Custom Search

Sunday, January 4, 2009


I.Small Business Advice on Getting Referrals

One of my subscribers recently asked the question of how to get a steady stream of referrals. Great question and one that more business owners should be asking as referrals are a powerful source of new business.

Referrals are powerful because when someone speaks positively about your business, it is far more powerful than any marketing the business owner can do. That's because it is unsolicited and comes from personal experience. The person speaking about your business has first-hand positive experience and they are sharing it.

The person hearing the referral is far more receptive to hearing a recount of an experience from a trusted friend, family member, or associate. And they almost instinctively want to share in the positive experience by showing up to do business with you.

All business owners want referrals and we often assume it is an organic process where the business owner is not actively involved. But there are ways in which you an stimulate referrals.

Here are 4 ways to generate referrals:

1) It may seem obvious, but first and foremost, create awesome products and deliver awesome services. Take a look at the product you sell and the service that supports that product. When people receive high quality products and, better yet, high quality service, they naturally tell others about it. A good question to ask is whether there are improvements or changes you can make to your product or service to earn an increased number of raving fans?

2) Ask. Again, this may seem simple enough but my experience is that business owners could do more to ask for referrals. When someone raves about your product or service on their way out the door or upon completion of a project or task, ask if they can do you a favor by referring others to you. People are more than happy to fulfill that request.

3) Referral programs: This is where you set up programs for existing clients and customers where they receive a gift or prize or some other enticing benefit for referring clients and customers to you. Depending on the size of your business and customer base, this may be a good option.

4) Celebrate those who refer to you: When someone refers a customer to you, go overboard with thanking them for that referral and you're likely to see more people referring to you. If they take the time to refer someone and barely get a thank-you, it's unlikely that they'll bother referring in future.

II.10 Basic Components that Every Small Business Website Needs


Be sure that you have the basics covered prior to launching a new web site or implementing new features to your website. Below are 10 basic components that every business website should have. This will ensure that your website has a solid foundation to build upon.


Every page on your website should include a title that describes the content on that page. This is important for search engine optimization, as one of the items that search engines considers when ranking your page is the page title. Also, having descriptive page titles will increase usability. Your visitors may have more than one web page open or decide to bookmark your page, therefore you want to ensure that your page title accurately reflects the content of the page.


Your web pages should include a "meta keyword" area that provides a listing of keywords that accurately describe of the content on the page. TIP: Select the keywords that you want the web page to rank for in search engine results. Although several of the top search engines are increasingly placing less importance on this area, there are still some secondary search engines that will consider your keyword listing when determining your search engine placement. The meta keywords statement is placed in the header area of your website. If you are working with a designer or webmaster, speak with them about updating this area.


Your web pages should include a "meta description" area that provides search engines with an accurate description of the content on the page. Ensure that the meta description tags are descriptive, brief and contain your relative keywords. Some search engines will use the meta description tag to describe your site when it appears in search engine results.


Reputable small business websites have attractive, well designed and well functioning user interfaces. Compare your website to the top websites of competing companies in your industry. If you do not feel that your website is professional or portrays an accurate representation of your brand, you should consider a redesign. Businesses with poorly designed or ineffective websites are often judged as unprofessional or untrustworthy. A small business website does not need to be overly designed or display all of the latest, hot new technologies, but you should ensure that your website does not convey an unprofessional image. Also, remember that professional designed pages should be properly coded (validated) and not include errors or other issues that will prevent the page from displaying properly and functioning as intended.


A contact link should be on every page of your website. You want to ensure that your visitors can contact you easily with their questions or comments. Keep the form simple. You will want to allow space for the visitor to input their feedback or question and you will also need a method for responding to them (their email address). If you include too many fields on the contact form, you may discourage the visitor from connecting with you. Only gather the information that you need to effectively answer their question or respond to their feedback.


Is your website navigation effective? Your visitors should be able to quickly find the information they need without effort. When reviewing your navigation, ensure that the link titles are obvious. Try not to be too creative with the website navigation. The link titles used should reflect the terms that your customers use when describing your product or service.


You should have access to your website statistics. I recommend that every small business website owner install Google Analytics on their website pages. The Google Analytics application provides detailed statistics on your website traffic. You will need this information as you monitor your website marketing efforts. Also, website analytics can reveal very helpful information about what's working and (most importantly) what's not working for people that visit your site.


The average new website visitor remains on a site for less than 10 seconds. If you main objective is to gain new subscribers, sell more widgets or register more event attendees, allocate a prominent area on your website to display your "call to action". This is the area where you are asking your visitors to "do something". Be sure to indicate the benefit of taking this action; don't simply demand that they "buy now", "subscribe now" or "attend this event". Indicate a few brief benefits to taking the action and also provide a link to provide more detail about the product, service or event.


Ensure that you are providing the information that your customers want and need in a clear and concise manner. The average new website visitor remains on a site for less than 10 seconds. You don't have much time to convince visitors to buy a product or service, subscribe to a newsletter or attend an event. Visitors that are new to your site should be able to determine who you are and what's service/product or information you're providing in less than 10 seconds. If the navigation area is effective, they should be able to access all of the supporting information that they will need to make a decision on whether to continue a business relationship with you and your company.


If you have a business website, you will need a method for staying connected to people that want to be notified of product/service specials, new company news, upcoming events and other changes relevant to your business. There are many methods for building a listing of people that want to stay informed about your business. Two popular options are RSS feeds and email newsletters. You can use either tool to build a listing of customers and potential customers that want to learn more about your service. This strategy also increases your repeat visitor rate, as you will have an opportunity to call previous visitors back to your website. Be sure to inform your visitors regarding how often they can expect to hear from you (ex: monthly, daily, weekly, or as new information comes in). Also be sure to explicitly indicate if you have any plans to redistribute their email addresses for other purposes or to other companies (NOT recommended).

No comments:

Post a Comment