Join Distinct and the Putnam County chamber to recap best practices for small business owners going into the holiday season.
Hello, everyone, thanks for joining us. We're here today with Vince from distinct web design. Hello, Vince. Hey, Brian. Hey, everyone, the holiday seasons coming upon us and the small businesses are really dependent on this season to help bring him into the black. And, and this season's been that you know, this year 2020 has been extra difficult for small businesses. So we thought we'd sit back and have a short discussion here with Ben's about some things that small businesses can do to help improve sales online, or any any way that they can improve sales. So, Vince, um, I guess we'll just start off the first question. What do you recommend small businesses do to help with online sales? Sure, yeah. That's a really good question. First, before I begin, I just wanna introduce Jacob, who's here with us. He's interning with distinct this semester. He's a DePaul student and a senior and right now I think he's in Northwest Indiana or Jacob. Yep. Whiting Indiana. Nice. Nice. So feel free to chime in on anything, Jacob, and I'll spotlight you if you start answering. But Brian, your question was, what am I recommending right now for small businesses to do with the holidays? Yes, that's right. Yep. Yeah. So I think the most important thing is to make sure you're being found. I think a lot of people assume, especially in a small community, like Greencastle that, you know what we've been here for 50 years, 100 years, everyone knows about us. But that's not always the case. People are moving into the community, or people are being overwhelmed with other marketing messages, they might not be thinking about you first. So making sure that you're being found, is kind of the Top of Mind thing. And I do that a lot with clients with what I call an awareness campaign, which is really just finding a way to promote and make people aware of something they're doing right, you may have been offering catering forever, but a lot of people offer catering. So making sure people are staying top of mind of what you're doing there. Think about who your customer is, and who else wants their time or money. Right, if you are a local restaurant, you're competing with online meal subscription services, if you're an activity to do in town, you're competing with Netflix, you're always competing with people, even if they're not local, or if you don't really think about them, and there's cross competition as well. So make sure you're staying top of mind. So those people remember you instead of those other options. So I think those are the biggest things that I would say that I'm trying to really encourage my clients to think about right now. Yeah, I do find it interesting, a lot of times that I make the assumption that people know what other people are doing. And the truth is people get in their own silos. And they may have known at one point in time, but they do forget. So I think the message of remind people what you do, and what you do well is very important. Yeah, yeah. And I'd say there's, you know, there's restaurants in town, specifically that I love, but I just forget to order from them or go to them. And then, you know, we had some really big success with a local restaurant at the beginning of quarantine, we ran some ads. And it was amazing, just my friends anecdotally talking about that restaurant all of a sudden, and I could go and see that they were ordering, they were participating and it was because of those ads. So really making sure that your message is staying Top of Mind and you can't you can't undermine that it's so important. Right and messages change. You know, a lot of businesses, restaurants and boutiques. They've changed how they're doing business and a lot of now have delivery services or pickup at that. didn't have before. So just making sure that message gets out there is a good idea, I think. Absolutely, absolutely. Now you do deal with a lot of small businesses in our community, and I appreciate that. But when it comes to what they're doing, what is the biggest mistake that small businesses are making online? You know, every business is unique, I would say the thing I see most often is people who maybe maybe we're handling their website, but they want to take on some other parts of their social media. Or maybe people are not even working with just people I see in the community, but other communities as well. They are oftentimes trying to mimic large corporations to do what works for them. For example, if I'm Coca Cola, I can post a Facebook post that says, tell me your favorite Coca Cola memory, and people are going to comment that's going to get millions of views millions of comments, millions of engagement. But if you're a smaller organization here in Greencastle with 200 followers, that's going to be empty space, maybe you comment or one of your family members comment, and it doesn't really accomplish anything. So one thing that I always tell the clients I'm working with, is focus your social media presence around goals, and do something that's gonna work for you, and specifically something that can't work for other people. You know, if you're a Putnam County business, you can talk on your page about Putnam County things that will get people to engage. But if you're, if you're trying to mimic with the big companies, a large multimillion dollar corporations or multinational corporations are doing, it's not going to really work in your advantage. You want to find that smaller, more focused based on your audience. So that's what I definitely see often is people just trying to replicate that the warm and fuzzy feeling that large brands can do. Yeah, I agree. I think one of the great things about Putnam County is that we do appreciate local, and we are a pretty tight knit group, really. So yeah, I think if you're able just to focus on Putnam County, and what's going on in Putnam County, I think that's the best way to do it. And yeah, I agree with that. So I noticed a lot of people are changing how they're doing things I see a lot of the boutique owners are doing a great job of, you know, doing live events, and they hold up the number if you want to buy this product, and people can stop by and pick it up. And I think that's pretty innovative. And I really respect that. One thing I do notice that are a lot of people are doing a lot of Facebook ads, which are great. They're doing boosting, and they're paying for those ads. Is that what you recommend? Or do you have anything else you'd like to say? Yeah, so I'd say boosting is a great place to start. And I would never tell a company or business in town not to boost. But you have to be careful, because Facebook makes that button big and easily accessible. So you throw money at it, they make money. The auction, if people are running ads, the more people are running ads, the more expensive they get. So it's really a revenue generator for Facebook. Now it's effective. But it can be more effective if you're proficient in how to do it properly. So it's like if all you can do have a small budget, you just gonna push boost, that's fine, that's great, good start, it's going to help you. But working with someone, or really taking the time to learn how things work to target your market, and have a strategy behind it is really going to be most beneficial. You know, one thing I always like to ask is, why are you boosting this? Like, what is your goal? are you measuring something, maybe you're giving something away, and you want to see when people redeem that maybe you just want people to be aware of something, but make sure that you're asking yourself, why you're boosting it go from there. But I think boosting and of itself is a really good tool, it's going to increase the views on a post or on your page tremendously. They say I haven't looked at this data in a couple years, but I'm sure it's still really accurate. It was about five to 7% of your followers would see a post by default. Like that's, that's a very small percentage. Even if you have 1000 followers on Facebook, you're not looking at a lot of people. So by boosting it, yes, you're gonna get more awareness, but don't become in love with the boost. And don't just throw money at it. Really create a strategy or work with someone that can help you create a strategy around that. Right? Yeah, don't just boost for the sake of boosting, right? Yeah, have a plan or an idea behind it. And make sure you're prepared for the boost. If you put something out there and then somebody calls you on as far as Hey, you said you're going to give a free meal or 10% off and then you don't end up doing it. Just make sure you backup your boosts. Yeah, your posts so. So there are lots of tools out there for people to use, and it can get overwhelming on what they should use what they shouldn't use where there's only so much time in the day, especially for small business owners. Is there a specific tool you would recommend people are using this holiday season? Yeah, so I want people to be careful and not get too invested in tools or really worry too much, but what they should be worrying about is how they're measuring their measurable data. So one tool to do that, it's a really nice tool called Data box. We are a data box partner, we're trying to implement that and a lot of our client workflows, but data box can take data from any of your online tools and show it to you on one platform, you're gonna look at your QuickBooks, your website, traffic, your Facebook, traffic, all these things. But what I, the reason I bring that up is because I want people to really start looking at some kind of measurable online marketing data, even if it's just Facebook followers. But set a goal, work around that strategy and to make sure you're setting a goal that's going to help you be successful. So really, data box is a tool that you can use to do that. But there's tons of free tools, Facebook has their own analytics, there's really a lot of ways to do it. But that's the number one thing before you start worrying about getting fancy and doing all these fun, warm, fluffy things. Make sure you're you have a goal you're measuring, and you're using the right tool for that. Yeah, I agree, I think sometimes we were always looking for the next thing that it's gonna boost all of our sales. And once in a while, it becomes more of a whirlwind than it does a helpful tool. So but you got to know what your data is. And you got to know what's working for your business. So that that's a good tip. I appreciate that. I love Jacob, man and pose a question to Vince. So with these tools, what are the top three data points, business owners should be looking at to increase their awareness and their sales? Yeah, that's a really good question. I think it's going to vary. And again, it comes back to your goals. But if you just had to start somewhere, I would look at your your Facebook reach. So that's going to be the people who have engaged with your Facebook. And I would look at if you don't have analytics for your website, download the tool, call or install the tool called Google Analytics. And from there, you can look at your pageviews. So it's gonna be the number of people who landed on your page, and you can look at the visitors. And you can look at some more specifics about the pages people are engaging with. But if you really just are trying to start somewhere and you don't know where to begin, start with your your page, reach both on Facebook and on your website analytics. And I would start with users or sessions on your on your phone, or on your website analytics there as well. And that gives you just a feel of how many people are engaging with you. And that's an easy, you know, you can dial that down more to have more useful information. But at the end of the day, more people on your website is never going to be a bad thing. Now, they may be relevant or irrelevant, but more is going to be better. And you can start from there. So just try to make sure your numbers are ticking up. Yeah. So I try to tell people that I really think the ability for people to be able to buy stuff online is important, especially with all the people concerned about health and making sure masks and raw safe. Online Sales could be a big percentage of your sales this year. How do you feel about making sure that your website or your Facebook you can buy stuff online? Yeah, I, I couldn't agree more. So I have a, you can't read it on the screen. But it's an article we wrote about the online economy from last year, I'm gonna put in the chat. Hopefully people can grab that. But really, it's more important than ever. And it's been important for a while. Even if you can't physically sell a product or service online, you can still be found online to have that product. One thing that's really important, more important than ever is your Google My Business profile. Google generates it automatically for businesses, but you can go in and claim it. And if you're not working on that profile, you're not going to be found online by people around you. And that's the easiest low hanging fruit. If you're on Google My Business if, let's say let's say there was a second Chamber of Commerce in Putnam County, if there if one of them's not on and someone searches Chamber of Commerce, you're immediately going to be found if you're on it. versus if you're if we're talking about something on a larger basis, like let's say, shoes, if I type in shoes, Amazon can come up eBay, Nike, Adidas, all these companies can come up. But if there's a shoe store locally, that's selling shoes and it's on Google My Business, they're going to show up number one, and you're going to show up above all those big brands just for being local to huge advantage that you have to take advantage of. So I'd say that more important than ever to make sure at least being found online whether your product or service there really any type of business can benefit from that. I'd be really curious Jacobs input, especially for his generation how I would say my generation his generation already kind of skewed online but Jacob How are things kind of how are things adapting during this pandemic? And what's your generation looking to for shopping? Yeah, um, well, I mean, we live in the age of the internet, right? So everybody buys everything from online, whether through whether they're looking for a certain product, they go to Amazon or if they want some certain food, they go to grub hub or any additional like local restaurant that offers You know, delivery services. And so I think, with my generation and my lived experience, it's about like, I want something, I'm going to look online for it, rather than, of course, travel outside, especially during COVID. But yeah, if I go to Amazon and find my product, or if I'm looking for a certain service or food nearby, usually, I usually go to Google. And something I learned interning with distinct is importance of local SEO for small businesses. And so if you really focus on your local search engine optimization, and make sure that you are found when somebody Google's either your product or service, that will really get you get your numbers up and your engagement up. So yeah, like, say, if I'm looking for if I want pizza, I'm going to Google like best pizza places around me. And whoever is the top number one or two, probably I'm going to look at their menu, and I give a call. And so yeah, for my lived experience, it's more about just searching about the internet was the best, who has good reviews, who can be trusted online. I'm all for buying stuff online. Just buy it locally, right? I mean, you know, Amazon is not local. But I do believe in buying online. And it's really, it's it's surprisingly easy to compete with Amazon when your online presence is being taken care of. Because you can easily show up above amazon for being local, like I said earlier, or even if you're really have a product that has a skew number, you can show up in the Google Shopping toolbar. And I truly like to believe that most people are going to stay local. When it's as easy as Amazon. Get us I don't want Amazon I don't want to wait two days most of the time. To be honest, sometimes I'll buy something on Amazon. And I'll regret it and I'll go find it locally. And I'll return it because I want it locally, specifically with technology. But you have to be able to be as easily accessible as Amazon. And it's really not that challenging if you are spending the time or working with someone that can help you. Right, right. Hey guys, I really appreciate all this advice. Vince, if somebody has more questions or they want to an online person to work with is distinct the place to go and how do they get ahold of you? Yeah, absolutely. Our websites become distinct calm, you can contact us on there, you can schedule a meeting you can read we have a really robust knowledge base of articles and whatnot. We're definitely here to help. And Brian, we're gonna do two of these a day for the next seven days. Right so right? I think Jacobs gonna run those. Yeah. But yeah, definitely feel free to reach out and we're here in Greencastle, we serve as Putnam County, West Central Indiana. We have clients all over the country. But we're definitely here to help and we're here to help the small businesses compete with the large corporations. So that's what we're here for. That's great. Coming up Small Business Saturday, it's Saturday the 28th. But it's just the beginning of the holiday season. We're going to shop small and local all year long. Thanks, guys. Appreciate it. Thank you. Take care. Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving.