9 Tips For Making Better Hiring Decisions For Your Small Business

9 Tips For Making Better Hiring Decisions For Your Small Business

If you’re like a lot of other business owners, a large portion of your time and thought goes into solving hiring challenges. Finding the right talent is the issue that never goes away.

A Small Business Trends study done by Guidant Financial and LendingClub found that out of the 2,700 small business owners surveyed, 351 (13%) named recruiting/retention of employees as their top challenge.

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Similarly, a Statista survey of small business owners in July 2019, found that hiring qualified/good staff and retaining them is the #4 biggest challenge business owners face.

Understanding the problem is easy. You know that better employees = better company. Great teams start with great people, and business success hangs on the people you hire.

But it’s the solution that’s harder to distinguish. Your business can’t afford to settle for anything less than A-players, but how do you actually find those those A-players?

Where do you start?

Well, to quote the old adage,

“If you do what everyone else does, you get what everyone else gets.”

So, it’s time to rethink the recruitment and hiring process. It’s time to get serious and develop a strategic approach to consistently finding and hiring the best people.

How do you do that?

How do you single the winners out of the crowd of people just interested in getting a paycheck? How do you keep from repeating the same hiring mistakes you’ve made in the past? How do you find talent and recruit the individuals who can make a real difference in your business?

Here are 9 tips to get you started…

Tip #1 Start with the right attitude.

I’m not totally sold on “The Secret” and all that law of attraction stuff, but I 100% believe that attitude is everything. Having the right attitude may not magically draw top notch employees to you, but having the wrong one will certainly repel them.

So it’s time to take a quick look inward…

Are you holding onto the belief that you’ll never be able to bring A-players into your business because of the industry you’re in? Maybe you do construction or you’re a service business and you believe that the hard-working A-players out there are already running their own businesses, not working for someone else.

Or maybe you, like this fellow on Quora, have written off an entire generation of potential employees because you’ve reached jaded and bitter “Get off my lawn!” old man status.

“Millennials are not A people and never will be…”

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Are you making the same mistake in your attitude?

Tough truth coming your way: The Millennial generation consists of people ages 23-38. So, if you think everyone in that age group is a lazy piece of trash, your company will die with the Baby Boomers.

Plus, it’s just not true that allllll Millennials are B-players, C-players, or worse. What is true is that every generation is essentially the same. There were good and bad apples in the 1920s and there will be good and bad apples in the 2020s.

So don’t make the mistake of putting people into boxes and letting your preconceived ideas and stereotypes prevent you from finding the diamonds in the workforce.

Treat everyone you interview with respect and possibility, and you’ll have much better luck finding the people from every generation worth investing in.

Tip #2 Create clear, non-generic job descriptions.

Okay, this sounds pretty simple and obvious, right? But how many generic job postings have we all seen and created?

We throw in all this industry lingo and write in a utilitarian way that does a great job of telling potential employees, well, not much of anything.

Job descriptions like this are a dime a dozen:

  • Establishes sales objectives by forecasting and developing annual sales quotas for regions and territories and projecting expected sales volumes and profit for existing and new products.
  • Implements national sales programs by developing field sales action plans.
  • Maintains sales volume by tracking changing trends, economic indicators, competitors and supply and demand.
  • Completes national sales operational requirements by scheduling and assigning employees and following up on work results.

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What if instead of this sleep-inducing, generic gobbledygook, we wrote a no-fluff job description to attract exactly the talent we wanted?

What if we gave people a better idea of not just what their day-to-day would look like, but what kind of growth and fulfillment they could expect to experience?

What if we showed them how their job would directly impact their community?

When you go to write a job description, think about all the awful, boring copy your potential hire has already seen. How will yours stand out and make them stop in their tracks? How will yours attract the A-players and repel the C-players? What would you want to read?

Get creative, but keep it clear, so there’s no guessing whether or not they have what it takes to be a good fit for your company and the role you’re hiring for.

Tip #3 Ask better interview questions & dig out the stories.

According to the 2017 Wells Fargo & Gallup Small Business Index,

“The difficulty in identifying qualified candidates is by far the biggest problem small business owners cite. More than half (52 percent) say this is a challenge…”

And…

“Forty-three percent of small business owners say they have difficulty knowing how well job applicants will do once they’re hired.”

Well, that’s a problem, especially considering the time and resources it takes to hire, onboard, and train someone.

So why are we all so bad at figuring out which candidates are going to be the best fit and excel in the job we’re hiring them for? Maybe because we’re asking the wrong questions and focusing on the wrong things.

Let’s see, which tells you more about a person: a bullet list of skills and accomplishments (aka resume) or a story?

Ding, ding, ding! You guessed it: A story.

Unless you’re interviewing The Most Interesting Man In The World, a resume is about as exciting and enlightening as a teeth cleaning. And the resumes you’re using to judge candidates may not even be accurate.

Cyrus Kennedy, Chief People Officer & Partner at XQ Innovation shared on Quora,

“We conducted a study of 80 clients in various industries and all levels of the corporate ladder: 64% of all applicants were found to blatantly lie about something on their resume.”

Eek. No wonder the interview and hiring process feels a bit like guesswork.

What if instead of just looking at resumes and asking the same boring questions that candidates have well-rehearsed, scripted answers for, we tried something different? What if we asked better questions and paid more attention to what their answers really revealed about their personality, culture fit, and job fit?

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Throw out the boring questions and come up with a new list that will dig out the values and traits of the individual, so you can get a better idea of how right or wrong they are for your company.

Look for the stories that will tell you about their initiative, their ability to overcome challenges, their work ethic, their level of humility, the way they treat those with authority over them and those they have authority over…

What you really want is to ask questions that peel back the onion and get to the candidate’s true character. And make sure you’re paying attention to the subtleties of their answers, attitude, and mannerisms, because your customers will pick up on all of those things in a heartbeat.

Here’s a killer question that will tell you so much more about a potential hire than a resume will:

“When was the last time you can remember helping someone in a way you felt really made an impact on their life?”

Here’s why that question is such a win:

  • There’s no way your potential candidate has prepared for that question, so they’re going to tell you whatever pops into their mind first. That means you’re catching them in an authentic moment and not getting some cookie cutter planned answer.
  • Because their answer won’t be scripted, you’ll get to see how quick they are on their toes. Can they problem solve and come up with an answer quickly? That may be a good sign they’ll be a good fit for the job.
  • What they choose to share will tell you a lot about what is important to them. For example, if they answer “Tutoring my niece so she could pass her Chemistry test,” you know that family is important, they’re a patient and effective teacher, they care about the success of others, and they have some chemistry knowledge. No matter what they answer, I guarantee it will be more telling than any scripted answer you get.

Psst. I got this great question from Eric Flathers, a Business Consultant who shared it on Quora.

Tip #4 Know your dealbreakers and have an objective measuring stick.

If you want to avoid hiring mistakes, you can’t just have an “idea” of what you want in a potential hire — you’ve got to know exactly what you’re looking for.

The best way to do this is to come up with a succinct list of qualities that you’d like your new hire to have. You should know these before you ever come into contact with the potential candidate, and they should be broken down into “critical” and “nice to have” categories.

When you take the time to think about what’s a dealbreaker and what isn’t, you’ll be able to measure your new candidates in a systematic way. That way, you’re not getting distracted or hiring based on emotion.

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Once you’ve got your list, you’ve got to stick to your guns and measure candidates against your predetermined standards. Too many people rely on their gut instead of using an objective measuring stick to size up the candidate. So keep that list of “critical” and “nice to have” traits and qualities front and center, and use your interview questions to check for those traits and qualities.

It may take some time to come up with your dealbreakers, but how many hours have you wasted training the wrong person for the job? Just think of it as time redirected and energy better spent.

Tip #5 Hire with the things you fire for in mind.

Business owners often hire for experience, technical skills, and interviewing skills. But you know what people fire for? Bad attitude, poor communication skills, bad culture fit, poor customer service, and a lack of various “soft skills.”

So why are soft skills important enough to fire over but not important enough to be a part of the hiring process? Why are technical skills and experience always the dealbreakers instead of attitude?

I get it, it’s easier to test for technical skill than it is to test for soft skills, and technical skills are important. But in pretty much any job under the sun, soft skills are equally important. So, you’ve got to make them a priority during the hiring process.

Don’t hire the guy with the most experience if he’s got a lousy attitude and thinks most people are idiots. If you do, you’ll waste time and resources on someone who won’t be with you long.

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It’s far smarter to hire when the soft skills are there but the hard skills are lacking than it is to hire when the hard skills are there and the soft skills are lacking.

Tip #6 Consider role, team, and culture match equally.

Culture match, team match, and role match are all equally important to the success of your hire, so look for all three! And for the love of God, have higher standards for what a “match made of heaven” is than this girl.

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Role match:

Will your new hire enjoy the work and thrive in the position you’re hiring for, or is there some other position that might make more sense for them?

The reality is: people are built differently and the person that may make the top sales rep may make a terrible project manager. Having the right people onboard and in the right roles is incredibly important.

Ensure the best candidate is chosen for the position by assessing personality and passions, and making sure they’re a good match for the position you’re looking to fill.

Cultural/core values match:

When asked what surprising negative impact hiring a new employee had on her business, one of our clients, Deb Catura of Jack Pixley Sweeps answered,

“When the hire was not working up to company values, it affected morale and added more stress.”

And she’s not alone in that experience…

When you hire someone without considering how they’ll fit with the company culture, other team members, and the core values you have in place, you’re setting yourself and your team up for some rough seas. It’s just not worth it.

So share your core values and culture with the potential new hire, and ask interview questions that will help you assess their alignment and fit with the things you and your company hold dear.

Team match:

We all want to work with people who make our work life more enjoyable, not less. People who love their jobs, strive to make a difference, and positively impact those they work for and with.

So don’t look at role match alone. Introduce your potential hire to the team and make sure they’re a good fit before you say “Yes.”

Your team will thank you for investing the time and valuable energy into making sure the next hire is a good fit, a productive player, and someone who will be a positive and valuable contributor to the team.

Tip #7 Show potential hires a clear trajectory.

It’s true: Some A-players will go out and start their own business, but not all of them. You can attract A-players to your business and gain their loyalty by showing them a clear trajectory for growth within your business.

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Empower them. Educate them. Train them. Invest in them.

In a recent interview, the owner/operator of Shepard Painting Solutions said,

“If you have the mindset that you want to train people to the point where they are good enough to go out on their own and you empower your employees, you’re probably going to attract better people.”

Preach.

Don’t just recruit A-players, keep them by developing them into the future leaders of your business. Help them be successful in their career. Take them down a path and set them up for success by giving them the training they need to succeed in their role.

Deb Catura of Jack Pixley Sweeps does this with her employees. She has a clear path carved out so there’s no guessing whether there’s potential for growth.

Deb shares that all new hires begin work as “helpers” in the Repair Division for several weeks. During this time, they get on the job training under the Training & Development Manager, a senior tech.

There are certain attainable benchmarks that need to be accomplished before practice tests, and while the Training & Development Manager trains and prepares the new hires, he also evaluates for work ethic and common sense. Those that show Chimney Technician strengths move to that part of the business.

Smart! New hires know exactly what to expect and how to get to the next level. No guessing. No trial and error. A-players like to know what is expected and how to advance, so they’ll find this incredibly attractive in a business.

Tip #8 Always be on the lookout for A-players and make your business attractive.

Many companies are trying to create something great, but they have the wrong ingredients. They settle for B- and C-players and don’t start the search for top talent until they’re so desperate for help they’ll settle for anyone.

It makes sense, but it’s a reactionary mindset that can lead to some bad hiring decisions.

Truth is: filling a position starts long before an opening. You need to always be on the lookout for potential A-players, whether you’re actively interviewing or just out and about. You never know where your next new hire will come from.

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But you need to make sure that you’re what they’re looking for as well.

That starts with treating your people well. Like hangs out with like, so if you’ve got A-players on your team and you’re treating them right, when you do have an opening, there’s a good chance one of your A-players may know the perfect person for the job.

Deb Catura of Jack Pixley Sweeps shares that,

“Referrals from employees and their friends found us the best hires.”

And she’s certainly not alone. Here at Spark Marketer, we’re one big incestuous friend pool. It seems every hire has come through someone else already on the team.

Now for the big question: To Incentivize Or Not To Incentivize?

Some people may encourage you to incentivize employee referrals, giving employees gift cards or financial rewards for referring people they know, but that’s not really necessary. If you’re doing a great job of providing a healthy and rewarding environment and career for your employees, you shouldn’t need to incentivize them. After all, we all want our friends to be happy, too.

On the flip side, even if you have a financial incentive, if you’re a terrible leader and your employees can’t stand their jobs, they’re not going to tell their friends to join in on the misery.

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Okay, aside from employee referrals, where else can you look for potential A-players?

Many people have luck with LinkedIn, Facebook, associations, and even Craigslist. Be open and keep your eyes peeled! Your “dream” employee may even wait on you at dinner this Friday or make your coffee on Saturday morning.

Here are some tips for making your company attractive to the A-player-types you’re hoping to attract:

  • Celebrate your team on social media and on your website.
  • Showcase how you’re different in your marketing. Give them a glimpse into what the job’s like and what it’s like to work for you. One great place to do this is on your Now Hiring page. Instead of making it a long boring list of job requirements and tasks, make it entertaining and informative — a “day in the life of _______” kind of thing.
  • Make your job listing stand out. Think about all the boring out there. If you’re really different, then show them in your job listing!

Tip #9 Cut your losses faster.

Take your time when selecting a candidate, but be quick to let them go if it’s not a good fit. 

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No amount of training will ever teach the wrong person how to be the right one. So evaluate the new hire regularly, and if hiring them was a mistake, cut your losses.

Deb Catura of Jack Pixley Sweeps echos this sentiment saying that, if they knew what they know now when they hired their first employees,

“We would make a decision to release new employees that were unreliable more quickly.”

Truth is: You probably won’t have much success transforming C-players into A-players, no matter how much time and energy you put into it.

So if you make the mistake of hiring a C-player, let them go and start your search for an A-player to fill his or her shoes.

Make Your Next Hire The Right Hire

Hiring the wrong person can be an extremely expensive and time consuming mistake.

It can lead to wasted time, wasted resources, organizational disruption and dysfunction, and low team morale. Not to mention a lot of headaches for you and your HR person.

So turn the hiring process into a science and protect yourself against the same hiring mistakes you’ve made over and over again in the past.

Hiring doesn’t have to be a painful guessing game. You now have some tools and tips to help ensure your next hire is the right hire. Good luck!

Have hiring tips we didn’t include? Shoot ‘em over to me at jessica@sparkmarketer.com!

How Google Maps Ranks Businesses & What You Can Do To Improve Your Chances Of Showing Up

How Google Maps Ranks Businesses & What You Can Do To Improve Your Chances Of Showing Up

Today we’re picking the brain of our Lead Account Manager and Google Ads Specialist, Christian Rodriguez, and doing a quick dive into a question we get asked all the time: How do I get my business to show up in Google Maps? We’ll be talking primarily about the local pack (the three businesses that show up whenever someone does an organic search on desktop or mobile). 

Ready? Let’s do this.

What does Google use to rank businesses in Maps?

When talking about Maps rankings, there are really three key things that Google uses to rank businesses:

  1. Proximity. 
  2. Relevance.
  3. Prominence.

Ranking factor #1: What is proximity?

Proximity is the #1 ranking factor in Google Maps. When I say proximity, I mean proximity of the business to the searcher. It used to be that years back, the closer you were to the center of the city or town that you wanted to rank for, the better you would rank for those types of searches. 

That is really no longer the case, unless you’re trying to do a search from somewhere else. But that’s really more of a vanity search than anything, because really your customers that are in the areas that you serve could be a mile away from you and see a completely different set of results. 

What matters now is how close your business is to the searcher.

Can you influence proximity?

There are a couple of things you can do to sort of influence or contend with this ranking factor. 

#1 Open an office in the location where you want to rank. 

This first one is highly impractical, but if you have the resources it can be done. 

In the past, you could use home addresses to open a separate office, but more and more, we’re seeing that be less viable. Unless you have signage outside of that home address and it’s an actual home-based business that could potentially have customers visiting that location, we don’t recommend doing this anymore. 

The more legitimate the business appears, the better for you. And obviously the best way to do this is by having a physical storefront that has signage that’s easily visible from the street. 

#2 Use Google Ads to expand your proximity

You can actually use Google Ads to sort of expand your proximity. This is not just useful for organic search, but again, for Maps as well. 

One thing to consider is that you are going to need to set up a location extension on your Google Ads, which means you are going to have to show your main location and advertise that location in order for your Maps Ads to run. So there is that component to it. 

#3 Make sure you rank in organic search

As we talked about, opening an office can be quite expensive and requires a lot of resources, so if that’s not an option for you, focus on your organic rankings. 

If you have a city page on your website for the city you want to rank for, and it’s ranking organically, that can help you reach customers in areas that are a little bit further out. Sure, you’re not going to be at the very top with those three businesses in the local pack, but a lot of people do scroll down and look at at least half of the first page, if not the full page of search results. So you still have an opportunity to capture some of those searchers. 

Ranking factor #2: What is relevance?

Moving on to the second ranking factor, we have relevance. And when we talk about relevance, that is: 

  • Are you offering the services that the searcher is looking for? 
  • Are you in the areas that the customer wants to get serviced? 

The more your business can relate to the searcher based on information that’s on your Google My Business profile and the information that’s on your website, and the more relevant the search query is to what it is you offer and the information that’s contained on your website, the better chance you have at hitting relevance. 

Can you increase your relevance?

There are a few things that drive relevance and can help you increase your relevance in Google’s eyes…

#1 Have the right Google My Business categories. 

When you set up a business listing in Google My Business, there are a number of categories to choose from, and they’re constantly updating these categories. For example, ‘chimney sweep’ and ‘chimney services’ are two categories that are available. 

If someone is searching ‘chimney sweep’ in say, Nashville, TN, and your primary category is ‘chimney services,’ you’re not going to be as relevant as if you had ‘chimney sweep’ in your primary category or ‘chimney sweep’ in one of your additional categories. So it’s very important that you add any and all categories that are relevant to your business. 

Obviously, you don’t want to go too crazy with this and add categories that are just slightly relevant, but if it’s a core service that you offer and it’s listed in the categories, I would definitely add that in without spamming it too much.

#2 Have your keyword(s) in your business name

Hopefully as Google gets smarter, this will become less of a factor, but if you have the keywords ‘chimney sweep’ or ‘chimney services’ as part of your business name, you’re likely to rank better for those keywords because it’s relevant to what someone is searching for. This is something that’s really frustrating, but it’s something that unfortunately still works. 

#3 Have keywords as images on your Google My Business listing if possible, and make sure your images are optimized for your top keywords

We’ve seen more and more that Google is starting to become really smart at figuring out what is in an image without you specifying it. But nonetheless, we still recommend you name your images in a way that targets your keywords.

A quick way to do this is, when you upload an image to Google My Business, name the image in a way that includes the relevant keywords. For example, name it ‘technician sweeping a chimney,’ or ‘chimney being repaired.’ That’s a quick way of adding in some more relevance and speaking to what the photograph is actually about. 

#4 Whatever page you have linked to in your Google My Business profile, you want to make sure that page has keywords containing your main services

On your Google My Business profile, you’re allowed to include a link to a page on your website. Whatever page you choose, make sure it has some of those top service keywords in the content.

For a chimney sweep, the big ones that typically are true across the board are chimney sweep, services, repairs, masonry work, and maybe even dryer vent cleaning. So if you have all those listed somewhere on your home page, if that’s the page you’re linking to from your Google My Business profile, chances are that when someone is searching for those services, you’re going to have those relevant factors there.

#5 Get good local links. 

Another thing that’s going to drive relevance is local links. If someone is searching in a specific zip code for a service, and a local news outlet wrote a piece about you or mentioned you in one of their stories or articles, then Google sees that and it shows them that you’re in the area and you perform these services, so you must be a relevant search result. 

That’s another big one that is a little bit harder to get, but if you have those relationships with your local community, you might have a chance at getting some good local links.

#6 Get your customers to mention keywords in their reviews

I know it’s hard enough to just get someone to leave you a review, but if you manage to convince customers to not only leave you a review, but to leave you a review with the service you performed mentioned in it (for example: ‘So and so was great. They did a great job of sweeping my chimney.’), then all those keywords speak to that relevance and all of that information is on a Google property (your Google My Business profile). As a result, Google has that information and is able to build a suite of different offerings that you have, and it’s verified by other people. So again that contributes to your overall relevance. 

Ranking factor #3: What is prominence?

The last ranking factor for Google Maps is prominence. Prominence is:

  • How well known you are
  • How big your company is
  • How visible you are in your community

That sort of thing. 

How can you improve your prominence?

#1 Reviews.

One thing that’s going to drive prominence is, of course, reviews. The more reviews you have, the more prominent you’re going to seem, and typically the more prominent you are. 

#2 Online mentions. 

Another thing that’s going to be pretty important here is, again, very similar to relevance: online mentions. You want these to either be from local businesses in your area or just from other websites from the same industry. 

So, for those of you that are CSIA certified, you have an online mention there. They list the technicians that are CSIA certified and the company, and they add a link to the company website from their website. That’s just one example, but obviously the more certifications you have, the more chances you have to get some of these online mentions. 

Some other examples:

  • If you are in your local Chamber of Commerce, that’s an online mention from a local source. 
  • If someone links to one of your articles or something that you published on your website or blog and they’re in a similar industry — maybe they’re another chimney business, a home restoration website, or a fire prevention website — that online link/mention will drive your prominence. 

#3 Brand awareness + brand searches.

Another thing that Google looks at when it comes to prominence is brand searches. 

The more well-known your brand, the more searches there are for your brand directly. Google picks up on that and says, ‘Hey, you know, this one company has a lot more searches for their name than all these other companies. They must be a preferred company in the area.’

Building your brand awareness is huge, and that’s a big component of prominence.

#4 Citations. 

Citations are places where your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) are mentioned online. Now, over time, we’ve seen citations kind of lose some of the strength they’ve had in the past. So for citations, what I would say is have your main citations up to date with the correct information. Consistency is more important than quantity for driving prominence.

Some of the biggest citations include your Facebook business page, of course your Google My Business listing, your Yelp listing, and Angie’s List, if you work with them at all.

Other important citations will vary from market to market, but if you do a branded search for your business, you want to make sure that any citations and listings that show up on the first two pages of search results are up to date. 

#5 Community involvement. 

And really the final thing here is going to be more offline than online: get active in your community!

The more active you are in your community, the more networking you do, the more prominent you’re going to appear to be — simply because if you sponsor events and local little league teams, chances are they’re going to post about it. If it’s not on their website, it’s going to be on their Facebook page, and so that drives that community awareness. 

In turn, more people are more likely to search for your company name directly, especially if you have a memorable one. They’re going to search for your company name as opposed to making a generic search like ‘chimney sweep near me.’

And not only are you getting people coming straight to you instead of going to the marketplace, but also, again, Google sees that number of branded searches increase, and that’s going to drive your overall prominence. 

Caveats & Considerations

One thing to kind of note is that Google Maps and the local pack were originally set up for brick-and-mortar, physical locations. Service businesses have always been at a disadvantage, especially if they don’t have a location that can be shown — and that’s still the case at the time of the writing of this article. 

Hopefully, in the future, Google will recognize that being 10 miles away isn’t as relevant to the searcher if they’re searching for a plumber or a chimney sweep versus a restaurant or retail shop. Personally, it doesn’t bother me if a plumbing company is 30 miles, or even 50 miles away. If they’re the best and they come to my area, I want to call them as opposed to whoever is closest. But for now, that’s kind of the world that we have to play in unfortunately. 

Another thing to note is this all varies widely depending on your market and your competition. 

The more saturated a market is, obviously, the more proximity plays into effect. Because there are so many companies fighting for a spot and they’re all close together, really the closest ones to the searcher are going to be shown, and it’s going to be harder for someone that’s just a little bit further out to show up for that search. 

Also, the more saturated the market is, the more likely it is that some of the other companies in the area are doing a good job with relevance and prominence. So just note that this may vary depending on your market and how saturated it is. 

Wrapping Up

Hopefully that gives you insight into how Google ranks businesses in Maps and what you can do to improve your ranking, even though you might not be all that close to the searcher. 

Proximity isn’t something we can’t really change a whole lot, but by increasing your relevance and your prominence, you have a better chance of ranking, even if you’re a little bit more removed from the searcher.

Thanks Christian!

Pssst. If you’re a client and you want to know more about any of this or you want specific help on what you can do in your specific case, definitely reach out to us and let us know. That’s what we’re here for!

The Answers To Your Top Facebook Ads Questions 

The Answers To Your Top Facebook Ads Questions 

Hey, I’ll be the first person to admit that I don’t know it all. And when it comes to Facebook Ads, I know just enough to get me in trouble. But good news: Today we’re picking the brain of Amber Krigbaum, our Digital Marketing Strategist and one half of our Facebook Ads Team. 

Ready to get answers to some of your most burning Facebook Ads questions? Let’s dig in…

Are Facebook Ads Worth It?

Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Yes, BUT…only if you take the time to learn the skill and actually invest in them. 

Facebook is something that you have to invest in and really learn about to be successful. Don’t just throw something up there, because it will not work. If you’re not going to put forth the effort and budget, Facebook Ads aren’t going to be worth it for you. 

Here’s why: Facebook relies on a learning algorithm, so it takes them time to really learn what your top customer looks like and how to get them to take a specific action. You have to give Facebook the time (and budget) to optimize and to learn what your end goal is. 

A lot of people want to try Facebook Ads for a week or a month and expect results overnight, but that won’t get you anywhere with Facebook. The goal of the algorithm is to get the highest quality people first, so that means they aren’t going to target everyone at the same time. 

That said, Facebook Ads are absolutely worth it if you’re willing to put forth the budget and effort. If you take the time to really learn how these ads work, monitor them, and put together creative that’s actually going to be effective for your business, you will see ROI. 

In fact, once you determine what your goal is and what you really want from it, Facebook makes it really easy to track everything and see the ROI. 

How Do I Advertise My Business Locally?

#1 Identify Your Target Market

The first step when advertising locally is to identify your target market and where they spend their time. 

  • What ages are they? 
  • What service areas do they live in/do you want to cover?
  • What habits do they have? (For instance: Where are they grocery shopping in your area? What news platforms do they listen to? What TV stations do they follow? Do they follow local schools? Do they shop at Home Depot?)

Most homeowners you want to reach will have Facebook or Instagram. And since they’re already spending time on there, you can reach them even before they’re looking for you.

With Google, customers have to already be searching for your business or services. Facebook puts the ad into their newsfeed, even if they might not be thinking about your services yet, so that trust is built.

#2 Define Your Goal

Next, you’ll want to determine your goal for your local advertising. 

Are you wanting to drive more traffic? Are you wanting your brand to be more recognized? Are you wanting people to call you?

The only platform that allows you to grow your brand recognition, expand your service areas, hyper-target specific service areas, and retarget customers in the decision making process is Facebook. 

#3 Choose A Campaign

If you’re using Facebook Ads, once you’ve identified your target audience and goal, you’ll need to decide what type of campaign you’re going to run. 

There are three campaign types that I recommend local businesses start out with:

  1. Video views campaign — It runs like a commercial, except on Facebook, so it’s a lot cheaper and a lot more targeted.
  2. Traffic campaign — The goal of this campaign is to get more people to visit your site. And since we’re using Facebook, you’ll get those people to your site at a cheaper cost than you would with Google. (Note: increased website traffic can have a positive effect on your ranking.)
  3. Reach campaign — If you have an audience of under 1 million, a reach campaign is the best one to run. As I said earlier, Facebook tries to get you the highest quality audience right off the bat. But reach campaigns don’t do that. They try to target everyone in that audience, so you’ll have the greatest reach, while also keeping that cost low for those smaller audiences.

#4 Determine A Budget

The last thing you want to do to get started advertising your business locally on Facebook is to decide on your budget. I always recommend at least $20 a day for at least three months to see results. If you’re only running one campaign, $10-$15 a day would also be sufficient. 

You can either schedule your ads to run continuously or you can schedule them to run just for periods of time. But to get started and to understand your audience and what Facebook can do for you, I would recommend that you run them continuously for those first three months. 

Special tip: After you launch your ads, let them run a week before making any changes. Facebook uses a learning algorithm and it needs that time to learn and see what they can do best. Don’t touch anything for a week or you’re never going to get out of the learning phase with Facebook, and you’ll just confuse Facebook, keeping your costs high. 

Can You Get Direct Leads From Facebook?

Absolutely! However, it’s important to note that when it comes to direct leads, Facebook is definitely for people further along in the buying process or people who have visited the site but didn’t take action. 

We do see calls and schedules with a lot of our clients, but it’s not like every person that sees a video is going to convert. So, it’s important to know how Facebook Ads fit into the larger marketing funnel.

How Much Do Facebook Ads Cost In 2019: A Cost Comparison Of Facebook Ads Vs. Google Ads, TV Ads & Newspaper Ads 

You’re probably wondering, in terms of cost-effectiveness, how does Facebook compare to other more traditional types of advertising? Let’s take a look…

Facebook Ads VS. Google Ads

A look at existing studies reveals that a ballpark cost for Facebook Ads for most industries is somewhere between $0.50 and two dollars per click. On average, small local businesses spend about $8,000 to $15,000 a year on Facebook Ads. These are businesses that like to stick to right around $20/day for advertising. Now, that’s great if you’re comparing it to Google. 

The average small business using Google Ads spends between $9,000-$10,000 per month. So that’s $100,000/year to get calls or traffic to their website. 

In other words, what you’d spend in a year for Facebook Ads is around the same as what you’d spend in a month for Google Ads, on average. But again, you have to remember that Facebook and Google are targeting different groups of people.

The four things we really use Facebook Ads for are:

  1. Conversions
  2. Website Traffic
  3. Brand Awareness
  4. Education

So that means we want people to watch videos, click, and visit your website. These people don’t have to be looking for your services, because we’re targeting them in Facebook, which is a platform people use for multiple purposes, not just when they need something. 

So you’re getting more traffic to your site at a cheaper price, and ads are hitting them earlier in the decision-making process. And since they’re already visiting their site, it’ll feel natural to go back to your site when they do need your services.

With Google, people are only going there with the intention of searching for your company name or a service that you offer. That means they are probably ready to book or make a decision on who they’re going to use. It’s only in this end-stage of the customer journey that they’re being shown Google Ads.

Bottom line: If you’re doing a direct cost comparison, Facebook Ads are cheaper than Google Ads, but they’re also different. They don’t produce the same hot leads, but they get people earlier on in the buying process, and without the customer actively seeking you or your services. 

That’s why Facebook Ads work so well in conjunction with Google Ads. They’re targeting different people at different stages.

Facebook Ads VS. TV Ads

For most of our clients, cost per impression with a well-developed Facebook campaign is around $0.15. That makes CPM (Cost Per 1,000 Impressions) unbelievably cheap…definitely under $5.00. Local commercials, on the other hand — which are a favorite way for local businesses to advertise — cost about $5 per 1,000 viewers for a 30-second commercial

The audience you reach with TV is completely dependent upon who is watching that TV station at that exact moment. You have no real control over who sees your ad, outside of zip codes and where the new station runs. So you have no way of knowing if your audience fits your target market — it may be made up of 10 year olds, apartment owners, millennials living with their parents, etc. 

With Facebook, everything is hyper-targeted. We know who we are targeting and we know that they’ll be shown that ad, no matter what time of day they visit Facebook or a partner site. And unlike the $5.00 minimum required by TV ads to reach a broad audience, the cost to reach a hyper-targeted audience through Facebook Ads tends to be more around $1.00 and under. 

Another benefit is that once an individual watches a video ad on Facebook, they can then be added to another retargeting audience and shown a special offer or an ad with testimonials and other trust builders. With a commercial/TV ad, once they watch it, that’s the end of engagement. There is nothing after that to keep them interested or to get them to engage with the brand.

Plus, with Facebook, you’re not limited to a 30-second commercial. You can run a six-second video, a 30-second video, a 10-minute video, or even an hour long video. It doesn’t matter how long it is, as long as people are engaging. 

Bottom line: With Facebook, you get cheaper, more targeted ads being shown to people you actually consider part of your target audience, and you can retarget and re-engage those individuals with other trust-building offers and incentives. 

Facebook Ads VS. Newspaper Ads

Okay, so Facebook Ads, on average, cost between $0.50 and $2.00 per click. How does that compare to newspaper ads?

Newspaper ads are actually pretty expensive! Depending on the paper, you may pay $12.00 for a black and white 4-inch ad and about $480 for a 10-inch ad. And again, your audience is limited only to people who buy the paper. Additionally, you can’t track if they’re actually looking at your ad in the newspaper — they may just pull out the Sports section. 

On Facebook, you can track how many people have seen your ad, how many people have clicked it, how many people visited the landing page — and more importantly, you can then retarget those people on Facebook. So you can use the money you’re saving by not buying a newspaper ad to show your Facebook ad to someone twice, rather than just once. 

Bottom Line: Facebook Ads are more affordable and more effective than newspaper ads, and it’s easier to track the ROI. 

So there you have your quick cost comparison breakdown. 

All that said, it’s stupid to think only about costs — you must also always consider ROI (Return On Investment). When deciding where to advertise and where to continue advertising, ask yourself:

  • Can I track the impact this has had on my business?
  • Is this making me money?
  • What effect is this having overall? 

Are Facebook Ads Effective For Small Businesses?

Absolutely. Here are the three main things Facebook Ads can do for your small business:

  • Build Brand Awareness — Facebook Ads can increase brand recognition and awareness on platforms where users are already spending their time. According to Pew Research, 68% of Americans use Facebook. That’s a lot of potential customers you could be reaching for your small business!
  • Increase Trust — Unlike Google Ads, which potential customers only see when searching for your business or your services in Google, Facebook Ads can hit people earlier in the buying process. Before your potential client has a plumbing problem or a chimney problem, they may see (through Facebook Ads) your company’s name and customer testimonials multiple times. So when they do have a problem and they’re ready to head to Google to make a search and make the call, the company name, services, and reputation are already ingrained in their brain, which results in more trust and an increased likelihood you’ll get the job.
  • Increase Website Traffic — Facebook Ads also drive more traffic to your website. While we can’t definitively say that more traffic = higher rankings, many of our Facebook Ads clients have seen an increase in website traffic and an overall boost in rankings. Causation? Maybe, maybe not. But when you have an increase in the number of people visiting your website (because of your Facebook Ads or for any other reason), Google does see that as a good indicator that you’re a relevant site that people value. And who do they want at the top of their search results? You guessed it: Relevant sites that people will find valuable!

Want some real world examples of how Facebook Ads help small businesses? Here are three quickies…

Chimney Industry

We have a chimney client who was using Google Ads, but felt they were still not reaching everyone in their potential audience. We started running Facebook Ads in conjunction with their Google Ads to see if we could help. 

We did a brand awareness campaign targeting people in their service area that hadn’t previously scheduled with them and a retargeting campaign targeting customers who had visited their site but had not taken a meaningful action. 

The result? They saw a 10% increase in profits for June-September 2018 vs. June-September 2017. 

Wildlife Removal Industry

Another client, this one a wildlife removal company, was ranking at the top of Google. But again, they knew they were only reaching the people already looking for them. They decided to give Facebook Ads a try, something none of their competitors were doing.

The result? Not only did they see a 30% increase in website traffic for June-September 2018 vs. June-September 2017, but they also saw an increase in overall brand awareness and engagement.

Masonry/Chimney Industry

Okay, one more. A masonry and chimney client was having trouble reaching new customers using Google alone. They also wanted to increase the value of their current customers by getting them to purchase more services and products. So, they decided to give Facebook Ads a try.

They used Facebook Ads to educate new potential customers in their service area,  retarget current customers, and introduce new/higher value services. 

The result of their efforts? They were able to increase the minutes of branded and educational videos watched by 6700% in March 2019-October 2019 compared to the same months in previous years.

Quick note: If you increase your budget beyond the $20/day mark and increase the effort you put forth, you could see even better results. It all depends on who you’re working with and how your targeting is going. 

What Should You Do If You Decide You Want To Give Facebook Ads A Try?

Curious about Facebook Ads and think you might want to give them a try? If you want to give it a go and see the results that I’m talking about, then here’s what you need to do:

  1. Commit to at least a three month trial period. Facebook needs time to learn what works, and so do you! 
  2. Create a goal, whether that is to drive more traffic to your site, to get more calls, to increase your brand presence, to expand into a new service area, whatever it may be. Put that goal on paper and see which metrics you would need to track to see if it’s successful. 
  3. Determine what type of campaign would best help you reach those goals. Facebook has over eight campaign types and each one of them works a little bit differently. So you need to be willing to test a few things in the beginning. 
  4. Determine what budget you have to put into these campaigns. If you don’t have at least $20 a day to put into these for at least three months, I would not try it. Stick to boosting your posts on Facebook instead. 
  5. Get creative with your ad creative and copy. If you have good photos or videos for your company, you can reuse those. But if you don’t, make sure you take some time to get some good photos of your technicians, your team, whatever you want to highlight in your ads. 
  6. Be willing to monitor Facebook. While Google and some other options out there kind of allow you to just set it, put some money behind it, and forget it, Facebook is not like that. Facebook is always changing, the results are always changing, so you need to be checking in at least once a week if you’re going to be running Facebook Ads.

Phew. Thanks Amber!

Ready to see what Facebook Ads can do for your business? Reach out to Amber at amber@sparkmarketer.com. She and Brena live and breathe this stuff!

Small Business Highlight: Shepard Painting Solutions, Louisville, OH

Small Business Highlight: Shepard Painting Solutions, Louisville, OH

We thought we’d do something a little bit different here on the ol’ Spark Marketer blog and feature a small business. Getting a look at things from the POV of those in the home services industry helps us stay informed, so we can better serve our clients. The moment we stop listening and being curious about what our clients are going through, what their challenges are, and what their goals are, is the moment we become unhelpful and irrelevant.

So, let’s dive in for a quick interview with Michael Shepard, owner/operator of Shepard Painting Solutions, an interior and exterior residential painting company in Louisville, OH.

Full disclosure: I’m sleeping with him. He’s my husband.

Michael-Shepard-of-Shepard-Painting-Solutions-Smiling-In-Front-Of-A-Decorative-Wood-Wall

Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about you, your business, and how you came to be the owner/operator of Shepard Painting Solutions.

My name’s Michael Shepard and I’m the owner/operator of Shepard Painting Solutions, a full service interior and exterior residential painting company servicing Louisville, OH and all surrounding areas.

Painting was a summer job for me — starting out about 15 years ago — that I always went back to between touring with my band. I worked for a local company that did interior and exterior residential painting and new construction here in Ohio. And that was really how I learned the skills of the trade. I never thought of it as a potential career until much, much later.

I guess at some point in time it sort of switched over and became something that I enjoyed doing. I began to enjoy the craft of painting instead of just thinking of it as a means to a paycheck. And I think that’s when I first started considering painting as a profession — when I learned to appreciate the skill of the craft and trade of painting.

What do you think changed? What flipped that switch for you?

I guess by random occurrence it was from doing a few jobs on my own, where I got to interact directly with the customer myself, and do the job start to finish. So everything was completely dependent upon me.

Do you think that made you take more pride in the work?

Absolutely.

What do you think business owners can do (if anything) to make employees feel that sense of pride and ownership?

Trust your employees enough to give them more responsibility and relinquish some of your control, so that they can feel the satisfaction of doing the job completely themselves. Still oversee everything directly, but assign more responsibility to employees to where they’re held accountable directly for their work. Reaping the reward of hard work will kind of force your employees to respect the work more.

White-Kitchen-Cabinets

So, perhaps where business owners fail is that they readily place the blame on employees when things go wrong, but the ownership goes to the boss for a job well done? They have all the risk but none of the reward?

Right.

If I had an employee and their skill was at a level where I thought they were ready to experience that feeling of ownership and satisfaction, I would do the introduction between the painter and homeowner, but I wouldn’t necessarily do anything else. I’d assign the job to them, let the homeowner know I’m here to oversee everything, but that he’s an excellent painter and he’s going to take care of the job from start to finish. Then I’d let him do the work.

If my boss had brought me to a job, introduced me to a customer and said, “This is Michael, he’s an excellent painter. He’s going to be painting your bedroom today. I’ll be back at the end of the day to make sure everything is perfect, but he’ll take great care of you.”…that would make me feel like, “I can do this. The power to satisfy the client is in my hands and I need to make sure it’s done well.”   

Do you think that empowering your employees and letting them get a taste of that feeling would actually cause them to leave? Maybe they would realize they can do everything themselves and don’t need you?

Maybe. Maybe not. Not everyone is in the game to start their own company. I guess it totally depends on your mindset for your business, but I think it’s worth the risk. If you have the mindset that you want to train people to the point where they are good enough to go out on their own and you empower your employees, you’re probably going to attract better people.

If they can see the job as an opportunity with a clear trajectory — going from no skills to getting the training needed to potentially go out and start their own business — they’re going to find that attractive, I think. Kind of the same way people think of college…when I get out, I’ll have more opportunities. It’s the same concept, just more practical.

“If you have the mindset that you want to train people to the point where they are good enough to go out on their own and you empower your employees, you’re probably going to attract better people.”

Grey-Brick-And-Siding-Exterior-Home-With-Red-Shutters

Speaking of the switch from a summer job to a career and the feeling that you get to experience with a customer, can you think of one of your earliest or most memorable times when you felt that?

Yeah, actually. I don’t remember the client’s name, but the painting company that I worked for in Nashville, my boss there was kind of a shady character and I didn’t particularly like working for him. And I feel like the clients didn’t particularly like him either — or at least a lot of clients didn’t.

But I remember that one specific job, I was sent to do the job, and the client commented and said that she really liked my work but she didn’t really like dealing with him. So she asked if she could just hire me directly and work just with me. I think that was the first time I had the thought that, “Wow I should just do this myself.”

So, even though you’re the type of person who had the drive and the self-motivation to run your own business, you may not have thought to leave and go out on your own if the company you worked for was better?

Well yeah, because I had no idea. To me that wasn’t even a possibility. I didn’t know how to just go out and get clients. I never thought about it before. I feel like that was the starting out point, because that happened on a few different occasions working for that company, where people liked my work, they liked me, so they wanted to work with me directly and not work with my boss. That’s how I got my first few clients in Nashville, and from there, word spread word-of-mouth and I was able to go out on my own.

What was the toughest part of that transition from being an employee to being everything?

Not knowing where the next job was gonna come from. Being uncertain of your paycheck.

Wood-Stained-Basement-Mancave

What has been the biggest surprise to you as your business has grown?

The biggest surprise? That it’s far simpler to have a really great business than I thought it would be. At least in this type of industry, a skilled trade industry. Because someone’s paying you to do a job that, essentially, if you do it well, you do what you say you’re going to do, you treat your clients with respect, and you’re professional, then I mean, that’s it. It’s easy to excel. Ok, maybe I shouldn’t say it’s easy, but the bar is set pretty low. It’s unfortunate that the bar’s set so low in the painting industry, but it’s like, if you’re clean cut, you’re responsible, and you’re honest, you’re better than 90% of the other businesses out there.

“It’s unfortunate that the bar’s set so low in the painting industry, but it’s like, if you’re clean cut, you’re responsible, and you’re honest, you’re better than 90% of the other businesses out there.”

What has been the toughest lesson you’ve learned going out on your own and growing your business?

The toughest lesson I guess is probably more on the technical end of the job, in regard to the business stuff. Like understanding how to schedule, how to keep jobs flowing so that you don’t get bogged down. Being able to spread things out enough, but not keeping clients waiting at the same time. That’s been the hardest thing to sort of figure out and balance, I guess.

Would you say that’s the biggest challenge at the level you’re at?

Yes, I would say that’s the biggest challenge for me right now, given that I’m the owner/operator and I have no employees. So I’m doing all of the scheduling and doing all the work. To make sure I’m not spreading myself too thin and that I’m able to accomplish jobs in a timely fashion. Basically, avoid burnout.

What are your goals for the business? Some people like to stay small while others want to grow to like 10, 20 trucks. Where do you see the business going?

I actually don’t know yet. I’ve heard cautionary tales from other contractors that I’ve worked with who have gotten their businesses so big that it was too stressful and they had to downsize. Which sounds like a good problem to have, but I feel like it wouldn’t be. So I’d rather grow slowly and just bring people on that I know and trust, and then see where it gets to, and how I feel about it.

Because it’s such a foreign concept to me, I can’t fathom the idea right now of having 10 Shepard Painting Solutions trucks running around doing 70 jobs. I just don’t know how I’d handle that. Right now I like the idea of having a small crew that’s going to cut down my job time from say, a week that it would take just me, to two days because I have three helpers. That, to me, is appealing. I think the most important thing is to never lose that intimacy with the clients. So that would be the challenge of growing…keeping that intact.

“I think the most important thing is to never lose that intimacy with the clients. So that would be the challenge of growing…keeping that intact.”

Red-Deck-In-Woods

When you are ready to hire or bring on that first person, what will you look for?

One major one is what their intention is for work. I wouldn’t want to hire someone who is just like, “Oh yeah, I just need a paycheck.” Because I feel like to be a good painter and to stand out in this profession, you really do have to have a sense of pride in what you’re doing. To do it well. Because there are corners that can be cut. But what makes you good is choosing not to cut them. Especially when no one’s watching.

There’s the type of person that wouldn’t cut corners just because they’re afraid of getting caught or because their boss is watching. And then there’s the type of person that won’t cut corners for their own pride. They won’t do it because they know it’s not the right thing to do. Their own convictions won’t allow them to cut corners. That’s the kind of person I would want.

But I think that would be the hardest trait to judge in a person. There’s probably a test I could come up with. I’ll have to figure it out.

I feel like some people are like, ‘Oh, you have to cut corners to go fast.’ That’s not true. Finding ways to be more efficient is my daily goal. I try to figure out ways to do things quicker, but still keep the quality at the same level. It has nothing to do with cutting corners.

Other things I would look at are appearance, professionalism, and how well spoken they are.

So many times I’m in situations where I go into people’s homes, and it might even be our first job together, and a lot of people just trust me. They give me the garage code and say things like, “I trust you.”

But I feel like they do that because I’m very professional. I act professional. I look professional. I know what I’m talking about. And chances are they’ve gotten a recommendation from someone they know. So if I send someone in there on behalf of my company, they have to be an extension of me. They have to be trustworthy and professional.

My first two questions would be 1. How long have you been painting? 2. Are you a smoker. If they said they were a smoker I wouldn’t hire them, flat out.

“Because I feel like to be a good painter and to stand out in this profession, you really do have to have a sense of pride in what you’re doing. To do it well. Because there are corners that can be cut. But what makes you good is choosing not to cut them. Especially when no one’s watching.”

Would you hire someone without experience if they were a total package otherwise?

Yeah. If they had the right attitude, I would train somebody. In a lot of circumstances I could see how that would actually be preferred, instead of un-training somebody with a lot of bad habits.

Thanks Michael!

Want to have your business featured on the Spark Marketer blog? Reach out to me at jessica@sparkmarketer.com!

3 Lessons From CMWorld That Every Business Owner Needs/Desperately Wants To Hear

3 Lessons From CMWorld That Every Business Owner Needs/Desperately Wants To Hear

I spent a few days at the beginning of the month in Cleveland for Content Marketing World, and Jesus, pleaseus was it amazing! Three days of intensive workshops and classes on everything a content marketer’s heart could desire — from analytics and email marketing to storytelling and scriptwriting. 

I saw faces I’d only ever seen at the bottom of blog posts or on webinars, and connected with some of my fav people in the biz. And of course, I shamelessly rolled on the ground with adoptable pups from City Dogs during Yappy Hour.

But I know you don’t care about how much I geeked out when I met Ann Handley or who drooled more during Yappy Hour, me or the dogs. So I’m going to skip ahead and share three takeaways from the conference that I think we all — content marketers and business owners alike — need to hear. 

Ready?

#1 Be realistic.

You know the rockstar of your industry? The guy everyone’s always talking about? His name is now a synonym for “success” and — you’re not jealous — but yeah, maybe you roll your eyes a little when his name comes up in conversation.

We all have those people.

As a content marketer, we compare ourselves to Redbull, Wendy’s, Nike, Zappos, [Insert big, successful brand here.] They’re doing such amazing work, engaging with audiences, and seemingly having waaaaay more fun than the rest of us. 

But here’s the thing: we’re not the same. 

The creative team for Nike likely consists of more than one person. But here, it’s just me, and my time and energy is focused in 403,939,482,039 different directions. Not because I want it to be, but because that’s my reality. When you have a small team or a one-man/woman team, you have to wear multiple hats.

What about you — who are you comparing yourself to? That rockstar who has 50 more employees than you do? Let’s say it together: “I’m not him.” And that means your business doesn’t have to look like his. 

Do you feel any relief? Are your shoulders slowly inching away from your ears? Good, because the best thing you can do is be realistic. 

Sure, you can take ideas and strategies from businesses that inspire you, that are big and successful, and marry them to where you are in your business. But your momma told you and I’ll tell you again: stop trying to be someone else. 

You can take lessons and strategies from the rockstars and see where and how they make sense for your business. But remember, you’re not them, and no one is asking you to be. Be you!

#2 Stop trying to do everything, everywhere.

This is #1’s equally incapacitating cousin. We try to do it all and we try to do it all well. It’s a natural instinct for go getters, self-motivators, and those with entrepreneurial spirits, but some of it comes from external sources…

There are webinars and blog posts and thought leaders telling us we have to:

  • be on every social media platform the moment it pops into existence
  • market everywhere our audience is
  • offer more services and meet every single client need or want
  • start a podcast, a video series, a training school…
  • do it all better, faster, and more profitably
  • oh, and find balance while we’re at it.

Don’t you wish you could just tell everyone to shut up? You can. I give you permission. 

To paraphrase Joe Pulizzi, you’re not Ryan Seacrest, so stop trying to be everything to everyone, everywhere. 

And here’s the big secret: when you stop Seacresting, you’ll be waaay less stressed and waaay more effective. Yup, every push, every minute, will have more impact on your business. And isn’t that what you really want anyway? 

It comes back to accepting your reality: there’s only one of you and you can be much more effective if you split your energy three ways instead of 30. As a business owner, that may mean learning to delegate so you can get some things off of your plate. It may mean cutting your services down or holding off on adding new services until you’re staffed and ready. 

Figure out what you can cut back on and what deserves more of your time and energy. Think about which efforts will really move the needle. See which ones are already making a difference and think about what could be if you dedicated more time and energy to X, Y, Z, instead of A-Z. 

#3 Take one action item from every learning opportunity. 

This one was repeated multiple times during Content Marketing World and I think it’s what allowed me to come back from the conference with a plan and not a conference hangover. 

Ready for it? Write down one action item from every learning opportunity, whether you’re listening to a fav podcast, reading a book, attending a conference, summit, or convention, or just having a conversation with one of your mentors. Keep every actionable item in a notebook or a note on your phone, and revisit them when you’re planning your week.

Remember, you can’t do it all, but you can do something. So, lose the comparisons, let go of your attachment to the outcome, and just try something. Don’t try to tackle every item on your list at once — instead, pick one, maybe two a month, and put as much energy and time as you can into making it happen. 

One Last Thing…

Okay, actually there is one more lesson…Go to conferences, trade shows, conventions, and trainings whenever you get the chance! 

Whether it’s the NCSG Convention, Service World Expo, International Roofing Expo, HPBExpo, or a smaller training or summit, try to get to at least one a year. And when you do, make sure to share what you learn with others. You never know who needs to hear it. 

I mean, did you ever think you’d learn anything applicable for your service business from something as nerdy as a content marketing conference? 😉