|Posted by Lilly on November 8, 2015 at 8:55 AM|
It's that time of year again. The leaves are falling, the temps are dropping (at least for many of us), and all that falling and dropping has caused the same to happen to my Italian Ice sales. The end of my season is when I feel a strange bittersweet emotion. I get sad seeing lots of great outdoor Halloween and Fall type events in the area that I can't be a part of because it's just too cold for Italian Ice. I hate the drop in income. And I miss the liveliness of selling in summer.
On the flip side, however, I get a little giddy at the thought of not loading a car with heavy equipment and ice! Woohoo! And I get even more pumped when I start thinking of how to amp the business up for next year. What do I want to change about my booth? What product or service could I add to my business? Or how can I expand my reach into the community?
So, I decided that next season I will do a big postcard blitz reaching out to new surrounding schools, events and markets that I've left untapped. Done in a timely fashion, this could triple my business. I plan to send those postcards out by the end of February, and I'm toying with the idea of sending out a second, followup mailing for the beginning of May. The first push is to get in people's faces as they're getting weary of winter and thinking of summer. And the second is to remind them about me in case they forgot, just in time for their planning of mid-to-late summer or early fall events. I'm hoping it will also boost my graduation party package, where I simply set up of coolers of Italian Ice at their parties for just the cost of tubs plus a small cooler rental fee. It is easy money.
But what good would this postcard marketing effort be, attempting to send new customers to my website for more information and to book their event, if my website looks like poo?
So... first things first. I need to update my website. I looked over my primitive, just-started-my-ice-business website. I've had it for a couple of years, just sitting there. When I first created it, I had barely any images of fun events or even of my Italian Ice in actual cups. I wanted to get basic information on a site and made an attempt at color and interest, but perhaps I went overboard on the color. At any rate, I really needed to update the site, add more energy and give it a little hipness that matches my customers - typically young folks from elementary through high school, and their parents. What better time to get this done than right now when I have three solid months to complete it and then be ready for the postcard launch?
Websites can be daunting to create if you're either visually uncreative or lacking funds to hire a graphic designer. If you're both, it's even tougher. But thankfully there are a few, great online companies that make it easy. One is Webs.com. IcyProfits is actually a Webs.com site, and it's been great for me. When I began IcyProfits, I had very little website creation or administration experience. I'm thankful I found it. They have great templates where you can just drop in text and change out some images, and you're done. Here's one of their templates which is cute for us Italian Ice vendors.
But, even easier than Webs.com is another company named Wix.com. Their templates are extremely current and exciting. They look fresh and follow updated trends in website design, helping your site (and business) look modern. It has features that you can grow into, like a store (sell tubs of ice online?) and all kinds of fun social engagement widgets. My actual Italian Ice business site was made there. I ended up ditching their pre-made templates and creating my site from scratch... yes, scratch! It's that easy. It's not too bad for a few years ago and, remember, I knew almost nothing about websites. Wix's software makes it simple to get exactly the look you want! Here's my old site. It was a one-page, just-scroll-down site consisting of what I think are the most important information sections of a website related specifically to my business.
HOME - Logo, phone, email, what my company is/does.
ABOUT - More details about my company, my ice, and where I sell.
SERVICES - All my offerings, like catering and parties, etc.
FLAVORS - self explanatory.
FUNDRAISING - this part dedicated to more info about the bulk of my business.
CONTACT - I allow folks to reach me from my site directly by using a form.
While I'm sure some of you may think my old site was better than the new... here is the reveal of my updated site (still in progress). Again, I'm using Wix.com. Once I get it just right, I'll replace the site above. And then, from the new one, I'll use the same look and feel to create my postcards.
HOME - cool background images now shows customers enjoying my ice.
SERVICES - just a visual update with actual customers.
CUSTOMER LIST & TESTIMONIALS - new page which adds credibility and referrals to my business.
FUNDRAISING - updated images for this section.
CONTACT - still uses a form to get more booking info. from the customer.
Once again, I opted to use a one-page site. There are two reasons for doing so. One, I think it's a heck of a lot easier for a customer to just scroll and see everything I need to tell them. And two, I don't have to deal with creating new pages in my site, linking them or any menu bars. It's the simplest way to go. Down the road I may change that as I want to give more details and devote a page just for, say, catering. But right now, this works for me.
I wanted to show what was available to you in creating fast, attractive and effective websites, since now is a great time to start one, or edit one you already have. If you've been avoiding creating a website for cost or intimidiation, don't put it off any longer. Wix's software is so easy, just click, drag and drop stuff wherever you want. Check out their awesome templates here. And if you're still a little stuck, I am getting pretty good at it... give me a holler.