code culture

With the end of the year on the horizon, time seems to be flying by at hyper-speed. Where the hell have all the cowboys weeks gone? Time is of the essence and there’s a good chance you haven’t come close to wrapping up all the goals you set for yourself–and your business–in 2013.

Well, I totally feel ya on this one. I know what it’s like when the things that you want to get done–like getting a website for your business–get pushed to the back burner in lieu of the things that you absolutely need to get done, like baking a 4-tiered “Katniss Everdeen” cake for your friend’s birthday.

Priorities, right?

But at the end of the day, you probably feel at least a sliver of guilt that you put off something that should have been a real priority to you, again. And, you probably can’t figure out why you keep making excuses to not do something that could help you get ahead in so many ways.

Why is it so hard to find time to do the things that will benefit our lives and businesses the most? If you’re a business owner and you don’t have a website, you’re losing money everyday from potential customers who have no freakin’ clue that your business even exists. But hey, keep baking that cake…

Here’s the problem. We tend to put off doing things that are big, scary and overwhelming. In particular, things we know we need to do but don’t know much about. Instead of breaking these things into small doable tasks, we just keep making excuses to not start them at all. It’s time to break that cycle.

IF YOU NEED A WEBSITE FOR YOUR BUSINESS, THE BEST TIME TO START PLANNING IS RIGHT NOW.

Even if you have no budget, no content and no set plan whatsoever for your new website, the 8 steps below will help you build a solid foundation for growing your biz on the web. It’s important to give yourself the time you need to get things done properly, because regardless of what you’re trying to achieve, the rollercoaster road to success is a freakin’ long one.

Reaching almost any goal that you can imagine–from building a profitable business to running a marathon and everything in between–requires persistence, patience, small wins, giant fails, lessons learned, a lot of trial and error and most importantly, a consistent effort over an extended period of time.

If you want a website that’s making you money down the road, the best time to start was actually yesterday. Embarrassing, eh? Thankfully, every second is a new beginning and the next best time to start is right now.

Unless you’re a chef, put down that cake spatula and start working your way through the 8 steps below. Your future self will thank you for it when your business is rollin’ in the dough thanks to your kick-ass website.

8 Things You Can Do Today To Start Planning Your Website For The Future (Even If You Have A Low Budget):

  1. Figure out who your ideal customers are. You’re going to be marketing to your dream clients, so everything on your new website needs to be catered specifically to them. How can you fix their problems? What can you do to make their lives easier? What can you sell them that they absolutely cannot refuse?
  2. Scope out the competition. Look at the websites of your most successful competitors, both locally and globally. What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong? What’s similar and different about each of them? How can you add your personality to the industry? How would you improve these websites?
  3. Find 3 websites that you love in any industry. What do you love about them? How do you feel when you’re viewing these websites? What about these websites specifically makes you want to buy from them? What do these 3 websites have in common?
  4. Find 3 websites that you hate in any industry. What about these websites just doesn’t work for you? What do these 3 websites have in common? How would you suggest improving these websites? What about these websites do you absolutely not want on your website?
  5. Break your website into 3 phases. This is especially helpful if you have a low website budget. You might not have thousands of dollars to sink into a website up front, and that’s okay. Be honest with your web designer about your budget and they’ll be able to tell you how to best move forward. It’s better to get your website created by a professional in phases that you can afford than to get the whole shebang done cheaply by someone who’s just starting out. A poor quality website will end up reflecting negatively on your business.
    • Phase 1: What do you absolutely need on first launch? This can include things like: home page, about page, services page and contact page + some basic SEO.
    • Phase 2: What would you really like to have on your website that you couldn’t fit into the budget for Phase 1?Maybe it’s a blog and a mailing list so you can engage with your customers on a more personal level while increasing traffic.
    • Phase 3: Okay, now your business is really cookin’. Time to add some killer SEO, a mobile-friendly design, social media integration or even a shopping cart so you can sell a few products online.
  6. Start writing your page content. Remember to target your content towards your ideal customers. Make it specifically for them so it’ll resonate with them when they read it.
  7. Take some (high quality) pictures. Do you want pictures of you on your website? What about your employees? Your office? Your products? Start snappin’ away. If you don’t have a DSLR camera, find a friend that does or hire someone. Shitty quality photos can make a beautiful website look like crap.
  8. Decide how much you can afford. This one is important! A basic website is going to start at $1000, with most being in the $2500-$3500 range when you consider all the elements like custom design, a content management system (so you can blog and update your own content), mobile responsiveness (so it’ll adjust to fit your phone, tablet, computer and even tv), copywriting, SEO, etc. If you want to get into basic e-commerce, you’re looking at $6000+. If you go to a big agency, multiply those prices by 3! Next week’s post is going to be all about website costs and ROI (return on investment). You have to invest to get a return! If you haven’t considered your website budget until now, remember you can start by launching Phase 1.

Now that you’ve done some research and planning, written some content and set aside some cashola, you’re more than ready to dive into a discussion with your website designer. When you’re ready to make your investment, you’ll feel confident in knowing exactly what you need to make your new website perfect!

Warmest wishes & creative vibes,

happy holidays code culture

Have you ever worked with a company who went above and beyond to make you feel appreciated as a customer during the holiday season? I’m talking really appreciated here, to the point where you’re like, “Wow. I can’t believe how much they care about me! What a fantastic company. I’ll definitely work with them again and tell all my friends!”

Oh, you haven’t? Well, to tell you the truth, neither have I.

Yes, I’ve got a stash of ballpoint pens and stress balls covered in company logos, and yes, I’ve gotten holiday cards that have generic, typed out greetings and the scanned signatures of 75 employees on them, but I’ve never really gotten anything that made me feel like I was individually cared about as a customer.

Now that I’m a business owner, I have a hard time understanding why this is the case. The holidays seem like such an awesome opportunity to make people smile, show them how important they are and get them thinking about your business all in one fell swoop. Doesn’t it just seem like the obvious thing to do if you want to maintain a working relationship with them in the following year? After all, the foundation of any well-respected and long-lasting organization is excellent customer service.

HAPPY CUSTOMERS = HAPPIER NEW YEAR

So why not take advantage of this wonderful time of year by really thanking your customers individually for working with you? Make ‘em feel special! When they know you value them, they’ll like you. When they like you, they’ll want to work with you again (and tell all their friends). Trust me, you want all their friends to know.

Here’s a few little ideas you can use to get your customers feeling all warm and fuzzy this holiday season:

  1. Send them a personal, hand-written Christmas card. First of all, make sure they celebrate Christmas (the whole paying attention to them individually thing kinda goes out the window if you get the holiday wrong)! If you aren’t sure, just use “Happy Holidays”. Make the message personal! Thank them for their business. Tell them that if they need any of your services in the oncoming year, you’ll take care of them.
  2. Give them some logo swag that they can actually use. Okay yes, I use pens from my logo pen collection, but it’s so overdone that I don’t even think about the companies that gave them to me! Put your logo on something different and practical that they’ll use all the time. For example: A tote bag, a USB stick, a lanyard or a corkscrew. Everybody loves a corkscrew.
  3. Give them a small but awesome gift that doesn’t necessarily have to do with your business, but would just make them really happy. Put it in the envelope with the card that you personally hand-wrote just for them. Throw a piece of your practical logo swag in the envelope too, then sweeten the deal with one of these babies. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful! 

    For example, a $5 gift card to Tim Horton’s or Starbucks with a note that says, “Hope you stay warm this holiday season! Use this gift card to enjoy a nice hot coffee, my treat.”

    Or, if you want to spend a bit more, give them the gift of music on demand with a music service like Spotify! They have gift cards for $10, $30 and $60. Everyone loves music, right? It’d be a really cool gift for just about anyone–and no, I do not get paid to say that!

    For large-scale clients, you might consider giving them a cool and inexpensive monthly service such as: BirchBox, Dollar Shave Club, Bark Box, Ipsy, Indie Gift Box, Tea Sparrow, Nerdblock and more!

You know how after winning a music award, the artist will thank the fans? Well as a business owner, your customers are your fans. Without each of them, your business wouldn’t be where it is today–and your life probably wouldn’t be as rad.

Of course, however you choose to show your appreciation to your clients will depend on things like how much money they’ve spent with you over the past year, if you want to continue a working relationship with them, how many clients you have etc. Do it in a way that works for both of you! It’s not something to stress over or go into debt over. If you’re just starting out, a nice card can really do the trick. However, if you’ve got the funds available and you’re in the Christmas spirit, take advantage. You can likely write it off as a business expense anyways! ;)

Stay humble, feel grateful and show your appreciation. To an individual customer, the little things go a very long way.

Happy Holidays,

lauren-lund

You May Also Enjoy...