Sarah Pittendrigh: 'Website is like a shop window'

Many businesses spend thousands of pounds on advertising and Search Engine Optimisation, but as I had no funds for a marketing budget when I started Simply Bows and Chair Covers I had to work smart

Many businesses spend thousands of pounds on advertising and Search Engine Optimisation, but as I had no funds for a marketing budget when I started Simply Bows and Chair Covers I had to work smart.

I gave my company a name that had a very clear indication of what we deliver, sending out a message that we were not a “Jack of all Trades”. I then Trademarked the name (which is a fairly simple process through a solicitor or marketing consultant), bought all the domain names for my website and created our email addresses.

While Search Engine Optimisation can be useful for websites which have names that don’t relate directly to their product or service (such as Moonpig or Zoopla), when naming my company I took into consideration that the key words would be easily picked up by Google. So now when someone types ‘bows and chair covers’, my company will be one of the first to pop up on the front page even though I haven’t paid for this ranking.

A company’s website is the new shop window so it must be inviting and engaging, exuding your brand qualities, as well as being user-friendly with clear signposting. It needs to encourage the person viewing your site to want to step in and find out more.

I’ve sold 15 franchises and secured a double-page spread worth £20,000 in one of the UK’s most read magazines – all down to the power of social media and a strong website.

I’d also recommend a good blog to support your website and encourage footfall, as people are interested in seeing the journey of a new business.

In my industry we’re creative and market leading and our website has to reflect this. We work with high end suppliers and cross refer. We often blog about florists, dress designers, celebrity weddings and seasonal trends, which in turn increases our web traffic as they will promote our blog article to their clients via twitter, facebook and their own websites. Mutually beneficial link referrals – where top suppliers recommend us on their website and vice versa – are helpful as they encourage relevant traffic back to our site. At Simply Bows and Chair Covers we believe Twitter is a very powerful business tool if you get it right. But avoid daily tweets about how busy you are, what you had for tea or how wonderful your products are. Be engaging, be topical but not too opinionated and be known as a supportive Tweeter by re-tweeting often.

There are some fantastic business awards/endorsements on Twitter too. For instance we won Jacqueline Gold’s Women on Wednesday and Theo Paphitis’s Small Business Sunday.

:: Sarah Pittendrigh is managing director of www.simplybowsandchaircovers.co.uk. Ask a question via Twitter: @simplybows

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