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Creating an online presence? We get expert advice.
by Startacus Admin
To celebrate the launch of their new website & e-commerce solution for startups, we have teamed up with the folks at Jump Marketing to give one lucky Startacus member a tailor made website package (with or without e-commerce) worth up to £5000, absolutely free. A fantastic way to boost your online presence!
To set the scene of this magnificent prize, we had a chat with Mat Norbury at Jump to find out a bit more about their new platform ‘Vitamin’ as well as pick their brains on a few topical issues including the impact of social media on businesses, startup branding, and the importance of having a great online presence.
Notepads at the ready!
Give us your pitch! What and whom is Vitamin for?
Vitamin is a new website & e-commerce solution from Jump, designed especially for start-up and small businesses who want a professional, polished looking online presence without breaking the bank. It’s for ambitious businesses who might have a limited budget, but don’t want to compromise on the quality of design and functionality of their site.
We create custom designed websites and online shops for a fraction of the usual cost. Someone said we provide a “full agency service for an off-the-shelf template price”. That pretty much sums it up.
What would you say is Vitamin’s USP?
The level of service & support we provide, before, during and after a client’s site goes live, is absolutely unique and something I’m very proud of. We take the same approach to Vitamin clients paying £1,000 for a site as we do someone paying £20,000+ getting to know you and your business; developing a strategy to help build your brand online and achieve your objectives. Once your site is live we’re there to provide whatever help & support you need, with no limits on the time you get or hidden charges. Vitamin clients also have the benefit of free access to the broader Jump team even if it's just to pick our brains on anything from branding and packaging to social media and SEO. Whilst this isn't exactly a formal 'benefit' of having a Vitamin site it's something we're finding many clients think is extremely useful just having someone they can bounce ideas and questions off.
With Vitamin you’re getting a custom designed and built site, from an experienced design & marketing agency, with no limits on pages or products, no hidden charges and a Content Management System which allows you to change almost anything you like yourself.
Our biggest challenge is people thinking it all sounds too good to be true!
Some small businesses still don't have an online presence - what's your reaction to that?
Where do I begin? Another answer where 100 words just isn’t enough!
I can’t think of many businesses (if any) where a website isn’t essential nowadays. Most of us tend to check out the website before making a decision to buy from someone, even if it’s not an online purchase. You can get online for pennies nowadays, so there really is no excuse.
Be wary if you’re trying to do things yourself or using a cheap web designer though. If the result looks shoddy and unprofessional you’re more than likely damaging your business. Would you walk into a shop on the High Street with mismatched signage, rubbish in the doorway and dirty windows? It sounds harsh, but lots of business’s websites are the online equivalent. People really do judge a book by its cover. According to Stanford University research 75% of people judge the credibility of a company by the design of its website. 94% say well designed websites are more trustworthy.
If you do have a website, make sure it’s mobile-friendly. Not only is Google now actively rewarding mobile-friendly sites with higher rankings, but mobile is now the primary access point to online retail for most consumers. If that sounds unbelievable, think again. According to statistics from consultancy CapGemini and the UK e-retailer association IMRG, 52% of visitors to UK online retailers' stores did so using mobiles in the 2nd quarter of 2014. This was the first time the proportion had exceeded 50% and it will be interesting to see just how far and fast this trend continues.
What impact has 'social media'as an online presence had on the startup and small business owner in disrupting the traditional business World?
Social media has without a doubt empowered both businesses and consumers to an unprecedented extent. We’ve all grown used to the fact that an idea, image, video or message can reach millions of people around the world in a matter of hours. Brands and businesses can be built . . . and taken down . . . in the blink of an eye. Social media claims some high profile success stories and certainly levels the playing field, but small businesses shouldn’t see it as some miracle solution. It might provide an apparently free way to engage with a massive audience, but a successful social media campaign takes a lot of time, effort and relies to a large extent on luck.
Much of the free help & support we provide Vitamin clients is with developing their social media strategy. Our main piece of advice to small businesses? Don’t worry. People are often nervous about social media because they’re scared of saying the wrong thing. Just be yourself.
In your experience how much has the Startup scene grown in Scotland?
Scotland has always been a nation of entrepreneurs from Andrew Carnegie to Arnold Clark and countless others before, between and since. It must be something in the water. Or maybe the long, cold, dark nights give us lots of time to hatch plans for global domination. Whisky helps too. Gets the creative juices flowing.
It’s a fantastic place to start a business. No matter what sector you’re in there’s an amazing amount of support from the big public sector schemes and agencies like Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise to sector specific co-operatives like the Craft Distillers Association and innovative incubator outfits such as E-Spark and CodeBase.
The energy around Scotland’s start-up scene has to be experienced to be believed. We love being a part of it.
The whisky’s great too.
Apart from using Jump (of course!) what one piece of key advice would you pass on to a startup aiming to create a compelling brand and identify?
In a nut-shell, spend as much time, effort and money as you can afford, as soon as you can. A well thought out, professionally executed brand identity isn’t a luxury you should put off until you’re up and running. It should be one of the first things you do. Your brand isn’t what people ‘buy’; it’s what they ‘buy into’. A brand embodies everything your business is about, why you’re doing it, where you want to be in 5 years everything. Simply taking the time to think about, discuss and define all of these things is an essential part of starting a business.
Whether you’re a high-growth tech start-up seeking first round funding or a new dog-grooming business doing some flyers, you need a brand. It doesn’t need to cost a fortune, and in some cases a DIY approach can work (you’re making preserves on a small scale in your kitchen, selling them at farmers markets and have no ambition to grow any bigger for example), but if you’re serious about your business, spend some time on creating your brand.
What's the goal with Vitamin? Give us a vision of where you'd like Vitamin to be in 12 months time?
In 12 months time we’re aiming to have at least 600 businesses on the Vitamin platform. This scale will allow us to bring in additional benefits for clients, along the lines of a membership organisation, with free professional advice, discounts on business products & services (including online and traditional media advertising rates), access to a network of bloggers in specific sectors and so on.
Product development is an ongoing process, both on the core Vitamin platform and creating new products for specific sectors (accommodation booking, restaurant reservations and so on).
Overseas markets are already being investigated and we plan to launch in both Australia and the USA in 2016.
We are nothing if not ambitious! Watch this space
Thanks for the great insights Jump!
Don’t forget that we are giving one lucky Startacus member an amazing tailor made business website package worth up to £5000 courtesy of Jump, here's the details on how to enter.