Does Facebook Advertising Work For Small Business?

Does advertising on Facebook really work?

Yes and no.  For most small businesses, probably more on the “no” side.  That is, unless you really know what you are doing when it comes to creating an effective advertising campaign.

I had 6 people email me last week asking if advertising on Facebook was a waste of time.  I thought it would make a good blog post as Facebook is doing a lot of outreach these days trying to recruit small business owners to advertise on their platform.

funny-Facebook-people-Fry-meme

I'm not a big fan of Facebook when it comes to advertising, I feel like the idea of paying a few bucks to get someone to “Like” your fan page or even visit your website (when they are not in the right mindset) is not the best way to spend your advertising dollars.  When it comes to paying to build a fan page, I would say to forget it.  A few years ago when you posted content  on your fan page, it would show up on about 40%-60% of your fan's timelines.  Guess what that number is today?  Estimates are around 5%, but many fan pages report much less than that.

Talk about a bait and switch on the part of Facebook, why would you pay for someone to “Like” your page when there is almost zero chance they will see your post unless you pay to promote it to them?  Yes, Facebook wants you to pay them twice for an activity (someone seeing your post) that has marginal value as it is.

Misleading Claims

My biggest complaint with Facebook is that they market directly to the small business owner and give the impression that it's really easy to run an advertising campaign themselves.  The same goes for Google Adwords (I'm an agency partner with them).  While the platform technically lets you create a campaign without any sort of special skill, executing an effective advertising campaign is really hard.  This is why most small businesses that try to do it themselves end up losing their shirts.

Just like any advertising medium, you have to know how to create an effective ad with an effective offer if you hope to have some sort of success.  You also have to make sure you are reaching the right audience at the right time.  If you get these things wrong, most likely your advertising campaign isn't going to be very effective.  That applies to online and offline advertising.

I do think Facebook advertising  can work, but I think you have to be smart on how you go about it or else you'll just be wasting your money.  I still think pay per click marketing through Google and Bing do much better when it comes to making sales, but Facebook can work if it's done right.

If you don't have a lot of experience creating an advertising campaign, I would strongly recommend you find someone to help you.  Also, start with a small budget but be prepared to increase it as you need a reasonable amount of click volume (100-200 clicks at least)  to see if your campaign is working.  If you decide to give it a try, below are a few tips to keep in mind.

If You Are Going To Advertise On Facebook

What Do You Want People To Do?

What action you want people to take plays a big role in how effective your campaign will be on Facebook.  If you're hoping to put a run of the mill ad up and hope people will come to your website or store and buy something, good luck with that happening.  While I wouldn't pay for someone to “Like” my fan page, I would consider paying for someone to opt-in to my email list, which seems to be how most effective marketers are using Facebook these days.  In a nutshell, it's very hard to get a direct sale via Facebook, but if you can capture them into your sales funnel, you can then communicate with them and eventually turn them into a customer.

Try Remarketing

One area that is very interesting is using Facebook to remarket to people who have been to your website before. With remarketing, you track people after they leave your website and advertise (remarket) to them as they surf the internet.  Creepy, but effective.  Remarketing can be a very effective way to advertise online. You can even market to an existing email list on Facebook through Facebook Custom Audiences.

Try Promoted Posts

With a promoted post, you can have your post injected right into the timeline stream of your target customer.  The most successful promoted posts are ones where engagement is created.  Maybe it's an inspiring blog article you wrote on your website, an interesting report someone can download or some kind of limited offer, it has to be something interesting and engaging if you want it to work.

People are on Facebook to socialize, not buy.  You have a lot of cat videos and faux inspirational posts to cut through in order to get seen so you have to be creative.  I've used promoted posts with clients successfully where we had created an interesting article and used promoted posts to get it in front of more people quickly.

Make Sure You Geo-Target

Geo-Target means to set your advertising so it only shows to the geographic area you want.  So if you are located in Charlotte, NC, you may want to only target people in the Charlotte metro area.  Be careful about running ads internationally, especially in Asia and the Middle, where there are thousands of Facebook “Click Farms” where people spend all day clicking ads and “Liking” people's posts and pages.  I'm not going to get into the crazy reasons why these are setup, but I'll just say there is an entire underground market on Facebook where people make lots of money doing stupid stuff.

If you're going to do it, do it right

So my closing thought is that I'm not a big fan of advertising on Facebook, but it can work if it's done right.  If you're a small business without a lot of marketing experience and thing you can do it yourself, you'll probably be disappointed.  You can either do two things, spend a boat load of hours teaching yourself how to do it right, or hire someone to help you do it.  Just make sure you get some examples and references as there are a lot of clowns out there touting themselves as social media experts simply because they have had mild success personally online.

Small Business Toolbox – June Twenty Eight

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Cyfe – Create a custom dashboard that houses your social, marketing and web analytics all in one place.

Quabel – Free browser based writing tool that lets you write distraction free.

jd-houston-quote

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

5 Ways To Reduce Operating Costs For Your Business

Reducing costs for small business in recessionWhat are your plans for improving the bottom line for your business?

To increase your bottom line you can do two things:

1- Increase revenue

2- Decrease expenses

While finding ways to grow your revenue should be at the forefront of your planning,  taking a look at how you can streamline your expenses can also have a direct impact on that bottom line.

You generally want to have an “increase revenue” mentality rather than a “reduce expenses” strategy for your business, but recent economic conditions have made that a challenge for business owners.  Sometimes when times are good, we can get sloppy with your expenses, now is a good time to evaluate your business and look for opportunities to save without sacrificing quality.

Below are 5 things you can review in your business that can put more money into that bottom line, where us businesses owners have to live and survive.

Reduce your operating hours

If your business allows for it, and does not need to be open for set hours, consider reducing your operating hours, or even closing for an entire day.  One client of mine, an  upholstery cleaning business, decided to close on Fridays to reduce payroll hours and operating expenses.  We chose Friday as that was his slowest day of the week.  He was able to shave off over $900 a month in expenses and it had no effect on his revenue as almost every customer was happy to schedule for a different day.  He was also able to free up a day where he could work on strategic planning for his business instead of servicing customers all day.

Co-Sharing Workplace

Do you lease/own a physical space?  You pay rent on that space regardless of how many hours you're operating each month.  If your business allows for it, why not see if there is opportunity in sharing your facility with another business.  A hair salon I know leases a room in the back of their salon to a woman who offers relaxation massages.  She was previously working out of her home because leasing a space by herself proved to be too expensive.  If you lease office space, why not see if you can find another business to occupy your office when you're not there.  Startups with young entrepreneurs and businesses that deal with overseas customers usually do not operate in the normal 9-5 realm, maybe you can offer them your space after hours.

Review your suppliers

You may have had suppliers for several years, maybe the same ones since you opened your business.  Maybe it's a good time to look at your purchase history and see if there are better alternatives or opportunities to work out a better deal.  If you're a good customer, they won't want to lose you.  If you're not able to get better terms, then maybe it's time to look for other suppliers.  Last year I reviewed my business insurance policy after being with the same company for the past 5 years.  By showing my current insurance company 4 quotes I received, I was able to reduce my monthly premiums by almost $200 a month, by doing about 60 minutes of work on my end.

Instead of pay raises, look for value adds for your employees

If you're not in a position to hand out raises for your employees, but are concerned about losing key talent, try looking at value add opportunities for them.  Despite what you may think, it's not always about the money.  Things like flexible work hours, more opportunities to contribute, and greater autonomy can lead to greater employee satisfaction that will keep them sticking around even though you can't offer more money.  Pay them fairly and create an atmosphere people love to work in.

Cut your administrative costs

Take a look at your current processes, are there opportunities to streamline or remove processes that are costing you time and money?  I worked with a real estate agency that was spending almost $2000 a month in printing costs.  An endless cycle of printing, faxing (and re-printing again) and document printing were running up office expenses and creating an environmental nightmare.  They hired an office organizing professional who helped to streamline the communications with their agents and cut their printing costs in half.  They were also able to save about 10 hours a month in filing time as most documents were now stored electronically, being printed only if necessary.

How can you reduce expenses for your business?

All of the suggestions above can help save you money without reducing quality for your customers.  What ways will you look to send more money to the bottom line for your business this year?

Small Business Toolbox – June Fourteenth

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Loyal Blocks – Mobile app that lets you create amazing loyalty reward programs for your customers.  Uses NFC technology to push messages and promotions to customers as they near your store.  Free and paid plans available.

Unsplash – Find totally free, hi-res images for your website.  Royalty free.

Paulo Coelho Quote

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

Tools To Help You Create A Business Operations Manual

Suddenly the job he knew how to do so well becomes one job he knows how to do plus a dozen others he doesn't know how to do at all. ~Michael Gerber, The E-Myth

How consistent is your business?

Do you, as the business owner, deliver a different experience for your customers than your employees?  Why is that?  It can be a number of things such as experience, attitude, training, etc.  One of the things that customers like from a business is consistency.  Don't get consistency mixed up with mediocrity, as you can consistently deliver a fantastic experience….if you plan for it.

When it comes to delivering a fantastic experience, repeatedly, for your customers, look to franchising.  Wait, what?

Who wants to run their business like a fast food chain?  Before you draw up your mental images of what you think franchising is all about, let me remind you that the Fours Seasons Hotel and Resort chain is a franchise.  So is Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.  Franchises come in all shapes and sizes.

There are many advantages and disadvantages of being a franchise owner.  But one of it's biggest advantages over independent businesses is that they have a written operations manual that is distributed and used across hundreds (sometimes thousands) of individuals franchise locations.  This is one of the reasons they are able to open and operate thousands of locations…….and you struggle to manage a single location.

As Michael Gerber said in the E-Myth, “how is it that McDonald's can deliver a consistent experience across thousands of locations, when the average small business owner can't do it for just one?”

So how do you, as an independent small business owner, go through the arduous task of creating your own written operations manual?

To get a better understanding of what an operations manual is and what needs to go in there, check out this article I wrote on how to create an operations manual.  Once you're familiar with what you're supposed to do, I wanted to show you some of the tools I use in actually creating the manual.  These tools can also be used for creating an employee handbook, or just about any other documentation you need for your business.

Purchase our 300+ page Operations Manual Template for only $29.99. Originally sold to franchises for over $1,000. Instant download. Click here to learn more or add to cart now.
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Screen Steps

This is my go to tool for creating any sort of “how to” or step by step guide.  Screen Steps is a simple to use desktop program (kind of like Word) that lets you create documentation for anything you need.  It's relatively inexpensive and will save you loads of time if creating documentation is something you do for your business.  I do warn you that you may get carried away with it…..I created a “How to unclog the toilet” guide for the office, complete with images.  Yes, I do get made fun of.

Use Screen Steps to create an operations maual

Examples of how I use it

  • Operations and Employee manuals
  • “How To” process guides for specific tasks
  • Documentation for software and hardware we use in our business

What makes Screen Steps so much better for this type of work is the way you can grab screenshots on the fly and automatically insert them into the document.  No more downloading and uploading images….a real time saver.  Also, you have the ability to create dozens of short documents/processes and can later merge them into a single PDF document.

Evernote

Perhaps my favorite service of all time.  Evernote is like having a second brain, a sort of junk drawer for your ideas and documents.  You can save just about anything from text notes, images, voice recording, and have them all fully searchable from just about anywhere through their Web, Mobile and Desktop apps.

Use Evernote to store your operations manual ideas

I have an almost paperless office, scanning most paper documents and sending them to Evernote for easy retrieval later.  When it comes to creating an operation manual, I use Evernote to store all of my ideas, notes and images using the mobile app on my phone.  When I'm in the middle of creating a new process, I can record via audio and/or take snapshots that I can later use when I sit down and create a proper document.  Everything is stored permanently so I don't have to worry about losing that piece of scrap paper that I decided to write my ideas down on.

The video below is a short guide on using Screen Steps and Evernote together.

Jing

I use Jing for most of my screen shots and screen recording.  When creating an operation manual for your team, It's important to use visuals as a single image can make more sense to someone than 500 words of explanation.  A good manual will incorporate visual guides, and if it's a digital version, possibly video or audio explanations.

Use Jing to grab screenshots for your operations manual

Jing is a desktop program that you download onto your computer, so that means you can take screenshots of items on your desktop as well as web based screenshots (web based screenshot tools only let you take screenshots within your browser).

Google Drive and Google Sites

Use Google Drive to store operations manual documents in the cloud

While I'm not a raving fan, I am a fan of Google Products, though the free version of Google Apps is no longer available.  Google has created a host of great tools for small business owners, most of which are free or low cost.  I store all of my completed documents created from Screen Steps in Google Drive (their online competitor to Microsoft's Word) for safe keeping and easy retrieval.  I use Google Sites (easily create external and internal websites) for creating an internal intranet for my business where everyone can access the operations manual online, via a list of links to each document in Drive.  I organize these links in a logical format, exactly how you would create a table of contents.

Sample table of contents-The Small Business Playbook

Binders

An operations manual is only good if people use it.  When will employees refer to your operations manual?  When they are new and in training, and when they need to learn how to do something.  Easy access is very important and an operations manual for your business is useless if it's inconvenient for your employees to access it.

organize operations manual with binders

I always keep an electronic version of it stored online and also a paper version, stored in color coded binders.  For some processes, we have them posted on the wall for easy reference, you see this a lot with food franchises where employees are working in an assembly line manner.

Purchase our 300+ page Operations Manual Template for only $29.99. Originally sold to franchises for over $1,000. Instant download. Click here to learn more or add to cart now.
[purchase_link id=”47088″ text=”Purchase” style=”button” color=”blue”]

It's only good if you use it

People always ask me what's the best way to go about creating an operations manual for their business.  I always advise them to start slowly and think of it as a living, breathing documents that you will add to (and take away) as your business evolves and changes.

All it really is is a series of written checklists and how to's, gleaned from best practices and mistakes you've made along the way, pieced together into one big binder.  Make sure it's organized, up to date and easily accessible to everyone and that you take the time every once and awhile to look it over with your employees to make sure everyone knows it's there.

Have a question about creating an operations manual or about your business in general?  Contact me here, I'm happy to answer any questions.

 

Does Your Website Have “Authority” In The Eyes Of The Search Engines?

Did you know that there are about 200 factors that Google takes into account when determining how a website will rank for a given keyword term?

This is a good thing because it makes any single tactic not very useful if that's all you do.  Many low quality SEO companies have made a killing off of massive, low quality link building.  This tactic alone does not work….anymore. This is where SEO professionals come in.

To make things even harder, these factors are always changing.  Some new factors are added, some are taken away, and some existing ones that used to be positive, now are a negative.  Talk about confusion.  The search engines, namely Google, do a great job of consistently throwing a virtual monkey wrench in our search engine strategies.

Whenever I work with a new customer, I like to educate them on some of the factors that the search engines use to decide whether or not a given website is worthy of ranking.

While quality content and building links to a website are concepts most people know and understand, there are some other important concepts that should be understood.  This is especially true for new websites, or older ones that have never used SEO best practices before.

I'm talking about Domain Authority and Page Authority.  If you're a new website, just building links back to the site just doesn't do it.  At least not in the very beginning.  The search engines want to give search engine credit to sites that they deem to have some sort of authority in their industry.  They are looking beyond just links, they want to understand the relationships you have forged with the rest of the web.

Domain Authority – Domain Authority is a formula created by  SEOmoz.com.  It attempts (rather well) to match Google's 150+ search engine ranking factors and creates a domain authority score based on that.  It also incorporated their own MozRank and MozTrust ranking factors into the equation.

Domain Authority looks at your domain “as a whole” when creating your Domain Authority score.

The Domain Authority score determines the “Strength” of a website by looking at not only the websites that link to it, but by the links that the websites linking to it have linking to them.  Sounds confusing?  You don't know the half of it.  It's kind of like saying that I can determine your popularity as a person by looking at who your friends are, their friends, and their friends-friends…..and so on and so on.

In a nutshell, it looks at the quality relationships your website has built with other high quality websites through the links you share with each other.

Domain Authority is scored on a logarithmic scale ranging from 0 to 100-points. Scores get progressively harder as they increase.  While it's relatively easy to from 0 to 30, it's extremely difficult to go from 80 to 90.

Page Authority – While Domain Authority looks at your website “as a whole”, Page Authority looks at the strength of each individual page on your website.  Similar metrics apply as when scoring your Domain Authority, except it's applied against a single page.

Think of each page on your website as a mini-website within your site.  The way I like to explain it is if you have a website with a single page, you have one door to your website for possible visitors to find you.  If you have 500 pages, there are now 500 doors or “opportunities” for visitors to find you.  That makes a 500 page website much more likely to be found than a 1 page website.

What this means is you can have a low Domain Authority website, with a high Page Authority web page, and vice-versa.  An example would be a new small business blog (low Domain Authority) having one of their blog articles getting picked up by The New York Times (High Page Authority).  The more high Page Authority pages your website has, the more your Domain Authority will grow.

So what does all this mean?

What it means is that it's not just all about the links and the content.  Even with great content and alot of links, in the eyes of the search engines it still takes some time for you to build some “Authority” in their eyes.  Now depending on your website and how well you are doing with it, it can be several weeks or several months.  In some cases, several years.

So the next time you think about SEO for your website, think beyond links and articles, and think about building an “Authority”site in your industry.