through. And we can get back to prosperity, where we were just a few short months ago.

Before you know it, we will be looking back on the beginning of 2020 as an aberration. But, much like the oxygen masks on planes, we have to first take care of ourselves before we can help others. So take care of yourself. And of your business.

And if EduCyber can be of any assistance, give us a call at 303-268-2245.

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FIVE (Digital) Steps to Reopening Your Business

Join EduCyber as we walk through the FIVE (Digital) steps you’ll need to go through as you re-open your business. You’ll see how you can take the next steps with more confidence and figure out how to integrate the New Normal into your business routine.

You will learn:
• How to prepare your business as you re-open your door for your customers
• What risks should you consider and how to avoid it
• New-normal – Why ‘We’ve always done it this way’ doesn’t work anymore

Join us on Wednesday, May 7 at 3:30 – Register at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcvde6sqTgjHNP1L70p4JCP7IAdjJqZFBXb

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Don’t Forget to Laugh

There are lots of things you can do for your business right now. But the single best thing you can do right now is laugh.

Yes, I mean it.

I was kind of freaking out when this all started. Business – new leads and new projects ground to a halt.

Or so I thought.

But the entrepreneurial spirit of America is alive and well.

Over the Easter weekend, I spent a lot of time with family. We laughed. A lot. And Monday morning I started fresh. I posted a blog about working from my basement and steps to keep engaged. And it worked. Folks reached out and, just from that blog, I began to get leads. And I would not have written that blog had I not spent time laughing.

And there is much to laugh about – not at others although I have seen some pretty funny stuff like the woman in the UK that took her device with her to the bathroom not realizing everyone in the meeting could see her – especially if you step outside of yourself and the crisis for just a minute and look in.

A couple of days ago I was on a zoom call and had set a background (I have a black curtain behind me). I happened to be wearing a black t-shirt with “I am Groot” in white lettering. This is kind of fuzzy but here is a screen capture of it:

Floating Head
Having fun with Zoom

I don’t know – what do you think? I think it looks kind of funny.

But whether you think that is funny or not, laugh a little. Then pick up the phone or hop on a screen share and talk to someone. Talk to a customer, a vendor, a colleague. You will be surprised to see how the conversation turns out after you have laughed.

Oh and as states and counties begin to open up, keep laughing. This is good advice for post COVID-19 just as it is for during. You will find you enjoy people more and they will find they enjoy you as well.

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Doing Business from Home

On a cold and snowy spring morning, while you are likely stuck in your “home office”, what can you do to advance your business? What can you do to grow when the whole world seems to have ground to a halt?

  • Pick up the phone. Call customers. Ask them if there is anything they

    Working from my basement office
    Working from my basement office

    need. When they say no, probe a bit. Just because they don’t need help with what you do or offer, let them know of your network. See if they have a need you might be able to help them meet through someone else.

  • Revisit your prospect list. Take some time with each person or company on the list. Think about what they do. Think about what they might need during this shutdown. Reach out to them, by phone whenever possible and appropriate, but by email or even snail mail where not, and offer something useful. Tips. Links to resources. Something that you can share that will add value.
  • Host an online gathering. Select several contacts whether it be customers, vendors, colleagues, partners or prospects. Set a time and host a gathering whether it be to address a specific topic or simply to share with each other about how you are coping and what is happening locally.

There is a lot happening. Every level of government seems to be rolling out programs, grants and loans to assist businesses large and small. Keep up with the current status – the grant and loan programs at the federal level are literally changing on a daily basis right now – and be prepared to share with your network.

And for you personally?

Breathe. My mother is in a memory care unit in another state. They are on lockdown, meaning my brothers can no longer visit her physically. When I call her now, she is usually breathless and has a high level of anxiety. Some of the time I can help her with the same advice I give to you. Breathe. Take a deep breath. All the way in. A bit more. Now exhale. Don’t stop. All the way out. Now do it again. I’ll wait. Now try it once more.

You got this. We got this. You are not alone.

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10 Next Steps for Your Website

Every web site, and every page should have a next step. Why does your business have a website? What is the purpose? These are the kinds of questions you should be asking yourself as you look at the pages on your site.

Sure it should look nice. Yes, it would be great to be optimized for search. But if you aren’t giving your visitors a next step, what do you think their next step will be? That’s right, they’re going to leave.

Many of the next steps are obvious. But some may not be. I click to a page called “Our Team” and see the profiles of key people in the organization. What is the next step I want visitors to take? Time to think  about what steps you want people to do.

  1. Call us. Well that was easy. But make it into a button. And put the code into the button so that when I visit the site on my phone and touch the button, it pulls up my dialer and all I have to do is push “call” to be talking to you.
  2. Email us. This is pretty simple too. Make a button with your email address. When someone clicks it, it should open a new email message to you in their email program.
  3. Request a call. If you have people requesting a call, make sure you set the expectation. Will you call right away? Next day? Don’t go longer than that. Within a few hours or next business day is ok. But in any case, set the expectation and then hold yourself to it.
  4. Download <our whitepaper>. But we don’t advocate for calling it a whitepaper. A lawn service or landscaping company might have “Download 10 tips to protect your yard during a bomb cyclone”
  5. View our services <or products>. Since every page should have a call to action, a simple next step like this is great on an About Us page or page that shows the staff.
  6. See what our customers have to say (video or written testimonials). This next step is good to help close the deal if the visitor is on your services or product page. They think it might be a good fit but they’d like to hear from people you’ve actually worked with.
  7. Learn how we have solved problems similar to yours (case studies). Story telling is a compelling sales method and a good next step from a variety of pages on your site. Move people to the page where you show you’ve actually helped real people solve real problems.
  8. Sign up for our newsletter. While email newsletters are kind of a pain – lots of folks sign up and then don’t read them – they are still a powerful sales and marketing tool. And once someone does sign up, even if they aren’t ready to buy, you now have a self-selected lead. That is as good as gold.
  9. View Details about our team. This is a particularly good next step if you are a service organization. Show your services and then the next step is to see who will be carrying out the service.
  10. Learn more about our process. Whether you are selling products and need to outline the process of completing and shipping the order, or selling services and want to help visitors feel more comfortable with the timeline and the next steps, having a next step be “View our Process” or something similar is very effective.

Take a look at your site. You probably have some good content on there already but if you go back and add some solid next steps, your site will be ready to help your business grow.

And while most of these are obvious, if you have an ecommerce site, here are 10 calls to action you should check your site against:

  1. Add to Cart
  2. Checkout
  3. Compare products
  4. View specials
  5. Call for pricing
  6. Filter products
  7. See related products
  8. Read reviews
  9. Buy now
  10. Redeem coupon
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The Problem with Content

On the Internet, content is king.  If you want to be ranked in the search engines, the best thing you can do is put original content on your website.

We often have existing or potential customers get very enthusiastic about generating content for their site as we extoll the virtues of doing so. And they often follow their content generation plan very religiously . . .  for at least a week or two. But then other bright shiny objects grab their attention and they wander away from their schedule. Sometimes they never return.

Everyone can write, right? Sure we aren’t all the best spellers or best grammaticians. But who knows your business better than you? So it can’t be that hard to write a few lines of content. Or maybe you love to write. You can easily fill page after page about what you do.

But is your content web-ready? Is it optimized for search? Have you considered the placement of key words and key word phrases? There are a myriad of web specific things to understand and implement into your web site content.

  • Is it in a web-friendly font?
  • Is it broken up into digestible chunks?
  • Do longer paragraphs have visual cues to help readers quickly grasp the main points?
  • Have you used headings?
  • Have you used subheadings?
  • What is the call to action in your text?
  • How much information is too much?
  • Will your content look good on mobile devices?
  • How much information should you include so search engines can properly index your page?
  • Are there any visuals you can use along with your text to illustrate key points?
  • Did you actually use any of your key words or keyword phrases?
  • Does your keyword phrase appear in the first paragraph of content?
  • And the list goes on . . .

And what happens if you don’t consider any of these questions?

Most likely your site will be lower in the search rankings than you would like. Most likely you will attract fewer visitors. Most likely the visitors that you do attract will not be as meaningfully engaged as you would like. Most likely your site won’t perform for you. It won’t help you grow and attract new business. It won’t help you engage existing customers. And then you’ll blame your web design team for building a poor site.

Don’t get in trouble with your content. Instead, turn to someone who gets content and understands how the web works. If you choose not to have us do it, choose someone who is well-qualified. If you do choose to work with us, contact us today to get started.

 

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Four Reasons Why You Won’t Want to Work with EduCyber

Yes, we’re telling you why you would choose NOT to work with us. Here we go:

  1. You want a website that looks just like your brochure

    If you see no difference between print collateral and
    your digital presence, then you probably don’t want to work with us. Your brochure is a great tool to hand out and leave behind after a meeting. Your web site though should be engaging and should always have a next step in order to deepen the relationship. If that isn’t what you are looking for, then you won’t want to work with EduCyber.

  2. You are not interested in measuring or considering ROI

    If you see your website as an expense and not an investment, you won’t want to work with EduCyber. Understanding how your web site fits into your marketing and sales is an integral part of our web design process. You can and should have an expectation of a return on that investment and we help our customers set and measure the return on investment. But if you just have a budget line that needs to be spent, you won’t want to work with EduCyber

  3. You want to hire a firm to do what you want, instead of wanting to partner with a firm that has strategic expertise in web design

    If your goal is having a firm that will place your pictures and your words right where you want them, regardless of how it translates in digital marketing, then we aren’t the firm you want to work with. With two decades of experience in helping customers craft messages and researching what does and does not work in user experience and design, EduCyber brings a wealth of information and insight to each project we undertake.

  4. You haven’t gotten new customers from your site so far so you don’t believe you can even with a redesign

    If your current site hasn’t generated a single new customer for you so you firmly believe that a web site can’t convert visitors into customers either, then you won’t want to work with EduCyber. When we hear that – and believe me, we hear it a lot – I like to add “so far” to the end of each sentence. “We’ve never gotten a customer from our site so far.” “Customers in our industry don’t come through the website so far.” “With our business model, we don’t get customers through our website so far”. And on and on.

Those who do choose to work with EduCyber become believers when their phone rings or the email, comes in and suddenly a connection from their website becomes a customer.

If the reasons above don’t apply to you, you might want to Work With Us.

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Social Media: Is it Worth it?

A decade ago, social media was fun. It was new. It was fresh. Perhaps even exhilarating. But now we live in a strange new world of social media where jumping to conclusions, imputing opinions falsely and disparaging anyone who disagrees with your politics or religion or race, or even gender is the norm.

With the recent disturbance in Charlotteville, Virgina, the mob (on social media) incorrectly identified one of the participants in a picture as being from Arkansas. And they unleashed on him, publishing his home address and calling him all kinds of vile things. Only they had the wrong person. When his employer – the University of Arkansas – pointed out they had the wrong man, many still refused to back down.

We have a client in the Denver area who received a bad review from someone in Seattle. It turns out the someone in Seattle had a bad experience with a similarly-named company in the Seattle area. We actually helped them reach out to the individual so they could correct it. Guess what the response was? That person was so enraged at that other company and too busy to be bothered to find the right place to complain so they refused to take it down. Yes, they understood they were complaining about the wrong company but they wouldn’t take it back. That would be like going to McDonald’s and picketing because your Whopper wasn’t prepared correctly. And refusing to stop picketing even after it is pointed out that Burger King is a couple of blocks away.

But what to do? Your marketing team is telling you the company needs a strong social media presence. Can you navigate social media and survive? There is no cure for stupidity as the examples above show. But there are many things you can do depending on your brand, your audience, and your message.

Don’t be afraid to be sassy if it fits with your image AND if the medium is right. Wendy’s made their mark on Twitter by being (for the most part) funny but also pretty sassy:

But beware – you have to finesse this just right or you will get roasted.

But that is probably a bit too aggressive, amusing though it may be, for most of us. In a B2B (Business to Business) environment, establishing your company or your brand as the thought leader can move the needle in your direction. Two ways you can do this are

  1. Post original content and
  2. Share other good content.

Number 1 is the sexy answer. And a lot of folks seize on it – “Yeah, we’ll post one a week, maybe even every day!” and follow that regime religiously for a week or two. It takes more than a week or two to establish yourself as a thoughtful thought leader.  The easiest, by far, way to proceed, is to put into writing one or two of the conversations you find yourself having with clients or prospects each week.  That is, in fact, why I’m writing this right now. Had “the social media” talk several times over the last few days. By sharing, and sharing consistently, people know who to turn to for help and more importantly, you stay in front of them so they don’t forget who you are!

In a B2C (business to consumer) business, the obvious medium is Facebook. And it can be a great tool to get the word out.  The good news is that Facebook is working to stop clickbait (headlines that entice you to click the link only to be spammed with something other than what you clicked on or simply stupid stories) which is very annoying for users.

How can you use FB in a good way? Several quick tips:

  • Create (or review) your FB company page. It is still changing. Fill out as much of your profile as makes sense – the more the better
  • Get some happy customers to write reviews on FB for you
  • Add pictures and, if at all possible, videos
  • Post regularly. Some can be specials or products or events but some should just be fun. “Here is what we are doing the office today” along with a picture of a fun staff or customer event.

Social media is a great tool to connect with people in ways that weren’t available a few years ago. Instead of having the communication be one way – from the company to the target audience, there is an opportunity for that audience to respond.  So be prepared for the responses, keep your sense of humor, and keep it real by showing the human side of what you do.

 

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Do You Need a Web Site, a Marketing Plan, or Both?

What you put into the process determines what the outcome should be.

It is not unusual for a company to come to us asking for a website when in fact what they really need is a marketing plan that includes revamping or completely redoing their website. If you are not sure if you need a marketing plan first or a website first, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

What message do we want our customers to hear?
If you are unclear on this, you need to look at your overall marketing first – consider your goals, how you typically acquire your customers and why they choose to do business with you.

  1. How do we communicate our brand visually?
    We often hear customers say things like “We aren’t Nike, we don’t have a brand” or “Because we aren’t a large company, our brand isn’t important”. That is a fallacy. If you have a distinctive look and stay with that look consistently, across all your marketing channels – web, print, business cards, signs – it will help potential customers make the connection and feel confident in doing business with you. This obviously is connected to your overall marketing.
  2. How does our website fit into our overall marketing?
    We ask this question at every intake meeting. Having clarity about what you expect your website to do for your business is incredibly focusing. It transforms “Our website is just a brochure” thinking into “Our website is the hook that helps us reel in new customers” thinking. Or, to use another fishing metaphor, it might be “Our website is the fishfinder that helps us know where to drop our lines” thinking. In any case understanding how your site fits into your marketing, helps set the right goals and expectations.
  3. What are your goals for your website?
    Often, when we ask folks what their goals are, they start with “I want it to look better” or “I want it to be user-friendly”. These are great elements to include in a site but honestly they are not goals. A goal for your website might be “I want to get one solid lead each month” or “I need 10 new newsletter subscribers” or even “I need four additional online donations”. These are measurable goals that can drive design but they also make the most sense if you have a clear marketing plan.

If these questions resonated with you and made you think “We need a marketing plan.” or “We need a better marketing plan.” we can help. We have marketing partners we can bring in to your project that will bring clarity and focus to your marketing and to your website so it can help you grow.  Give us a call today at 303-268-2245 to get started.

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