Your task: New Local Business Client. What Comes First?

I’ve just recently started working with local businesses to help even out the cash flow in between product launch clients, and there’s one thing I’ve realized:

If there’s ever been a group that could profit quickly from some solid online help, it’s local businesses.

It’s a recession, and I know how many businesses are struggling to bring in new clients… but no wonder they’re having problems when they’re paying $3,000 for an ‘online brochure’.

No wonder they’re struggling when they’re managing their email list by hand. I kid you not, I’ve found multiple clients already that are doing just that.

No wonder they’re struggling when the action customers are supposed to take is to go to the ‘contact us’ page and call. Really? No call to action? No lead generating magnet above the fold? No tracking of any kind? Really?

So if you’re in local business or you have a friend with a local business, help them out. Make sure they’re using these two things, they’re both low cost and very high return on investment.

1. An auto-responder. Building a customer database and having an easy way to follow up is obviously critical. Do you know how much dentist offices raise business just by sending out an ‘it’s time for your yearly checkup’ postcard? Direct mail costs too much money to do regularly, and a good relationship with an email list can convert just as well if not better.

The most important parts of doing this right are going to revolve around choosing the offer you want to give people to sign up (‘free newsletter’ is not going to cut it, conversions are going to be in the tenth of a percent) and there’s also going to have to be a plan for having a good followup sequence. Testimonials and case studies woven in with content is a good choice. This also provides an easy way to monetize paid traffic within a few days, either by encouraging a phone call or some kind of purchase. Don’t forget to track! (google analytics will be my bonus third tool I’m recommending. It’s free, and anyone can figure it out in an afternoon).

So, how do you build an email list? Aweber. It’s simple, it’s cheap, and it does more than you’d ever need it to do. Businesses with an email list can often start cutting down advertising budgets on account of a much more steady flow of business from old clients.

2. the second tool every business needs is wordpress, hands down. Are you tired of asking your webmaster to change every little thing on the website? How long does it take him to make the changes when you ask? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go in and just do it yourself without having to learn all that technical nonsense? Enter wordpress. If you can use microsoft word, now you can manage your own website. The best part? It’s free, and it’s not any more expensive to get a wordpress style site done than it is to get a ‘normal’ site.

If you know what wordpress is (a blogging platform) you might be wondering whether or not your site will end up looking like a blog. That wouldn’t work for most businesses of course, so I thought I’d post an example to put your mind at ease:
would you have guessed this was a wordpress site?

best of all, it lets you regularly add good content to help bring in new people and build relationship with old customers. Nothing works better in SEO than regular content, and with wordpress you can even set it up so that you can just email your posts, it’ll add them to the site automatically. Or if that sounds too complicated and fancy, train the intern to post it and email them your posts instead.

Moral of the story? Use wordpress, I cringe anytime I see a business that isn’t. Then when you’re site’s up, use it to start building an email list and a permanent relationship with your customers.

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