Welcome 2015 – Ever Forward!

2015-new-yearIt’s been one heck of a year!

2014 saw us throw a big party for our new office ribbon cutting, make a whole bunch of new friends, win a couple awards for web design projects, serve a whole bunch of great new clients, bring on two awesome new team members, tell a bunch of silly jokes, drink waaaay too much coffee, travel to the opposite coast to share our ideas and services with other entrepreneurs, get even more involved in our community… all while doubling our business. We’ve come a long way and are so thankful to our clients, our partners, our team and our community for all they’ve done to help us grow in 2014.

2015 will bring new opportunities as we expand our operations, offer new services and improve our existing services. New services means even more ways of helping our clients grow their businesses while new systems and new staff means faster turnaround times and even better customer service.

Ever Forward… it’s one of those things I say all the time and it’s a huge part of what defines the culture here at Rock Paper Simple. Yes, we are your Melbourne, Florida Web Design experts, but we are so much more than that… we are a company that truly cares about serving our clients as best we can, a company that isn’t satisfied with the status quo, with “good enough”, and we are getting better at what we do every day. Because we truly believe that no one is ever done growing, ever done improving, ever done learning… we strive to innovate and apply new ideas constantly to our services and offerings and you will see a string of new ideas and services this year and moving forward.

When you stop growing, when you stop pushing forward, that’s when you ought to worry. Forward means energy, it means innovation, it means new ideas and new opportunities. Forward can be scary for some, but for those who seize the opportunity, who take the leap… forward is the most rewarding of all and it is the only way to live! So let’s go forward!

As we ring in the new year, may I say to my team, our clients, our friends, our colleagues and my fellow entrepreneurs… Ever Forward!

The Top 10 Website Pitfalls to Avoid #4 – No Conversion Methods

The Top 10 Website Pitfalls to Avoid Rock Paper Simple 4Welcome back to another installment of website pitfalls from your favorite web design company in Melbourne, FL. We are your favorite, aren’t we? Well, if not… then you need to come by the office so I can bribe you with coffee and snacks. Then, surely, we will be your favorite! Anyways, enough nonsense… let’s get to the real meat and potatoes (oh man, now I’m hungry).

We talked about the need for directing traffic with call to actions, but now it’s time to convert them into a lead, sale, subscriber, etc. and do it with purpose!

This is one of my favorite points to illustrate during a speaking engagement. I’ll be presenting to a room full of business professionals and I’ll come to this point and I will tell them to imagine they all desperately want to buy a “widget”, an imaginary product and that I am a “widget” salesman. I tell them that after I finish my sales pitch, I want them to agree to buy my “widget”. Then I start… “Hi! Have you been looking for the perfect widget? One that works day and night and never breaks? The best of the best? Well, I just so happen to sell widgets. See, here is all kinds of information about widgets (I show them a blank sheet of paper). Aren’t our widgets amazing? You probably want to buy one or two or a thousand.” then I immediately turn tail and walk out of the room! I even shut the door if there is one. I know the point has hit them when I hear the roar of laughter.

It’s a fun way to drive home a point and to get a few good laughs. I came back in and ask what I did wrong. “You didn’t let us answer” or “You didn’t finish” is typically the response I get. What I didn’t do is I didn’t give them a chance to buy. I didn’t close… I didn’t go for the conversion. Sales 101… ask for the sale!

I see tons of great websites that forgot to ask for the sale, that forget to close the deal. They present great content, good navigation and call to actions to drive visitors to the right pages, but then make it so hard to buy, sign up, register or whatever it is that visitors leave without doing anything!

This is remedied quite easily; make sure you have a call to action that asks the user to take that final action you want them to take. Maybe it’s to fill out a form to request more information, maybe it’s for them to use an online scheduler to schedule a call or consultation, maybe it’s for them to click “buy now!” or to subscribe for something… maybe the whole goal is just to get a Facebook like. Whatever the goal, don’t forget to have an easy and obvious way for the visitor to become a conversion!

If your website is designed with the idea to sell or generate leads, but has no real method to do so… you cannot expect it to meet its goals! Many business owners build a website, put up their information and expect the leads to flow in.

Common methods to convert would be to have a contact form, perhaps an email newsletter signup, an eBook download (in exchange for email), a product shopping cart, a registration form or even a quote request form. There are many ways to convert a visitor; make sure you have several setup.

We’ve got another blog post that goes into real detail about lead capture methods (click here to check it out).

Download our FREE eBook that includes the other 9 reasons!

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Integrity Breeds Profit

integrity“We believe that our integrity and honesty is worth more than profit.”

Uh oh, this sounds like it’s going to be one of those posts that complain about why everyone is in business to make money, doesn’t it? Well, never fear, this is NOT one of those… because I absolutely think that we are in business to make money, to generate a profit, to grow and better serve our clients and create more opportunities for our team. Why else go into business? Why else put in the endless hours and build a company and a team if not to generate profit? The entrepreneur… we have a dream for something bigger, to go further and explore opportunities, to take risks, to dream big and shoot for the stars, to make a difference and yes… to make money! It’s just not in our blood to punch a clock 9-5. And if we are going to go big, it better be making us some dollars!

My point is not that we shouldn’t make money or that it is somehow evil or disingenuous to make money. Integrity and profit are not diametrically opposed as some would have you believe. Preserving the integrity of your company is worth profit in of itself, because integrity will breed profit. I was speaking with my pastor recently about a statement I had written on our white board at the office.

“It says ‘Integrity trumps profit’… I want my team to understand how important it is!”, I told him confidently.

“You know that’s wrong, right?”, he replied with a grin on his face, “It should actually be ‘Integrity BREEDS profit'”.

And he was right! Because that is truly the power of cultivating a culture of integrity within a company like ours. It’s more than just a moral principal, more than just being able to sleep at night… it’s more than that. It is actually an investment into our clients, into our vendors, our community and our team. When a company acts out of integrity, it shows it can be trusted, and that, my friend, is worth cold hard dollars.

People come back to companies they trust. People refer their friends, family and colleagues to companies they trust. People want to work with companies that have a reputation for treating their customers and clients right. Integrity is a foundational element for your company; for your brand. It makes all of your marketing more effective because it has something solid to stand on. And not only that, but it gives your team confidence that their company is backing up their promises and will honor its commitments.

If you are an entrepreneur and business owner, you know you have to think long-term. You aren’t just thinking about the next couple moves… you are looking at checkmate in 19 moves, and to do that you are building one move upon another. That final checkmate move seems so important, but it would never have happened without the move that was 19 moves prior and set it all up. Cultivating integrity in your company and your team is one of those early opening moves. Build a foundation of integrity and, if you are moving forward with purpose, watch it breed profit!

The Top 10 Website Pitfalls to Avoid #3 – Content That is Not About THEM

The Top 10 Website Pitfalls to Avoid Rock Paper Simple 3This is one of the big ones that really kills websites. In fact, it kills entire marketing campaigns. When your marketing is all about you and doesn’t relate to your target market, you have a serious communication problem ahead of you and will very quickly find that you’ve been tuned out.

Anytime you are presenting a message to a prospect, you need to make sure you are speaking to them and their needs. They don’t care who you are or what you do until they understand that you can solve a problem they have or can make their life better in some way or another. “What’s in it for me” is what they want to know first, not who you are or what you do.

The beauty of it is that once you’ve proven that what you have is something they want, once you’ve identified a pain they have and a solution you have that solves that… they will seek out information about you.

Here’s a great example with a simple marketing piece we did recently to help let all the fine people of Melbourne know we are their web design company of choice. Our brochure is a simple, yet creative, square trifold piece. The interesting thing about it is that it does NOT do what most brochures do, which is to spend the majority of the time talking about our company. What I’ve learned is that no one really cares about me and my company until they realize we have something of value to offer them… then once they see a big enough benefit, they seek out the rest of the information.

The brochure copy (or content) is Them-Centric instead of Me-Centric.

Let’s define the differences real quick: Them-Centric copy focuses on keeping “them”, your target demographic, your prospective client or customer, as the center. When you put the client first, they take notice faster and you keep their attention longer. When you write Me-Centric copy, you and your business is the center, which doesn’t have as much attention-holding power.

Back to the brochure… we start the process of identifying with the prospect without selling them anything. We have our brand and logo on the cover with the simple slogan “You are awesome at what you do. Ready for a website just as awesome?” We have not said we build websites, but we have implied it… we’ve also implied they are awesome and people like being awesome. Come on, who doesn’t like being awesome… admit it, you like being awesome.

So now they flip it open and they see two things. On the left is a statement that starts getting them thinking about how a website can help them: “Imagine what would happen if your business had an awesome WordPress website that generated leads, created conversions and made people want to share it.” That page also contains two testimonials from some of our favorite clients. On the right, which is the inner flap, is a letter from me briefly talking about who we are.

Everyone that flips through our brochure, without exception, skips that inner flap and immediately opens the brochure all the way to reveal the last two pages which lead the reader down the path of wanting a website, without ever saying “hey we sell websites!” In fact, we don’t say that we build websites anywhere in the brochure except for briefly in the letter from me.

The center page says “Now imagine that website also impressed your visitors and incited them to take action with a crisp modern design.”

And the final page says “It would be huge for your business, wouldn’t it?” and provides our phone number and website nice and big. Samples of our work are also shown on this page.

The cool thing is this… once they read the rest of the inside, without fail, they always go back and read that flap with the letter from me about who we are! Once they realize we have something cool to offer, they instantly care who we are! It’s pretty cool to watch it happen consistently.

We do this on our website as well, in fact, we use the same copy along with some handy call to actions to drive visitors to the pages where we will convert them.

It’s the same with you and your company. Your job isn’t necessarily to communicate who you are as much as it is to communicate how you relate to your prospect, how you have a solution that meets their needs, their pains. Once you connect with them, they will look for more information about you.

Being Them-Centric on your home page is absolutely paramount because that’s when you need to prove the most that your website is worthy of their time.

“Marketing isn’t about you at all, it’s about your prospect” is something I’ve often said to my clients in consultation sessions. We have to stop treating our marketing as if it is being designed for us. Speak to your prospect.

Download our FREE eBook that includes the other 9 reasons!

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The Top 10 Website Pitfalls to Avoid #2 – No Directing of Traffic

The Top 10 Website Pitfalls to Avoid Rock Paper Simple 2Ever enter a busy intersection where someone was directing traffic? Ever wonder what it would be like if the traffic cop decided to quit and walk away? No one would know where to go and it would be a disaster!

Ever looked for a store or office location and couldn’t find it because it wasn’t well marked? Maybe you couldn’t find the entrance… or, worse, the exit!?

Ever walked into an office and the lobby was empty with no one to tell you where to go? Then you have to decide if you should just sit down or go exploring!

This is what happens to many many websites. People arrive in the front lobby (the home page) and wander around a little. They aren’t sure where to go next and will really just tend to wander around until (you hope) they actually get to a place on the website where they find what they were looking for and turn into a sale or conversion… or, and the more likely event, they get lost, confused and frustrated and leave your website when that dream product they have been looking for all their lives (the one you sell) was actually just two clicks away!

How your visitor navigates your website should never be left to chance. Start by identifying the most important pages on your website and listing them in order.

Decide which ones will turn into leads, sales or conversions for you. Now it’s time to drive traffic to those pages!

When visitors come to your website, there should be several call to actions, an obvious communication to the visitor to take a certain action. A call to action (or CTA for short) is different depending on the application, but really is all about getting that user to take an action. For now, we are talking about directing traffic, later we will talk about CTA’s in regards to getting conversions, but first we much drive traffic to where we want them.

Once you know your most important pages, be sure your home page has 3-5 call to actions (most of the time these are buttons) to drive visitors into the most important pages of your site.

Never rely on your menu navigation for visitors to use to get to those pages… because it leaves too much to chance, especially if you have lots of pages.

Next, make sure that no page is a dead end. It either has a conversion method on it or has a call to action that takes the visitor to the next step in the process. Sometimes you need a few pages in between to get the visitor to where you want them, but remember that you only have their attention for so long.

When people land on your website, they need to know that you have what they are looking for… and they need to know, fast! If you don’t provide an easy and fast way to help them find what they are looking for, they will leave and you will lose the prospect.

There is coaching team that are colleagues and dear friends of mine and when they first came by to visit our web design office here in Melbourne, FL… and when they came upstairs, one of the first things they said was “Wow! You even have a call to action in your office!” referring to a banner at the entrance that says “come see us upstairs”, leaving no doubt where a visitor will find us.

Never leave your visitor with doubt regarding where to go next on your website.

Download our FREE eBook that includes the other 9 reasons!

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The Best and Worst Times to Post, Pin & Tweet [Infographic]

So when do you post that clever Facebook post? When should you send out that awesome new graphic with the inspiring quote? What about the amazing photoshoot you just had? When do you post those pictures? There’s tons of info out there, but HubSpot posted this pretty cool graphic on their blog that helps us mere mortals take one glance at a really pretty infographic and know exactly when to post our social media stuff!

 

Check out the graphic from HubSpot’s blog:

Post-Pin-Tweet-Best-Time-Outreach

Definitely click here to go over and check out the HubSpot post.

The Top 10 Website Pitfalls to Avoid #1 – No Goals, No Plan, No Purpose

The Top 10 Website Pitfalls to Avoid Rock Paper Simple 1So, let’s address the biggest killer of websites and really part of the reason the other nine even happen…

No goals, no plan, no purpose, no reason for existing! It’s a recipe for a very depressed poor little website. Hey, websites have feelings too! Alright, maybe they don’t have feelings, but in all seriousness, websites fail the majority of the time for the same reason that over 80% of small businesses fail… no real solid plan based in reality.

If there are no goals set and no plan laid out for a website, it is very very difficult for it to produce results and ultimately, websites without goals and plans tend to just sit there and do absolutely nothing!

So make sure you SET GOALS for your website.

Even if you already have a website. SET GOALS and make a plan to start generating results from it. Otherwise, why have one? Just like every other aspect of your marketing, it should be growing your business. It should have a purpose.

Before we ever begin a project for a client, in fact in the initial sales consultation we are asking them… what is your goal with this website? What do you want to accomplish? Because we know that without a goal, the whole website project is just a shot in the dark with only a HOPE that we get it right.

It helps to take a step back and look at your business or organization. What are your goals there? What are your overall marketing goals? What kind of goals for your website would grow your business? Start there.

Many websites are built as purely informational sources, some are built to sell online, others are built to capture leads and still others are built to drive traffic and sell advertising. What is your website’s purpose?

Determine that and then set goals, a timeline and a strategy to achieve that goal and you will be on the right path to having an awesome website!

We’ve got another, more detailed, blog post that talks about your website goals, plans and messaging to turn your website into a vehicle for business growth. Click here to take a look.

Download our FREE eBook that includes the other 9 reasons!

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