Good small business reads #15: Sage website advice, fighting bad online reviews, cause marketing and more

This month’s roundup of articles that caught my attention lately has a little bit of everything. First up is “Nine Reasons Your Site Isn’t Driving Sales,” in which writer Ann Handley explains the importance of creating great content for your website that will help you convert visitors into customers. I could not agree more!

Handley advises turning your website into an educational tool that provides real value. And that means talking about much more than just what a great company you have. Here’s one of her best pieces of advice regarding web site design: “Put clarity (useful, predictable, efficient, logical) before creative (cool, splashy, flashy, beautiful).” I agree with her pet peeve; websites that talk to me when I arrive make me nuts!

Has your business taken an online hit from a dissatisfied customer who has posted a bad review? In his “Small Business Blog” on Boston.com, blogger Jason Keith recommends  “7 Ways to Combat a Negative Online Review.” Among his advice is this “Never go on the offensive.” Amen to that.

Do you have an idea for a new product but aren’t sure how to make it a reality? In “3 Inventor Resources to Help Your Small Business,” Anita Campbell, founder of Small Business Trends, recommends three websites you should check out on your path to commercialization, including one that will help assure that you aren’t being scammed.

Finally, in “How to Hitch Your Business to a Cause,” Susan Kuchinskas, writing for American Express Open Forum, provides good advice on cause marketing. Don’t think that you need a huge marketing budget to leverage the power of cause marketing. Especially in this social media age, even very small businesses can raise their profile and generate customer goodwill by linking with a charity. Find a cause you’re passionate about and go for it. You can do well by doing good, as the saying goes.

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