Marketing your business: A beginner’s guide to buyer personas

You’re great at running a small business… but how about marketing it? There are so many things to think about: where to find new customers; what they like; and how to get your business out there so people can see what you do!

Say goodbye 👋  to the confusion with buyer personas! You might have heard of them before, perhaps you know what they are, or maybe you’re scratching your head. Whatever your knowledge, don’t worry – we’ve broken down:

What a buyer persona is

How to create yours

How to use buyer personas in your marketing

We’ll take you from theory to action, without breaking a sweat. The result? You can stop stressing about marketing and get back to running your business. We’ve even created a free downloadable eBook The Beginner’s Guide to Buyer Personas for you to takeaway.

1. What are buyer personas and how can they help?

A buyer persona is a representation of your typical customer. Think of it as snapshot or collage of the kind of person that buys from you.

Buyer personas help you market more effectively. Created from your knowledge of customers, as well as a little market research, they help focus your marketing efforts. How? Clarity around who buys from you means you can serve your customers more effectively. Instead of trying to reach everyone, buyer personas focus your marketing efforts.

Our eBook, ‘The Beginner’s Guide to Buyer Personas’, aims to make knowing your customer easy. The outcome? The rest of your marketing falls into place.

2. Get to grips with the theory of buyer personas

Who to include in my buyer personas?

What information should I research?

When can I use my buyer persona?

All of these questions and more are covered in the eBook. The first section lays out the theory, to make the process as simple and transparent as possible. As with anything in life, understanding the reasons for something before doing it provides clarity and confidence. Because without a good understanding of what matters and why, it’s hard to create effective buyer personas that work for you.

3. A hands-on guide to creating your buyer personas

The second part of the eBook gives practical information about what to include in your buyer personas.

Use our hints and tips to create your own personas. You can also take a look at our example for inspiration, or make use of the template included and use your own customer data to fill in the gaps. The aim is to give you the knowledge and the tools to build up a set of buyer personas that work for you and your business.

4. Action! How to put your personas into practice

While it’s fun to get creative, the third and final section of the eBook is about action!

The best thing you can do with your buyer personas is to use them. Think of your personas like a fancy new bike. It arrives in a box, in many pieces, and you follow the instructions to slowly, slowly, build the bike. The process is challenging but fun – it’s exciting to see the bike take shape.

Here’s the thing though. If you don’t take the bike for a spin, you miss out on the benefits of cycling. Your buyer personas are no different: the best part is putting them to use in your marketing. You’ve put a lot of effort into creating them, so why not make the most of them?

5. Create your buyer personas with confidence

Knowing where to begin with marketing can be tricky, especially when you’re trying to run a business or juggle a side hustle. Defining your buyer personas is a great place to start, because you already know lots of information from serving your customers. And once your buyer personas are complete, they make the rest of your marketing much easier.

6. So why not create your buyer personas today?

Download our free eBook below👇 

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How to manage your small business during the Covid-19 crisis

Mother working on laptop at home, while her child using tablet. Boy and mother sat on the sofa. The Mother is managing her business on her laptop during the Covid-19 crisis

Change can be scary and when it happens fast it’s even more worrying. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our movement, our work, and how we go about our daily lives. Sadly, small businesses are highly impacted by the global pandemic and need to adapt during these uncertain times. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to support you. In this article, we’ve outlined 4 areas to help you as a small business owner navigate this crisis: wellbeing, work, communications, and taking stock.

Of course, the most important thing is to always act in accordance with local health guidelines and official advice. Don’t do anything that would endanger yourself or others.

With that in mind, we hope the following information is useful.

Wellbeing

Taking care of your wellbeing is the most important thing during a health crisis. If you are well, you’re able to look after the people you love and serve customers effectively.

Take care of your physical wellbeing:

  • Online fitness classes – exercise outside might not be possible right now. There are many, many classes available online, from free exercise videos on YouTube to personal trainers carrying out virtual workouts. Try to get a good mix of everything, as you would in normal life, for example: movement, cardio workouts, strength training, and flexibility
  • Keep moving – regularly get up from your workspace and walk around. If allowed, take permitted exercise outside
  • Get some fresh air – open windows, sit on the balcony and make use of outside space at home, if it is available to you
  • Cook homemade meals – use what’s available. Eat a balanced diet and keep regular mealtimes

Look after your mental wellbeing:

These are unprecedented times; keeping your mind healthy is an important part of staying well.

  • Exercise – As above. Scientists have shown a link between physical activity and an uplift in mood
  • Homeworkers/homeschoolers – set up a desk away from where you sleep or rest if possible. Dedicate a specific area of the house to ‘work’ or ‘school’. If that’s not possible, tidy things away once the day is over to create separation
  • Stay in touch – contact loved ones virtually, FaceTime wherever possible and share messages of support to keep each other going
  • Accept the new normal – it is beyond all of our control. Focus on what you can control, such as cooking, school, or sending a text to someone you care about
  • Get some rest – keep your regular sleep routine and make sure you are getting enough rest. Sleep is an important part of our health. A good night’s sleep will mean you’re present, alert and better able to connect with people – including your customers

Work

All of life has been impacted by the crisis, including work. Many small businesses have been particularly affected. Control the controllable with these tips:

  • Keep communicating – with workers, suppliers and customers. Let people know what will change due to the pandemic, what you’re doing about it, and how it impacts the service you provide
  • Keep channels open with suppliers – we are all in difficult circumstances. Bear in mind that your suppliers’ challenges may impact your turnaround. It’s important to communicate this information to customers if this is the case
  • Things are different – stay focused on what’s possible, rather than what isn’t
  • The situation is changing constantly – keep up to date with official government guidance on public health and financial measures to support businesses and individuals. As a business owner, take it upon yourself to establish the facts: trust government websites and media, reliable news sources, and respectable journalism. Do not rely on information shared on social media

Communications

The situation is scary. There are many unknowns. In the face of a crisis, running away and hiding feels like the only option.

Whatever you do, keep communicating. Customers rely on you, and it’s up to you to let them know whether you can still serve them during this uncertain time.

  • Update customers – let them know what is going on. If you are able to carry on working, communicate key information such as new hours, availability of support staff, and changes in shipping times
  • Review scheduled posts – emails, content and social media must all be reviewed, especially if campaigns were scheduled days or weeks ago. Check if the content is still appropriate in the current climate. Change it if not
  • Be mindful of your tone – keep on sharing on social media, but be careful. People are frightened and the entire world is impacted by this crisis. Be sensitive
  • Avoid posting if you have doubts – if the message could come across as insensitive, too much of a hard sell, or seems to contradict official guidelines, do not post the content
  • Be helpful – now is a time for kindness and community, even if we are physically distanced. Thanks to the power of the internet one thing you can do right now, is provide help and insight. Share your knowledge with the world: your customers might not be able to visit you physically, though it doesn’t mean that you can’t share hints and tips with them

Take stock

The challenges the world faces now are unprecedented. The impact on small businesses is far-reaching. If COVID-19 means you are unable to trade, try not to panic. Is there anything you could do differently? If not, is now an opportunity to review your business and plan for the future? 

We’ve divided the following section into two: the short term and the long term. The short-term actions are designed to help you make the best of the present moment, if that option is available to you. The long-term actions are designed to help you plan for the future, so that your small business can come back stronger.

Think short term:

  • Things have changed a lot in a very short space of time – ask yourself, ‘What CAN I do?’
  • If you can’t sell in person, can you trade online? – online stores mean customers can visit you any time of the day or night to make purchases. If you can ship your products, or provide them as a download, then you can sell online
  • If you make things, can you make something different at this time? – for example, can you create essential supplies such as masks, soap or hand sanitiser?
  • If you provide a service, take it online – if possible, carry out meetings and work over video and phone call. Perhaps you could record a series of videos, create a course, or write an eBook and sell them via your online store

Think long term:

  • Reflect on your business – so far, what has worked? What didn’t work so well? Think about your answers to each question and plan ways to do more of what worked well in future
  • Plan for the future – think deeply about your business goals and the strategy that will help you get there
  • Adjust the way you operate – has the Coronavirus revealed any weak spots in the way you run your business? What steps can you take to strengthen these areas and make sure your business is watertight going forwards?
  • Make contingency plans – nobody could have predicted a global pandemic just a few months ago. If you haven’t already, now is the time to imagine the worst-case scenarios your business could face. Plan how you would respond to them and the resources you would need to survive
  • Consider diversifying your business income – you’re fantastic at what you do, we’re sure about that! Focus is great. Though a crisis means that if you only have one way of making money, and that is impacted, your income suffers. Think about different revenue streams, new products and services. Variety helps ensure you maintain a level of income if one area is hit

We are here to support you…

Times are tough, and we really hope that the information in this article is helpful. Our aim is to provide practical support to help your small business thrive – with or without a crisis! That’s why we’ve put together an exclusive offer, to help small businesses at an uncertain time….

Our 14-day day trial is still free, and always will be. That means you can set up a website and an online store when being online is more important than ever.

After that, if you wish to upgrade your account, we’re giving you the first 12-months at a 50% discount. That’s just £6.50 per month for a domain name, up to 5 email addresses, SSL security and a professional website or online store with no limitations.

To get this offer, simply head over to our getting started page and the discount will automatically be applied at checkout. Remember, you’ll always start on our 14-day free trial where you can access all features without needing to enter any credit card details.

We can’t wait to see your business online!

How do I get my new website noticed?

Male photographer on a laptop making a website

There are few things more upsetting than spending the time to make your website look beautiful and then realising that nobody is visiting it! But don’t worry – this happens to the majority of small businesses as they find their feet in the digital world, and there are multiple ways to get your new website in front of as many eyes as possible. Using a website builder like Go Sitebuilder can help you create a professional-looking website simply and easily, so you don’t spend too much time on the web design and can focus on the more important parts of your business. 

Unless people have your domain name noted down somewhere, the way they are most likely to find your website is through a search engine. Google is by far the most popular, with over 70% of the world’s online searches going through their site, and we are going to look at some Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tricks that will help Google both see your new site and rank it higher than others. 

Get your new website indexed by Google

When you first click “publish” on your site, you might find that it doesn’t come up when you Google it. This is because Google’s crawler bots (which read your site and decide where it should rank) haven’t got round to indexing your site yet. This means the only way to find it is to put in the exact domain into the search bar on your internet browser. 

There is no set deadline that Google says it will index your new site by when it has first been published, but the average time is from four days to four weeks. However, there are a couple of things you can do to make it easier for Google; you can verify your site on Google Webmaster Tools, and submit your site to Google. We are going to look at other ways to make your site rank better on Google below. 

Research and use keywords on your new website

What is your company about? Brainstorm some words that accurately represent your company and the products or services you provide, so that when Google indexes your site, it will be easy for it to know what your new website is about. It’s a good idea to focus on a niche here, rather than something very broad, as it makes it more likely to stand out against the competition. 

Research the keywords you’ve come up with and run them through Google Keyword Planner; you want to use keywords that are high in search volume (so lots of people search them) but low in competition (so not many other websites are using them). This way, Google’s crawler bots will see your site as more relevant and rank you higher for those specific keywords. 

Create unique content

The content you have on your site, whether that is your web copy or your blogs, has to be unique and not copied from another site. This may seem like a no-brainer, but Google has indexed hundreds of millions of websites and can immediately tell if you’re copying and pasting from another source, and will penalise you for it. 

The best way to do this is to create a blog. This is a double win, because if you publish content regularly, then Google will re-index your site regularly, and rank you higher for being up to date. It is also a good opportunity to get backlinks, which is where external sites link back to your website because they value your content. Look for fresh, interesting ideas and unique ways to approach common issues, and put in the time to create content that is valuable both for your new website and your audience. 

Get your own url and publish it everywhere

This is not a moment to hide under a bushel! Take your new website’s domain and add it to your email signature and your business cards. Upload it on your Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin profiles, and get friends to link their contacts to it as well. 

Although it may be tempting to start your new site with a free website builder, they are unlikely to give you your own domain name, instead giving you a long and complicated url like this: www.websitebuilder.com/yourname/yourwebsitename. Difficult to share and even harder to remember, this is a sure-fire way to show potential visitors that you are not committed to your new website. With Go Sitebuilder, we not only give you your own domain, but we also give you five personalised email addresses to make you look even more professional. 

Getting your new website noticed can be difficult because there are so many sites out there! But if you do your keyword research and put some time and effort into creating high quality unique content, you are well on your way to having a Google friendly website. And don’t forget to advertise your site wherever you can!

If you’re still looking for a website builder with excellent web design that needs no coding experience, we designed Go Sitebuilder especially for you! Our ready to go web design templates mean you can have a stylish and professional new website up and running in moments. Why not try our 14-day trial today to see what we can do for you and your business? 

How to build an online community

Happy milennials friends walking in old town city centre talking about how to build an online community

Creating an online community with your website can be a really useful way to engage with visitors and spread the word of your business. A virtual community makes customers feel more connected to your ethos and ideas, thus creating a more loyal and attentive customer base. 

Brands that create a strong online community are seen as trustworthy and worthy of promotion and conversation by their community. There is a sense of the company wanting to fulfill the individual needs of the customer, not just wanting a customer base for the revenue. 

There are many simple steps you can take to build an online community for your business and many of these start with your website. 

Choose Your Platform

There are a few different ways you can create an online community. Some businesses choose to mainly operate through social media, creating engagement through comments on posts or sharing their followers images. 

Other companies may use online forums for their business. An online forum is a specific site owned by the business (e.g. a website or blog section), where visitors interact in a similar way to social media. A key difference is that the owner of the site can oversee the content created and delete comments or start threads (online conversations) surrounding certain topics, making sure the focus stays on the company. There are two different types of online forum:

A Shared Interest Forum:  this is a site where people who have a shared interest can come together to discuss and share information. This can be really useful for businesses to find people who are interested in areas surrounding their business. By engaging in these platforms firms can market their business to potential customers. 

Information Forums these are forums which are specifically focused around a certain product or service. Usually the first post is surrounding this product or service and then others contribute their opinions or suggestions about the product. 

These forums can either be on a platform designed and made by your business (on your website) or on social media. There are benefits of both. Often social media can be better at reaching a wider variety of people initially, and then a link to your online forums can ensure you attract those who are more interested. When you set up your online forums ensure you have some way of taking members details or allowing them to ‘subscribe’ to your online community, even if this is simply a like to your page on Facebook.  

Foster Your Community

Creating an online community is pointless unless you are willing to continue to build and inform those in your community. To foster your virtual community you must consider the following questions:

  • Who is the main leader of this community? 
  • Who in your business will be responsible for posting and engaging?
  • What kind of content will you post? Examples may include:
    • Questions about a product you may start selling to see if there is interest
    • Gathering data on your community – age, location etc
    • Asking questions surrounding topics related to your business 
  • What platform will be your main forum?
  • How many members are you aiming for?
  • Will you run competitions with prizes/giveaways in your forum to attract more people?
  • How else will you interact with visitors to your forum? (e.g. blogs posts, videos etc.)

One of the biggest questions is how to engage a wide range of people. Some internet forums can be very exclusionary, however with studies showing that there are many social and individual benefits to belonging to online forums, reaching out to a broad audience is incredibly important. 

Establish Guidelines

As with many large communities the importance of guidelines cannot be understated. Without clear guidelines for your community there is opportunity for hateful comments or threads that are not related to your topics. Therefore, writing your guidelines at the start of your forum and ensuring that these guidelines are visible for everyone can reduce unwanted posts. This blog outlines some guidelines you may want to consider.

Whoever is running your forum should also be in charge of moderating the comments and posts made. This means that if there are any posts which do not fit the guidelines then the moderator can delete these quickly. If someone is posting regularly against your guidelines, then you may want to exclude them from the forum.

If you need a great website builder to back up your online forums, then look no further than Go Sitebuilder. With a wide range features to link to your social media, our simple website builder design means you can have a professional looking website up and running in minutes. Try our 14-day free trial today!

How to make a successful wedding photography website

How to make a successful wedding photography website

If you are a wedding photographer, your most important tool – apart from your camera – is your website. This is where potential clients come to see your previous work, decide if you are right for them and check out your prices. The success of your business could depend on it.

We’ve written this guide to help you make sure your website stands out from the crowd and brings you more clients, more visibility, and more revenue!

Assess the competition 

Before you start anything, have a look at what others in your industry are doing. In fact, while you do your research, make a list of wedding photographers that you think are leading in the market. What are they doing well, and most importantly – what do you think they could improve on? If there is anything you think their website is missing, make sure to make a note of it so you include it in yours. 

Looking at the competition will help you read the market and identify any gaps that you could fill. Develop your niche – if everyone looks like they’re doing the same thing, highlight what you do differently, whether that’s elopements, large ceremonies or destination weddings. 

Build your brand

Once you’ve decided on your niche, then you can work on your branding. This includes your name, logo, colour palette and typography; if you develop them together then they will look more harmonious on the website. You don’t need to hire a graphic designer to make a logo either, as free online tools like Makr and Looka can help you make your own. 

To help you do this, write notes on the service you provide, your target audience and your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). This will help you direct your creativity and make sure that your website accurately reflects you and your brand. 

Showcase your talents

This is one of the most important parts of your website, if not the most important. The gallery of photos that you choose to showcase are going to be the deciding factor as to whether a potential client contacts you. Choose the pictures that best reflect your brand and your USP, making sure that they are both inclusive and diverse. 

Another consideration is the speed your photos load at – a slow-loading site is a sure-fire way to put visitors off, but you also want to avoid having low-quality pictures in your gallery. Make sure the web host you use is fast and efficient to be able to find a happy medium. 

Tell your story

As a photographer, you are the individual, the company and the brand. Clients are looking to work with someone that they would be happy to have at their wedding, so your story is a tool you can use to make you stand out against the competition. 

Be approachable, relatable and engaging, involving elements of your life that might make it more likely for you to forge a connection with your potential clients. At a loss? Ask your friends and family for qualities they think make you unique and incorporate this into your story. 

Gather testimonials

Another intrinsic part of your website that will help you get conversions are testimonials from previous clients. Although they are difficult to obtain when your business is young, they are essential to developing client trust. 

After each wedding, make sure you contact your clients and ask for a testimonial – if they liked your services then they will be happy to write a glowing review! This is the clients’ big day, and a stamp of approval from previous clients will show them that you won’t let them down. 

Create a clear website navigation

This might seem daunting, but you just need to look at your website as if you were a potential customer. The first page needs to show off your photography and your brand, and have the information most relevant for your client – what type of weddings do you specialise in and where are you based?

Other crucial elements to include are a clear navigation menu that in one click can lead them to your previous work, testimonials, pricing, and contact details.

Start a blog

Blogging is a powerful marketing tool for everyone trying to expand their business. By including keywords relevant to your business, Google will rank your website higher in its search engine, making it easier for people to find you. 

You can use the blog in various ways, either sharing client stories, posting industry-related news, or sharing top tips or guides for a seamless wedding experience. This will place you as a leader in your industry, and help potential clients relate to you as an individual.  Be prepared to update your blog regularly though, as this will help with Google rankings and make your website look relevant and up to date. 

Are you ready to make your own wedding photography website? At Go Sitebuilder you can build a website with minimum hassle. Our pre-designed sections help you drag and drop your logos and pictures where you want them, and there are image galleries ready to showcase your wedding photography! Try our 14-day free trial today and see just how amazing your website could look.

How do I create a photo gallery for my website

Female photographer sat at a desk with a laptop and image prints and a camera

Why do I need a photo gallery?

Having a photo gallery is an important visual stimulator when viewing a website. It adds colour and vibrancy to a website, meaning viewers are more likely to explore different sections of your site. In addition to this, a photo gallery adds a personal touch to your website: your online business becomes less robotic and more relatable. This is vital if you want to build a relationship between your site and the customer. The beauty of a photo gallery is that it is completely personal and customisable, enabling you to build your website in your own image. 

What tools can I use to create a photo gallery?

It is super simple to build a photo gallery. Juicebox is a great place to start for beginners: no coding skills are required and its simplicity means you can create HTML5 image galleries with ease. It is adaptable, as it can be accessed either on your computer or via mobile. Another huge plus with Juicebox is that it is free! 

Gallery Studio 1.1 is an alternative free option: its software leaves no watermarks on your images, ensuring your gallery remains personal to you.

Photo Gallery Builder 1.4 is another helpful tool if you want to create a photo gallery for your website. It requires no prior knowledge of Adobe Flash and its modern interface will leave your gallery looking professional and sophisticated. 

What next?

As you’re probably now aware, having a photo gallery for your website is of high importance. Condensing all your images into one folder means viewers of your site can access your pictures with ease. 

However, if you’re still unsure about how to create a photo gallery for your website then Go Sitebuilder is a fantastic solution. Our website builder is easy to use, and has ready to go tools within our editor to help you create the perfect photo gallery for your website – no need to use external software!

Alternatively, if you already have a collection of photos but don’t know what to do with it, then Go Sitebuilder is one of the best online site builders. Its simplicity ensures you can upload your images hassle-free and our free 14 day trial period gives you all the freedom to build your online business today!

How can I build a professional website

Female small business owner is leaning over a table in her clothes studio to reach her laptop. She is building a professional website with Go Sitebuilder.

Just seconds after clicking on a website, you’ve already made an irrevocable first impression. 75% of users admit to making judgements on a company’s reputation based on the website design. So, how can you wow your users in the first few seconds of landing on your homepage?

What makes a website professional?

A website is often the first experience a user has with your company. Before they even interact with what your product offers, they will be impressed with a good design and good user experience. 

High-quality designs often use high-resolution images with overlaid text. The average user spends just seconds on your website homepage, so it’s important to make it simple and clear; what do you want the user to do? A call to action on the first page lets the user know what you provide and how they can access this service. 

The website can’t just look great though, it needs to feel great. Make sure the site navigates smoothly, that the links make sense and most importantly, that the pages don’t take too long to load. According to a Google study, 53% of users will stop engaging with a site if it takes over 3 seconds to load, which could result in a massive bounce rate for your site. 

Another thing to bear in mind is the growing importance of mobile capability for a website. According to Broadband Search, mobile internet usage has increased 222% in the past 5 years, and this trend is set to continue. Digital marketing site SWEOR also revealed that 85% of adults think that a company’s mobile website should be as good or better than their desktop one, so having this capability will increase both your company’s reach and credibility.

How to make your own

Your success depends on your website design, but how can you get a stylish and professional look when you’ve never made a website before? You can spend thousands of pounds on a custom-designed website, or you can use one of the many website creator tools available, as long as you create that will grab your users in that all-important first couple of seconds. 

With Go Sitebuilder, you can choose from a huge selection of professional and beautiful themes and personalise it to your company, safe in the knowledge that whatever you choose will work just as seamlessly on mobile and desktop. Take advantage of the 14-day free trial (no credit card needed) to try it out for yourself!