The Dirty Little Secret: Your “Free” Website Isn’t Really Free

free website builder dirty secretYou may have seen the commercials on TV or ads showing up in your Facebook feed claiming you can use a magical website building tool to create your company’s website, completely free of charge. This sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? That’s because it usually is.

I may catch some flak for it, but I have to expose a dirty little secret: The free website building tools you hear about aren’t really free.

While the promise of a free website can be enticing, there are always hidden costs involved that aren’t so obvious. If you’re not up on the latest website technology, you could be severely disappointed if you think you can launch a results-producing website at no cost.

Let’s take a look at the hidden costs of so-called free website building tools that you should take into consideration before creating or upgrading your company’s website.

Domain and hosting

A “free” website doesn’t include a totally unique domain name (www.yourcompanyname.com, for example). You have to pay extra for that.

In addition, you may incur monthly hosting costs, depending on what type of package you select. If you want to add more pages to your site, you have to pay for it. If you want more storage for your images and content, you have to pay for it. The list goes on.

I have also seen companies charge a monthly fee to have their advertisements removed from your website. If you’re building a website for your business, removing these ads is essential for a professional image. You weren’t told about this hidden cost in the advertisements.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Recently, while editing a client’s website using a popular website building tool, I came across a rather disturbing message meant to scare unsuspecting business owners. While I won’t mention the company by name, you’re probably familiar with their commercials featuring a high-profile competitive driver in racy outfits.

The message stated, “You’re not in Google search results, yet. Use our free Search Engine Optimizer to get started.”

This simply wasn’t true. My client’s website ranked #1 in Google’s search results for a few relevant keywords. Using scare tactics to fool unsuspecting customers is a completely despicable practice.

As long as you submit your website to search engines – most website builder tools do this automatically or it can be done manually – you will show up in search results. How high you rank in the search engines is another matter.

If you’re not familiar with doing a keyword analysis and following best practices to create content for your site, it probably won’t rank as high as you’d like it to. Building a website involves far more than knowing how to upload a logo and select a font size. Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical, so you’ll want to seek assistance if you don’t have experience doing it yourself and, you guessed it, that’s another cost!

Time

There have been leaps and bounds in do-it-yourself website building technology. Overall, this is a good thing. However, there will be a learning curve if you’re not familiar with using a website building tool, also referred to as a content management system (CMS), to edit your website.

Getting the hang of things and taking full advantage of the features and functions will take time and time is money. If you’re already strapped for time (aren’t we all?), building your website may take you away from more critical responsibilities.

Unique design

Free templates are just that: templates that everyone can utilize for free. Unless you have graphic design experience and the necessary tools, your website isn’t going to stand out from the crowd. Stock photos and straight-from-the-box templates will cause your site to look like all the others using the same template. Your website is your most important online asset – don’t take a shortcut.

If you want to create a professional website that’s a cut above the rest, I suggest you work with a graphic designer who has web design experience. This, of course, is a cost you weren’t told about when you were pitched a free website.

Some companies that provide “free” website building tools offer custom design services, but buyer beware. I read an online review from a dissatisfied customer who actually paid one of these companies $3,000 for them to customize his website! It was the same basic website with a few novice enhancements.

He would’ve been much better off using a local marketing company to deliver the site he wanted at a fraction of what he paid. The money would’ve stayed in his community and the business he hired would have a much better understanding of the local market, helping deliver a customized site that would drive more business.

Avoid getting burned

Now that I’ve exposed the dirty little secret of the “free” website industry, I hope you realize some of the hidden costs. There’s nothing wrong with using these website building tools, but understand that they’re not really free; know what you’re getting into.

Although using a “free” website building tool may seem like a no-brainer, hiring a marketing professional to deliver an effective website that will get your business found online is more affordable than you think. Let my company help mitigate the hidden costs and achieve your online goals. Send me an email today or give me a ring at (248) 808-0405 to discuss how we can help.

Brett Heitz | Such Great Heights Marketing
Brett is the President of Such Great Heights Marketing LLC. He is passionate about providing marketing services that help small businesses in Detroit and Southeast Michigan grow. You may reach him at info@suchgreatheightsmarketing.com.
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6 Reasons You Will Succeed at Marketing in 2014

you-can-do-itTis’ the season for year-end blog posts.

This time of year, business blogs tend to shell-out predictions for the New Year or recaps of the year we just had. That’s fine and all, but I think there are bigger fish to fry when it comes to helping small business owners succeed.

Instead of pretending I have a crystal ball or doing a lazy rundown of all the events that happened this year, I want to focus on what it will take for you to effectively market your business in 2014. It’s not rocket science, either.

Now is the time to ditch the excuses that may’ve held you down in the past. Set aside your regrets. Drown your preconceptions and embrace the new you: A business owner who’s doing a kick-ass job at marketing.

Think I’m crazy? The truth is that you can do a stellar job at marketing your business, but it does take discipline and effort. You can do it; here’s how.

1. You will fight for your business

My wife and I enjoy watching Bar Rescue, a reality-based program where Jon Taffer, a bar and hospitality industry extraordinaire, helps turn around failing bars. During his rescues, he frequently uses the phrase, “fight for your business.” While this statement is very simple, it’s very powerful.

Think about what rides on the success of your business: Your family, home, security, and retirement to name a few. If these things are important to you, an all-in marketing mentality is essential.

2. You will not make excuses

As a business owner, there’s always a more convenient time to start a marketing campaign, an easier time to launch a social media promotion, and a less-stressful time to redesign your website. There are endless excuses and reasons why these things will never get done.

The most successful small businesses make time to create and execute their marketing strategies. Set aside excuses and make, “get ‘er done,” your credo.

3. You will be consistent

While it’s not always easy – heck, if it were easy, everyone would do it – you need to commit to being consistent with your marketing efforts. Having a written plan and a calendar will help you execute your marketing plan, stick to your deadlines, and act as a constant reminder for you to be diligent.

4. You will try something new

There’s nothing wrong with sticking to marketing tactics that work, but it becomes too easy to get stuck in your old ways of thinking. You will succeed in 2014 because you’re not afraid to step outside the box. It may be a business cliché, but the underlying concept will always have merit. Get managers, employees, and even a marketing consultant involved to help spark new ideas.

5. You will fully embrace online marketing

Your website is your most important online property. If you’ve been neglecting it, your business could be suffering. Allocate resources to make your website a well-oiled marketing machine. If you’re not sure what needs to be done, get a website analysis from a marketing agency.

You probably have a Facebook page and Twitter account created for your business, but are you truly benefiting from them? It takes a lot of time and a whole-hearted commitment to reap the rewards of your social media efforts; make it a priority! If you’re not sure how you’re doing, take our social media quiz.

For you to be successful in 2014, you’ll not only take advantage of Facebook and Twitter, you’ll identify new opportunities on emerging or niche social media networks, too. Could Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, or other network help your brand? Don’t be afraid to explore new opportunities.

6. You will measure the results
Measuring the results of your marketing initiatives will help guide your future marketing campaigns so you can be more successful. It also helps you save money by not throwing dollars at marketing activities with insufficient ROI.

To measure the results of your marketing activities, I’m not suggesting you need to create an array of fancy charts and graphs, either. Start simple with an Excel spreadsheet to track metrics such as Facebook engagement, Twitter follower growth, email click-thru rates, leads from your website, and more.

You can do it! 

Fighting for your business, not making excuses, being consistent, trying new things, embracing online marketing, and measuring your results will be the foundation for your business to succeed at marketing in 2014 and for years to come. If you need a little help along the way, I invite you to give me a call at (248) 808-0405 or email me.

Cheers to a great year!

Brett Heitz | Such Great Heights Marketing
Brett is the President of Such Great Heights Marketing LLC. He is passionate about providing marketing services that help small businesses in Detroit and Southeast Michigan grow. You may reach him at info@suchgreatheightsmarketing.com.
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Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from your friends at Such Great Heights Marketing. We hope you have a joyful holiday season with family, good friends, and great food.

Thank you for following our blog in 2013. We look forward to producing small business marketing blog posts that will help you this coming year. Cheers!

Happy Holidays from Such Great Heights Marketing Detroit Marketing Company

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Just Say No to Linking Your Facebook Account to Twitter

link facebook and twitterGiven the laundry list of tasks you face every day as a business owner, you’re probably on the constant lookout for ways to save time. One of the ways to save time on social media seems like a no brainer: linking your company’s Facebook account to Twitter. In other words, when you post on Facebook, it automatically shows up as a tweet from your Twitter account, too. Sounds brilliant, right?

While this may sound like a great solution, Facebook and Twitter are completely different animals and require entirely different management. User behavior, consumption of information, structure of posts/tweets, and the ways fans and followers engage vary dramatically across the two platforms.

Twitter can be a powerful tool for connecting with your customers and future customers. It’s an excellent platform for making real connections, gathering and responding to feedback about your business, resolving issues or complaints, growing your customer base, and more. However, it needs to be managed properly to reap these benefits.

Although the benefits are clear, I often see Twitter treated like an afterthought as shown by companies that blindly push all of their Facebook posts to Twitter. Too many business owners are falling into this trap and I’m on a mission to educate them about the pitfalls.

Let’s look at four reasons why you should not link your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

It’s antisocial

If your business takes the shortcut of having your Facebook posts show up as tweets on Twitter, what are the chances you actually log into Twitter to follow up, reply to mentions, interact with others, grow your following, and so on? I’ve personally tested my theory by responding to numerous tweets by businesses that that link their Facebook to Twitter. Nine times out of ten, I never hear back because they’re not actually logging onto Twitter. It’s a social media tragedy.

Not engaging with others is on Twitter is antisocial and defeats the purpose of using it as a marketing tool for your business. It can irritate potential customers that reach out to you, resulting in lost sales opportunities. Even worse, if you are not responding to customer concerns or complaints, it can tarnish your reputation beyond repair. It sends the message that you don’t care enough to connect with others, which defeats the purpose of social media in the first place, doesn’t it?

It’s unauthentic

People on social media are looking for genuine communication. When you don’t manage Twitter as a stand-alone medium, you’re using it in an unauthentic way.

If people are connected to you on both Facebook and Twitter, what’s the motivation for them to continue to follow you on both networks if you’re blasting out the same content at the same time? It comes off as unauthentic and robotic, which can be a real put-off for folks.

In the end, linking your accounts to save a little time can actually work against you in the arena of public perception. It shows that you have little understanding of how to properly use these social networks for business purposes.

It looks sloppy

Formatting on Facebook and Twitter are entirely different. Facebook posts allow up to 5,000 characters; Twitter allows a mere 140 characters. Accordingly, Facebook posts that are over 140 characters don’t show up very nicely on Twitter.

Messages that are cut off because of Twitter’s character limit not only look sloppy, they make your business look bad and may prevent people from wanting to follow you. In addition, some Facebook posts show up only as links on Twitter with no descriptive text whatsoever. Also, images without descriptions that are posted on Facebook show up as tweets reading, “I posted a new photo to Facebook,” which is incredibly annoying.

link facebook to twitter

Some Facebook posts show up as tweets like this. In this case, a link shows up with no descriptive text.

link facebook to twitter

Facebook posts over 140 characters don’t show up very nicely on Twitter, resulting in sloppy, unprofessional looking tweets like this.

 It hinders your progress

At the end of the day, the effects of the reasons to not link your Facebook and Twitter can hinder your social media efforts. In a majority of cases I’ve observed, businesses that link their accounts have far fewer followers, receive less engagement with tweets, and are missing out on the powerful potential of Twitter.

Next steps

Now that you understand why your Facebook and Twitter accounts are different creatures and should not be linked, make sure you take the time and effort to manage them individually. If you’re already doing this, I congratulate you for a job well done.

If you’re unsure how to manage your Twitter account effectively, I suggest downloading a copy of my company’s free guide, “How to Master Twitter for Your Business.” You’ll learn what to tweet about, how to grow your following, how to drive more business, best practices to follow, and more.

Feeling overwhelmed about properly managing your Facebook and Twitter accounts? Don’t think you have the time to do it successfully? Want to focus on other aspects of your business? Contact us today to learn how we can help you succeed with social media so you can focus on what you do best.

How to Master Twitter for Your BusinessFree Twitter Guide
Receive more valuable advice about how to effectively manage your company’s Twitter account by downloading a copy of our free guide, “How to Master Twitter for Your Business.” You’ll get real-world guidance that’s tried-and-true and see examples of our advice in action.

Request your copy of the guide now!

Brett Heitz | Such Great Heights Marketing
Brett is the President of Such Great Heights Marketing LLC. He is passionate about providing marketing services that help small businesses in Detroit and Southeast Michigan grow. You may reach him at info@suchgreatheightsmarketing.com.
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Are You Failing at Social Media?

Social media is a relatively new phenomenon for small businesses and many owners are unsure how to manage their accounts, let alone gauge their success. Often times they turn to a staff member who has Facebook and Twitter accounts and a few extra minutes in the day. Although that strategy can be successful, businesses need to make sure they have a system of checks and balances to measure their effectiveness.

So, how can you tell if you’re successful or struggling with social media? We’ve put together a down-and-dirty checklist you can use to assess how well your business is performing on the two most commonly used networks, Facebook and Twitter.

social media quiz self assessment

Brett Heitz | Such Great Heights Marketing
Brett is the President of Such Great Heights Marketing LLC. He is passionate about providing marketing services that help small businesses in Detroit and Southeast Michigan grow. You may reach him at info@suchgreatheightsmarketing.com.
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10 Best Practices for Businesses New to Social Media

social media best practicesIf your business is new to social media, you may not realize there are a plethora of best practices that need to be embraced and numerous blunders that need to be avoided like the plague. No matter what social networks you’re using, here are ten beginner social media tips to help you get the most out of your efforts.

1. Listen and get involved. Put the social in social media by interacting with others, not just posting sales pitches.

2. Establish your business as the “go to” expert. Provide tips and guidance relative to your product, service, or industry (also referred to as “content”).

3. Be human. Gone are the days of gobbledygook corporate banter. Make sure you show the personality of your business and act appropriately.

4. Commit the necessary time and resources. For your business to truly benefit from social media, you must invest a considerable amount of time and resources to manage it properly.

5. Be consistent. Consistency is necessary for long-term success on social media. Again, dedicate an adequate amount of time and resources to properly manage your online properties.

6. Use common sense. You don’t want people wasting your time with annoying or worthless updates, so make sure you don’t make the same mistake.

7. Get to the point. Buddy Media found that Facebook posts under 80 characters received 27% more engagement.

8. Customize your profiles. You should have branded profile graphics for all of your social media accounts. In addition, make sure all of your profile descriptions are completely filled out.

9. Respond to customer feedback in a constructive manner. Social media isn’t all unicorns and rainbows. Professionally respond to negative comments while being as transparent as possible. Thank people for their positive comments, too.

10. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Show respect and appreciation for your followers and fans. Don’t bombard your audience with sales pitches and advertisements for your company. Don’t engage in deceitful practices to artificially grow your Twitter following.

If you feel overwhelmed or simply don’t have the time to properly manage your social media presence, I’d love to speak with you. It doesn’t hurt to find out how affordable it can be to delegate your social media management to a qualified service provider, so please feel free to reach me at (248) 808-0405, fill out our contact form, or email info@suchgreatheightsmarketing.com.

Brett Heitz | Such Great Heights Marketing
Brett is the President of Such Great Heights Marketing LLC. He is passionate about providing marketing services that help small businesses in Detroit and Southeast Michigan grow. You may reach him at info@suchgreatheightsmarketing.com.
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Why Creating Social Media Accounts Isn’t Enough

social media account creationOver the last couple of years, there’s been quite a buzz about the need for small businesses to utilize social media. During this time, numerous businesses set up Facebook and Twitter accounts with lofty expectations. Flourishes of posts and tweets could be observed over the course of a few weeks or months with little understanding of how to properly use the tools.

No immediate results were seen by these businesses, relegating social media to one of the things they claim they tried, but “it didn’t work.” Activity came to a halt, leaving ghost towns of social media profiles built on high-hopes and unrealistic expectations.

Unfortunately, too many business owners have similar experiences to the one you just read. If you understand that it’s necessary to be committed to social media for the long-haul, you will reap the benefits and avoid being let down.

The reality is that creating social media accounts isn’t enough! The ‘if you build it, they will come’ scenario simply doesn’t work in most cases.

For small businesses to succeed, social media has to be a long-term commitment with the understanding that results won’t be seen overnight. Additionally, it’s imperative to be consistently active and follow best practices.

In an article from Fast Company, Express CMO Lisa Gavales likens not having an active social media presence to “walking into a store and having the sales associate not talk to you.” This is one of my favorite quotes that accurately illustrates the need to consistently and professionally manage your company’s social media presence.

Easier said than done, right? It’s true – properly maintaining a social presence for your business can be a daunting task. It takes significant time and resources to be effective. Two or three tweets a month and a Facebook post once every couple of weeks won’t cut it.

Fortunately, if you’re struggling to stay active on your chosen networks or if you’re not seeing the results you were hoping for, you have options. Don’t throw in the towel.

If you feel the need to manage your social media presence yourself, take a social media training course to get up-to-speed about how to professionally manage your accounts and maximize your return on time and investment. From there, set aside time every day to manage it. You may find it tough, but it’s required if you want to make legitimate headway. Before diving in, develop a strategy and create a content calendar that will help guide your posts and updates across the social networks you’re utilizing.

A second viable option that will save you drastic amounts of time, money, and headache is hiring a social media consultant to manage your accounts. A qualified local social media agency will already be up-to-speed on how to effectively utilize the social media networks you’re a part of. Also, they can create a strategy based on your goals and inject new ideas that can help your business succeed online.

If you decide that a consultant makes more sense for you and your business, make sure they have extensive marketing experience and be sure to watch out for red flags that will help you avoid getting burned.

If you decide to hire a social media consultant to manage your accounts, we’d love to discuss some affordable options that will help you get results. Please contact me directly at (248) 808-0405 or fill out our contact form to receive more information.

Brett Heitz | Such Great Heights Marketing
Brett is the President of Such Great Heights Marketing LLC. He is passionate about providing marketing services that help small businesses in Detroit and Southeast Michigan grow. You may reach him at info@suchgreatheightsmarketing.com.
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