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“Torie, we just can’t do it anymore…”

Shit. Those are not words a marketer wants to hear from their clients, but it was the words I heard that morning.

What happened? I thought to myself. I thought everything was going so well, at least, that is what I thought. And boy, was I wrong.

We had only been working with this new client for about a month…and I thought things were going well. You see, for the last ten-plus years, I have been working with small businesses to grow their business with marketing. I transform a biz’s marketing, messaging, and branding to get them more clients, and I am really good at it. I also set up systems so things get put on autopilot a bit, so you don’t drown in marketing…which happens very often to small businesses in all phases of business…it’s not a startup problem or a seasoned problem; it’s just a business problem.

But usually, after a month or so, clients are singing my praises, not telling me to stop. I had no idea what was coming. 

Previously, this client was paying big bucks with a huge marketing agency and made the switch to us.  As with most clients, the problem wasn’t bad marketing; it was a lack of marketing. Nothing was being done despite the huge marketing bill each month. This client paid big bucks for a template-website with a hefty recurring monthly bill. Their website wasn’t current or even set up for Google to find it, so no new clients searching the web could find their site unless they typed in the web address directly. And this was just the beginning.

This happens more often than I would like to admit. Business owners shuck out boatloads of marketing dollars for marketing or ads that either never work or only work for a very short time. They are not only missing the basics of marketing their biz but are oblivious to them and getting charged by companies that are doing little to nothing for them.

Sean and I have rescued hundreds of local businesses to this..we educated them and set them up correctly.  I have a “How to Get Your Business Found Locally” workshop that covers some of these basics… and it’s full of the things marketing agencies will never tell you. And after seeing hundreds of this what most small businesses need – not fancy Facebook ad campaigns, costly magazine ads, or billboards. They need basics first and foremost.

And the basics were what we did with this client who was now telling me they couldn’t do anymore.

I nervously picked up the phone and made the call. “We need you to stop,” the office manager said.

“Okay,” I said, “What’s going on?”

“We are booked up for months, so whatever you are doing, please stop.”

A sigh of relief. So what did we do for them? We just started our basic marketing setup that most people miss entirely or go way overboard on just one of these. We know these 5 are usually all it takes to get a business jumpstarted for growth:

1. Create A Consistent Style

The first thing we did was we created a brand style + logo, mostly to be consistent – so we used the same logo, same colors, and same style across everything so the community would trust them, recognize them and remember them. They had nothing before, so everything had a different piece of blurry clip art that would make you question if they were even open for business, and these guys were great at what they did, so we were stoked to get their message out there in a professional way.

Graphic Design on a Budget

You don’t need to spend a ton on this; it can be done well yourself or on a shoestring budget. What you need is a logo and style that matches your business and speaks to your audience, and is consistently used across everything you do. If it’s your name and a piece of clip art, that is fine; just take the time to get it in the right format so it looks professional everywhere you use it. You can go on Fiverr or use someone in design school and pay less than $50 bucks to have this done. 

Choose a couple of colors that work together from your logo and two fonts, and use those on everything. We create our clients a style guide, so they know what colors and fonts to use, so everything is tied together. It just makes it easy and simple to look like a brand rather than a hobby. Then where you’re ready or want to, you can go a get a professional brand done, but it is not needed to grow your business.

You could spend thousands on branding, but you don’t need to. You only need a professional, consistent, simple style so you
A. look like you’re in business,
B. look like the same business everywhere you go,
C. look trustworthy enough to be trusted with taking people’s money.

Keep it simple and consistent.

2. Up to Date Website

We created a new website for them that worked properly and was up to date. Their previous site was older, built on old technology, it was starting to fall apart, and the information was out of date. We made the new site work awesome on mobile phones and updated all the information on the site to be current (new technology makes it easy to update website text and photos), and it needs to be done.

These days websites are sleek and work on mobile. Why? Because that is where customers search for you, and Google wants to show mobile sites to mobile searches, so you are more likely to come up if your site is mobile responsive.

Technically this is probably more than most people can or want to do themselves. WordPress is a great builder for websites and the only one we use for our clients because it is easy for them to update, the website looks great, is secure, and we can add to them as needed. Also, Google loves them, they are built to get traffic, and you can add all kinds of free and inexpensive plugins that make your site do more.

You can blog, sell products, show photos, and videos easily, and collect emails…it is all pretty seamless, but there is a learning curve. We highly suggest staying away from third-party builders like Squarespace, where your site and its materials are not actually your own, and you can’t move your site and content.

A website can be a huge investment, and maybe at some time, you will need one, but maybe not. All you really need is a simple, mobile responsive WordPress site; then you can add to it as needed later.

3. SEO Set up

When we looked at this client’s very expensive website, we found that there was no SEO on the site at all. The site wasn’t set up to even be found, there was no site map, and it had never been indexed by search engines.

This means no Google search could ever bring their website up. On their new site, we added the necessary code (in one of those WordPress plugins we told you about earlier) and made their site indexable by search engines for their services.

When we first meet a business client, one of the first things we do is look at what they have set up for their Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Many times there is nothing there. A simple set up would add a Meta Title, Meta Description, and to include Keywords to your site’s home page (at least), and submit the site to Google (WordPress is set up to do this automatically in most cases). If you haven’t done this (and it can literally take 5 minutes and no cost), your site is may not be on search engines at all.

This little bit of code is where Google finds the information to list your site in the first place. If it has nothing to find it can’t list your website.

The second part of this is basic step is keywords, and this is two-fold and super important. First, Google will not and cannot list your website for words that are not on your site. This may sound obvious, but we have many businesses that want to be found for a word that is not ever found on their site.

And second, businesses use words on their site and keywords that are industry-used words and not actual words real people use to search for a service. This is where keyword research and planning is important…but is really just knowing what people are searching for and making sure your website has those things.

After this simple set up amazing things can be done to make your website found by more people including more complex SEO tactics, utilizing a blog with a keyword strategy and more…but it all starts with getting the site set up for SEO in the first place.

4. Clear Messaging

We changed the templated site’s messaging to reflect the actual business, used real testimonials and real pics of them and their staff, and highlighted what made them different.

Most businesses do none of this, and it’s a simple way to stand out in a crowded market. Mostly because people want to do business with people, so your message can be that distinguishing factor when you all are selling the same widgets. Transparency is the newest must-have marketing detail. Showing what you do and how you do it in this social landscape is big business.

Many businesses are hiding behind a logo instead of being a real person helping real people, and it is costing them business. This takes some time and usually a mindset shift, but can make huge strides in your business.

It can be great to have a professional copywriter go through your message but small changes by you can make a big difference in growing your business. Think about

A. the problems you solve for customers,
B. being transparent and real,
C. what makes you different.

5. Digital Marketing Set up

As mentioned before, we start with the basics of marketing…once we have the assets (above) we go to town with those assets. We claim and update all possible places the business is listed.

We started with Google; claimed the business, and added all the business details. This is a must if you want your business found online, and it’s free to do. If you are a location-based business, it is how you get shown on Google maps. You use your consistent message and style and fill everything in, and use real images of you and your business.

RELATED: How to Set up Your Google Profile

Keep repeating this across the web on sites like:

Trip Advisor
Other Social you are using (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.)

And find any other industry-specific sites to get listed on for free. If you don’t know what sites your industry has, search your services and competitors and see what sites are on page one of Google. Most of these have a free version of your listing so take advantage. (Examples are Angie’s List, Veteran Owned Business, Caring.com)

Next, find all the Local sites you can be listed on. These can be directory sites, business sites like the Chamber or local guide sites. Check everywhere you find your website listed and update with the new style and message and make sure everything is correct (hours, contact info, services).

You can keep a simple spreadsheet of all these places, so you can easily update all of them if you have a change. There are companies that charge hefty fees to do this for you; they will magically list you on 100s of directories and keep them updated for you. This is bogus; you don’t need to be on hundreds of random directories…just look at page one, and you’ll be fine.

The Basics Work

That’s it. That is all we did to make this client in a few weeks tell us to stop what we were doing…we didn’t even get to the “good stuff” yet.

And the good news is we didn’t get fired; they just needed some time to adjust to the new traffic of customers.

And these 5 things are things you can start with to really explode your business. So take a look at these things in your business:

  1. Simple, professional, and consistent style
  2. Updated mobile website
  3. Simple SEO setup
  4. Fix poor message
  5. Set up Local + Industry sites

Where can you start to make small changes in these 5 areas? You do not have to tackle all of these at one time, and you don’t have to throw tens of thousands of dollars at them either. Most businesses are not paying attention to these 5 basics for marketing and growing their business so even working on one or two of these can make a big difference in your growth.

The key is to start here and get these covered before you jump into big-dollar marketing. Depending on the goals for your business, you may not need billboards, magazine ads, radio, Facebook, and all the other expensive marketing tactics. The basics may just create the business you desire and may just cause you to fire your marketing company. 😉

Here’s to creating the business + life you LOVE!


About Digital Marketing Expert Torie Mathis

Torie Mathis helps entrepreneurs, like you, use digital marketing to grow your business without wasting time, money, or your sanity.  She is a best-selling author, Army veteran, speaker + trainer, and your digital marketing coach. You don't need crazy tech skills, buckets of cash, or dedicated staff to market your business. In fact, you don't even need a lot of time. What you need is to be SMART.

Torie hosts SMART AF, a show for non-techy entrepreneurs looking to grow their business, with her husband Sean and is the creator of SMART AF Magazine. Learn from Torie at the Smart Arsenal and on her channel.

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hi im torie
I help entrepreneurs  learn digital marketing.
And I make it easy! 

You don’t need crazy tech skills, buckets of cash, or dedicated staff to market your business. You don’t even need a lot of time.

What you need is to be SMART.

Is YOUR marketing SMART?

Find out here.

Hi! I'm Torie!

Torie Mathis HeadshotI help entrepreneurs (like you) use digital marketing to get more clients + to make more money. And I make it easy! 

You don’t need crazy tech skills, buckets of cash, or dedicated staff to market your business. You don’t even need a lot of time.

What you need is to be SMART.


from your Digital Marketing Coach Torie Mathis!

Let's get SMART!

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