Houston Businesses: Here’s How To Lose Business

apples_and_orangesI’m a month short of my wedding date and the past ten months of planning taught me a lot about super important things like…the seasonality of peonies…what navy, non-metallic, ecru linen stationary (with gold printing) looks like…the best website to order custom tartan swatches in a 10oz wool weight…and the fact that the wedding industry is pretty much a racket. (No offense wedding folks – I get it. We all gotta make a living.)

However – this blog isn’t about where to find the best priced designer bridesmaid dresses (ahem The Wedding Shoppe). It’s about what factors helped me narrow down the list of vendors by category – to ensure I had the best professionals on my team – from the cake artist down to the tailor I trusted with my gown alterations.

With so many different businesses touting like products and price points, the process of narrowing it all down at first appeared incredibly overwhelming. But when I got into the decision making I found it wasn’t so bad after all. There were five, distinct qualities I used to evaluate vendors, regardless of industry. And these five criteria are exactly what your target consumers use as a part of any buying decision.

My message here is directed to all Houston business professionals who are responsible for any of the following… I strongly encourage you pay heed – I GUARANTEE your consumers are:

1. Have a mobile-friendly site.

I must’ve made about 90% of my decisions based on research conducted on my iPad while I watched Homeland. If I was constantly pinching at my screen to select an option from a drop down – forget it. It’s 2014. I’m used to mobile-friendly sites and I expect it. So do your consumers.

2. Respond to my emails – like – right away.

I’m likely reaching out to more than one of you in that same category so being responsive is probably the best way to make a first impression – especially if we’re talking similar product selection and pricing (according to me – the customer.) You may think you’re the best – but I don’t know that just yet.

3. Give me ideas.

You’re the expert. Tell me what I should be thinking about. Ask me probing questions. Be innovative. Be creative.  I’m looking for you to tell me what types of hydrangea you recommend for a bouquet.  I’m a Director of Marketing Services – not an expert in floral design. If I knew how to put a bouquet of hydrangea together – I sure as heck wouldn’t pay a mortgage payment for you to do it.

4. What if it were your money?

Again – I get it. We’re all about making a buck. However – if you’ve got a customer in your doors who is already spending money – offering add-ons for added-value or at a discounted rate will go farther than you can even imagine. Mention these up front. Hot leads are easily schmoozed.

On this same note – don’t be a miser. If someone brings in an expired coupon or mentions an offer you no longer have…honor it. I commend you for having an engaged consumer who saved the direct mailer and forgot to use it sooner.Who cares?  Here’s a great opportunity to woo and win a client – forever.

BTW – everyone loves to talk about the savings they received. How fun is it to say you paid full price for anything? No one likes to feel like a schmuck. If you’ve got room in your margins…give us a break. Great way to get us to spread the word.

5. Google yourself.

Because I’m DEFINITELY Googling you. What comes up? In a competitive business environment – when I’m about to spend money with any new vendor – I’m looking for four stars and higher. You got less than that? May be a good idea to start focusing on how to raise those ratings – immediately.

So – if you’re a Houston business looking to win customers now – and you see yourself losing customers because of any one of the five reasons above…you definitely need to start making some changes.

And if you’re not sure – think about what goes through your mind the next time you’re trying to purchase 100, seven-hour, unscented, white tea-lights from a Houston candle company on your iPad…because you prefer to give a local guy a chance…but it takes you a full minute and a half to figure out how to add the quantity to your “shopping cart”?

Here’s what you say:  Meh. I can find these on Amazon.

Yep. Easy. And done.

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5 Ways SEO Helps Your Business Get Found Online

seo_image_graphicWhat is SEO? You probably already know this, but just in case… it is an abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization, the practice of making content easily recognizable by search engines. In simplest terms, SEO helps webmasters, businesses, and individuals reach their online goals.

So what does this mean for you? As a business owner in Houston, SEO will bring you more customers and sales. Here are some things to know about SEO in Houston that can help your business:

1. SEO Increases Visibility, Credibility and Branding

You want to be at the top of the search engine results. However, the old phrase “build it and they will come” does NOT apply to the internet. This is where SEO plays a vital role: it allows you to the keywords you want rank for in search engines. There are plenty of SEO tools that allow you to designate keywords, and can even track the amount of times a keyword appears in content, a.k.a. keyword density.

Repeated occurrences in search results also builds familiarity, which builds credibility. It’s a simple fact of psychology that the more someone sees something, the more he or she will formulate a positive opinion of it.

The more your website shows up in search results, the more people will see it. The more it shows up, the better the branding for your company.

2. SEO Drives Traffic to Your Site

Traffic is the lifeblood of online marketing. And while traffic alone does not make sales, would you rather have your business in downtown Houston or out in the middle of nowhere? It’s the same thing online: the more people you can drive to your site, the more sales you will have. Once you get a healthy amount of traffic, you can evolve your website to help convert those visitors into customers.

3. SEO Gives Insight Into Your Customers

SEO also allows you track traffic with tools like Google Analytics. This is the bread and butter of any internet marketer in Houstonr, as it gives invaluable data and metrics that give you an inside look at your customers. Google Analytics allows you to know what languages they use, the region they live in, how they search, how they browse, and every other kind of demographic information.

4. SEO is a Long-Term Strategy

SEO can deliver results in a short period of time, but it pays dividends in the long term as well. Backlinking, blogging, and other good SEO practices will last for a very long time. Even after you stop your SEO efforts, you will still gain the benefits of links to your site, and the high ranking in search engine results.

5. SEO is an Investment, Not a Cost

SEO has one of the highest ROI’s of any marketing expense. When coupled with analytics, SEO will provide you with the information you need to improve conversion rates for your website. For instance, you may find that certain keywords convert better than other keywords, even in you rank further back in the search engine results.

The top three spots on the first page of search results get the most amount of traffic, and can provide a huge return on just a modest investment.

There’s No Time Like the Present

Now that you know what SEO can do for you, you should get started on implementing your marketing strategy to reach Houstonians online. If you are a DIY kind of person, then sign up for a Google Analytics account and start researching.