Web Consultants | The key to a successful website

Web Consultants | The key to a successful website

What is a Web Consultant?

A web consultant goes beyond coding and design of a website and discover’s the customer’s objectives for the new or updated website, makes recommendations to enable them to meet those objectives, handle web development and may contract out the new logo plan, copywriting, SEO research, social media and marketing, as well as PR. A Web Consultant handles the full scope of a website and goes beyond the piecework of just developing and coding a site.  This can also be considered web development, wherein a plan is constructed for the website itself and all the associated parts of a business’s online presence. 

Why is a web consultant a step above a developer or web designer? Several answers apply to this question. A website is not a stand alone entity. This means that, even if you build an excellent website, that is aesthetically pleasing and well-coded, it can not perform in a vacuum. You need a website that furthers the overall objectives of a business.

For example, if you contract a developer to build a website for your cleaning service, will the developer be well researched in local SEO practices? If the website ranks high in SERPS, but not locally – does that get you any service bookings? If the copy of your website doesn’t convey the right message, will it convert?  What about branding, or social media or advertising that pushes clients to your website to book – do they take that into account as well? 

The objective of gaining new local customers for this business couldn’t be met by a website alone. SEO, copywriting, and advertising play key roles in the comprehensive web presence that every business needs to be successful. In short, just having a “nice website” is not enough to reach business goals.

The process of building your online presence with a web consultant is comprehensive. The consultant will review your current digital assets and your goals. The web consultant then uncovers the gaps in your online presence or areas of weakness – all before changing one line of code on your site.  They will develop the overall plan for your web presence insuring it is cohesive and will reach the right customer for you.

What does a Web Consultant do?

 The web consultant gains a high view impression of your digital footprint to ensure that your final website iteration works with your other digital assets to drive the website to meet your business goals. The consultants process is usually as follows:

  • First the web consultant learns about your business and your business goals as well as your budget. 

  • Next the web consultant develops a customer avatar for your business from which your branding and messaging is developed

  • Web research is performed on the customer avatar, your market, and your competition.

  • Following research,  the aesthetics and functionality of your website are determined and communicated to the web developer and designer.

  • The web consultant oversees subcontractors for logos, copywriting, photography or any aspect of the website development that goes into the completed site.

  • The consultant then determines social media presence requirements, advertising planning, and marketing strategy.

  • Lastly, when everything is ready to launch your site the web consultant will prepare PR surrounding your business and launch or relaunch of your website. 

 
The web consultant acts in several capacities – from designer, to developer, to digital project manager – ensuing the end result works best for your entire business.  Many people who contract for a new or updated website are disappointed when the site doesn’t immediately generate the results they had envisioned at the outset. This isn’t necessarily a failure of the web designer or developer but a failure in planning the complete picture of an online presence. 

 

 

Websites can perform many functions and should be the focal point of your overall online presence. Neglecting the other aspects of a business online and focusing myopically on the website itself is a recipe for disaster – or at least missed business goals. 

If your website is not currently meeting expectations a web consultant can also be contracted to fix what’s wrong with a current website. Redevelopment of an underperforming site is not usually necessary – unless it is poorly coded or aesthetically displeasing.  The consultant can use the same purview in assessing and implementing good web consulting practice to “work out the kinks” in the underperforming site and, most likely, the entirety of the digital presence of the associated business.

 

When considering the build or rebuild of a site, remember that a website is not a stand-alone entity. You need to ensure it drives the objectives of your overall business plan and can meet the requirements of your business. A failing website can be fixed with a stronger, high level, inspection of your web presence and the implementation of a good web consultant’s pan to make your website work better for your business.

 

What is project management and do you need it?

What is project management and do you need it?

What does a Project Manager do?

Before you can decide if you need a project manager, you’ll want to know”what does a project manager do?”.  Unfortunately, there’s not a short and fast answer to that question: project managers wear many hats depending on the company they are working with. You may work with project managers who:

 

  • Budget for a project from start to finish and simply keep their finger on the pulse of a given project. -righting it when things go wrong. They are probably managing more than one project at the same time.
  • You may find a project manager that does all of the above and also consults on software and strategy as well. Sometimes they are referred to as Management Consultants and is more responsible for setting up systems for the teams they are managing, and consulting on the best ways to implement those systems.
  • Some project managers will perform aspects of the projects themselves and be more “hands on” with a project – not delegating all the legwork to the team.
  • Lastly, you’ll have a project manager that does all of the above – manges a lean team, a tight budget, limited resources and has to do a lot of legwork themselves. Startups usually use the service of a do-it-all project manager consultant.

In summary, a Project Manager plans and executes a given project – start to finish. 

 

What types of problems do Project Managers resolve?

 

Several different problems manifest when starting a project.  A general rule is, the bigger the project the greater the problems. A manager is responsible for running the day to day operations of a business. The same is true for a business owner. Starting a new project takes away from the primary directive of business manager / owners, and neither the established business nor new project are run efficiently.  By hiring a project manager, the issues of budget – most importantly setting a good budget from the start and avoiding overages – is one of the primary concerns of the Project Manager. Overages, that a business can not adsorb,  are a primary reason that some projects never come to fruition or are delayed into new quarters when more funds become available for the project.

A good project manager will be able to break the entire project down into stages and assess the resources needed from the team, any software needed to complete the project, and how to budget expenditures for the given project, delivering the project on time. This is especially important for a smaller business when budgets are very tight and a delayed project can spell financial catastrophe. This stage is called the Planning Stage.

 

After the project is set-up (planning stage), the project manager will be responsible for the team and keeping hold of budgetary requirements in the Implementation Stage. If a team member is “slacking off” or encountered an issue, the project manager is responsible for heading those issues off at the pass and resolving them. The project manager will, in the course of their work, assess which team member is best suited to a particular aspect of the project to try and avoid roadblocks. For example, you wouldn’t want to task a person with great design skills, and minimal coding experience, to write script for a project. Determining the individual team member’s zone of genius helps the project run smoothly.  The project manager will stay in communication with the team to determine that the project is progressing according to schedule and that every team member is in the appropriate role.

 

Lastly, the project is complete and the Project manager ensures delivery of the final project to the customer or stakeholder. This is a time when the project manager will look over the entirety of the project and assess what worked well and did not work well. THis summarization helps the Project Manager avoid these issues in the future and can identify which members of the team were underperforming or weren’t tasked with the appropriate aspect of the project.  While the Completion stage is the smallest stage in the project management landscape, it helps ensure that future projects run more smoothly than previous ones. 

In summary: Dedicating a lot of time to the Planning Stage of a project will help the Implementation Stage run more smoothly.

Do I need a project manager? 

This is a question we can not answer for you, by understanding what role the project manager plays, however, you can determine if you have the bandwidth, experience, and skill to Plan, Implement, and Close out a project.  As we mentioned before, the owner /manager of a business has several constraints in the day-to-day operation of a business which would take away from the proper execution of a project – especially a large one.  

Imagine if you were to overhaul your business website. Would you know who to hire, how long the project should take, what is needed to initiate the project and what the costs would be? Probably not. You would have to learn all of those things before starting on the project to begin with. If there is a delay in the project, would you be able to ascertain why the delay is occurring and how to fix it?  Lastly, would you be able to do all these things and run your business as well as you are now? 

Probably not. 

While a project manager seems, at the outset, to be an additional project expense, they actually end up saving clients money over the course of a project by avoiding delays and maintaining tight reigns on the budget. In fact, according to  The Project Management Institute in regards to digital project management

” 9.9 cents of every dollar is wasted due to poor project performance. At the same time, only 58 percent of companies understand the importance of project management. Those who don’t see much value in PM activity report project failures nearly 50 percent more frequently.”

 If you are working on a $100,000 project, you can expect to lose almost $10,000 on poor project performance.

Remember when we mentioned the larger the project the bigger the problem? Add a few zeros to those numbers above or think about the monetary losses and loss of reputation if this is a project for a client that you can’t deliver on. The financial risk is immesureable. 

 

Project management is an essential element to any digital project coming to completion successfully. If you find yourself strapped and just can’t justify the costs of a project manager, there are some steps you can take to minimize this expense while still managing your project successfully. 

Project Management Tools – Use tools like Monday, where there are many Project management templates you can utilize, to help you plan out your project and to keep your team members on track. This is the tool we utilize with our projects because it is very user friendly and powerful. There are other project management tools like Asana, Trello or Zoho to utilize if Monday is not a good fit. Pick a tool  and set it up for the specific needs of your project.  You can also have a Project Manager JUST set up the project on project management software. Since the Planning Stage is the most important, as we have established,  this might be the BEST place to bring in a Project Management Consultant to help get it all set up properly. 

Get a Project Management task template. There are several free options to help you keep all the tasks under control . Analysis Tab for Excel is a great option. Or a spreadsheet in Google Drive can work as well.  However, you can use a Project management tool like we mentioned above, to track tasks in real time for your entire team. 

Schedule milestone meetings. Make sure your team reports frequently on their progress and communicates any roadblocks they are experiencing.  It seems redundant but you can use a Project Management Software, like Monday, to perform this check-in as well. If your team is remote it is especially useful for keeping everyone on task.  Zoom Meetings, Google Hangouts or Skype are great ways to use a free tool to have stand-up type meetings with your team as often as you deem necessary to be sure everything is on track. 

 

Keeping a project on time and within budget is the primary role of the Project Manager. Saving time, money and your business reputation (in some instances) will be an additional benefit of contracting with a project manager or bringing one inhouse.

 

 

Please contact Jami Bova Online Consulting for more tips and a free consultation for your business. 

 

 

 

My Life’s a Mess | How the Pareto Principle Can Make it Work More Efficiently.

My Life’s a Mess | How the Pareto Principle Can Make it Work More Efficiently.

Well, my life’s not a mess – most days at least. Maybe you are having trouble managing yours. That’s OK. At one point or another we all get bogged down by the mountain of stuff we have to do as business owners, executives, parents, spouses….human beings. It can become a lot – too much.

We all have 24 hours in a day but different things that fill those hours up. But I’m going to tell you a secret – most of that stuff isn’t helping you. It’s just there, getting in the way of other stuff. In fact, only about 20% of what you do has any real, lasting effect on your life. The rest is fluff – sticky, icky, pulling you down fluff.

How do I know this? I recently have started studying the Pareto Principle. To sum it up, really briefly, it means that out of 100% of our time, efforts, investments – really whatever topic we are focusing on – 20% of the activity generates the results. The other 80% is, basically, busy work. It stands true in almost every verticle – from the way the government sets up social programs to the way banks earn money on investments. 20% is probably going to generate the majority of results. Why, who knows. It is one of those “just is” scenarios that “just works” the majority of the time.

That’s the Pareto Principle

I can hear the “buts” …I get it, we all have them. Some of those non-results generating activities have to be done. BUT, do they have to be done by you? What if you focused more on the 20% that works and less on the 80% that kinda works.

If you are seeing where this is going (or not, I’m explaining it anyway) outsourcing is the key to realigning your focus where it counts the MOST while not letting the other important stuff go by the wayside.

Let’s paint a picture – the busy executive mom. She has a lot on her plate.

  • Significant Other (or not)
  • Kids
  • Career
  • Extended Family and Friends
  • Home / Cars / Bills
  • Herself

Each of those things are important and they are all jockeying for attention. The first question you have to ask when trying to Pareto Principle your life is:

Does it HAVE to be done by me?

If you said yes, it has to be done by me, the follow-up question should be:

Is there a FASTER way to do it?

Let’s look at household management – grocery shopping, cleaning, scheduling, maintenance, and cooking. It’s a lot, especially because we haven’t touched on the rest of the “stuff” you have to do. How much time would it save you if –

  • You had an ongoing maintenance schedule so nothing “sneaks up on you”
  • Your groceries were delivered to your door / Some of it was pre-prepped and still healthy?
  • You had one maintenance person to do the stuff that takes up a whole weekend like mowing the lawn, changing the air filters, replacing the batteries in your smoke detectors.
  • A housekeeper that comes weekly
  • A family calendar that syncs with everyone and sends alerts to the whole family and everyone helping you out like the maintenece person or housekeeper (see #1)

My guess is a lot of time – at least a Saturday’s worth. And if you knew how to set this stuff up you would have done it already. Because, who doesn’t want a Saturday to just lounge around once in a while – right!

So how do you apply the Pareto Principle to your life and career? First decide what has to be done by you. Next, investigate ways to make what has to be done by you faster or more efficient.

If it doesn’t have to be done by you, outsource as much as you can. From personal assistance to auto-paying bills – there are lots of ways to reclaim time by taking a lot of little things off your plate. Especially if those things fall within your budget, it’s important to do them because you have freed up time that you can spend doing the things you want to do or things that generate more business for your business.

Time management based on the Pareto Principle not only gives you back some time freedom but it can help you grow your business.

If you are looking for ways to Pareto Principle your business and be more efficient and productive, schedule a free 1 on 1 consultation.

CRM and Project Management

CRM and Project Management

Selecting and implementing a CRM is crucial in maintaining control of projects and clients. Project management software and CRMs are not interchangeable – though the terms are used synonymously. There are some key differences in the 2 platforms, their functionality and their goals. 

Project Management Platforms should offer:

  • Scheduling with short and long term planning
  • Activity monitoring
  • Report generator for teams and individuals
  • Budget tracking
  • Reminders for deadlines
  • Visualization capabilities
  • Communication features

On the other hand, CRMs deal more with the communication of your team with clients as well as automating many redundant process. This serves to create a streamlined system for client interaction on your team and ensures no customers or clients “fall through the cracks” in your organization. A good CRM should offer

 

  • Email management and direction 
  • Help Desk Features
  • Management of Sales Funnels and Leads
  • Lead scoring and direction
  • Track and report on customer interactions

From connecting your email inbox to your sales funnel, newsletter, and customer service platforms (plus a whole lot more) CRM can condense and facilitate the process of managing current customers and handling leads in a way that simplifies your business process and, when done correctly, increase revenue.  A CRM should effectively “pay for itself” in time saved and profits.

There are a variety of different CRMs available from free options like  Insightly whose free version is fine for a very small business that doesn’t sell online. To the paid options like our 2 favorites, Infusionsoft and Greenrope. If you need a Social Media specific CRM Sprinklr is our top choice in that niche.

One of the best options for maryng both Project Management and CRM softwares, however, is ZOHO One. We appreciate the ease of integrating both the CRM into the project management software to, for example, facilitate customer service, create Social Media Marketing campaigns in collaboration with clients’ teams and their customers, and gather all pertinent data sets to determine what works and what can be further refined. 

Regardless of the platforms you choose, growing businesses need software to manage not only the customer relationship but also the internal workings of their teams. Research CRM and Project Management software that meets the needs of your business to get more done more efficiently and build great relationships with your clients. 

 

Franchises need Better Social

FRANCHISES NEED BETTER SOCIAL

Franchises are everywhere. From your hair salon, to fast food restaurant, to your gym or childcare facility; chances are your most frequented businesses are franchises. While some franchises are household names other up and comers have just barely cracked the surface of the franchise market.
Being in the Social Media business it was shocking to see the lack of Social Media among franchises and worse, franchisees; especially those that were new and not yet household names.

It was when I was trying to reach out to a local franchisee on social about an account question that I realized, they had no social media presence! Zip. When I researched the main franchise’s social media account (on Facebook) it was mostly unattended and just sporadically updated. NOT Good! Unfortunately, when I decided to go down the rabbit hole of franchise Social Media I discovered that this particular franchise was not alone in a completely lacking a social media presence. Franchises and their franchisees have an almost universal issue, bad social media. The question is , why?

What can Social Media do for your Franchise?
Social media is a tool that serves many purposes for small business like franchise owners. From generating buzz to brand advocacy, customer loyalty, marketing, and customer service; a strong social media presence can go a long way in helping a small business be successful offline from online efforts. Franchises spend a lot of money on traditional marketing like coupons, TV and Radio spots, billboards etc.. but for many franchise owners online marketing is a gaping hole in the overall marketing strategy with franchises; it it is probably hurting your business or at least dampening your success. If your franchise is socially absent or if you have been putting off social for your business, getting a presence on the major social platforms could be the missing piece for your business’ success.

Franchise Social Media Marketing Challenges
When you open a franchise chances are you will be required to use goods and materials provided by the franchise. From ovens, to cash registers to marketing materials – you are obligated to use company provided materials in running your franchise business. If the Franchise does not produce social media content to be redistributed you might be out of luck. Part of the problem is that franchises want to maintain a consistent brand image and discourage franchisees from developing their own marketing materials, online, print, radio etc.. If your franchise doesn’t provide social media marketing guidelines and materials you may be out and out prevented or limited in creating your own marketing materials.

The other Social Media Marketing Challenge is that Franchise owners have limited knowledge and experience in social media, not unlike other non-franchise small business owners. Time for social media may also be a factor. Content creation and distribution are also common challenges for business owners. It’s unrealistic to expect that any small business owner can manage every aspect of their business, of which, social media plays a critical role for acquiring new customers and fostering customer loyalty. Many small business owners ignore social media, in fact 10% of small businesses have no presence on social media at all an 58% struggle with maintaining their social media profiles and are inactive on social accounts.

Solving the Social Media Challenge
Franchises can easily adapt print media to social media content and redistribute it to their franchisees to market their individual businesses. While investigating franchises, potential franchisees should question the availability of these marketing materials in the franchise agreement.
Franchisees can localize these franchise produced materials on social media and adapt them to their market by using geo-specific key words in their social posts and targeting local customers on social via ads as well as reaching out to local influencers in their market on social media.

For franchises that don’t provide marketing materials that can be used on social, franchisees should inquire about their ability to produce their own social media marketing materials. There are services which can adapt or create social media content and publish it to franchise’s social media accounts to streamline the process of social distribution of company produced marketing materials.

Even if marketing is strictly regulated by the franchise, franchisees can still create a social media presence for their business without this content. Memes, videos and customer produced content can be utilized in promoting the franchisee’s business. Social can also be used as a way to manage customer service issues and is an effective way of gauging the consumer’s sentiment regarding the business. In short, social media shouldn’t be ignored simply because the franchise does not offer support for it in the franchise agreement.

There are several services that provide options to the franchise owner and franchisees looking to promote the brand and the individual franchisee’s business on social media in a time and cost effective way. Social Report, for example, offers a low cost solution for distributing content across several social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. It also offers social listening to gauge consumer sentiment and monitor the web for customer issues easily. Other services like Beatrix App help to easily sort and socially distribute content that would be of interest to followers. Infusionsoft has several options for acquiring and managing contacts and converting leads to sales via social media for franchises and franchisees. And lastly, you can always engage the assistance of social media marketers to craft content that aligns with brand image and distribute it to franchisee’s for use in marketing their businesses.

Whatever option you choose it is important to know that Franchises, like any small business, can harness social media to promote not just the franchise brand but the individual franchisee’s business. Social media is a tool that all small business owners can use to promote their businesses locally, -with or without pre-prepared marketing materials. When over 10% of small businesses fail each year, having a strong social media presence can be an important factor in determining if you will be a successful franchisee and should not be ignored.