As a small business, it can seem like a monumental task to get noticed on the Web. You're competing against huge, multi-national companies with marketing budgets that dwarf your gross revenue. There are options, though, and it's important to find ways to get noticed locally. Market smarter, not harder.
Marketing, whether it's a digital product, professional services, or a non-profit movement, is necessary and it requires attention. A marketing strategy, much like a new digital product, requires ongoing maintenance, planning, and adjustments. Here are a few ways to keep your marketing on track.
Up until now in this series, we’ve primarily talked about what goes into building the application. There’s more to building a new online service than creating the functional pieces of the platform. As with everything, you must market it. In the beginning, this doesn't have to be perfect or fancy - it just needs to provide information consistent with the product itself.
When it comes to product development, whether it's digital or not, there's an on-going conversation between the person behind the actual production and the person guiding the process. This is important because it helps to clarify the vision, validate the work as part of the creation process, and ensure everything stays on track. Unfortunately, it's inevitable that somewhere along the line, a request will be made that impacts the original scope. This is called "scope creep" and it needs to be managed carefully.
When it comes to doing business, there are a ton of tools to help get the job done. And it seems like every week there’s something new trying to wiggle it’s way into my workflow. Some of them make the cut and others get kicked to the curb. Here’s the tools I use most (meaning, daily) to help me do, create, and manage my business and products.
Next month, we’ll be covering this topic with more specific details, but I thought it important to provide a broader overview. When you create new online services, you are undergoing digital product development. Like traditional product development which results in a tangible item that you can sell, it’s a process and requires time and patience. But the way you market a digital product differs significantly from marketing traditional products.
This month, we’re going to talk about how we validate some of what we did in last month’s exercise. In last month’s development diary, we talked about determine what information needed to be stored. You might think we found it all, but this is where changes tend to happen. Now, we’re going to dig into more about the process.
With the myriad of blogs that I’ve written for the site, I sometimes struggle with consistent topics. By that, I mean I’m a developer, but many blogs blur the line between product development, marketing, Web design, and networking. This can lead to confusion about exactly what we do, which has brought me to this: consistency is key.
Marketing has taken on a new level of complexity these days. Between social media, SEO, and email, we often forget that it's not always about selling (at least not constantly). Many of us, myself included, market during face-to-face opportunities. It's important to not let those connections fall through the cracks. We never know where that next big project is going to come from.
We recently started to map out a proposal for a new project. This particular project meant working around an existing relationship with a staff developer who maintains a version of the app for another platform. As we moved through the process of crafting a proposal to meet their needs, a number of questions came up, including the question about security.
Our projects typically fall on the highly-technical end of the spectrum (in case last week’s blog hadn’t already made that abundantly clear) and represent a much more significant investment for a company, but even the much commonplace “brochure site” which is often your first point of contact in sales is an important part of your marketing efforts.
This is the first in a new series of monthly blogs which will focus on a single project. The goal isn't to bore you with technical jargon and geeky details. Let's face it, you would get bored. Quickly. My goal is to provide you with insight into what happens when someone has an idea for a new digital platform and what goes into making it a reality.
We all work hard on our business, but do we all keep an eye on the reputation of our business in the community? When you're a very small or micro-business, adding that "one more thing" can be next to impossible, but it doesn't have to be.
It's been nearly two years since I first posted my blog "3 Questions Clingy Customers Want Answered", but it still holds true. You might be wondering why I didn't just recycle the blog. If you weren't, well ... I'll tell you anyway - it wouldn't help with my goal to get new content every week this year. I also wouldn't be able to tell you about a recent interaction I had related to answering those questions.
Most small businesses rely on an outsourced Web designer to manage their Web site. With the economy improving, not all of those resources are sticking around. They are instead heading back to work for other companies themselves and they all handle the transition differently. Some are great - providing their client with well-documented processes and information about their site. Many simply fade away. If you're outsourcing your Web design and development to a freelancer or independent firm, here's a few tips on making sure you're ready if you're forced into a transition.
For the last few months, I've been pushing myself to be more active. Since moving last Fall, it's been harder to get out and do the fun activities I love because trails aren't as close and riding along the valley canals is boring. I've had different people try to push me to try different things, like CrossFit (or some kind of functional mobility exercise), but it wasn't the same to me. I love to engage my mind in everything and if the activity isn't stimulating for whatever reason, the motivation to keep doing it doesn't follow. How did I get around this?
Failure to plan is planning to fail.
We've all heard the old adage, but with software, failure should be part of any plan. This isn't because we want or even know that failure will occur. We certainly don't want the application to fail, but disaster happens. It could be a fire at the data center where the application is housed, infiltration by a malicious hacker, or any number of things that cause an application to fail. What's important, though, is that you have a plan in place to get back up.
When it comes to email marketing, people often tell me its a chore to produce quality content for both your Web site and an email newsletter. Which is true and also the reason you make sure that content is in sync. That said, you don't have to duplicate your efforts; you only have to produce the content for your Web site and automate sending the latest blog to your email marketing list. Keep reading to find out how surprisingly easy it is.
Over that past few years supporting applications, I've received multiple requests to not timeout (either at all or less frequently). From a user's perspective, it's frustrating. You get up for a cup of coffee between work and get distracted by a quick conversation or the ding of email. You come back to the application, click, and you're required to log in again. There's a number of standards for the length of login timeouts, but everyone has their own opinion and each industry has different specific requirements.
We wish you all the best time with your family and friends. Grab some BBQ, light some fireworks, and enjoy the long holiday weekend. For those of you that don't see this until the 5th, we hope it was relaxing and you spent quality time with friends and family. Our regularly scheduled blogs will be back next week with more great content. Cheers!