Category Archives: Small Business Marketing

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Google Ads Changes Affecting Small Businesses

Google Ads Changes Affecting Small Businesses written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on Changes to Google Ads

Google has recently made some drastic changes to their ads program—starting with a name change, from Google AdWords to Google Ads. Some of the changes are technical, like tweaks to the interface. Others represent fundamental shifts in the way Google views advertising. These will affect more than just your Google advertising efforts, but also how you approach other marketing tactics, SEO, and content.

Google is the dominant force in online advertising, so you can’t afford to ignore what they’re doing. Here, I’ll walk you through the most important changes and new features that small business owners need to be aware of.

Goodbye, AdWords

The biggest change is that we have known the primary Google ad tool as AdWords. Now, they’ve dropped Words, and it is just Google Ads. This is more than just a technicality, I think it signals a fundamental shift in the way they’re viewing advertising.

When Google originally launched their ad product, advertising was all about keywords, but times have changed. Google is so much more than just a search engine at this point, and the change in name reflects their omnipresence on the web.

The new name indicates a move towards a more comprehensive approach, one that will incorporate machine learning and behavioral tracking to better understand the true intent behind people’s actions online.

Google Ads on Your Desktop

One of the other significant changes small business marketers will see is that there is now an application you can download to your desktop: AdWords Editor.

Similar to the Facebook editor, the idea here is that you can now download your campaigns, work on them offline, and then upload them again. This means that you’re not stuck sitting on the platform the entire time, and can now get more work done if you’re offline and on the move.

Google Sheets Integration

If you’re not already familiar with Google Sheets, it’s essentially a free, online version of Microsoft Excel. The integration with the new ads program allows you to pull reporting from Google Ads and into Google Sheets.

Doing so allows you greater flexibility in parsing the data. You can filter by your own criteria, create reports, and track data more easily. This will be particularly useful for agencies or consultants who need to create reports for multiple clients.

New Comprehensive Campaigns

With their new advertising program, Google is providing additional support to small business advertisers, allowing those who don’t have the time or energy to create their own campaigns to leave that all in Google’s hands.

The skeptic in me feels that there is a tradeoff between convenience and value. They make it very easy for you to give them a budget and they’ll do the legwork, but you’re also handing over control and the appropriate measures to monitor and adjust how that money is spent. Without visibility into what’s actually being done to market your business, how can you understand how to get better results in the future?

  • Google Local SearchLocal Ads: Google allows you to create one campaign that will propagate against search, maps, places, pages, display, and even YouTube. This means you only have to design one campaign to be used across all of their many platforms, while Google makes the decisions about how to best tailor the approach in each place.
  • Lead Ads: A new unit on YouTube, Lead Ads allows you to collect an email address through an ad message. This is similar to Facebook’s Lead Ads, which have been around for a while.
  • Responsive Search Ads: You create a pool of headlines and descriptions, and Google tests each of those possible combinations to determine which is most successful. Depending on how many concepts you create, you can end up with thousands of possible combinations—it’s A/B testing in hyperdrive. This is designed to help you lift click-through and conversion rates significantly.

Responsive Search Ads

What About Organic Search?

While these new campaigns are great for those who are taking advantage of the Google Ads platform, what about those marketers or small business owners who are putting all of their faith in the power of organic search?

These new ads will drive up conversion rates, as Google continues to do the analytics on what makes the most successful campaigns for its paid advertisers. In addition to being successful, these ads are also huge. They still contain extensions, and so they are going to take over. This will only serve to force organic results further and further down the page. Those users searching on a mobile device will have to scroll for a very long time before hitting the first organic result.

The message here for small business marketers is that you can’t ignore Google Ads. You still need to have a comprehensive marketing system with other tactics, including social media and content, as a means to get into organic search. But at the same time, you can’t ignore paid advertising.

Google Local Services Ads

The last item, which does not impact everyone yet, is Local Services Ads from Google. Formerly known as Home Service Ads, Local Services Ads are currently focused on tradespeople, technicians, and providers of other services to homeowners, with plans to expand to additional categories.

Business owners must apply to be in this program and become “Google Guaranteed,” which means that they’ll have to clear a background check and Google will provide a money-back guarantee to anyone unhappy with the company’s services.

Google Local Services Ad

This comes at a price: Google does not send users directly to a website when they click on this type of ad. Google uses a tracking phone number so that they’re able to see which leads are generated from these ads; the business owner is then charged for those leads. And rather than charging a nominal fee per click, Google will now ask for $25-$100 per lead, depending on category and competition, because they’ve delivered a verifiable lead.

This new approach allows Google to be fully involved in the lead generation process, which gives them valuable information about the way people are searching for services and also allows them to charge small business owners a greater fee than they would for pay-per-click advertising.

As we see advertising moving more towards a focus on intent, a shift that is powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence, we will see Google Ads encroach more and more in the search space. Google has created a system that encourages you to give them more of your ad budget, and while you certainly can’t ignore Google Ads as a part of your overall strategy, I would argue that there’s still great benefit in attending to your other marketing channels.

If you are struggling with managing the rapidly-changing online advertising landscape, Duct Tape Marketing can do an audit for you. Our Total Online Presence Audit is a comprehensive review of your assets online, including your ads. We can assess your strengths and weaknesses, and point you in the right direction.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

How to Build Trust With Your Audience

How to Build Trust With Your Audience written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

In my content, I often refer to the customer journey, or what I like to call The Marketing Hourglass, which includes the following stages: Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat and Refer.

All of these stages are important for moving customers closer to the sale (and beyond), but today I really want to focus on the Trust component of the journey as there are so many businesses who are lacking in this area.

The fact of the matter is, we’ll buy products we like, but we’ll rarely commit to an organization unless we trust them.

There are a ton of simple things a company can do to build this trust, they just aren’t always aware of what those things are, so let’s cover a few here.

Know your audience

I sure hope you’re not getting sick of me talking about this topic because I’m not going to stop any time soon. The best way to gain a person’s trust is to show you truly understand who they are and what it is that they’re experiencing. In order to best alleviate their problems and concerns with your expertise, you need to do your research to uncover who they are.

A few ways to get to know your audience include:

  • Reading past emails with customers and identify trends
  • Talk to your sales and support teams who have the greatest insight into what your customers are going through
  • Read reviews
  • Be observant on social media platforms and forums
  • Interview current customers

The more research you do, the better off you’ll be. It may be time-consuming, but it’s worth it.

Create content

Creating content shouldn’t come as a shock as content should be at the core of everything you do when it comes to marketing and attracting people to your business. To build trust with content, you must be helpful, educational, and consistent. You want people to be able to depend on you for the information they’re looking for.

Get a solid understanding of their pain points and write content that addresses those problems. Understand what your audience’s intent is and speak to it.

The one thing I want to stress is that you don’t want to sell using content in the trust phase. This is not the time for that. This is the phase where they are simply trying to get to know you and are doing their research to ensure you’d be the right choice. Selling during this phase won’t work because they often simply aren’t ready to buy. It could actually turn many people away.

When it comes to actually creating your content, whether it’s written, a video, a podcast, or any other format you’re focusing on, be conversational and personal. Your audience wants to read/see/hear something they can relate to. Develop the content as though you’re creating it for a single person. It will help you personalize it even more than if you were writing for a group of people.

Other writing tips to keep in mind include:

  • Keep paragraphs and sentences short (and video for that matter) so that people will actually consume the content.
  • Use rhetorical questions to make them feel like they are a part of the conversation.
  • When possible, avoid industry jargon.

Last, but certainly not least, use your content to tell a story. Storytelling will help you connect with your audience and show them the human side of your business. The ability to tell a person why your business does what it does through a story and how you illustrate it for their benefit is key.

Keep in mind, your audience needs to see themselves in the story which starts with their challenges, problems, and issues that they don’t know how to solve.

Use your website

To build trust, your website must make a good first impression, and to do so, be sure it includes the following:

  • A promise –  You need to make your audience a promise that will solve their problems.
  • A sub-promise – A sub promise is the trust factor and social proof that a company offers.
  • A clear call to action (CTA) – CTAs help to guide people through the customer journey and advise them on next steps.
  • Contact information – Consider using a little personality as well to make your audience want to contact you even more!
  • Visual branding – Integration of strategy, messaging, positioning, and brand is important is so important for a business to build trust.
  • Video – Video allows you to give people a real sense of who you are, what you stand for, and let people hear your story.
  • A list of problems – Identify the problems you solve and make it easy for website visitors to see them.
  • Show trust, proof, and authoritative elements, including quotes, client logos, association badges, client results, case studies, media recognition, and awards. These really are like currency in the trust phase.
  • Updated content – Show that you care about your own business and publish new content regularly.
  • Optimize for mobile – This should be a top priority of yours for a number of reasons, including trust building.
  • Show your personality – This will help to establish an emotional connection with your audience which will make them more likely to trust you.

Establish relationships

As mentioned above, the more you are able to establish relationships with your audience, the more likely they’ll be to trust you. A few tips to do this include:

  • Be empathetic and show that you care
  • Be responsive
  • Be genuinely interested in what they have to say
  • Be yourself
  • Be transparent
  • Ensure the communication you have with your audience is a clear two-way street

Bottom line? Be human.

General tips for building authority and credibility

In addition to my points above, there are a few general tips to keep in mind when establishing trust that I’ve listed below:

  • Build up your online reviews and testimonials. Work to improve them not only on your website, Google My Business listings, and social media but also on relevant industry sites (Houzz for interior decorator reviews, for example).
  • Know your unique point of difference. Show what separates you from the competition and make it clear for anybody who comes in contact with your business.
  • Understand your brand identity. Along with understanding your point of difference, you need to know your company’s voice and personality. This will help to humanize your business and establish those connections.
  • Go above and beyond.  Under promise and over deliver and don’t make promises you can’t keep.
  • Be predictable. If you were watching my content creation like a hawk, you’d know that I publish a post on Duct Tape Marketing every Tuesday, a post on the Duct Marketing Consultant Network site every Wednesday, a podcast episode every Wednesday or Thursday, a Consultant Tools post every Friday, and a Weekend Favs post every Saturday. Why? Because at this point people expect it. They trust I will give them useful content throughout the week which holds me accountable to give it to them. Remember, you want people to depend on you for the information they need, so you need to do your best to give it to them.

At the end of the day, in order to get people closer to the purchase, you need to get them to trust you, so do everything you can to help them do just that.

What trust-building tactics are you implementing that have worked for your business?

Mistakes Small Business Owners Make When Scaling Their Services

Mistakes Small Business Owners Make When Scaling Their Services written by Guest Post read more at Duct Tape Marketing

An increasingly global world means there is more competition than ever, and commoditization is a growing threat.

Businesses that scale the right way, are going to be positioned to increase market share as weaker players are sifted out.

Whether you’re growing to your first million in revenue, are well past that and are looking to make your business more automated so that you can profitably scale up, or have hopes of an exit in the near future, it’s imperative that you avoid the mistakes that I’ll be discussing in this post.

Doing so will help you scale with more profit, more ease, and less stress.

Curious as to what these mistakes are? Let’s dive in.

1. You’re too busy to grow

Being stuck in day-to-day tasks is a huge problem because you can’t actually grow the business. Your main job as the CEO is to think and come up with better ways to do things. You need to generate ideas to increase profits, enter new markets, and so on.

You can’t do this if you are married to your routine. You’ll be wearing blinders. And you’ll miss out on the numerous opportunities sitting right in front of you.

Does your alertness follow this curve? When are you most focused and productive?

How to fix it:

peak-time-no-drop-shaddow

  • Carve out at least 5-10 hours per week for growth
  • Start your day with crystal clear intention. Always create a plan for your day with the top 3 most important things you need to accomplish that day.
  • Work within the human natural alertness cycle by using your first “Power Hours” of each day on growth tasks.
  • Schedule email so that you aren’t living in your inbox. Do not check email until at least 11am if at all possible.

2. You’re trying to scale too soon

Many business owners try to scale too soon. Instead, they should first focus on making the business sustainable and bake in as much profit as possible.

Leverage first, then scale.

I often see business owners reach a hump that they can’t quite get over and it’s usually because their pricing structure cannot sustain profitable growth. They know they should increase prices, but fear creeps in.

Many experts may say “Just raise your rates,” but if it were that easy, everyone would have more profitable businesses.

The harsh reality is that clients might not be willing to pay you more.

Why? The answer is risk vs. reward. The risk is too high, and the reward is too low.

Clients are willing to pay much more if:

  • You offer a solution they truly want
  • Your client has access to funds
  • You can sufficiently lower the risk for them to make it a no-brainer

How to fix it:

leverage then scale your business

  • Leverage first, then Scale.
  • Work out that formula to be able to increase fees so you’ll have the resources to grow.
    1. Evaluate the kinds of problems your business can solve
    2. Evaluate your sweet spot by looking at what you enjoy, and evaluating unfair advantages.
    3. Evaluate client type that you can add the most value to
    4. Evaluate ways to better utilize your unfair advantage
  • Only after you’ve increased value, and fees should you scale. Look for cost advantages and ways to decrease the cost of delivery (I’ll dive into that further below).

I’ve seen those who leverage first and are able to double their revenue per client, with little or no growth to their team. It’s pure profit. It works. I’ve seen it work both in my own business and for others that I have worked with.

3. It’s all about you

Everything is about your process and the steps you take, instead of your client’s pain points, and what they want.

If you want to get lost in a sea of downward spiraling mediocrity, then keep focusing your website on the “me show” and only discuss your services, tools, credentials, and so on.

Instead, you should be discussing the problems your ideal prospects want solved. Make everything about them, and the solutions they want. They want their problem solved. End of story.

increase your fees

How to fix it:

  • Choose one painful $100k+ problem to solve, one client type, and one customized (not custom) outcome.
  • Guarantee it, and jack up your fees to price based on the value of the outcome.

4. You’re not solving a big enough problem

Going back to the last two mistakes, if the problem is too small, you cannot charge enough. The problem is rooted in the industry dogma of refusing responsibility for lackluster results.

It’s nearly impossible to sell results and offer some guarantee… if you are selling everything to everyone.

Ask yourself “how can this work for this business?”

Back to the actions in the last step, it’s by solving one painful problem, for one type of client, with one customized solution.

What outcome could you provide? And what needs to be in place to ensure success?

build value for your clients

An agency owner I know realized that for just one niche that they work with, they could consistently add an extra $1M per year to their business.

With this knowledge, the selling conversation shifted from “we are the best Facebook ad provider, we have great results, happy clients, books and awards…” to “we’re partnering with 10 [special niche] businesses that want to add an additional $1M this year without [thing they don’t want]. Is that something that interests you?”

It’s now a qualification process and the business is now able to more than double their fees.

Do you solve $10k problems, or $100k problems? $100k problems, or $1M problems?

Who could you work with where your service provides the highest dollar value?

Given a bigger outcome, and low enough risk, clients will happily invest more. Throw the hourly thinking out the window where either clients leave empty-handed or you leave tens of thousands of dollars on the table.

How to fix it:

  • Create a list of characteristics of past ideal clients you’ve gotten the best results for. What do these clients have in common?
  • Looking ahead, what do new clients need to have in place to be able to guarantee success?
  • Craft an irresistible offer and promise (it should scare you a bit).
  • Create your hit list, and sell!

Clients are demanding better. Are you ready to be part of the change that elevates the industry?

5. You’re too people focused

What do I mean by that?

Most business owners are too focused on finding the perfect staff, and not focused enough on developing their own perfect client solution and then plugging staff into defined roles as they scale their own methodology.

When your business is built around an employee’s skill sets, what happens when they leave? You need to start all over again recruiting, training, and developing this next ‘perfect’ person.

Instead, focus on how to scale a proven methodology and put the right people in place within your framework.

The services you scale are determined by your 80/20 framework. It can be divided into ‘brain skills’, and ‘hand skills’. Brains are more expensive, and in higher demand.

Are you as the owner doing ‘Brain’ work, ‘Hands’ work?

brains-and-hands

Optimize your best skills. Free up capacity for the Brain people to do their best work. Raise profit per project by having the Hands do the rest.

How to Fix:

  • Build your proven methodology by focusing first on the end outcome. Then reverse engineer the stages to where you start the engagement.
  • Breakdown the stages into smaller steps and tasks.
  • Delegate by needed skill level only for each task to optimize staffing budget (save time with my Rapid Delegation Script).

6. You’re not consistently marketing and selling every day

“I’m too busy to do marketing.” I hear this all the time.

This thinking keeps you stuck working with less profitable clients just to meet payroll. You may even have a couple of demanding clients who bring in too much of your income (and most of your problems). You’re afraid to rock the boat because the pipeline to replace the income is near empty.

There is a magical shift that happens in your business as you consistently, and proactively attract excess ideal clients. You become in control. You set your fees. You decide who you will, and who you will not work with.

Organic growth will happen if you are any good at what you do. But do you want to be like the little bird with its beak open waiting for the worm saying “Feed me, feed me?”

Or, are you attracting your best, most profitable, and enjoyable clients?

How to Fix:

  • Build a daily habit to block out time every day on your calendar and each out to 5 ideal prospects. Have one live conversation with someone who might be a prospective client. Every day.

7. You’re being reactive rather than being proactive

Most business owners are reactive. They fight fires, rather than prevent them. They tread water hoping to stay afloat when the next wave hits.

Being proactive is looking for ways to innovate within your company and increase profits. It’s staying ahead of the industry trends. It’s being intentional about the staff you want in your company and developing the kind of culture you want to create.

It’s about actually having a plan and working that plan every day.

growth plan

This seems basic, but most service business owners lack a clear plan to scale their business, so they spend years reaching their goals (that’s if they don’t burn out first).

Do you drive your business, or does your business drive you? This is one tiny hinge that moves a pretty big door.

If you are not clear and proactive about top things you need to accomplish every day to really move your business forward, you’re not in the driver’s seat.

If you are making any of these seven mistakes as you’re trying to scale your services, you’re making it much harder than it needs to be.

Avoiding these mistakes will help you:

  • Build a team that really supports you
  • Work with more ideal clients
  • Consistently and predictably deliver on your company’s promises
  • Increase revenue and get your life back

What mistakes are you making? What will you do this week to take the path to increased profitability and freedom in your business?


About the Author

Mandi Ellefson

Mandi Ellefson is the founder of the Hands-Off CEO. She helps service businesses and agencies achieve life balance, and productivity by freeing up to 20-50% of their work week and achieving cost savings gains of up to 67%. For a proven 5-step plan to scale your service the right way, download her Scalable Growth Roadmap.

Tips for Starting a Successful Business

Tips for Starting a Successful Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Colleen DeBaise
Podcast Transcript

Colleen DeBaise

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Colleen DeBaise. She is a business journalist, author, podcast host at The Story Exchange, and contributing editor at Inc. She and I discuss her new book Start a Successful Business: Expert Advice to Take Your Startup from Idea to Empire.

DeBaise has spent the bulk of her career covering entrepreneurship, primarily as the small business editor of The Wall Street Journal, and later as a contributor to The New York Times. An entrepreneur herself, she is the founder of the Hampton Bee, a media site that provides news and tips for consumers who support small businesses on Long Island’s East End.

In addition to those roles, DeBaise has also served as an editor at EntrepreneurBusinessWeekand SmartMoney. She has been interviewed as a small business expert on television and radio, including MSNBC, Fox Business News, CNBC, CBS and NPR.

Questions I ask Colleen DeBaise:

  • Where does customer discovery fit into the lean startup world?
  • Should startups seek out funding?
  • Why should people embrace failure?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How to come up with a brilliant idea
  • How to discover the right formula for a business model
  • How to execute a great idea

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Colleen DeBaise:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!