It’s important to do what you love, or at least to find a way to derive pleasure from whatever it is you do to earn a living. But at the end of the day, if your business isn’t making ends meet, you’ve got a problem. A lot of people come to me for business advice and, most of the time, the problem lies in one of three areas: marketing, messaging and traffic.
Here, we’ll discuss common problems in these three areas and how to fix them.
• Leads and traffic: This could be a quality problem. If your content isn’t drawing clicks, you need to step up your game. Start by conducting research to find out what your audience wants.
• Insufficient return on investment (ROI): If your marketing efforts aren’t paying for themselves, you have a problem. If meeting your financial needs isn’t the problem, consider curtailing your spending. Otherwise, finding alternate hosting options or new partners might be called for.
• Budgeting: If you’ve nailed down exactly what you need to be spending on marketing, but you just can’t draw away enough funds from other assets to pay for it, something needs to be adjusted. Like ROI problems, you can try making money-saving changes. But better marketing is probably the real solution in the long run. Try turning your attention to your messaging efforts. We’ll discuss this more below.
• Website management: Most companies have a website because it’s necessary to do business. If managing your web site is too time-consuming or isn’t your cup of tea, you could go with a full-service hosting provider. They sometimes have prefab site templates you can use. Another solution is to hire a web development professional. This doesn’t have to be terribly expensive, and you can ask a developer to deliver a product that’s designed to be easy to maintain by a novice user.
• Inconsistent or insufficient branding: Major brands discovered long ago that the purpose of branding is to make people feel that your brand is a person, a simple and consistent person who’s behavior is trustworthy and predictable. Think of Walt Disney. Disney has a very consistent branding profile. People know what to expect from Disney. It could be that your brand messaging does not communicate a simple, attractive and consistent brand image. If that’s the case, create a “branding bible” for your company. Another solution is to have all your content and marketing done by the same person.
• Failure to communicate your value proposition: If your audience doesn’t know what makes you special, then they might as well go to the next company that has a similar product or service. Make sure your messaging and branding clearly explain why you are different. It may be that you’re less expensive, offer better quality or superior service, and so on.
• Content quality issues: These days, your content should not consist only of advertisements. You need to give your audience information that they want or need. If your content does not entertain or educate, it’s not doing its job and it won’t draw clicks.
If your website isn’t drawing traffic, that’s a problem. If it’s not due to one of the problems mentioned above, then the fix might be pretty straightforward.
• Search engine optimization (SEO): If you’ve spent more than a minute looking into advertising online, you’ve heard of SEO. SEO is about researching terms that are proven to attract clicks to merchants in your industry. SEO is a full-time job. If you’re new to it, consider contacting the professionals.
• Too little or stagnant content: If your blog isn’t active enough, Google might give you a low search rank. Advertisers don’t like having their ads on inactive sites, so make sure you update your blog at least once a week. I recommend that posts be at least 750 words in length.
• Been to Quora?: Quora is still a great place to answer questions for people seeking advice from experts. Whatever your profession is, you’re sure to know many things about it that outsiders aren’t privy to. Congratulations, that means you’re an expert. By answering questions relevant to your industry, you’re advertising your expertise to a new audience. Quora isn’t the only Q&A site, but it’s a good place to start.
At the end of the day, as long as you’re plugging away at these common problem areas, you’ll make progress. Just put in a full day’s work and stay under budget — you’ll be A-okay.