Category Archives: Website Development

Old School Advertising

Once upon a time, people looked for information about a business in the yellow pages of their local telephone directory.

Yellow PagesIf a business placed an advertisement in that directory, it was wise to be the first company listed under the desired category.  The “old school” method of naming your company, therefore, was to have a title such as All American Plumbing or AAA Heating & Cooling.  The idea was that the consumer would dial your number first because you were first in your category.

In a sense, they were following the #1 immutable law of marketing;  The Law of Leadership.

Fast forward to 2015 and the world of electronic communication.  Searching the phone directory for a business listing has been following the path of the dinosaurs for a number of years, with the end not too far away.  Today it is much faster and more efficient to look for a business using a web browser on a smart phone, laptop, tablet, or similar electronic device.

In many cases, the listing enables the online user to call the business directly from the listing, view the website, or discover the hours of operation among other choices.

So, although the old school theory of using the first letter of the alphabet to lead the way in a business listing is passe, the law of leadership still applies.

If a potential consumer does not know the specific name of your product, business, or company and chooses to search by a generic category such as “plumber” or “Italian restaurant,” it is critical that your business comes up on the first page of search results, preferably leading the way by being first on the page.  Search engines are intuitive enough to know your location, so searching for an Italian restaurant when you’re in Chicago is not likely to return a result for Poughkeepsie, New York.

The bottom line:  You want to be on the first page of search results!  Statistics have shown that 74% of users will not go beyond that first page.  If your business is not there, you are out of the picture, and will wonder why your website isn’t generating the results you expect.

How do you do it?  One way we recommend is to work with a consulting firm with a proven track record.  Just building a web presence is not enough in today’s competitive environment.  You need the right key words and strong page descriptions, but you also need to understand your market segments – not everyone needs what you offer – and provide relevant content that entices your ideal audience members to use your products and become loyal to your brand.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand


A Global Perspective

Many business owners only think about their local clientele.  They want to make sure they take care of the customers coming in the door of their establishment.  That’s admirable, especially if your business is a restaurant or retail store.

A service business like a plumber or electrician may think more regionally and not have clients or prospects walk in the door, but any territory beyond that is rarely in their vocabulary.  That’s a fault with most businesses who may think globally, but act locally.  The reverse is what’s happening in the world’s economy today.


Thinking local but acting globally is the realm of the Internet, an essential location for any business to have a presence.  The old adage about the three most important keys to success in business holds true – location, location, location.

Think of it this way – Any consumer in the world can access your corporate web presence.  Anyone!  So what?  What if a corporate executive from Sri Lanka is relocating to your community and looking for a general contractor to build a new home for the family?  Does your website … as a general contractor … let the executive know you are a professional and can get the job done?  Is it relevant?  And does your web presence enable the potential customer to contact you easily?  What if the business person wants to build a new factory and employ 450 local workers?

Granted, the example may be a rare circumstance for a general contractor, but how do you know who’s viewing your web presence?  Have they gone there intentionally or discovered your site at random?  Did a social media post in LinkedIn trigger the investigation of your company’s capabilities?

Whether we like it or not, having a business presence on the Internet exposes our products and/or services to the global marketplace.  It opens the door to doing business with people from every nation – from South Africa to Germany and from China to Chile.  It also means you should be sensitive to requests from foreign countries and be amenable to providing your goods and services to residents of those nations if the opportunity presents itself.

You may not want to go global, but the global market is out there if you want to expand your business.  If you want to avoid thinking or acting globally, you still need a web presence for your business.  There’s no avoiding that in today’s business environment.

Make sure your website is mobile enabled so the younger generations can view it on their smart phones.  You need to make sure your content is also relevant to the market segments you want to reach.  Have a call to action, too.  The future is here, now.

Brand Your Work – Work  Your Brand


Product Presentation

One of the most important elements in marketing your business is how you present your company and your products and/or services.  Presentation sets up the perception customers and potential customers have of what it is you have to offer.  Poor presentation can develop a negative perception, and we all know a negative impression – especially if it’s the first impression – can be difficult to overcome.Presentation involves virtually every aspect of your business, from your web presence to packaging of your product, and from your corporate logo to your advertising impressions.  There are psychological reasons to pay attention to presentation.

The example pictured pertains to positioning of your product.  Most consumers are right-handed.  While that may seem insignificant, it does play a role in product placement.

Store shelves are arranged to take advantage of human nature.

Store shelves are arranged to take advantage of human nature.

Store shelves are arranged to take advantage of human nature.On a grocery store shelf, dish washing detergents are displayed with the most prominent brand at eye level, front and center.  The unwary consumer sees the top brand, notices the price, naturally grabs for a bottle, and continues on their trek through the store.  It is only when they get to check-out that they realize they’ve grabbed the store brand instead of the brand they thought they had intended to purchase.  Simple psychology applied to primarily right-handed people.

Look more closely and you realize the bottles are shaped and sized very much alike, and just as colorful so the perception is they’re all the same.  At check-out, the consumer is less likely to return the store brand in exchange for a higher-priced product so the store’s psychological ploy has worked.

Have you taken a look at your company’s website lately?  Does it present well to potential customers?  When you take the time to think through the process of a potential customer finding your business on the Internet, you understand that it usually starts with a search engine query.  If your website or other information fails to come up on the first page of search results, you only have a 25% chance of a user going further to find you.

If your website does land on the first page, it’s likely you’ve paid to promote your website, found the right key words to bring you to the forefront, and have a relevant page descriptor and relevant content that matches what the consumer was searching for.  Those are the first steps.

Your website must then pertain to what the potential consumer is trying to find, and quickly.  It should be easy to scan and locate the information they need to use your services or purchase your product.  How all that information is presented is also critical.  Make it easy for people to find what they’re looking for, and if you’re not sure what they’re looking for, ask them so you can enhance the presentation of your products and services.

You must get their attention, keep it, and get them to respond favorably to your call to action.

Presentation goes so much deeper:

  • Hand your product to a potential consumer with the label facing them.
  • Give someone your business card with the information easy to read.
  • Park vehicles with your company’s logo in conspicuous locations to maximize the advertising value, and make sure the vehicle is clean and attractive-looking.
  • Keep the entrance to your building neat and clean.

Remember, it’s hard to change a first impression.  How do your employees present themselves and your company?

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand

5 P’s of Business Success

Your definition of success is different than mine.  Is the wino who scores a cheap bottle every day less successful than the sales representative whose achieves the goal of 10 sales in a week?  It comes down to how you define success.

Success KeyWhen it comes to owning and operating a business, defining success is still a personal choice, although there are certain keys that can clarify the definition.  Here are five “P”s:

  1. Passion.  One of the first elements Brand Irons considers when taking on a new client is how passionate you are about your business.  The passion gets you up in the morning with eager anticipation for what you can accomplish during the day.  It motivates you to bring enthusiasm to every decision you make about the business.  It energizes your employees and that passion for your vision goes right through to your customers.  That passion for your enterprise sends you home at night encouraged by the results and excited about bringing it back tomorrow.
  2. Plan.  Various research projects have illustrated that people, especially business owners, who set goals and write down their plans are far more likely to succeed than those who feel goals and plans have little value.  Take some time to think for a few minutes:  Are you working in your business or are you taking the time to work on your business?  Working on your business means you do some research, study your competition, talk to your customers and personnel, and develop strategies to enhance your bottom line.  Try a different tactic and measure the results of how it worked.  Consult with professionals and others in your field who have been successful in their endeavors.  Think about things.
  3. Perform.  Your passion conveys a sense of urgency that follows the path you’ve laid out in your plan.  Another critical element is to execute the strategy, which means you and your people have to perform.  Your customers have expectations.  They believe in and trust you.  They know what to expect from your products and/or services.  It’s up to you and your team to make it happen and fulfill those customer expectations.  That’s why it is essential you stay in touch with your customers.  Get to know them and their needs.  What are they looking for, and is your company meeting those needs?  How can you enhance service?  Are there other products you could provide to help them solve their problems?  Do what is expected of you … and then do a little more than that.
  4. People.  Whatever your business, whatever you market, and whether you have employees or it’s only you, everything you do involves people.  Your customers are people; human beings with needs, wants, and wishes.  Your employees are people with a need to feel appreciated, who want to have value and make a contribution, and wish to be treatly fairly and honestly.  Your success in business is therefore wrapped up with people.  That means you need to establish and sustain relationships with these people, especially your customers.  Always remember that without customers – who are people – you have no business.
  5. Place.  The adage that it’s all about location is true, to a degree.  If you operate a restaurant or a retail establishment, your place in the community can be a critical element in your long-term success.  The same holds true if the primary place where your business is located is on the Internet.  If your web presence is old, stagnant, and hard to find, even the most elaborate website is a poor location.  Keep your place looking sharp.  Your parking lot should be as safe, clean, and comfortable as your place of business.  Your website should be up-to-date and your social media current and professional.  Remember, marketing is about perception.  If your customers think your place looks sloppy, that perception could reflect on your products and services as clearly as crystal.

Creating Relevant Content

Too many business owners believe that more copy on their website is better than just a little.  A few years ago that may have been the case.  Today, in this age of instant gratification, it is far more critical that the content – the copy and images – on your website is relevant.  Relevant to your business and relevant to your potential consumers, the web users searching for your content.

Key Words.  Let’s assume a potential customer is online because they had a party and their carpet needs to be professionally cleaned.  What are they likely to key into the search engine, whether it’s Google, YouTube, Yahoo, or Bing?  Probably the key words “carpet cleaning” or “professional carpet cleaning” and possibly their city, but the search engines are intuitive enough to automatically search for those services in the general vicinity of that computer’s location.

Relevant content on your website needs to include “carpet cleaning” in a title page, and “professional carpet cleaning” in the hidden page description as well as among the key words coded into the html language.  The actual page seen by the potential consumer also has to have relevant content about the fact you provide carpet cleaning services and that you provide professional carpet cleaning services.

Keep in mind that users are unlikely to spend a lot of time on your site looking for the information.  Some recent research suggested that time is in the nano-seconds.  The more prominent and easy it is for users to access, and the more relevant it is to their search criteria, the greater likelihood you will get the call to provide the services.

Call to Action.  This is content that is often overlooked.  Do you want a visitor to your web site to do something once they find you?  Do you want them to call?  Send you an E-mail?  Click for more information?  Stop in at your store?

What you want them to do is the call to action that should be a relevant portion of your website’s content.  If you are a hair stylist or massage therapist, you probably want your online viewers to call for an appointment, so make that a headline on  your site:  Call (123) 456-7890 for an appointment today!

Users may ignore the call to action.  The point is to make it was easy as possible for potential customers to choose you.

Format.  How the content is presented on your website is also relevant to increasing and driving traffic.  It’s less about numbers of visitors than it is about visitors who become customers because of what they’ve found and how long they look at the information you provide to them.  Think about the last time you went to a website and found a massive block of copy for its content.  Did you read it all?  Or were you gone in seven seconds?  How you format your content can be critical to the success of your web presence.  Make it easy to find information that is relevant to their search.

Users love bullet points and numbered lists, such as the top 10 reasons to use your services (maybe it’s the top 7).  Headlines, clickable graphics, pictures, and other eye appealing elements – as long as they’re relevant to your business – can increase the amount of time visitors spend exploring your site, learning about you and your business, and considering using your services.

Create room on your site for a Facebook reader so the content changes every time you post to Facebook, or make a video that links to YouTube from your site.  The more activity that gets noticed on your site by the spiders, the higher your search engine ranking will be.  Keep in mind that the search engines are becoming more and more sophisticated, so you and your web developer need to stay on top of the factors that can elevate your site in the rankings, or demote you.

Theme.  Along with formatting, having a consistent theme between all the pages on your website adds to the relevancy of your content.  Adding copy or graphics to fill space can create confusion to viewers.  Often, less is more attractive, especially if it pertains to the message you’re trying to convey.

That brings up another point.  Do you know what your message, or brand, is?  Are you conveying it correctly in your web content?  It should be part of the overall look and feel, or theme, for your business and its website.

Spelling & Grammar.  How your business appears to the online consumer is critical.  Misspelled words, such as spelling a key word hidden in code as “capret cleaning” instead of “carpet cleaning” can mean the difference between your site being found in the search engines.  Extra care must be taken to avoid spelling errors and grammatical mistakes.  Abbreviations may be fine for txting, but are inappropriate for reflecting the image you wish to portray of your company.

Your potential consumers want reliable, trustworthy information for them to feel comfortable using your company and its products or services.  Be careful in using spell checkers, too, since it is difficult for them to discern where “their,” “they’re,” or “there” is the appropriate terminology.

Last thought, if you’re unsure about how relevant your web content is, consider using the services of a professional.  If they can help you move from page five of the search engine responses to page one, it will be worth the investment.



Website Reflects Your Brand

You have many places to display your brand, which some people refer to as a logo but is far more complex than your corporate emblem.  Your website is one of the most critical locations to market your brand, in addition to displaying your logo.

I had a client ask me a few months ago if it made sense for his company to have a website any more.  He was probably thinking that with all the attention social media is garnering, that a website was a waste.  I insisted a website is still vital for marketing one’s business; it’s just that the technology behind websites and how the spiders search for content is constantly evolving.  In other words, websites still and will always need to be updated to accommodate technology and the content modified to reflect the changes the business … and consumers … go through on a regular basis.

Another client was frustrated because a friend of her daughter told her he could build the business website.  Sound familiar?  After months of sitting on the domain name, the daughter’s friend had yet to activate the website.  There was always an excuse, but the one excuse the friend found hard to swallow was that he lacked the expertise to get the project done at the professional lelve the business needed.  We got involved by generating the content and working with a developer to get the site done.

The client has realized that marketing her business is a bit more complicated than the first blush, and that emotional connections can make business decisions difficult.  It was hard for her to “fire” the friend of her daughter because of the emotional impact, and from the cost she had to incur to fix the problem.

It is a decision that must be made, however.  Emotions aside, your website is one of the main tools for marketing your business.  If you lack the skills or the staff to generate the content that will tell your story and present your business in the most advantageous light with the highest likelihood of generating top returns from the search engines, you need to find and contract with professionals who can get it done.

You can actually save money with professional assistance.  Here’s how, and how you can tell if you are working with a pro:  A professional meets with you to gather the information needed to generate your website’s content.  During that meeting, they should also give you a fairly accurate estimate of how much time is required to craft your copy.

You save money working with your web development company when you can deliver content, images, logos, and color schemes in one fell swoop.  If you are building your first corporate website, start with a basic site, but think through what elements you envision being there when it is what you want it to be, or if money were a non-factor.  If you are tweaking an existing site, and bringing in a new developer, your old developer needs to give the new team access to your files.

While it may seem too complicated, remember the importance of your corporate image, and how it’s reflected in your web presence.  Old images and expired dates, including the copyright, can be damaging to those visiting your site for the first impression.

Here’s an example of how a good team can save you headaches and time.  We started working with a web developer who had constructed a website for a cookie company.  The design was done and the content was in Latin because the developer was waiting for the business owner to provide copy.  Getting involved, as we’ve often found, the owner lacked the time to generate the content because they were focused on running their business.  That’s more common than you might think, and business owners often struggle because they lack marketing skills, especially when it comes to the Internet, in most cases.  They simply don’t have time to devote to that aspect of their business.

The developer hired Brand Irons to generate the content.  We met with the business owner on Monday and E-mailed the website’s content back to them on Tuesday.  We followed up on Wednesday and heard the owner ask if the developer could just post something about the site being “under construction” instead of content in Latin.  We advised them that all they needed to do was make any changes and approve the content and the site could be updated with new content within a couple of hours.

They did, and it was updated later that day.  Visitors are much happier now, and we even translated the landing page copy to Czech, Danish, and German.

So, yes, you do need a professional looking website for your business.  You can engage Brand Irons to design it in such a fashion that reflects your brand the way it should.