Hilltop receives WBE Certification

Hilltop Marketing is pleased to be recognized and certified as a New York State Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE).

This certification was granted to Hilltop Marketing by Empire State Development’s Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development (DMWBD) on June 23, 2022. The process is meticulous and includes an in-depth review of the business to confirm that it is at least 51% owned, operated and controlled by a woman or women. The certification provides Hilltop with access to New York State contract and procurement opportunities, as well as access to a statewide network of support services exclusively for certified firms. As part of the NYS WBE Certification, Hilltop will also be listed on the NYS MWBE Directory of certified firms.

Hilltop is excited to partner with businesses that search for this certification. “The recognition is a great honor, and I was fortunate to receive help from the Mohawk Valley SBDC.” said Leigh Ann Dillon of Hilltop. “I’m so pleased to receive the certification and welcome this new exposure as my business continues to grow.”

For more information about the New York State MWBE Certification process, visit https://esd.ny.gov/mwbe-new-certification

How a High Quality Website Grows Your Business

How a High Quality Website Grows Your Business

Ask anyone under the age of 30 if they remember using the Yellow Pages and you’ll likely get a baffled mutter “What are they?” Even if you did use that ancient “search engine,” when was the last time you leafed through a phone book?

Fact of the matter is, we don’t use phone books to find goods and services anymore. We search online. That’s why a professionally built, user friendly website is so important. 

Not only is that the place people will learn about your business. It also scales your business to a much larger audience. At no additional cost. What a tremendous sales opportunity! 

But how do you take full advantage? 

There’s a right way and wrong way to present yourself online. Think of your own experience. Have you found a product or service and clicked away because you were frustrated with the website? 

Maybe you were turned off by its “boxy,” early 2000s look, with confusing blocks of content. Or it wasn’t clear what the business was about. Maybe you clicked to a page you thought would help but it didn’t answer any of your questions.

Frustrating isn’t it? There are so many others offering the same products and services. Why should you suffer trying to figure out a poorly designed website? 

In our last post we told the story of an associate of mine who had to find a new dentist here in the Utica area. After a thorough search, he picked the one with the most professional looking, easiest to use website. And that dental firm got thousands of dollars of business from him. 

Pretty good proof you’ll grow your business with a quality website. So let’s talk about three important elements of quality.

 

People Buy From People They Trust

Choosing a new dentist is one of the most important decisions a person can make. Clicking away from a prospective dentist’s sloppy website makes sense. Is that the dental office you want working on your teeth?

This isn’t an isolated incident. And it goes to the credibility of the dentists being searched. I read in Forbes the other day, “One of the main reasons you should have a website for your business is to increase your organization’s credibility.” 

I’d take a step back and say that in this post-Covid era, where more people than ever begin their buying journey online, a quality website is basic to your credibility. It was for our friend searching for a dentist. And it probably is for you when you buy online, too.

A central question visitors ask themselves when they come to a new website is, “Can I trust this  business to do what they say they can?” A professional quality website answers with an emphatic “yes.” As a positive reflection of you and your business, it establishes your credibility.

 

Professional Design Gets Attention 

You have an advantage when visitors reach your website. They’re looking for exactly what you offer! The problem is how easy it is to click away. So first impressions are important. That’s where quality design makes all the difference. 

You want to showcase your unique brand with colors and logo that attract attention. A clean, uncluttered look makes the buying journey seem hassle free. Prospects get excited that their problem is about to be solved. They let down their guard and continue the buying journey. They may actually enjoy being sold!

Does this make sense to you? It’s your website’s job to get the attention of your prospects, make them feel comfortable with your business. That’s where careful design comes in. It hooks your prospects so they don’t click away. 

 

How Usability Affects the Buyer’s Journey 

Your prospect trusts you and you’ve got her attention. Congratulations! But we’re not done yet. A professional website designer must consider how the visitor interacts with the site. 

Is it easy to navigate? Are questions answered quickly? Are products easily placed into and out of the shopping cart? 

When I design a website I consider what the prospect is thinking as they make their way through the site. I want to anticipate their questions and concerns. Is every touch point on the site clear? It’s like taking them by the hand and leading them to a sale. 

As a website developer, we call it the user experience, or UX. And it is where many poorly designed websites leak money. In short, a quality, easy to use website is one of the best ways for you to get leads and sales online. 

 

Trust, Attention, and Usability Drive Website Success

The COVID shutdown accelerated the growth of online purchasing. More customers are demanding a productive online experience. Even for those with a local brick-and-mortar store or office.

That means a website is the minimum cost of entry for any business. People want to buy from a trusted authority. They want to enjoy being sold your product or service. And they want their experience on your website to be clear, clean, and easy. 

If you’re ready for a website redesign, get in touch with me today. Or if you’re unsure, I’ll audit your current site. Either way, let’s make your business shine online!

Until next time,

Leigh Ann

Hilltop specializes in website design and development for small businesses throughout Central New York and beyond. Call 315.717.6218 or send an inquiry here

What do people think when they realize you don’t have a website?

Let me tell you a story from a business associate of mine.

He told me about the time he hadn’t seen a dentist in a while. His former dentist had retired. So he searched online.

As he searched, he began to notice that he was drawn to the dentist offices with better websites. It made a difference in his thinking.

And he was skeptical of the ones without websites. In fact, he wrote them off. After all, could he trust an office to practice the latest in dentistry if they didn’t even have a website?

The upshot: He picked the local office that presented itself best online. And one x-ray, three cavities, two crowns, and a cleaning later, they got thousands of dollars worth of business!

Here’s the thing, a website is a tremendous opportunity to reach your audience when they’re ready to buy. To build authority in the marketplace. To get visitors to know, like, and trust your brand. And to get a sale or lead right away.

All for much less than traditional advertising. I hope you’ll seriously consider a website for your business. And I can help. I specialize in the design and development of websites for small business. I’ll also be there for you managing your new site.

Leigh Ann Dillon - Hilltop Marketing - Website DesignSo let’s talk. If you have questions or want a quote, get in touch here. Or give me a call at 315.717.6218. Let me help you create a web presence that attracts attention and engages your audience. You’ll win a bigger market share and satisfy customers who love doing business online.

–  Leigh Ann

Hilltop specializes in website design and development for small business throughout Central New York and beyond. Call 315.717.6218 or contact us here.

9 Essential Reasons You Need a Website in 2021

9 Essential Reasons You Need a Website in 2021

If you don’t have a website yet, you’re not alone. According to a report from Top Design Firms, 28% of small businesses surveyed have no website.

If you’re one of them, maybe you don’t feel tech savvy enough. Or you’re worried about managing a site. You might think that you just don’t need one. And what about the cost?

But consider this: The COVID-19 shutdown last year changed the way your customers do business. People were forced to shop and find services online. Business websites became a priority.

In fact, according to Statistica, in 2020 there were over 256 million digital buyers in the United States! And I see this as the new normal.

So, if you haven’t taken the plunge, is now the time for you to reconsider your online presence?

 

How to Profit From a Professionally Designed Website

The sea-change in customer buying habits is just one reason to establish a web presence. A website is also is a simple, cost effective, and multi-faceted marketing opportunity.
Here are some of the top reasons you can profit from a business website:

1. A well designed, attractive website levels the playing field. You have the same amount of space to tell your story as a larger, big box store or professional firm. Your site can impress prospects the same as Walmart’s or that franchise law firm up the street.

2. A customer-centered website answers the questions prospects bring to the site. This engages them, making them more likely to become customers.

A website is a sales person on duty 24/7

3. A website is a sales person on duty 24/7. No matter the time of day or night, website visitors can easily find quality and reliable information about your brand. If you’re selling tangible products, they can even buy while you’re having dinner!

4. People are searching online for exactly what you offer. When they find your website, you’ll be presenting your business at the exact moment they’re ready to buy.

5. You own your website. You can market without the expense and restrictions of “renting” bandwidth from TV and radio or space from print advertising.

6. Unlike product reviews on Yelp or comments on Facebook, you control the messaging. It’s a tremendous opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competition. Establish your authority. Present your brand in a way that communicates what you stand for, who you are.

7. Customer service improves because your website informs people of your hours of operation and location. This frees your staff from fielding these calls. And you’ll get more leads. Contacting you is just a quick Google search away. (And have you noticed, no one uses phonebooks anymore.)

8. Your website becomes the hub of all your internet marketing. You can link your social media, Google My Business, direct mail, and traditional advertising to your website.

9. Finally, people question your legitimacy as a business if you don’t have a website. See my personal, real life example below.

A business website is a priority in today’s marketplace. And a superb opportunity to grow your business online.

A Website Success Story

But what about that final point. What do people think when they realize you don’t have a website? Let me tell you a story from a business associate of mine.

He told me about the time he hadn’t seen a dentist in a while. His former dentist had retired. So he searched online.

As he searched, he began to notice that he was drawn to the dentist offices with better websites. It made a difference in his thinking.

And he was skeptical of the ones without websites. In fact, he wrote them off. After all, could he trust an office to practice the latest in dentistry if they didn’t even have a website?

The upshot: He picked the local office that presented itself best online. And one x-ray, three cavities, two crowns, and a cleaning later, they got thousands of dollars worth of business!

Here’s the thing, a website is a tremendous opportunity to reach your audience when they’re ready to buy. To build authority in the marketplace. To get visitors to know, like, and trust your brand. And to get a sale or lead right away.

All for much less than traditional advertising. I hope you’ll seriously consider a website for your business. And I can help. I specialize in the design and development of websites for small business. I’ll also be there for you managing your new site.

So let’s talk. If you have questions or want a quote, get in touch here. Or give me a call at 315.717.6218. Let me help you create a web presence that attracts attention and engages your audience. You’ll win a bigger market share and satisfy customers who love doing business online.

Leigh Ann

Hilltop specializes in website design and development for small business throughout Central New York. We also help plan and execute digital marketing projects including social media planning, copy, logos, and graphic design. Call 315.717.6218 or contact us here.

Top 3 Must-Haves for Promoting Your Small Business Online

If you have a small business, there are three places you should have a presence on that will make the greatest impact in getting  in front of your customers.

  1. A website
  2. Google My Business
  3. An active Facebook Page

Your website.  Every business needs a website.  It is the home for your brand. Consumers expect it.  Your competitors have it.  It is the one place that you can drive all of your marketing efforts for consumers to find product and service information about your business.  Sell your products, tell your story, and establish credibility and trust.  It’s all about your community these days, and your website allows you to provide a forum for enhancing connection by sharing what you are all about and showing your visitors how you can solve their problems.

If you already have a website – Is it easy to navigate?  Do you know how much traffic you are getting?  Is it generating leads for you?  Are you able to add or change content easily?  Make sure your website is working for you with all the mechanisms in place to fuel your business growth.

The Importance of your Google My Business listingGoogle My Business.  It’s easy and FREE.  Google My Business is a listing tool for businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including search and maps. By verifying and editing your business information, you can help customers find your business and communicate your story.  You can interact with customers, respond to reviews, establish categories of business (which helps with your organic search rankings), and more.  Did you know that there are methods of free advertising with Google My Business?  Earn the trust of your customers and stand out from competitors by having a strong Google My Business listing.

Facebook.  If you havn’t set up a Facebook page for your business yet, you might be missing out. As the largest social media platform globally, over 2 billion people use facebook regularly and the number of users just keeps on growing.  66% monthly active users log in at least once per day.1  Facebook is a great tool for connecting with your audience and building community and trust. It gives you the ability to tell your story, share content, build brand awareness, and more.  Targeted advertising tools are available Facebook Business Suite, and the metrics from your panel can provide valuable information of who your audience is and what they like.

If you need help setting up a business website, Google My Business, or a Facebook page reach out to Hilltop for help.

Marketing Tips for Small Business during the Health Crisis

What a time for small businesses. With restaurants only offering takeout, hair salons closed, retail and recreational businesses closed and all of the other changes we have seen in the area due to Coronavirus it is safe to say that the way of doing business has changed for the foreseeable future. What are businesses doing to stay engaged with their customers and target markets? Here are some tips on how to stay connected so that your business can have a pulse during this season, and so that your customers don’t forget about your business.

Website: Make sure your website is up to date with information on the way you are doing business at this time, your hours, etc. Take a look at your online store and make sure everything is easy to navigate. Now might be a good time to look at SEO. Google yourself by putting in keywords you want to be found by. If you are not coming up on a search for those keywords, fix it.

Social Media: Keep doing social media. Tell everyone what you are up to, personally and/or professionally. Are you taking some time to take a class or educate yourself on a subject so that you can serve your customers better? Do your products help families during social distancing in some way? Are you setting it all down for a while to spend quality time with your family? That’s okay by the way! Go ahead and let everyone know what you are up to now and then. There is something to be said about the human aspect of social media. As your followers get to know you, they feel more comfortable doing business with you in the future.

Communicate: If you are a restaurant are you doing takeout? Share your specials a few times a week on social media. Lots of families are wanting to support local businesses, especially restaurants. Let them know you are open. Let them know how to order, and what the process is. Let them know if you can bring their items to their car.  Communicate how people can get gift cards.

Educate: Educate yourself. Take the time to learn something new of value to your business and your customers. Then share your newfound knowledge. It could be a certification, a new service, or new product category. All of this adds to your credibility when you communicate it to your followers.

If you need some help with your marketing during this health crisis please reach out for a free consultation. Hilltop would be happy to discuss your specific business opportunities.

The Importance of Google My Business

Have you claimed your free Google My Business page yet? Do you know what Google My Business is? If not, you are going to want to explore it and establish your presence so that your customers can find you. It easy and FREE.

First, google your business. That’s right, type your business name into google and see what pops up. Hey did you notice nobody uses the yellow pages anymore? Google is the place where everyone searches for products and services. So does your business show up? Great! Is your website listed?

Google My Business is a tool for businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including search and maps. By verifying and editing your business information, you can help customers find your business and communicate your story.  You can interact with customers, respond to reviews, establish categories of business (which helps with your organic search rankings), and more.

Your business may already show up on Google searches with basic business information (address and phone number), but it is important to verify and manage your listing because it helps customers to consider your company reputable, and you will get more click throughs to your website (especially if you take the time to put your website address in there).

Storefront with text - Help your customers find you! Claim your listing on Google My BusinessBasically, people are going to search you on google, and you want your verified business information and website to show up on your listing so that they are brought right into your company story and the details about your business. Managing your listing will prevent folks from clicking on the next competitor that does have a verified Google My Business profile, images, hours, and website listed where they can quickly view information/pricing on the products or services they are searching for.

What goes into the process of verifying your listing?  First you visit www.google.com/business/  and claim the listing as the business owner.  Google then verifies your business, and one way to do that is  that google sends a postcard to your physical address for verification. Side note for all you hustlers that work from home – there is still a way to claim your business without a physical business address. You don’t have to put in your home address and you can still get verified. Next, pictures, company description, business category, keywords(!), hours that you are open, and your website should be added to your listing. Engage with your customers by responding to reviews and questions.  Then you can do all kinds of additional things to enhance your listing like posting articles, events, promotions and more.

Does this sound like a huge hassle? It’s really not but if you are rocking and rolling in your business and are too busy to dig into this, or if “computers” aren’t your thing, reach out for some help from Hilltop.

Visit https://www.google.com/business/ to get started.

Do I need a website for my business? I have facebook.

Once in a while I will I hear a small business owner say “I have facebook, I don’t need a website.” And while Facebook is used by millions of small business owners for marketing purposes and for engagement with their customers, it doesn’t take the place of a regular website.

Facebook for your business is great. It is free. It is powerful. It is effective. There are engaging tools that you can use to promote your business. In fact there are now 80 MILLION small and medium business website pages out there (Hootsuite). But having a page for your business on facebook does not take the place of having a dedicated website because your website serves as the hub for all of your activity. Your website is the center of information and the touch point that connects your online store, social media posts and community engagements. It is the home for your brand.

A facebook page doesn’t give your visitors that complete brand experience that is achieved with a website. There is much to be said about how, through styling choices and applications, you are able to communicate the vibe of what your business does, how it helps people, solves problems, etc. With your own website you have full control to draw your visitors in to experience your brand story.

Do you sell a product? Process your sales through your website. It is easier than you think. What kind of volume of business are you missing out on simply by not having an online store?  Is your product virtual? No problem, even easier! Start making money now by getting your store set up.

Many business owners say they don’t have the skills, time, or money to build a business website. But you need to make the time because now, more than ever, consumers are going online to find and research local businesses before they make a purchase. What are they finding for your business? What are they finding for your competitors? Does what they see tell your story and how your product or service solves their problem? If you are not communicating this with your current online presence you need to level up so that you don’t lose your customers to your competitors that do have a professional website. Having a website shows that your business is reputable. Professional. Whether your business is small, large, or in-between, websites deliver marketing messages, generate business for you, and communicate your story.  Reach out today to get going!

More Time for Growing Your Business

Capable Entrepreneur:  I can do a website.  Hey I heard a Wix ad the other day.  I’m going to do it.  It’s simple.  I’ve just been so… so… busy.

Many entrepreneurs have started their business with the full intention of creating a website.  You know you need one.  Your competitors have websites.  You are going to get to it.  But you have got to get those orders out and you have got to make those calls and you are running out of inventory…

Yes!  Running a business can be so consuming.  You know you can do each and every task and you want to do each and every task because your name is on it and you want it to be RIGHT.  But, there are only 24 hours in a day.  And you need sleep.

That is where hiring a professional can come in handy.  Not only will you save time so that you can do what you do best (serve your customers) but you can participate in the process every step of the way to make sure it carries the essence of your brand, the quality your customers expect, and that magic sprinkling of what makes it special because it is an extension of you.

Oh and you won’t get stuck when that picture just won’t move over where you want it.  Or you don’t really know how to start recording measurable traffic.  Or you can’t get rid of that weirdo text on the footer.

Hilltop helps busy clients every day.  A simple process, simple materials and friendly communication are all components of a great working relationship that helps you take a load off.  Save time, focus on your business and get that website done!  Let Hilltop handle your website design/website cleanup/website maintenance.

 

 

So you are going to make a website. What next?

Congratulations! You have made a decision to invest in your business and yourself. You are ready to put up your website.  What next?  What do you need to do? It is so great to be able to outsource projects like your website. But there are a few things you need to know before you do that satisfying scratch to cross it off your list.

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