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By Debbie Gregory.

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As a small business, you need to maximize your business site’s value as a marketing tool. Your site needs to attract visitors, build their trust, engage and inform them and finally convert them into customers.

 

Part 1 of this series covered your images, calls to action, your about us page, and the importance of FAQ pages. We will continue in Part 2 of this series by going over your value proposition, trust signals, social proof, and why your site should have separate landing pages for important services or products.

 

5.) A Clear Value Proposition Is Essential To Your Website:

Your website also needs to clearly and quickly spell out why a consumer should buy your product or service. This is best done with a quick tag line, slogan, or proposition statement that is included on every page of your site or alongside your company logo. The best value proposition statement will target your ideal customer, define the problem you solve for them, and explain what makes your solution unique.  It will also create your own identity.

 

Some Good Corporate Examples Include:

  • Geico’s old slogan “15 minutes could save you 15% or more.”
  • WalMart’s “Save money, live better.”
  • Allstate’s “You’re in good hands.”
  • Disneyland’s “Where dreams come true.”

 

6.) Make sure to Include Trust Signals and Social Proof:

Both trust signals and social proof are critical for small business websites and can impact whether or not someone chooses to conduct business with you and generate revenues for your business. These two items are the best way for your business to build credibility and boost sales.

 

A few examples of trust signals include:

  • Badges/logos for accreditation bodies
  • Money back guarantees
  • Payment assurance certifications

 

A few examples of social proof include:

  • Case studies
  • Customer Reviews (ideally from third-party platforms such asYelp)
  • Testimonials

 

7.) Optimizing Your Landing Pages:

A landing page is a page that is designed to be a place where a visitor “lands” after clicking a link in an ad or social post.  A landing page is designed with a clear goal, minimal distractions, and leads your website visitors to call, visit, or purchase from you. A landing page can be your site’s homepage but it should ideally be a separate, highly focused, sales tool page.

 

Just like your overall website, your landing page should include:

  • A compelling headline
  • High quality graphics
  • Your value proposition
  • Clear benefits to the customer
  • Social proof
  • Trust signals
  • A strong call to action

 

As you can see, your website can be a powerful marketing tool as long as it contains the right mix of essential elements. Your site needs to build trust, educate, entertain, inform, and guide prospective customers.  Your call is to lead visitors to call, visit, or purchase from you. Incorporating these seven essentials on your website will certainly provide your small business site a boost.

Strategies for After Holidays Business Lulls

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Once the holidays have officially ended, most small businesses face a significant drop in business. Generally, people are on vacation or saving to recover from their holiday gift spending from the middle of December through January.

 

Preparing for this lull in business can be challenging.   There are a few strategies that can help minimize the negative impact of the drop in sales and revenues. Below are a few ideas to help you save some money and possibly minimize the negative impacts of a slow business season:

 

Increase Social Media Posting:

Increasing your social media presence is always a great place to start when your business needs a boost. Social media is incredibly effective for reaching potential customers in your local area as well as helping you build overall brand recognition and trust.

 

Implement New Marketing Strategies:

If you are experience a slowdown in business, this might be an excellent time to re-evaluate your current marketing strategies to determine what has been and what has not been effective. Cut out any ineffective strategies and move forward with new ideas.

A few ideas to consider:

  • Improve or update your company website’s overall SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Start new pay-per-click campaigns on social platforms or search engines
  • Start attending in-person marketing events
  • Sponsor relevant local events

 

Eliminate Any Unnecessary Expenses:

The start of the year is also a great time to review where your money goes and cut out any unnecessary expenses. This includes cutting out ineffective marketing programs that was addressed previously as well as reducing spending on office items that aren’t necessary as well as holding off hiring. Saving money is one of the best ways to help you bounce back from a lull in sales.

 

Revamp Your Pricing:

If you lowered your prices to be competitive and attract more customers before the holidays, this is the time to consider what your pricing strategies going forward now that the holidays are over.  Most small businesses simply go right back to their standard pricing but this might not be the best option if you still have a lot of holiday inventory on your hands. Consider staggering your price increases to sell off your surplus inventory.

 

If You Took Out a Loan Now is the Time for a Reasonable Repayment Plan:

If your business was one of the many that needed to take out a loan to have adequate cash flow through the holidays, now is a great time to establish a reasonable and affordable repayment plan with your loan provider.

 

The holiday season is always challenging before, during and after for a variety of reasons and this is especially true for small businesses. If you find that you are struggling to recover from the holidays you should seriously consider one or more of the above strategies to help you get back in your groove and recover.

Tax Credits to Check with Your Accountant

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Now is the time to take advantage of a few tax breaks that expire as the decade comes to an end.   You will need to check with your financial advisor.   Below are three use-it-or-lose-it opportunities for tax breaks that might make sense for you and your company.

 

  • Paid Family and Medical Leave Tax Credit:

Employers with 50 or more employees are required by law (the Family and Medical Leave Act) to provide up to 12-weeks of time off for certain family matters. There is no law that says those weeks must be paid time off. If your company offers that time off paid, and that policy is in writing, you may be eligible for a federal tax credit so check with your accountant and determine if you are eligible to file. The amount of the credit, which is figured on IRS Form 8994, is a minimum of 12.5% of the paid leave amount up to a maximum of 25%.

 

  • Tax Credit for Electric Powered Vehicle:

This credit applies to plug-in electric vehicles and is calculated on IRS Form 8936. If the vehicle is purchased for business use, the tax credit is then part of the general business credit. This credit was designed to encourage people to purchase and use electric powered, clean-fuel, vehicles. The credit amount can be a maximum of $7,500. Certain vehicle manufacturer restrictions apply.

 

  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit:

This credit is a federal tax incentive to hire a person who falls within a targeted group (as defined by the tax law). This incentive only applies to people who fall within one of the 10 eligible groups (listed below with a link to the IRS site about it) and who begins work before January 1, 2020. The credit can range from $2,400 to $9,600 per hire.   The Work Opportunity Tax Credit is usually renewed each year.

 

The targeted groups are as follows:

  • Summer youth employees
  • Recipient of SNAP benefits (food stamps)
  • SSI recipient
  • Member of a family receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Qualified Veteran (there are 5 subcategories)
  • Qualified ex-felon
  • Designed community resident
  • Vocational rehabilitation referral
  • Long-term family assistance recipient
  • Long-term unemployed

 

In order to take advantage of this tax credit you will need to prove the employee falls within a targeted group and submit IRS Form 8850 to the state workforce agency within 28 days of the first day of that person’s employment with you. The basic credit for this is 40% of first year wages up to $6,000 (for a top credit of $2,400), as long as the employee works at least 400 hours. However, the credit for a veteran with a service-connected disability, who is employed for at least 6 months, is 40% of their wages up to $24,000 (for a top credit of $9,600). Not only is it the right thing to hire Veterans who make outstanding employees, but it makes financial sense.

 

If any of these three tax incentives are applicable for your business, jump on them now and discuss with your financial professional.

 

Creating Engaging Social Media Images : Part 2 of 2

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By Debbie Gregory.

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We all realize just how important it is to have top-quality, clean, clear, images as well as entertaining video or gifs to accompany our business messages. Part one of this blog article provided you eight very cool sites to help you create and share images, gifs, videos, templates, and more on your business social media accounts. These next eight free or inexpensive tools are ones you should also bookmark and consider using to create your next social media campaigns.

 

iStock

iStock is a collection of royalty-free photos, illustrations and videos. They offer a lot of great, less mainstream, items that can be collected into boards for easy retrieval or organization. Royalty-free doesn’t mean that the images are free however, this service does cost money to use.

 

Over

Over is a popular free mobile app (for phones only) that allows you to add text, overlays, and blend colors on images.

 

PicMonkey

PicMonkey offers easy-to-use tools to create attractive social posts, cover photos, ads, and more. Boasting over 6,000 graphics and textures, hundreds of fonts, thousands of design templates, and even collages. They currently do not offer a free version.

 

Piktochart

Piktochart is another place where you can create infographics, presentations, and printables. You can begin this service for free of charge as well, which allows you to create a limited number of items, or choose one of their paid packages.

 

Placeit

Placeit helps you generate mockups or demos of your website or product being used in real life as well as logos, videos, and other designs. They currently do not offer a free version.

 

Skitch

Skitch is an Apple-only mobile phone app that allows you to add comments to any visual. Basically you take a snapshot of your screen and use arrows, text, stickers, and a handful of other tools to make your point.

 

Stencil

Stencil is another image creation/editing site that has both free and paid options. They currently boast of over 2,100,000+ photos, 1,000,000+ icons and graphics, 100,000+ quotes, 2,500+ fonts, and 730+ templates that users can access.

 

Venngage

Venngage offers a large library of social-media-ready templates and has a great user-friendly editor that is easy for just about anyone to use. The site is free for all basic functions and also has a paid version with access to select features.

 

 

Words are great but a high-quality image will get noticed and shared more than text alone. Bookmark, download, and utilize these great tools to help your social media posts make more of an impact.

 

 

By Debbie Gregory.

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The event will be held on May 5, 2020.

 

The El Paso Community College’s Contract Opportunities Center is excited to announce that it will once again host its Procurement and Contracting Symposium (PCS) and it will be held at the Centennial Banquet & Conference Center, 11199 Sergeant E. Churchill, Fort Bliss, TX.

 

PCS has historically been considered one of Far West Texas and Southern New Mexico’s premier networking event and has been supported by agencies of federal, state and local governments, and their prime contractors.

 

In planning the event, the objectives are to provide a venue where buyers, contractors, suppliers and providers can come together and begin developing relationships; to provide excellent training opportunities from national, renowned trainers for vendors currently engaged, and those seeking guidance in government contracting; and to provide information to potential government contractors and the regional business community.

 

The following organizations and individuals should plan on attending this event:

  • Representatives of federal, state or local government agencies seeking to extend or continue outreach activities in the region.
  • Prime contractors seeking to identify potential subcontractors, teaming and joint venture partners.
  • Small business firms wishing to network with federal, state or local government representatives, prime contractors and other firms.
  • Individuals interested in taking advantage of training sessions on hot topics relevant to federal, state or local government contracting.
  • Representatives of firms interested in upcoming forecasted projects.

 

Sponsorship opportunities will be available for businesses seeking to highlight and market their firms to symposium attendees.

 

Booths will be available for federal, state or local government agencies, and vendors interested in personal and interactive market research opportunities as well as the opportunity to conduct a training workshop or present on forecasted projects, if interested.

 

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION & REGISTRATION PLEASE VISIT:

www.elpasococ-events.org/conference

 

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