What’s The Best Small Business Website in 2020

Small Business Marketing Track List
14:00 – Don’t Grow Vanity Metrics15:00 – Growing Your Twitter Following18:00 – what is my website going to do?20:00 – WordPress Drag and Drop Builders22:00 – The Benefit of WordPress is Plugins23:00 – The Downside of WordPress – Having to Do Updates?24:00 – Do You Need a Marketing Manager to Run a WordPress Site?25:00 – ROI Focused Marketing25:30 – An Easy Option for Your Small Business Website26:00 – Why Wix Is a Good Option for a Small Business Website?27:00 – Why SquareSpace Is a Good Small Business Website?27:30 – SquareSpace and Google Drive29:00 – The Benefit of Using Wix or SquareSpace30:00 – How Much Time Do I Need to Spend on my Small Business Website?36:00 – Free Real Estate Website Review 38:00 – Real Estate Marketing40:00 – Should Real Estate Agents Have a Website?42:00 – Is Real Estate Marketing Going Back to Traditional Mediums
Kevin:Good morning, Philadelphia. This is Kevin O’Brien. I’m here with Wayne Middleton and this is the SMB acceleration show. We’ll bring live small business marketing to the Philadelphia area and beyond via podcast. Today’s show, we’re going to be covering a few things including what’s the best small business website for 2020, interesting marketing news, and we’ll even have a calling guest, Ian Lazarus of shore points Realty. Ian is a broker down in a while when New Jersey and he’ll be calling in and we’ll be doing a live on air review of his website, social media profiles. Get him set up for 2020. So Wayne, how’s it going?
Wayne It’s gone. Okay. Kevin. Um, interesting journey in coming down from the North, but uh, it’s been fun. Um, and yes, this is a British accent or fake one. So I am here. Um, I’m looking forward to today’s show. Really excited. I think, uh, we’re gonna have some fun and we’re going to be able to talk through some really interesting topics that a lot of you listeners can do and apply to your own businesses.
Kevin Absolutely. So you think we should start off this first one? I guess given a little background about ourselves, my name, as I said, is Kevin O’Brien. I’ve been a marketing and small business ownership for the last 20 years. I previously owned a couple restaurants, a personal chef and catering business, a real estate brokerage, a small business marketing agency. Wayne and I met a few years back working together and Wayne has an even more extensive profile. So you want to tell him about it, Wayne?
Wayne Sure. Um, so my background originally from London, uh, I’ve been a bit of professional now for about 20 odd years working in, uh, design agencies in house, a big corporations such as, uh, the BBC discovery network and, uh, traditionally a creative director, but I’m also a self-confessed digital geek. So you know, that that said, I’ve learned how to develop, I’ve been doing social media advertising. I’ve actually become, strangely enough, a fishing influencer. Uh, fishing is one of my passions. So, um, you know, I can help you grow your channel impact, you know, really impact your brand and ultimately, uh, deliver on these ROI is that we’re all kind of desperately clinging for but never actually achieved. So I think, uh, between me and Kev here, we should be able to drive home some, uh, good tips, some good advice. And then, yeah, dispel some myths too.
Kevin Oh, that’s a great point because there is so many fake ah, strategies that don’t lead to positive ROI for small business marketing. And Wayne and I have both, you know, being in the agency in house roles have seen, you know, things come and go and everything change over time. So really what you want to do is present great marketing strategies for today 2020 and beyond. But Wayne, I have to ask, can we jump into real quick, because it just seems kind of outside the box, a fishing influencer. How did it happen? Um,
Wayne  so one day mowing my grass, I was wandering around going, there’s gotta be a better way of kind of earning money, I guess, for want of a better word, but also just kind of having some fun and just kind of kicking back and relaxing. And one of my passions since I was about two years old has been fishing. So, uh, since coming to the States, I’ve really got into the bass fishing scenes at a tournament stuff and a, an avid kayaker. So here I am at Sydney, my yard and I was like, you know, watching a YouTube video actually, um, a bunch of guys called the Google squad down in Texas, uh, really smart, smart bunch of guys, uh, building their own brands and I figured, what the hell I can do this. So there I go, I start an Instagram and uh, you know, three or four months later I was up to 5,000 followers just posting fishing points and tips and advice. And that’s how I did it.
KevinNo. Did you do any of it through paid search or paid, you know, Instagram ads or do did it all organically
Wayne organic. Uh, so I figured out what to hashtag. I figured out how to, um, what sort of content people were after, which was key. I think that’s really important is to understand that, um, that niche. Uh, so got in there, started posting up some comments and some commentary, uh, some nice shots of some large mouth bass, and then I put little English twist on it, you know, so, you know, my handle was British bass slammer, uh, which is kind of fun. And being a designer, you know, I’ve got to get the guy in a boost laughing. He said, Oh. Um, so I’ve been on there and uh, I started kind of creating a content. Uh, I then moved to Twitter and uh, you know, I managed to get like, I think I’m out to five and a half thousand followers on Twitter that were all heavily engaged.
Wayne  And, uh, more recently, uh, started my YouTube channel. All of this is organic. So the Twitter was interesting because I got talking to another company who was um, they were fishing, uh, fishing tackle store online buy. So they, a couple of guys got together, created this brand and um, I got involved with them just by kind of commenting on some of their posts and, and giving them some encouragement more than anything. Uh, next thing I know they said, Hey, would you want to be out promotional stuff? Would you like us to yeah, we’ll send you some stuff. But yeah, can you post about it? Can you use the equipment and let us know what you think? I was like, sure, yeah, why not? Um, about a month later they saw my activity. They saw how, how kind of professionally done it was cause I was designing staff, creating a good kind of catchphrases and stuff like that.
Wayne  Um, so from that I get invited to run their Twitter account. Now here’s the interesting thing. The Twitter account has six followers. The day that I took over six for a, for a company, which is pretty low, and within three months I up to 16,000. Wow. Yeah, I mean that’s a tremendous change. And that was just all through what you were doing for them. Not anything they were doing outside of that. Yeah. Just all through me. And then, uh, yeah, I ran the entire Twitter account and, um, you know, I was posting regularly like doing some really good features on some of the products we had and uh, yeah, it took off. So I mean, really that’s just the, you know, one small example of how, you know, many businesses fail on social media without a strategy, but once you bring a strategy in, I mean, you can go, you can scale it exponentially, right?
Wayne You can go from zero to 16,000. Yeah. I mean, yeah, if you go into like, social media is one of those really interesting channels. Uh, everyone has an account, but not everyone’s getting the best out of it. So you have to really hone your strategy. Do you want to grow a community? Do you want to, um, think about your brand scape? Like, is your brand scape for those who don’t know is what we, why consider your digital footprint? So what’s your website experience like? What’s your social channel reach and media? What are you putting out there? How are you conveying your bread? Is it consistent? Are using the same tone on all of those different channels? And is it surprising, um, having been in this industry for so long that some really big players, big companies don’t necessarily have the same tone across all their channels.
Wayne So their brand is getting broken. And it’s really interesting, like part of successful marketing is having a unified voice, having a very distinct brand. If you think about all the brands on the market, the big brands, I mean the ones I’ve been around for like 50 plus years, there’s a couple of things that never changed. Disney has evolved from the day it formed. But the thing that is always held true to was the idea that dreams can be anything. And like, you know, they’ve got this fantasy, fantasy full kind of brand and they stay true to that all Roy through. And um, I mean that’s why they’re still around. That’s why they’re were so much kind of money. And as a brand itself, it’s how they manage the dominate kind of the entertainment industry. So it’s interesting. Brand is everything. No, that’s a great point. I mean, uh, from some research having done on Disney in the past.
WayneSo interesting that you picked Disney as a, you know, great example because I heard several management, you know, leaders and experts talk about Disney’s also so strong along their mission statement, you know, it’s simple, make people happy. That’s everybody’s core responsibility. And they seem to, would you say, you know, kind of follow that through in all their social media brands. It’s all about like this fantasy and happiness and you think about it, it’s not just the Disney brand, but there’s all the subsequent brands, right? So every one of those subsequent plans may have a slightly different agenda, but it’s all the same core, making people happy. And so that’s their brand ethos. That’s what they stand for. That’s how they go to market. And you’re extremely successful. Harley Davidson’s, another one. There’s, there’s tons of really big brands out there that are doing amazing things. Um, okay, so big brands are one thing.
Wayne  Like, we’re here to talk about small businesses. So what can we learn as a small business owner and we’ve both been here, we’ve both done this for mid to small to large, very large companies. What can they learn, uh, around how they portray their brand? How much is their brand really worth? Um, and I think that’s really an interesting point to kind of hit on is like, where do we go from here? So I’m a small business. What, how do I a create a lasting brand B, what should that brand really represent? And then see how do I communicate that to my customers, potential customers and everyone else in the world. So, you know, there’s a lot, uh, smaller companies can understand from a these larger organizations. And the great thing is with this kind of talk show every week, is we’re going to be able to help you really elevate your brand through digital channels, whether that’s through your website and enhancing that to make sure that you’re getting the best performance through to your social media and how we want to kind of run that.
Wayne And, and kind of the tone you should be going with and some tips and tricks about how to increase your reaching, increase your engagement. Um, know what measurements should you really be looking at, which ones are the most important. You know, we had this conversation the other day, uh, talking to a previous client of ours and I was really impressed with the impressions and I’m like, well, you know, impressions are not that important anymore. Um, I can put an ad out there or I can put something online and get a million impressions easy. But if people are not engaging with that back piece of content, there’s no point. Um, yeah, people you get wise on it, your brain does get some exposure, but really you got to drive those clicks or calls. And I think that’s really important and especially for small businesses is driving those clicks. Those calls, there’s going to be the most important thing.
KevinI think that’s a great point because I think too often small business owners and I know myself in the past get caught up in the, you know, Oh wait, my brand just got a million impressions or 2 million or you know, we’re getting all this likes on social media, but at the end of the day, the problem with it is how do I want as a business owner know that any of that is leading the business, you know, and two, how do I track it to figure out, because being a small business, your time is so limited, especially if you’re pre hiring a marketing person or pre hiring an agency is how do you go and bring about, you know, the ability to know where do you spend that hour a day you have.
Wayne Yeah. Uh, and yeah, if you have someone managing it, how do you know who they’re actually managing it? Because yeah, you’ll see one or two posts and they’ll give you this report. And typically what they say is, Hey, we managed to get this many clicks or we managed to get this many likes and follows, uh, that why consider really vanity your vanity measurements, you know, those, those likes and everything. Um, that good. It shows that you’re actually probably talking about something someone’s interested in, but until some, until that action, uh, results in. So I a customer coming to you through social media or visiting your website and completing a form, it’s just, it’s a nice to have. It’s not everything. So it’s, yeah, we’ve really got a, yeah, no, absolutely. I know there’s one thing you said earlier I think that I would like to kind of bring back up because I’d never heard it until you told me about a week ago about it, but this idea of Brandscaping you came up with, it’s really interesting.
Wayne  And can you give us a little kind of like background on it? Cause I’m sure there’s a lot of people who are like Brandscaping when Dan was talking about, um, so yeah, I mean it’s a phrase that I’ve kind of coined and, and uh, I can’t say that I’m the originator of it. I, I’m not sure if I am, but, uh, basically, you know, when you’re talking about your brand, there’s so many elements of it. And for those who are not sure what brand is, it’s really what your company stands for. So if you look at, uh, you look at ourselves, right? And a, you create a company and let’s say we’re going to create a little marketing agency here and we’re going to call it, um, marketing one Oh one. I say marketing one Oh one is this brand is, it’s got a tremendous, tremendous amount of channels or touchpoints they reaches out to the customers on.
Wayne  So that’s your social network. So that would be your Facebook, your Instagram, possibly Snapchat, Twitter, you know, and then you’ve got your website where your website really is. And I think this is really important to understand in terms of Brandscaping is your, your website is the core. That’s the central area. Everything you do, whether that’s SEO, SEM, uh, yeah, rich media advertising, radio, advertising, TV, advertising. Pretty much it all goes back to your websites. Your destination is your website, your BrainScape is all the surround sound. It’s everything around you. So it’s all your social channels and everything else there. So you know, if one of those, and think of it as it’s spoken a wheel with a, with a series of spokes. If any of those spokes or broken the wheel can’t work more most efficiently, it can’t be the best where we can be.
Wayne  So you’ve got to make sure as a, as a owner of a business, that each of your spokes is saying the same thing. It’s working well and it’s doing what you want it to do, which is ultimately driving customers or engagement. Absolutely. The Brandscaping is a term to really talk about the whole package, not just one piece, but all of it together and all of it working well. Um, you know, when we’re going to do this shortly live, um, when you think about a company, when I go out and I research a company or I’m trying to help them increase their, um, social media channels or their web presence, whatever that is, I conduct a brand scape. I look at everything. I look at their social channels, look at all their posts, I look at historical posts as well, like where they’ve been to where they are now.
WayneHas it changed? Is there something there that could be damaging that brand? And, uh, I assess all of that and then basically I try to score it. So, you know, out of a hundred Euro at 65, 75 and it’s basically this little, uh, each one of my questions I ask is weighted. So each of the weight, each of the questions has a weight and those weights tally up to being 100% in this example. Um, and then basically it helps me to communicate to them where the, where the spokes are broken or where there’s possible, um, areas that we can impact and improve on so that we can, you know, drive home more customers, drive more context, more phone calls. No, that’s great. And I think it, and you said it all goes back to the website. I mean the essence of a small business marketing strategy is your website.
Wayne  Yeah. Nowadays, you know, if you think about where is someone going to contact me first, what is someone going to do? The website is the destination everyone goes to. I mean, yeah, we’ve all done it. We shop online, we’re looking for something. In my case, probably fishing gear, but we’re all looking for saying, the first thing we do is look, you know, we look at website, we check out reviews. We made sure that their reviews are, you know, they could have the best website in the world, but if they’ve got two reviews and the person next, next down on the Google search has 75 reviews, we’re going to go with the 75 reviews over the two. Even if those two are the best reviews in the world, we’re still going to go with the one that has more because we trust it. It’s a brand trust thing.
Wayne  But um, yeah, every destination really leads back to that website. And that’s your shop window. That’s how you get your brand now they’re your product and your services. Oh, that’s a great, I mean I think one of the biggest issues for a lot of small businesses is their website. I think a lot of them run into the problem of, you know, what platforms should I be on? Do you know, which should I do? Is this one better than this? You know, how do I handle hosting? There’s that a myriad of issues and especially when you’re a small business owner who might not be technically savvy. You know, you might be a technician in whatever your industry is, whether it’s wealth management, Shorenstein plumbing, plumbing, real estate, land you’re worried about is what your website is. You just know you need one and then, um, you through you, you know, you may do some outreach, you may look around, you may do some research, you’ll see quickies if website builders, which are not bad things, but you’ll see a lot of it and you go, okay, well how do I know which one to go for?
Wayne  Which one’s going to give me what I need? Absolutely. I guess that’s a great segue into what we really kind of wanted to dig into as far as, you know, a small business marketing topic is what is the best small business website in 2020 kind of going forward. If you were a small business owner, right, who might not
Kevin be happy with their website, have an older website, you’re thinking of, you know, doing a redesign or a new brand or both, you know, what would you say are the best options for websites kind of, you know, going forward now in 2020?
Wayne  Yeah, I mean [inaudible] things such a aged question cause there’s so many different things that we could uh, discuss, right? So first off you’ve got to ask yourself, okay, what is my website going to do? Why am I, what am I really wanting it to do? Uh, is it going to be a lead generator? Is it going to be an eCommerce site? Um, is it just a general shop window where someone can come and find out about me? Well, depending on your answer to those couple of questions and these are, yeah, there’s probably 30 other questions I would ask. There’s a couple of options out there. There’s, you know, I think you would have heard everyone would have heard at some point the idea of doing a WordPress based website. Okay, so WordPress, let’s talk about that. WordPress is a great platform. Um, over the last five years, it has evolved quite a lot to be very open minded to the concept of being able to manage people’s content quickly and efficiently.
Wayne  If you were the customer coming to me today and saying, Hey, I need a website that I need to be able to scale. I’m looking to deliver an eCommerce experience in a few years time. I go a product I want to sell, I probably would suggest WordPress because it’s an easy, painless installation. It’s, um, the, the, the CMS itself is very easy to use. Um, it’s quite flexible in terms of how from a design point of view, why can do with it. Um, I can, you know, create really slick looking websites and because they bring out regular releases, I would be able to not feel confident that I could take that one website and make it bigger and better and grow with your brand as you become, yeah. Become bigger. Absolutely. I guess the great thing,
Kevinthe press now is that it allows you to use all the drag and drop builders. You know, the thrive builder, WP bakery Devi, even WordPress is, you know, uh, there was one at Gutenberg. Uh, you know, I think that’s probably been probably the biggest change in WordPress in the last couple of years is, you know, go into that drag and drop builder versus always having to code everything.
Wayne  Yeah. I mean, yeah, I think nowadays you’ve got to think of a, you know, if you look at websites and I could probably pick 20 or 30 different websites off the top of my head that all S all kind of function the same way. And they have elements of the user interface that are all the same. They will have something called web cards, which is a way to really communicate. You really showcase your blogs or your products. They will have a full screen or a full width, a hero image. Typically the hero image slides or moves or is animated and a, you know, they’re built in a certain way that really lends itself to that modular build. So drag and drop functionality, I can grab a new hero, can drop that in and just quickly loading a new image. You know, I want to feature three blogs on my contact task page.
Wayne Well I can just drag that module straight in there, plug it in, and I’m done. I don’t even have to code. It’s that easy. So, you know, that’s definitely one of its positives is it’s got that flexibility. You know, I’ve used WP bake, uh, I’ve used a couple of different ones. Uh, the Gutenberg is really interesting, um, a little challenging from a development side, uh, for kind of a novice developers. You have to really look at that and make sure that you’re not, um, by enough more than you can chew. But as a platform, yeah, it’s pretty good. I mean, we’re price is just the engine. You still have to pay for hosting. Yes. So, you know, then you’re in a different kind of conversation and we’re going to touch on that shortly. But, um, you know, from WordPress with all the positives, the negatives are, you know, historically has had a bad rap for security.
Wayne It’s it, and there’s ways around that too. There’s a lot of good plugins and patches that you can do now to really lock down your website. Um, [inaudible] is open source and free, which means you get both good and bad. So if your website is using a lot of plugins to run forms or you know, do automation of any kind, um, you’ll find that depending on what your a plugin developers rated as and how well it’s maintained, that can be a problem. Um, you know, if it’s not a maintain plugin within six months, it can be obviously, which means your forms no longer function correctly. So you have to be really smart about how you’re developing it and what plugins you’re using and make sure you use reputable sources of wise. You know, your website’s going to be defunct within six to seven months. Absolutely. I think that’s always been one of my biggest concerns is that the right word, drawbacks, I guess, of WordPress is that once you go to the, you know, start using plugins and everything’s not natively integrate, it is that you run into that issue of, you know, wait, well is this plugin going to be maintained?
Wayne  And I guess that’s really the beauty of using the paid plugins versus unpaid, you know, the unpaid, you never know. At least with the paid, I always felt like you have a much better opportunity for them to maintain it longer term. Yeah, I mean plugins I have historically always recommended not to use plugins and if you are to use them use no more than three. Okay. Because again, previously and I’m talking a few years ago, plugins were an opportunity to get in the back end and potentially hack your site. So again it was a security breach more than anything. Nowadays it’s more about making sure that your um, plugins are going to be well maintained and up to date because if not, what’s going to end up happening? Well, pieces of functionality may break down
Kevin your website and it’s also becomes a long potential vulnerability when you don’t update the plugins. Absolutely. Yeah. I guess that’s what brings, you know, you and I have always gone back and forth about the drawback of where press is. You constantly have to be doing the core updates, you have to be updating plugins, themes. It almost seems as if it’s best for technically savvy business owners or someone with a marketing person.
WayneYeah. Whether that marketing person is in house or whether they’re teaming up with an agency to to help run their website. You definitely need a webmaster. You can’t [inaudible] for the average business is going to be a lot of maintenance and ultimately if you’re the business owner, you want to be out there selling your goods and services or nine times out of 10 performing them too. So way up the balance of, okay, how much is this site really going to help me versus how much is it going to hinder me from actually doing what I need to do? Which is
Kevinabsolutely, I think that’s the great point because as you and I was talking about, it’s all about ROI focused marketing. If you’re not making a return on investment and you’re kind of leaving yourself vulnerable to see, feel that what you’re doing isn’t worth it, there is no value to the effort you’re constantly making.
WayneAbsolutely. Yeah. I mean you, it’s like anything in life. If you, if you, if you put in maximum effort, you want maximum return. And unfortunately, marketing doesn’t always work that way, but, uh, there are definitely things you can do to help improve your odds. And ultimately, you know, some of that comes down to the platforms you use, um, as well as you know, how you’re going to market in the first place. So, I mean, WordPress is great. Let’s talk to some of the other elements that, that are out there. Yeah. Um,
Kevin here’s a question. I guess. So now, if I wasn’t a technically savvy co founder, you know, what do I look to do, you know, w what is it platform you like? What is the one you use? What do you think you would use in 2020? Um,
Waynewell, me personally, I mean, my portfolio was built on Wix. Um, I like that as a platform. It was fairly easy. It was a very quick turnaround for me. And trust me, I develop, I can build WordPress sites. I don’t, you know, they, they don’t scare me as much as it may for some businesses, but Wix offered me an easy, easy win. And not only is it a great, not only is it a good platform, it’s got its own security, uh, kind of built in. You can do your hosting through it as well as, uh, sign up for your business emails and everything else. So it just makes my life as a business owner for one of, about word as a business owner, to be able to manage and maintain my website without the need to hire someone and without having to learn tons and tons of coding and, and really stay up to date on everything that’s happening in the world. Because trust me, it’s hard, uh, to keep up to date with all these new changes and developments. You know, HTML as core doesn’t change, but, uh, or doesn’t change much. But the way we implement websites from five years ago is very different to the way we do it today. Um, so, you know, Wix was an easy platform for me. How about you? What do you know about Wix? What have you heard?
Kevin Very little, actually. I’ve probably use Wix, maybe just in passing. The majority of it. My experience is actually on probably their biggest competitor, which would be Squarespace. Yeah, so I’ve actually done a lot more with Squarespace. My impression of them both is they’re pretty similar. You know, they’ve made some changes between both, from my understanding, Squarespace kind of has a little bit better native Google drive integration. So if you’re, I know you’re a business owner that’s on the G suite, you know, that’s a lot of times it’s just the almost seamless integration and they can go, you can push. What I really like about it is that you can push the contact forms directly into a spreadsheet. Then you can kind of integrate that spreadsheet into your email marketing platform for that kind of easy use. But overall, I wouldn’t say there’s a, you know, I’m sure both of them wouldn’t want to hear it, but I don’t think there’s a huge difference between either one.
WayneYeah, I think, yeah. Again, having used Wix, myself, one of the things I love about Wix is it’s got an email marketing platform built in. So your forms naturally going into the database and you’re able to market your products and services straight from Wix, which is actually a really good positive. You’ve got a marketing automation, you pay a little extra for it certainly. But you’ve got our marketing automation built straight into the platform, which you know, again, anything to make my life easier as well I’m after. So if I can automate a lot of my processes, whether that’s blogging frequently and getting those, those blog articles out to my customers or maybe it’s just welcoming people in who come in through a form. If I can set them up into a marketing string, which is basically just the communication stream, a series of emails that go out just making them feel wanted and loved and cared for. Um, I’m going to do that cause it just makes my life a lot easier. I’m not pushing email after email, it’s just automatically running and I don’t have to worry about it. And for me that’s, that’s a big thing is a ease of doing business as someone once told me.
KevinOh absolutely. And I mean the drag and drop builders intuitive, one thing I, I have to say, I was a, you know, WordPress fanatic for a long time. I would pretty much not build on anything but were press. I was always like, well, it gives you so much advanced functionality, you can integrate X, Y, and Z if I need to, you know, add something like a booking platform or anything like that, which Squarespace and wastes both now offer, which is huge. You know, I would always be like, Oh well you can build on top of WordPress. But I think that same thing also leads to, you know, one of my growing issues with WordPress is kind of the bloat WordPress has, unless you’re really cognizant of it and paying a lot of attention to no index and stuff like that. Whereas, you know, with Squarespace and all, it’s kept really clean. And Wix, it’s real. It’s a really clean, the, you know, SEO foundation’s good. Maybe it’s not great. I mean, there’s so many good plugins for WordPress, but their SEO is not bad. And for most businesses, if you kind of do the basic on page SEO, your, you know, miles ahead of the game, while you don’t have to worry about core updates or plugins or hosting or anything of that nature, you’re kind of set. It’s like plug and play, you know, turn it on, make it look good and get out and start getting more business.
Wayne  Yeah, I agree. I think, you know, that’s the, and again, I’ve used both smarts, Squarespace, sorry, and wakes and for various different sized clients, they are solid platforms. They built on a good foundation. The coding on it is quality. So your performance of your website is pretty good. I think, you know, we’ve, most of these platforms, I think you were hinting at it, is you’re gonna lose some of that flexibility perhaps. Um, you know, the ability to quickly add new things unless it’s built into the platform. Uh, nine times out of 10, it’s gonna be a little bit more complicated to get something up and run in, such as a booking, a booking calendar or something like that. That was the beauty of WordPress. I mean, there were so many different platforms out there. We’re picking on a couple. Um, you know, it’s interesting you refer to bloat.
WayneThat’s one of my biggest fears with WordPress is in some ways some of its simplicity was, was what I liked about it as a developer enabled me to do pretty advanced, uh, pretty advanced websites, but now is become bigger and it’s reminiscent, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this is reminiscent of Drupal and Joomla huge platforms. And there’s a reason we haven’t bought them up. Um, huge platforms. But in my experience of both building, managing and trying to run one of those sites, uh, built on Drupal for example, is it’s too much. There’s too many options, there’s too many functions I can do. They’ve tried to be everything to everyone. And in so in so doing, in my opinion, the platform itself has suffered. It’s become more difficult to use. It’s harder for a co, uh, for uh, you know, for a content specialist to go in there and update content without having to know basic coding. Uh, and in some cases some advanced coding. Um, it’s a highly complex platform and definitely one that has, it has its merits, it has its place. But for a small business, if someone says to you, dreadful, I would walk out the door screaming cause it’s highly complex and it’s difficult to use.
KevinNo, that’s a great point. It’s funny you mentioned Joomla too. By the first website I ever ran Google AdSense, which actually ended up getting me hooked on SEO and all was a Joomla website that I had my brother who is a developer build and he, you know, always needed to maintain it and he was actually able to kind of make this very old pre there now that they now I believe have a WordPress integration. But previous to that there was like a hack and you had to put it together. We can only put it in HTML. There were so many limitations. And one of the things that eventually led us to going completely with WordPress was the ease of use. Yeah. But that also lends to the bloat that we talk about. And I always probably the biggest concern I have with WordPress for small businesses is unless you are pretty technically savvy as far as SEO, no Windex and robots. Dot tech, you know, the robots file, everything like that. You end up getting into this place where all of a sudden you see Mao, I have, you know, 300 pages indexed but I only have 15 pages of content. And you know, they’re those category pages, tags, blogs, you know, author pages and you know, over time that really seems to drive a lot of low value SEO. You know, Google’s not paying attention to the high value pages.
WayneAbsolutely. And I think, you know, again it comes down to that balance with small businesses. How much time do I really want to spend running and maintaining a website versus getting new business in whatever that business is. And so for me, you know, small company comes to me, there’s a couple of options. I think of weeks would be one, you know, Squarespace would be the other. There’s a few other platforms out there that should get on from. Paul mentions Webflow, uh, is really a design tool, but they have built a CMS and the eCommerce platform on top of it. Um, for me, again, that’s a really elegant, simple solution. Having used the back end of, of, of it a workflow, it’s, um, instantly intuitive and it enables me as a, as a creative person building a website for someone to help them rather than say, Hey, here’s your WordPress installed.
Wayne Now I’ve got sit through nine, 10 hours of training to be able to teach you how to, how to input content into your own website is kind of insane to me. But, uh, you know, there are times there are use cases when that has to happen. I mean, we’re, we’re inadvertently missing eCommerce websites. But yeah, just to touch on those briefly, you know, there’s a number of different eCommerce platforms out there and I think the key to understand what these eCommerce platforms, the woo commerce is of the world, the Magentos, the big commerce, all these types of a well known brands in the web space is that they, um, they are there to do one thing which is enable you to catalog and sell products. They are, they’re not really there to help you maintain and build a website. So if you’re looking to blog and you’re looking to run a, you know, pretty intensive landing pages, uh, with content, content, rich experiences that probably, although fantastic platforms for e-commerce, probably not what you want to be building your entire website on, but certainly your e-commerce portion.
KevinAbsolutely. And I mean, that is so true. The, uh, that would definitely, you know, makes it kind of difficult. It’s like, where do you choose? And I think we could probably do a whole hour on econ.
Wayne  I’m sure we will.
Kevin You know, and that’s definitely a that I mean you could spend an hour on Shopify and you know how it’s changed in the web.
Wayne  Yeah. A, it’s you know, Shopify is interesting animal and we will definitely be doing a show on that.
Kevin Absolutely. So, uh, what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna take a quick break when and I’ll be right back with Ian Lazarus of short points Realty and we’ll dig into, as Wayne called it, the brand scape. So we’ll just be right back and a Gideon on the line.

Kevin This is SMB acceleration, Kevin and Wayne and we’re about to be live with Ian Lazarus. Ian is the broker owner of shore points really in Wildwood. New Jersey in has been involved with real estate for just about forever. He’s not gonna want me to say that, but you know, Ian has also been kind of a always ahead of the time on his digital marketing and traditional marketing and we’d just like to think we bring them in, get his insights on what’s working, what’s not, what’s he struggling with and you know, anywhere we can help him in 2019 and 2020 how’s it going in?
Ian  I’m good. I’m good. It’s
Kevin: just thinking about how long have you been doing this?
Kevin How long is that or do you care? Not to say
Ianno, actually 35 years. Wow.
Kevin And you’ve always kind of been, you know, ahead of the curve as far as marketing and you know, adopting websites and platforms and everything like that you would say. Right?
Ian Well I, well I, I built my first website in 1998 [inaudible]
Kevin so exactly.
Ian It was a, it was a one page and it was just a picture of me and some basic information. Yeah. And I’m sure not too many people found that because there wasn’t many people looking.
Wayne  No. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of change over that time to where your website is become much more the dominant force and where people are finding you and accessing the information.
Ian You know, I, I, I don’t, I don’t want to get too deep to this point, but I would basically say more and more real estate companies are trying to get back to the basics. But of course there is, you know, going to, you know, obviously you need to do a little of everything. Yeah.
Kevin So do you see more people going back to those traditional mediums and moving away from websites? Because one of the things, you know, being in real estate myself and you know, I wouldn’t say active, but kind of reading through a lot of Facebook groups is, you know, there’s a lot of real estate brokers who have a concern that their website isn’t as valuable because of like the big players out there. And that’s a struggle I feel for a lot of people. What would you say
Ian it’s very hard to compete with those four or five largest companies. I mean they, they can take up the first page just organically. Yup. So you know, either you blog and kind of work on long-tail typed SEO strategies.
Speaker 9: [inaudible] uh,
Ian but I, I find that I’m working more on trying to brand myself and uh, I’m doing that to Google.
Speaker 9: [inaudible]. Uh,
Kevin do you actively seek out reviews via Google or you know, [inaudible]
Wayne  yeah. Okay. Yeah. I have a
Iancompany review page on Google, which, you know, it’s just, it’s the ones that go on. There are the ones who are not as happy.
Wayne Yeah. We can find that to be the case. Yeah.
IanHe don’t seem to spend that time to go over look for you. Uh, so I have to send them a link and, and uh, asking them a while, they’re very happy to say a couple of nice words.
Wayne Absolutely. You always feel like you’re nudging along the positive reviews versus the negative. The negative seem to come right out of the ground as soon as they want.
Ian They want to do it and they’re not terrible. It’s usually one little thing where an owner or did you get the security deposit in time? Where the tenant didn’t get their, their deposit back within a certain period of time.
Wayne  Is this my fault? Yeah. It’s the small things. And unfortunately you as the realtor or the negotiator in that situation are probably getting the brunt of it because you actually have a channel that someone can complain on. Unfortunately. [inaudible]
Ian Oh sure. Between Facebook’s and Zillow and my Google page.
Wayne Yeah, that’s a quick question. Do you see more from that?
Ian To answer your question, to answer your question, we’re finding that we, well, I need to spend more money on, on direct mail and, and go back to basics.
Wayne  So that’s an interesting point. So you’re going back to more your traditional direct mail kind of rates, which I is positively more expensive, harder to tracking and measure in terms of ROI. Not impossible, but harder. Um, you’re having probably having two employees, uh, or hire an agency or a designer to get that stuff done. And then having to go through the printer and get masses of leaflets delivered to, to your offices and then kind of, you know, mailed out through mailing companies and people,
Ian I did mostly postcards, oversized postcard. Yeah. Uh, I try to spend most of that money on past clients, so I’m not just starting from scratch.
Wayne  Sure. So would I be, you know, with that in mind, you know, if, if you’re doing all this effort with print and everything like that, and I’m sure you’ve tried paid ads and paid media as well. Do you have, I,
IanI, I have to be honest with you, I haven’t sold much real estate through any of our, like Facebook campaigns and pay per click campaigns. Sure. Uh, because because w in real estate you need to find the right buyer for a property. Yup. And that, and that could be one of a, a hundred other agents, clients. Sure. So I have to promote the property and hope that somebody sees it and goes back to the realtor. So I might not get the sale, but I get the job done.
Kevin Sure, sure. And that’s a great point. And I, you know, for those that don’t know Ian’s real estate market is the Jersey shore. So being a secondary home market, you have that, you know, exponentially harder issue of finding the right buyer. It’s not like someone who’s going to out and looking for, you know, they’re relocating to an area, they have X amount of time, they have to move, they have to find something, you know, your, your market. So it’s kind of a, almost like a luxury, right? People aren’t necessarily forced to buy a vacation home. So you’re really looking for that true proverbial needle in the haystack. Yup.
Ian Scores. Plus we’re not meeting those people at the, at the soccer steel or, or the PCA leaving. No, there could be a hundred miles away.
Wayne  Yeah. So, yeah, and again, with that in mind, your geo location. Yeah. You, there’s a lot of competitors out there as well because everyone’s trying to sell that holiday home real estate as well. So you’ve got a lot of competition in your local area and not only that, but your, your entire audience is not in your location. So you’re, you know, you’re having to look at New York, which again, you know from a financial point of view is in New York is probably the closest and prof most,
Ianno actually right, right in your backyard. Really? NPA, Philadelphia is the Cape may County market.
Wayne  Oh right, cool. So again, yeah, even there you’re still having to put ads here and then hope that you’re hitting the right audience and then, you know, it’s a crap shoot. It’s like most things,
Ian well I tried to advertise on weekends yep. With, with our local zip codes. Yep. So that’s the people that are down here in the off season. You know, we’re probably, you know, my kind of people
Kevinnow. Do you know what zip codes in Pennsylvania? Uh, kind of correlate best to, you know, each town in Cape may County?
Ian I would say that you’re looking at counties, not towns, you know, to be Delaware County or to the Montgomery County bucks County.
Kevin That makes a lot of sense. And then they kind of tend to go one shoe at one town or the other.
Ian Yeah, they’re closer to the shore points. Cause you could have people from bucks County going to long beach Island while they can be going to K make [inaudible].
Kevin Oh, got it. That makes a lot of sense.
Ian Well from Delaware County are definitely coming. CIO’s to Wildwood would maybe. Okay. You know, it’s kind of a, it’s interesting, different, different markets,
Kevin you know, on that. As far as your social media, uh, do you, is there any tools you use? Are you using, are you happy with them, you know, what do you think is kind of working in social media? Do you find there’s any, you know, benefit other than having to do it?
Ian I think it really comes down to branding and I have to brand myself is as the Jersey shore advocates, um, I try, you get a personal touch or a personal service. I was part of a team and I decided that I didn’t want to go with that because I would be handing people off to certain people and then not knowing the quality of the service.
Wayne Yeah. So you’re losing control of your personal brand at that point because others are coming in. They may do it slightly differently. So you wanna maintain that, that that importance of you as a brand.
Ian So I went back to being a one man band.
Wayne  Yeah. Which makes sense. Again, you can control that. You can dictate what you want your brand to be and when you’re communicating that for your different channels, your social media, your website, whatever, is always going to have the same tonality and voice and everything else in place. So that’s, that’s good brand foundations right there.
Ian I’ll tell you to two of my sales this year, one of my sales last year was just from people contacting me and saying they want me to represent them. Not because they called about a property or it wasn’t a referral from another friend or another broker. It was literally them researching reviews and, and, and they found me just made the phone call.
Kevin I mean, that’s great. That’s showing you the power of like personal branding for sure. And now I know you haven’t, you know, agents that work for you. Do you, are you giving them the same kind of thoughts and feedback? You know, you really need to brand yourself more so than anything else or you know, what kind of advice you’ve given those new agents that come to work with you?
Ian Well, I think that [inaudible] getting you want to work, you’re, you’re a sneer, you know, 70, 80% of your business is going to come from past clients, friends, family, uh, other people that, uh, that you do business with. Uh, small business owners know that kinda thing. You know, I try to tell them, your veterinarian might need a mailer, so you need to recognize that you’re available.
Kevin Absolutely. Now we were just taking a look a Wayne’s here, looking at your Facebook page and I see you’re running, it looks like risk media and a park bench. You, are they real estate specific tools? How do you feel about those? Are you a kind of, you know, do you see value?
Ian Mm, I liked them. Uh, the park, the park bench is, is a website that I subscribe to. So I run that page and then they also send out, uh, articles and information that’s related to real estate. Okay. And that’s, uh, that’s done on an [inaudible]
Kevin so me kind of pay, you know, pay and just let it go. You’re focused on running your business, growing the business versus having to employ someone to constantly make social media updates. Yep.
Ian Yeah. And the same thing with receive. RIS media has some really good articles and it could be related to home construction, uh, finance, you know, and you know, I get, I get a hit here and there.
Kevin Okay. Okay. And I guess one last thing where we did take another quick look at your website and, and, uh, it looks like you’ve been running [inaudible]
Ian I’m not sure which one you’re looking at.
Kevin Oh, sure. Points were EOD andJ , I forgot how many domains you actually have. [inaudible]
Ian yeah. That, that’s how it is a work in progress because I started out trying to promote just the why woods. Okay. But at the same time, I need to widen that out to all of Cape may County.
Kevin Okay. So you’re literally creating a website for specific catchment areas.
Ian Yeah, so we’re doing town pages.
Speaker Okay.
Kevin Excellent. And how about the other side? DSJ beach homes.com site. Is that a,
Ian I’ve been trying to market those more as as me
Kevin is Ian the brand, Ian Lazarus, not the brand short points Realty. Okay. So that’s kind of that differentiator there is you the realtor versus Ian business owner
Ian because I don’t want to compete with my agents.
Kevin No, absolutely. That makes complete sense. Yeah. Well, uh, he and I, we, I really appreciate your calling in. We’re just about to the end here. Uh, I mean, I really appreciate it and absolutely. Yeah.
Ian Let me know if I could help you or you and I’m sure you’re gonna ask me to help me.
Kevin Yeah, you kind of know how I worked. Oh, I appreciate it, Ian. And uh, I’ll definitely be in touch. Thanks again.
IanAll right, thanks guys.
KevinThanks. Have a good Monday. So Wayne, you know, it was a really good to kind of get a firsthand knowledge of a local business owner. You know, Ian’s got 35 years in the business and is looking to, you know, grow and SA interesting. The challenges faced.
Wayne Absolutely. And again, you heard it. Um, we touched on it a lot during our conversations, which is, you know, it’s all about time. It’s all about effectively using his time. It’s about building his brand. It’s about, you know, really understanding who he is and, and trying to reach the people that kind of a guarantee we’re not guarantee but are really looking in and what the challenges are. And what’s really interesting in today’s digital age is the switching back somewhat to direct mail and traditional media. The interesting thing is, and without us doing a big full audit right here is okay, well, is social not working? Because uh, not, not three-inch, not finding the people, whatever the questions are, are the paid ads not working because they’re driving to a URL and not necessarily driving to a phone call. Subtle little differences like that little changes here and there just in that social media execution, whether that’s called action or messaging could be the difference. I’m not saying it is, but it could be and it’d be really interesting to chat more with Ian to find out if any of that could help him.
Kevin (54:37)Absolutely. Tom. Well, it looks like we’re uh, okay. No, it was just kind of lost my train of thought. I was thinking about helping them and be interesting to get them back, give them some suggestions, get them back kind of, you know, a couple months down the line and say, you know what, Hey is this working? Is this, maybe we’ll have to get Ian back and kind of take that deeper dive into, it’s interesting what you said, you know, maybe it is running very kind of high cost pay per click directly to phone call versus trying to run them to your website and you know, take them to a landing page just going, you know, direct for that phone call. Even if it’s very expensive and you know, because you know there’s a ROI attached to somebody willing to pick up, especially in today’s day and age, somebody willing to pick up a phone
Wayne  and, and we can’t lose sight of any business transaction. And he said he himself is, is that personal touch now if you get, if you can get someone on the phone and you think about what the average value of that customer is and then you weigh up the cost of what it costs to get the phone call in the first place, as long as it’s, as long as you’re always in the positive, which is pretty hard not to be. Yeah, it’s a return on investment is a solid investment and worth doing. So I think we’re ready to wrap up. Um, I’ll let you finish out the show and I’ll finish out next week. Well, right,
Kevin this is a Kevin and Wayne and this is, you’ve been listening to the SMB acceleration show on WWDB six 80 and we’ll be here every Monday eight to 9:00 AM. If you’re a small business owner looking to have the, your business brand escaped, you know, reach out to us. We’d be happy to get you on the show and help as we can. Anything last week.
Wayne  Yeah. And if you’re interested in sponsoring or advertising on the show, please give us a call. We’re happily promoting your products and services.
KevinThat sounds good. Thanks.