Happy November! Where has the year 2013 gone?! It is already getting to be that time when you need to start planning for end of the year taxes. By planning ahead, you can avoid extra fees and charges. We’ve decided to share a couple of tips to make the next couple of months a bit easier and less stressful on your small business:
• Work with a bookkeeper to help reconcile accounts and assure your books are up to date.
• Make sure that your bank statements match you QuickBooks file.
• Send out a W-9 to your subcontractors to fill out so you can file a 1099 Form for them.
• Add any QuickBooks journal entries that your accountant has given you for the past year, if you haven’t done so already. Your accountant will most likely charge you if he or she has to enter them.
• Mark your calendar for when you need to give your accountant the company information so your accountant can file your tax returns. If you are late, an extension is filed, and you are charged for the extension.
• Talk to your accountant about tax planning – make sure you and your accountant have a game plan for the end of the year. Sit down and have a chat so you know how much money you will owe and how much you need to start saving.
Stay tuned for more end of the year tax planning tips coming in December!
Readers, do you have any tips or strategies you use to successfully plan for end of the year taxes?
Whether you are a professional speaker or coach, or a service provider who wants to engage your clients, holding an event is a great way to engage with your audience. An event may be an educational seminar, an online webinar, a social event for your clients, or simply attending a trade show.
If you want your event to be successful, you need to be sure to market it properly. Here are 5 things to consider when marketing your next event:
Event Registration Pages
Attract people to your event with amazing registration pages on your website. A clear description of the event and simple registration instructions will boost attendance dramatically. Don’t crowd your page with too many links or other offers. Make sure it’s only purpose is to get people to sign up for the event.
Boost interest for your event with well designed, engaging invitations to your prospects. A winning email campaign is a vital step to growing interest for your event. As with your event page, keep the emails simple and give them only one action to take.
After they sign up for the event, be sure to remind them as it approaches with reminder emails. Especially with free events or webinars, getting them to sign up isn’t as hard as getting them to follow-through and actually attend.
Social Media Promotions
Use Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, or any other relevant channel to build anticipation of the event. Finding where your target audience is and engaging them there is the best way to raise turnout.
Facebook Event Promotion
Create a Facebook event page to promote your class or webinar. This will allow your attendees to invite their friends to grow your event’s reach. It also allows attendees to interact with you and each other leading up to the event. This will reduce the number of no-shows by keeping them involved!
Create follow up emails and offers to keep your attendees engaged with your business. If converting your audience into customers is your goal then a strong follow-up procedure is an absolute must!
No matter what event you are organizing or attending, you can use these tips to boost interest and attendance. Can you think of anything else? What have you done in the past to enhance your event success?
Many people only think of Social Media as Facebook and Twitter. In reality, there are hundreds of social media websites that you can use to communicate with people.
However, the goal isn’t to get a profile up on all 500 and sit back and wait for the business to come in. Instead, choose 2-3 networks that you feel really fit your business and engage with them fully.
For most businesses, the networks they should focus on are Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. If you want to try out some other sites after you’ve got a handle on your top 3 that’s great too.
Here are some of the sites you might not know about. Think about which of these you could use to benefit your business. Or if you’re already doing well on 2-3, think about which you’d like to try out.
These social news websites share links and news stories categorized by users’ interests. These sites can be used to post blog links to bring traffic to your website and increase search engine ratings. They can also be great places to find fun or interesting things to share.
This is a question and answer network where users ask questions organized by topics and other users answer them. If you’re an authority in your field or think you might have some knowledge to share this is a great site.
These photo-sharing sites allows users to create collections of pictures based on different categories. This site is useful for businesses that sell products online or have a visual way to represent their service.
This network is specifically for remodelers, home designers, and decorators. It allows you to create a profile of your work and it allows people to add your pictures to their project’s “ideabooks”. To get in front of people looking to remodel or redecorate their homes it is the best tool.
This is by no means a complete list. Even clicking the share button at the bottom of this blog will give you a hundred options of different networks. Find a few that you think will work for you and get to networking!
This Halloween, let’s talk about awakening the dead; all of the dead marketing you’ve collected over the years.
If you’ve tried to write flyers, blogs, or other marketing material you probably have a graveyard of old files somewhere. Instead of letting those files go to waste you can reuse them for your business.
No matter what content you have or how old it is, it can be useful if it talks about your business or can educate your clients and prospects. In order to reach your audience you need plenty of marketing content in many different forms. Here are a few ways you can reuse old material:
Use old marketing to educate
If you have a flyer or old pages from your website that you don’t use anymore, don’t just keep them in their grave. Resurrect them as educational content like blogs or videos. As long as you can change the focus from sales to educating people about how your business works it will be valuable.
Transfigure old content
If you’ve been blogging for a while and have a backlog of great posts, don’t just let them collect dust. Use the information in new ways like creating an infographic or an educational video. Your clients and prospects all absorb information differently. Someone who might not read a blog might be more willing to view a slideshare presentation.
Give it away for free
If you have information that you used to charge for but don’t use anymore, like coaching materials or an information packet, consider giving it away for free. A simple form on your website can collect new prospect’s information in exchange for your great, free information. This is an excellent way to get new leads and provide them value.
After all the Halloween festivities are done tonight think about what you might have lying around that you can turn into new content for your business.
If you want some more business lessons check out our free Secret to Success Mini-Course. It’s an old consulting course we used to offer that you can now get for free!
Can you really do much with social media for contractors?
I was talking to someone about the kinds of businesses we do social media for and I mentioned contractors. He asked this question.
It got me thinking, if he thought that, it’s a good bet there are plenty of contractors and remodelers who think that too.
Service providers, especially contractors, remodelers, landscapers, and plumbers, can benefit greatly from connecting with their new and old customers as much as possible.
Social Media strategy should complement and enhance your customer relationship management. (Tweet this quote.) Adding a social layer to your customer interactions will benefit you by:
- Making it easier for you to interact with customer during sales process- Sites like Houzz and Pinterest allow customers to find examples of things they like. Instead of clipping pictures out of home magazines, people are finding and sharing home designs online. Houzz and Pinterest both have features where you can create an ideabook that both you and your customer can view and add pictures to.
- Getting more reviews and testimonials- If they are already connecting with you on LinkedIn or Houzz it’s easier for them to send you a review through one of those sites. Testimonials can be useful on your website but it isn’t the best way to get them read. Houzz, LinkedIn, and Google+ put customer reviews front and center, so when someone finds you, they immediately see the proof of your good work.
- Staying fresh in the customers’ mind- 70% of customers… Staying in contact with your customers even after the job is done is extremely important. When they see your helpful tips and blogs on their Facebook and LinkedIn pages they will be sure to remember you.
- Ultimately, getting more referrals- A better sales process, more reviews, and a long-term presence with former clients leads them to send their friends to you more often.
Every strategy should go with how your business already successfully services clients and attracts new clients. Here’s an example of a customer interaction if you were engaged in social media:
- A prospect calls for information because a friend referred them to your LinkedIn page.
- Invite the prospect to connect on LinkedIn through your mutual connection, the referrer.
- After you’ve spoken to the prospect and they have scheduled a consultation, set up a Houzz ideabook/Pinterest board based on the project they discussed. Invite them to collaborate on the ideabook so you can both add pictures/ideas. Go over these ideas during the consultation process.
- After the project is finished take as many pictures as possible. Offer to share the pictures with the customer over Facebook/Pinterest so they can have high resolution pictures of their new space to share with friends.
- Ask them to review your work through LinkedIn/Houzz.
- Now that you are connected on various social networks they will see your updates with helpful tips and blogs.
- A friend is thinking of starting a project and asks your customer if they know anyone. Your customer knows you’re still around because they see updates from you and they can now send their friend your information through LinkedIn/Facebook/Houzz/etc.
Does this sound like a strategy you could adopt? Some contractors and remodelers don’t think they have time for social media but when you think of it as an addition to your current customer interactions it shouldn’t add much time at all.
Anything that you do on social media that I didn’t cover? Let me know in the comments!
What exactly is an objection? RainMaker Blog, an excellent resource popular among B2B professional services providers, defines an objection as “an explicit expression from a buyer that a barrier exists between the current situation and what he needs to engage your services.” Examples include a comment that the product or service you are trying to sell is too expensive, unnecessary, or not as good of a value as a competitor’s offer. The question then becomes, how do you eliminate these objections and sort through any of the clients’ doubts to achieve a sale?
The following lists some useful tips in handling common client objections:
- Remember that objections are not necessarily a bad thing. True objections reveal to us the clients’ values and beliefs, and expresses to you, the salesperson, that a client is genuinely interested. In fact, acclaimed corporate trainer, strategic mastermind, and business growth expert Chet Holmes preaches that “an objection is an opportunity to close.”
- Recognize the entire objection. In order to ease any tension that may arise, remember to listen very carefully and not to interrupt when the client is stating an objection. Break down the reasons to why there is an objection and you’ll get to the root of the concern.
- Sympathize with the client’s feelings. Remain neutral by acknowledging that others may have the same objections as the client – you can even go as far as to thank the client for identifying it.
- Foresee objections. Many objections are very similar, and, therefore, easy to predict and overcome. According to Pam Lantos, President of PR/PR, a public relations firm based in Orlando, FL, “after a few months in any industry, salespeople have heard most of the objections they will hear over and over again for years.”
- Pay attention to the nonverbal cues. Watch for positive and enthusiastic signs, such as nodding or smiling, coming from the client. These will signal greater cooperation as you try to make the sale.
- Know the difference between an excuse and an objection. While there is no perfect method to determine whether a client who says “I can’t afford this” is politely refusing your presentation or actually means that the product is too expensive, try your best through observation and questioning to discover the clients’ true feelings.
Hey readers, what are some of your client objections? What strategies have you used to overcome them?
Do you have a Facebook page that no one is going to even though you’re putting out awesome updates? Do you have a blog that no one is reading even though your blog writing is the lovechild of T.S. Eliot and J.K. Rowling? Trying to isolate these marketing strategies and expect people to find them is setting you up for failure. You need to integrate all of the marketing you do so that it works together.
Use your social media to drive traffic to your blog. Use your blog to send people to your social media.
Here are a few ways you can improve the success of your website and of your social media by tying them together.
Add Social Share Buttons
Adding social media links to your website is an easy way for people to find you on social networks and for people to share your content on their own networks. There are two types of social buttons you should have on your website.
Follow me: These are links to your social media accounts. You can also include live feeds of your accounts to show friends of the person that are following you on Facebook or a view of your most recent Tweets. This will increase visits to your social media pages.
WordPress Plugin: Add This Follow
Share: These are buttons that allow people to easily share your blogs to their social media accounts. This will increase traffic to your blogs.
WordPress Plugin: Add This Share
Mention your social media posts in your blog
If you have a specific Facebook promotion or an interesting question that isn’t on your blog you can mention it at the bottom of your post and give people a link to go to your Facebook to join in the discussion.
Example: You’ve probably heard people say to never go to bed angry. Do you agree? Are there times when it’s better to let the argument go? Join the discussion on our Facebook here.
Example 2: If you enjoyed this blog check out our Twitter where I share other great articles and fun information I’ve found.
Embed Social Posts in Your Blog
You can go a step further and now embed Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ posts right into your blog. To do this, go to the post you want and click on the options menu and choose “Embed Post”. For Facebook and Google+ this is a small arrow in the top right of the post. For Twitter it’s under “more” at the bottom of the post.
This gives you an html code with instructions on how to get it onto your site. Your finished product will look like this:
Include links to tweet quotes from your blog
If short excerpts from your blog would make good tweets, set up a link to make it easy for someone to tweet them. You can set it up so they include your twitter name and a link back to your blog in the tweet so people will know the quote came from you.
www.Clicktotweet.com: Enter what you want your tweet to say and it will generate a link. When they click the link it will send them to their twitter account with the message written and ready to be posted.
Example: Complain only to the one who can do something about it. (Tweet this quote.)
Creates: “Complain only to the one who can do something about it.” http://buff.ly/GPMhXy @katehylandmerc
Add Google Authorship to Blog Writers
We’ve covered Google+ authorship in a recent blog. It allows you to associate an author on your website with that author’s Google+ profile. Then, when an article appears in search results, the author’s photo will appear alongside the result, giving searchers an option to add the author to his or her circles and view other articles written by the author.
Set up google authorship: https://plus.google.com/authorship
I hope you find these tips useful for improving your blog and social media efforts. If you enjoyed this blog check out our Twitter where I share other great articles and fun information I’ve found. (See what I did there?)
I’m staring at the publish button of a big email campaign we’ve been working on for the last couple months. Everything is ready to go, but my mouse keeps hovering over the button to actually launch the thing. Maybe I’ll just tweak one small thing first.
Like many people, I want to make sure anything I put my name on is great. But it’s never going to be perfect. It’s easy to hold off on taking action because we want to wait until everything is just right. But we can’t let that prevent us from making moves in our business.
Successful people start before they feel ready
A recent Buffer blog talked about how successful people start things before they feel ready. Richard Branson dropped out of school to start a record label when he knew nothing about business. His company name, Virgin, refers to the fact that he and his partners were “virgins” to the business world.
“When everyone else balks or comes up with a good reason for why the time isn’t right, Branson gets started.” James Clear, Buffer
Version one is better than version none
One of the Infusionsoft Certified Consultant trainers told me this when I was going through my certification. You can’t be afraid to jump in and get started with something, that’s progress.
Your work isn’t over then though. Version one is bound to have some mistakes. Learn from them, take criticism and feedback, and improve.
Many people don’t want to fail or don’t feel prepared to take the next step with their business. But doing something, even if it isn’t perfect, is better than doing nothing.
Okay, I’ve been procrastinating on this long enough. I think this article has convinced me to take the leap…Published.
Google Authorship might be the best kept secret in marketing, but we are bad at keeping marketing secrets!
It is no secret that social media is an important marketing avenue for all businesses. But with so many emerging mediums, it can be hard to decipher which ones a business should take part in.
In the social media race, Facebook and Twitter seem to be leading the pack. Linkedin is a hit for business professionals. And sites such as Pinterest and Instagram can be great for those businesses that really rely on visual appeal. But there is another social media platform that has some advantages that all of these sites do not have, Google Plus.
Google Plus has launched a new tool where a blogger (which I hope by now you are) can establish authorship. Google Authorship has a lot of great assets and should seriously be considered as another must-do when it comes to your social media marketing.
This blog post is a two part blog. Part one will cover how Google Authorship will help get eyes on your article and part two will handle how Google Authorship will get eyes away from the Spammers. Make sure to check back next week!
This feature allows you to claim ownership for your work and Google rewards you for it. After confirming your identity and confirming you are the original author of the content, search results follow.
So your name is John Smith, how many times have you turned your head when your name was called only to find out no one was talking to you. Well Google Plus understands the confusion and doesn’t want your blog to suffer. With Google Authorship your blog will be deemed more credible than the other John Smith’s who weren’t savy enough to establish authorship so you will be boosted to the top. Sounds like a huge advantage right?
Additionally, your readers will feel you are more credible because there is now a face to the name. Each article that is written by you will now have your face and by- line so the reader can not only see the article you are writing but can also research more work by you to really confirm you are a leader in your industry.
Google Plus Authorship also has proven to increase your click- through rate. In some cases an increase of 150% has been seen.
In addition to the click through rate, the reader is enticed with more opportunities to read your work. There are links such as “more by you” or just “your name” which will link back to more articles that you have written in the past. This means that once a reader is hooked by one of your articles, they are more likely to click through and read some articles they may have missed.
Credibility and Visibility are great advantages but taking down the spammers is another fight all marketers want to win. Come back next week to see how Google Authorship takes part in the fight!
After the argument that small business owners don’t have time to blog, you get another common objection: I don’t have anything to blog about. When you put a little thought into it, you’ll find out the exact opposite is true.
“No matter what, the very first piece of social media real estate I’d start with is a blog.” Chris Brogan, New Marketing Labs
It’s tough to get started with blog writing but it is one of the most useful things you can do for your online presence. Here are 7 blog ideas to get the brain juices flowing:
1. Customer Questions
Your biggest source of content for any format will always be your customers. Anything they frequently ask you about your business are great places to start. For every person that has asked you a question, a thousand people have probably googled the same question.
2. Define a Common Term
When you’re surrounded by people who all know the “lingo” it’s easy to forget that most people don’t know what Prime Finger Joints are. Defining this term for your audience will show how much knowledge you have about your industry and could clear up some confusions people have. We recently did this in our Marketing Personas blog!
3. Explain a Process
If you offer a service it may be interesting to explain your process. While it seems basic to you it could clarify things to potential clients. Also, explaining how you work could reveal what sets you apart from your competitors.
4. Relate a subject to something else that interests you
Comparing your business or industry to something that you find interesting like snowboarding or amusement parks is a great way to create a fun and informative blog. If it’s something your readers are interested in it might give them a way of understanding your business that they weren’t able to see before.
5. Tell a Story
If something in your life makes you think of your business it could be a great start to a blog! If you have a specific client story that demonstrates a point it could be a great blog. Using stories from your life and business can make your blogs really personable and relatable. It doesn’t have to be all information, you’re writing to people.
6. Compare 2 products or services
If you offer different service or product options that people don’t understand or if you’re constantly asked how you’re different from some other business, it may be an opportunity for a blog. If you do this, focus on educating the reader on the pros and cons of both options. We recently compared two marketing software in our blog Infusionsoft vs Constant Contact.
7. Give a List of Resources
Lists are a great way to get you to come up with content. Set a number and see if you can list that many options. “10 Ways to Add Value to Your Home.” Think you can come up with 10?
Hopefully this list has already given you some ideas on how to get started. Try to write down 10 right now. You don’t have to get to the actual writing just yet, just see how many ideas you can come up with.
If you can’t find the time to write, consider hiring a company to blog for you. If you can hand them a list of blog ideas that came directly from the business owner your blogs will come out much better.