Tag Archives: pricing

Budgeting for SEO – with Guest Blogger Sharon Arena

By Guest Blogger: Sharon Arena of Salty Red Dog Marketing, LLC

Running a small business is not easy.  Most small businesses have limited resources and extremely tight budgets, especially when it comes to sales and marketing.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is best defined as the process by which the visibility of your website can be improved within search engines. This means that your website will be more visible on the first few pages on Google or Yahoo, rather than lost in the back.

Some business owners don’t have the budget to spend on web design or an SEO organization, so often they try to do it themselves or.  Expensive SEO does not necessarily mean better, but it should at least indicate a level of care and quality.  Starting off with a small SEO budget could make it more expensive in the long run.  Regardless of the cost of SEO, services for organic searches typically do not yield immediate results.  The time frame for getting results depends on variables such as competition, budget, the demand for product or service and of course the search engines.  Sometimes due to the uncertainty of the outcome, many businesses will try to minimize their risk by allotting small amounts of money from their budget, and not understand the services they are paying for.

Setting up SEO isn’t a one-time event. Search-engine algorithms change constantly to regular research and knowledge is required. As much as we’d like to see instant gratification with our hard work, results often take months to be seen – especially if you’re newer to doing business online. When starting an SEO plan, make sure you have clearly defined goals for your SEO efforts. You’ll need web analytic software in place so you can keep track of what’s working and what’s not. If you decide to pay for an SEO company, make sure you ask a lot of questions. Ask what kind of tactics they use. Ask what are the risks involved?

If you are paying for SEO then the goal should be to see an increase in returns, not just rankings.  Just keep things in perspective – spending a few hundred dollars a month and expecting major results is probably not realistic.  Essentially, when paying for SEO you are paying for time.  SEO can, however, deliver quick results. It can be effective in the short term and help a business who needs immediate results.

It’s important to consider SEO as a marketing campaign.  Sometimes you catch a break in the beginning, but usually, a successful campaign is built over time.  SEO is not so much about the cost, but more as an investment – a crucial piece of your companies marketing plan.  SEO can increase sales without a proportionate increase in marketing costs, which will result in increased profits over time.  Clients are constantly researching online, and are using the internet for comparison with different companies.

SEO plays a vital role in the researching and buying cycle.  Essentially, it’s about being where your potential customers are and guiding them towards what you are offering.  SEO can make your brand stronger, better and well recognized.  As people search for critical and relevant keywords and phrases, they should find you at the top of search results.  SEO has been proven to be one of the most highly cost-effective forms of online marketing, delivering a higher return for every dollar invested.  Having effective SEO can attract thousands, even millions of targeted prospects to your business website.

The residual effect and impact of SEO continue far beyond the time you invest into a campaign because the momentum will sustain for many weeks, often years, making SEO very cost efficient as a marketing choice for your business.

For more information about Sharon Arena or this topic, visit her website at www.saltyreddogmarketing.com.

Four ways to assess your business health

With the start of a new year comes promises to become healthier. There are plenty of ways to assess your physical health (weight, BMI, cholesterol, resting heart rate, blood pressure, etc.)  Why shouldn’t we be looking at our businesses similarly?  When thinking about the health of your business, here are four areas to review when assessing.

Numbers – Of course I have to start here.  Do you know if you are profitable?  Do you know which of your services, products, and clients are more or less profitable?  Do you know what your cash flow need looks like?  Do you know what your customer retention rate is?  And the lifetime value of a customer?  These are all great starting points, and we’ll dive deeper in the coming months.

Customer Satisfaction – Do you know what your customers are thinking and saying about you?  Are they happy?  Thrilled? Or are they liable to jump ship as soon as there’s another alternative?  Are there other products or services that you could be providing them?  Are they referring you to their peers?  Talk to you customers, or rather, listen!

Team – Do you have the right people on your team?  Are they in the right roles?  Do you have a stellar assistant or number two that can take much off your plate? Are your people growing and learning more about your business?  Are you delegating effectively?  Without the right team in place, you can’t grow your business and keep your customers satisfied.  Having the right team makes everything else possible.

Mission/Purpose/Brand – Do you know why you’re in business?  Yes, you’re delivering a specific product or service, but what do you hope to achieve by delivering that product or service?  What’s important to you in achieving that?  I’ve lumped these three different topics into one for a reason – they are what make your company stand out.  If for example – if your mission is to make financial forecasting accessible to any small business owner, you’re going to use basic English in your communications – not a bunch of financial gobbledygook.  You’re also going to offer a reasonably priced product and not something that costs a mint and needs a team of IT specialists to “implement”.  If your mission is to educate the world on the benefits of sustainable farming, you’re going to be investing in programs that further your goals and not just selling the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor.  Keeping your purpose in sight lets you make decisions that are consistent and authentic to who you are.

These are just a few ways to assess the health of your business. Besides numbers, customer satisfaction, team, mission, purpose, and brand – what other areas do you look at when observing your business’s overall health?

As we plan to dive deeper into these topics each week, it’s important to try and answer these questions for the upcoming year.  Making your business strong in all areas will help with the financial and overall success.

How To Price Your Small Business

How To Price Your Small Business

One of the reasons behind small business success, is appropriate pricing. When you price your product accurately, it can really help build the foundation for your business to succeed. The same goes for pricing your product or service incorrectly, your business may face problem that has trouble overcoming.

It’s not an easy task to develop and initiate pricing – in fact, most business owners say it can be one of the toughest tasks to think about. If you’re thinking about revamping your pricing for the new year, here are some tips on getting the price right.

 

  1. Service Costs

Every business has different services costs, and not accounting for them can cause financial issues. It’s important to analyze the cost of each service, to set the maximum profit and reduce any unprofitable services.

One way of pricing your services, are to analyze your total costs. Elements to factor are:

  • Material costs
  • Labor costs
  • Overhead costs

Always be sure to pay attention and never underestimate your labor costs. It happens all the time to small business owners.

 

  1. Competitor Pricing

What are your competitors doing? Sometimes it’s not just about covering your operating costs, but also about where you want to position yourself in the marketplace? Think about where you want your brand – do you want to be a low-end competitor in a high market? Or maybe the high-end competitor? Seeing what your competitors are doing and figure out what will get you the best understanding of the market.

A tip to keep in mind is, don’t try to compete with large store pricing. Most of the time they buy in large volumes so their costs are much less. Try to highlight other values of your company, such as excellent customer service.

 

  1. Understand Conversions

Do you know if you’re actually making a profit on a product or service? For example, if you’re getting only 10% of sales on a product that you’ve introduced – maybe you’re proceed too high. If you consider dropping the price by 15%, you could increase your conversion rate almost by 4.

Basically, never assume things are just ok – always look to see what could be improved and be more profitable.

 

  1. Price Higher Than You Would

Most business owners underprice their services. Not charging enough is a common issue for small businesses because they often don’t have the operational efficiencies of large competitors. The one advantage that a small business has over a larger company, is service – that is more valuable than anything.

Other reasons that can help you justify your higher prices over your competitors are:

  • Satisfaction with Customer Complaints
  • Knowledge of Product or Service
  • Helpful and Friendly Employees
  • Convenient Location
  • Exclusive Products or Services

 

  1. Pricing Below Competition

If you want to stay on the low-end or the competitive pricing, remember that your profit margin will drop – so you will need to think about your costs. To stay low with prices, think about the following:

  • Inexpensive Business Location
  • Inventory Control
  • Limit Product Lines to Fast-Moving Items
  • Design Ads for “Price Specials”
  • Offer Limited Services

This strategy can be successful, but could be difficult to maintain. Remember that your competition can match your lower price.

 

Have questions or need help developing a price plan? Email me at judi.otton@growth-cast.com.