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!

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? 😉

Office Max & The Time-Wasting, Friction-Creating Virtual Line

If you’ve ever made copies or prints at Office Max, you know two things:

  1. Chances are good you’ll be the only customer at the copy/print counter.
  2. On a busy day, you’ll have to wait 5 minutes.

You also know it’s a pretty straightforward process. You walk up to the counter, hand the clerk your flash drive (or whatever you have your images on), tell him what you need to have printed or copied, how many you need, and what sizes you need. That’s it.

It’s as simple as it gets. Or, it was…

About a month ago I went into my usual Office Max to have some prints made. It’s where I always go when I’m making wood transfers, and it usually takes me no more than 5 minutes to get in, get what I need, and get out.

I’ve never seen more than four customers in Office Max at a time, and they’re usually scattered about, not waiting in line for prints or copies. So you can imagine my surprise when I walked up to the copy/print counter to find this sign:

Save-Time-Join-The-Line-Sign-At-Office-Max

According to the sign, this process was added to “better help” my shopping experience, and to “ensure prompt and timely service!”

Now, instead of going right up to the desk to be helped immediately, I have to stop short of the desk, read this, and download the app (no effing way Office Max) or text a code to a number.

With no one else in line, isn’t that actually wasting my time?

I thought so too, so even though I’m a millennial, I went the low-tech route, using my eyes to decipher that I was the only one waiting.

I skipped past the sign and went straight up to the counter, only to be told by the clerk that, before he could help me, I would have to go through the 3 “simple” steps. Ya know, to save time?

“Even though there’s no line?” I asked.

Yup.

I gave in. I texted the code to the number, but nothing happened.

Together, the clerk and I waited. After a few moments, he said he’d have to manually add me to the line so he could help me.

Day one: not impressed with this change.

The next time I went in for prints, I texted the number — although it was painful because I’m a woman of principle. Did this miraculous time-saving system save me any time this time?

Here are the texts I received:

Office-Max-Print-Queue-Texts-Telling-Wait-Times

As usual, I was the only one there, but I still received a “Your est. wait is now 5 min” text.

Thankfully, my favorite clerk was working this time, and when he saw me standing there he asked how he could help —  without waiting for the “OK” from the virtual queue.

Quick side note on text #3: Why in the holy hell would I need more time if I literally joined the line to save time? UGH.

I couldn’t help myself. I asked the clerk what he thought of this new system. His response, “I mean, I guess I get what they’re trying to do. But if it’s not broken, why fix it?” Did I mention he’s my favorite clerk?

I joked with him when he was handing me my prints, saying, “Good news, my estimated wait is now 1 min.”

When I finally received the “You have reached the front of the line!” text, I wasn’t even in the store anymore. I was over at Books-A-Million feeding my book addiction, which made me wonder, who was I waiting behind in this virtual line? There was no physical line, and if I had relied on the system to tell me when I could be helped, I would have been waiting for at least 10 minutes, pointlessly.

Whoever’s brainchild this was, if they’d actually gone through the process, they would have realized that they weren’t saving customers time, they weren’t better helping their shopping experience — they were adding friction. They were making what should be easy, more complicated, and dressing it up as a time-saving, beneficial thing for their customers.

What were they really trying to do? Get more people to download their app or give them their phone number? They certainly weren’t trying to save any time — and if they were, they failed miserably. My guess is that nowhere in the world is the copy/print counter of Office Max so slammed that this virtual line queue actually saves anyone time.

But hey, let’s not be too hard on Office Max. Adding friction seems to be a favorite past-time for a lot of businesses. But it’s a big mistake…

Are You Adding Friction?

Think about it: we want people to buy what we’re selling. So why do we sometimes make it harder for our customers to do just that? Why do we create friction in the buying process? Why do we insert steps and hoops to jump through in processes that are already as streamlined as it gets?

Are you making the same mistake as Office Max?

I get it, it’s easy to see these things from the outside. It’s easy for me to walk into an Office Max and — as a customer who’s done things pre-process and post-process — realize that this time-saving step is actually time-wasting and frustrating.

But that’s why it’s so important that you actually go through the steps and processes you’re asking your customers to go through to buy. You need to experience it outside of your mind, outside of a meeting.

So my challenge for you is to take some time this month to have the customer experience. Are you adding friction for your customers? Are you making it harder for them to buy from you or use your services? See what it’s like to do business with you from their POV.

If you spot friction — even if it’s in a process that was designed to make things easier or more convenient — be honest with yourself. Do you really need that added step?

Your aim should always be to eliminate friction and make it as easy as pie for your customers to reach into their wallets and hand you their money. Buying from you should never feel like going to the DMV. You’ve got what they want — let them have it!

For more on eliminating friction in the workplace, check out Roger Dooley’s new book on the subject. I haven’t had a chance to read it but he’s always very insightful so I’m sure it’s brilliant.

5 Questions To Consider Before Making The Office Millennial Your Social Media Manager

5 Questions To Consider Before Making The Office Millennial Your Social Media Manager

You’re proud of yourself. You looked past the stereotypes and hired a millennial. And you did what a lot of business owners do: you put your token millennial in charge of managing your business’s social media accounts. 

But is the office millennial really the best person for the job? Sure, they might know how to navigate all of the platforms better than you do. After all, you don’t know what the heck a “story” is in relation to social media or why you would want to post one. 

But there’s more to nailing social media than just getting familiar with the platforms. So, if you put a millennial in charge of your business’s social media just because of their age, here are five questions to ask yourself to determine if you’ve made the right choice:

  1. Do they know my audience? Your millennial employees may know everything there is to know about Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, but do they know your audience? The only way social works for businesses is if it connects with your customers. And in order to connect, you have to know the people you’re attempting to connect with. You have to know their likes, their dislikes, their values, their pains, their wants, their needs, etc. If you go out there and start posting without considering who your audience is and what will resonate with them, you risk offending them, excluding them, or even worse, disengaging them. The moment you lose their trust or attention, you’ve failed. So make sure your social media manager intimately knows, not just the social media platforms they’ll be using, but also the audience they’ll be engaging with.
  2. Do they know my brand? If there’s one thing people hate about brands on social media, it’s when they’re inconsistent or do things that don’t align with who the brand is and what it stands for. When you do things that don’t make sense for your brand or you contradict yourself on social media, the results can be disastrous. Your customers will know and they will comment when you appear to take a stand for something in a post that doesn’t align with your company and its values.So before you put someone in charge of your social media just because they’re digital natives, make sure they know your brand inside and out and can effectively represent you on all channels. 
  3. What is their grasp of CTAs (calls to action)? The point of social media is to engage with your customers and potential customers. It’s not a one-sided conversation or a way to shout at your audience. But in order to engage, build relationships, and see a return on your investment in social media, you need to have clear, concise, effective CTAs on your posts. A lot of brands nail this by asking questions or urging people to take specific actions or click the link in their bio. But all CTAs are not equal, and your social media manager needs to have a good understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Don’t assume that your office millennial is nailing the CTAs — that’s not a given just because you “get” social media.
  4. Do they know regulations and what to avoid for legal reasons? Social media can get you into a lot of trouble if you do it wrong. You could lose customers or even be sued or fined. Each platform has its own rules and regulations, and there’s a lot to consider in terms of how to use each platform and what to say/not say. Is your millennial social media manager familiar with these rules and regulations or are you just assuming they know what to do/what not to do because they’re socially savvy? Assuming is a bad call and could put your business at risk of a lawsuit, fine, or other issue, so make sure they have a good understanding of this important aspect of social media.
  5. What are their intentions? At the end of the day, your social media manager should be connecting with your customers and making your brand look better. Is that the goal of the office millennial you’ve put in charge of your social? Think about it: How good will your social media manager’s decisions be if he or she is only using your business’s platform to solidify his or her place as an influencer? Hey, it’s happened. We’ve seen it. So make sure you and your social media manager are aligned in terms of the goals, purpose, and intentions behind your social media decisions and actions.

Have You Picked The Right Person For The Job?

Your office millennial may be a great fit for the social media manager role, but it’s not a given. Take the time to really consider whether or not you’ve put the right person in place or if you need to spend some time reconsidering or educating your social media manager. Being a millennial does make the social media game a little bit easier — but it’s not a guarantee for success. There’s more to that recipe!

When Does The Customer Experience Really Begin?

When Does The Customer Experience Really Begin?

Meatsgiving.

It was a potluck event doomed from the start.

Your vegetarian cousin, Sarah, graciously sat through the entire 4 hour affair pensively spooning the only vegetarian dish on the table (the spinach souffle she’d *thankfully* brought) into her mouth, while everyone else raved about “How delicious all of the turkey dishes were in their own unique way.”

Poor Sarah.

It seemed Aunt Shirley hit SEND and then NEVER again checked her email to see who was bringing what…And so, Thanksgiving turned out to be Meatsgiving.  

Truth is: Thanksgiving was supposed to be a wonderful time and a wonderful meal for everyone at the table. Aunt Shirley didn’t set out to make anyone feel excluded or uncomfortable.

But because she was so busy thinking about what tablecloth she was going to put out and where she was going to seat everyone, she forgot to do the most important thing: prep the guests.

The event was unforgettable, just not in the way Aunt Shirley had hoped.

But hey, let’s not be so hard on Aunt Shirley.

After all, it’s a mistake we all make: we fail to realize that a lot of the “experience” is determined by things that happen before the “start.”

The Experience Before The Experience

As a business owner, hopefully you’ve put a lot of thought into that “first impression” — from the uniforms and name tags your techs wear to the trucks they show up in and the ways they greet the customer.

That alone will put you ahead of the competition, considering that a lot of the “other guys” show up reeking of cigarettes and last night’s handle of Evan Williams. But are you still missing something?

Is this really the “first impression”?

What about every interaction and encounter your customer has with your company before you even show up to do the work?

Are those “experiences” working to prep your customers for the service appointment?

Are they communicating the right message and setting your techs up for success?

Or are they introducing disappointment to your customer’s mind before your team ever steps foot into their home?

Truth is, if you only think about the experience your customer is having or the impression your company is giving once you’re at their door or in their home, you’re missing out on a big part of the experience and the power and responsibility you have to prep your customers.

What can you be doing before the actual appointment to guide and shape the customer experience?

What can you be doing to get your customer ready so they know what to expect?

These are things you need to think about if you truly want to make a great “first impression” and avoid being like Aunt Shirley on Meatsgiving.

So take some time to inspect every interaction and encounter your customer will have along the journey — from your website and ads to scheduling and any other communication that happens (or should happen) leading up to the appointment.

Consider the whole experience. ‘Cos your customers sure will!

P.S. If you want to read a super interesting book that covers the concept of gathering and can help you conduct better business, better meetings, better dinner parties, and better gatherings of all kinds, check out Priya Parker’s The Art of Gathering. It’s eye-opening!

The Time Saving Tools & Apps Every Small Business Owner Needs

The Time Saving Tools & Apps Every Small Business Owner Needs

When you’re a kid, it can feel like time is stretched out, never-ending, slow like honey. Especially when you’re grounded or waiting for school to end. But as adults, we don’t have that problem. Time just flies. That’s especially true for business owners, who have the herculean task of getting three days worth of work done in a single 24 hour period.

It would be a lot cooler if we were here to share a time-slowing or stopping secret with you — and if we did, this post would probably go viral — but we’re realists. We know we can’t alter our reality or yours, but we can certainly make use of time-saving tools, tactics, and apps to make it seem like we’re slowing and stretching time. And that’s good enough for us.

So what are some of the best time-saving tools, tactics, and apps for business owners?

Managing your business & your customer data

Running a business is never easy, but with the right CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, it can be easier. Tools like Housecall Pro and Jobber allow you to easily manage your team, send quotes, schedule, send invoices, and get paid. Both also sync with Quickbooks, saving you the extra step of adding the numbers after a job is done. If you’re ready to save hundreds of hours and free up some time, you need a good CRM, so check these guys out.

Keeping your eyes on the numbers

Every growing business needs accounting software that will grow with it. That’s where Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and other similar tools come in. Easily track income and expenses, send estimates, send invoices and accept payments, organize receipts, manage bills, track time, and more. If you’ve been living spreadsheet to spreadsheet, save yourself time and headache by switching to accounting software. Plans are affordable and there’s something for every business, regardless of size.

Managing company files, data, and SOPs, while using a professional company email address

GSuite is Google’s solution to data and storage management, but it also allows you to create multiple “@yourcompany.com” email addresses so any customer-facing employees can send professional looking emails to customers (for example, you@yourcompany.com or sales@yourcompany.com). You can also create group mailing lists, manage mobile devices (even erase data), and store important company documents that your team needs access to on the go.

Communicating with your team

Communication only gets harder with each employee added, but with the right tools, team communication can be simplified. Need to alert your whole team to a change or issue or create specific groups? Even if you’re out on the job and don’t have time to take off your gloves and type it all up, there are ways to get the message out there to everyone you need to communicate with. For text-based communication, there are apps like Slack and GroupMe, and for voice-based communication with the option for text, try Voxer. All three allow you to share photos and videos and communicate with groups or individuals, but Voxer and GroupMe also allow you to share your location, which is a bonus for service area businesses.

Managing HR & benefits

Everyone knows HR can be a real headache, and the more employees you have, the harder things get. But with GoCo, an all-in-one HR platform, it’s easy to manage payroll, time off, benefits, etc. You’ll have all of your employee information in one place, and there’s even a built-in compliance component so you know your butt is covered.

Managing team and personal tasks, lists, and projects

No one wants to micromanage, but every business owner wants to know what’s getting done, when, and by whom. That’s where project management platforms like Trello, Wunderlist, Teamwork, and Monday come in. Trello allows you to create boards, lists, and cards, and is great for visualizing where you are in a process and what’s next. Wunderlist is great for creating and assigning lists and tasks, and setting reminders for yourself or others. You can also add due dates, comments, and tags. With Teamwork, you can create projects, assign and check off tasks, comment, and view workflow by individual, due date, and project. You can also set it up so that email notifications go out to the responsible individual every time a task is assigned to them. Monday is similar, but what makes this great is that you can view things six different ways, so no matter how you prefer to conceptualize projects in your mind, Monday can accommodate.

The best news? All of these platforms are accessible from your phone, desktop, or tablet, so no matter where you are, you can see what’s going on and what needs to be done.

Managing your time

Need to buckle down and spend some time in the office? Wondering how long your day-to-day tasks take? While some of the tools we’ve already listed have time-tracking features, if you’re looking for a tool that does that and that alone, try Pomodoro Tracker, Tomato Timers, Toggl, or TomatoTimer. All of these apps are based on the Pomodoro Technique for productivity, and break down work into intervals with short breaks. Great for hunkering down, focusing, and getting higher-quality work done. Plus, they help you get an idea of how long each task takes, so you can better plan and schedule in the future.

Managing social posts

A lot of business owners hate the social media aspect of business management, but you’ve got to be where people are looking and engage with your customers and potential customers. That means you need to be regularly posting on the social media channels that make sense for your business.

But figuring out what you’re going to post on social and making sure it gets scheduled and posted doesn’t have to be super time-consuming. Tools like Canva make it easy to create graphics and find photos for social posts, and Hootsuite and Buffer make scheduling, posting, and analyzing performance/engagement simple and fast. So if you’ve been overwhelmed trying to manage social media in-house, rest assured, there’s help.

Managing trip details and hotel arrangements for conventions, expos, and that dream vacay

The devil’s in the details, and whether you’re trying to keep track of your own travel arrangements or the arrangements of several people from your team, it’s easy to miss something, lose something, and get overwhelmed. Take the stress out of things by using a tool like Tripit. Simply forward all of your booked arrangements to plans@tripit.com and receive a master itinerary that’s accessible from any device. The pro version even allows you to receive real-time flight alerts, locate alternate flights, find out if a better seat is available, get fare refund notifications, share plans, and track rewards. Forget about printing all the details and fumbling through your bag to find the information you need. Keep it all together with Tripit.

Managing your knowledge and growth

As a business owner, it can be hard to find the time to invest in learning and growing as an individual and a leader on top of everything else. And it can also be hard to ask your team to invest in growth when they already have packed schedules. But thanks to podcasts and apps like Audible, it’s easy to learn and grow on the go.

Driving to or from a job? Sitting in traffic? You and your team can make use of this otherwise wasted time by listening to an audiobook or podcast and adding to your knowledge. Now, there are no more excuses for why you didn’t finish that business book. You can even pay for Audible memberships for employees as incentives!

Managing follow-ups and open estimates

While CRMs like Housecall Pro and Jobber can help you send invoices and quotes, you still have to manually take care of the follow-up. That means either setting aside time every week to go through the stack of open estimates, make calls, and send emails, or just hoping that anyone who’s interested will eventually call to schedule. Neither is a very good option, and you could end up leaving some big money on the table if you’re doing things that way.

Closing Commander is a system that automatically follows up with every customer you add up to 7 times, and makes it easy to track opens, responses, and won bids all in one dashboard. The best part? All emails come from and go to your business email address, so nothing looks automated or spammy, and you won’t miss a single message. Save time, close more estimates, and know the follow-up is getting done.

Now Go Forth & Save Time

Well, that about wraps it up! We could, of course, make this list longer, but this is all about time-savings, so why would we? Thanks for sticking it out with us, and let us know in the comments what your favorite time-saving tools and tactics are!