The cost of paying for somebody to click your ad on Google can be anywhere from $1 to $10: that’s for just a click! So what does it end up costing to get somebody to call you or email you? This is a big dilemma for many small business owners looking for new clients. In fact, sometimes it might seem easier to just send a good, old-fashioned letter!
Professional looking but crappy websites make your Google Ads and Facebook Ads cost more AND send customers away!
I’ve written about the steps and time taken to create and maintain a business blog for your digital marketing. However, I haven’t even mentioned the time and effort that goes into optimising each and every blog post for the KEYWORDS that are important to us.
This task involves:
- Writing up “Tags”
- Keyword density
- Relevant landing pages
- Keywords in headings
The great thing about WordPress is that you can set up as many user profiles as you want and give your staff the access level they need to create and edit blogs.
They can’t really stuff it up because there’s an audit trail of changes and only someone with publishing rights can make the changes live (such as a WordPress administrator).
You could of course outsource your blog writing to someone on Upwork, Freelancer, or Airtasker, but that has it’s own set of challenges
While I was getting my hair cut the other day, I casually asked the hairdresser how her business was doing. Now this woman is a highly experienced and personable stylist who runs a modern and professional-looking salon with terrific co-workers.
Yet she lamented the fact that business was quiet and she was struggling to get new clients.
So what’s going wrong?
When I started my first business in Sydney’s Dee Why in the early 1990’s, I was amazed that most restaurants and cafes, as well as other retail shops like dress shops, didn’t even know who their customers were!
Many business owners knew their customers by face, but they missed out on lots of opportunities to market and make contact with these customers when business was slow or they were overstocked. Are you working your database?Continue reading Is Business Quiet? Need More Money/Sales? Use a Database!
THE TRUTH IS, writing a blog post takes time. If it were the case of just writing some sentences, it wouldn’t take that long at all.
But what’s the point of that? The last thing you want to do in a busy, information-saturated world is waste people’s time. It’s an insult and you’ll put them off.
After all, these people have given up time in their busy days to read what you have to say. Don’t ruin this special relationship forever by churning out rushed, poor quality content or waffle.
Always think: What’s in it for them? Continue reading How Long Does it Take to Write a Blog Post?
MANY YEARS AGO I spent $100,000 in advertising in one year. But I didn’t make truckloads of money and became utterly exhausted with the sales process. Yet I still see companies using this approach today: Selling short courses for over-inflated prices to recoup the money they spend on advertising.
When I spent that exorbitant chunk of money on advertising, I then had to hire more people to sell the courses. I had to train these people about what was in the courses, and train the trainers and, well to cut a long story short, spend so much more on resources and overheads that I didn’t make a huge sum of money out of the whole venture at all.
Getting your own “branded” email is a cinch!
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE INTERNET HAS democratised many elements of starting your own small business, but, in particular, it has made marketing a small business a whole lot easier.
Another super easy thing to vastly help your business along is getting your own “branded email address”. What do we mean by a branded email address? Simply an email address that carries your branding in the domain name, for example: email@example.com versus the far less professional: firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHETHER YOU WORK as a bookkeeper in a small business, are self-employed with your own business, work as a freelancer or independent contractor (maybe even operating a side hustle), as a virtual assistant with a home office, or whether you work as an employee in a large organisation, morale is one of those things that tends to ebb and flow. Continue reading The Biggest Boost to Business Morale
THERE IS A FAIRLY SIGNIFICANT gender imbalance for executive positions in the corporate world. Sure, there are notable exceptions, but men in managerial positions in the workplace still outnumber women two-to-one.
But when you look at some industries, like Bookkeeping, the numbers are massively swayed towards the female gender and one of the reasons is it can be the perfect business to run from home.
Helping tradespeople, sole traders and contractors manage and keep clients
I’VE WRITTEN ABOUT how tradespeople can earn more money quickly and easily by using cloud accounting software like Xero or QuickBooks to quote, invoice and manage their clients. But this applies to anybody out there working for themselves; as a sole trader or contractor.
In a recent home renovation I was involved with in Newcastle, NSW, I met many tradies with a lot of work on, and even more with plenty of work in the pipeline; but they had no system to manage it all. They frequently didn’t follow up on jobs they’d quoted for, didn’t get back to people enquiring about their services, and provided fairly terrible customer service in general. And they were losing money, as a result.
Increase your productivity with Google G Suite
There’s no reason for tradespeople, contractors or sole traders to lose business because they don’t have a system in place to ensure they remain productive. I work with lots of remote contractors, and I love it because we’re able collaborate on projects at all different times of the day, easily and efficiently.
When I owned a compliance management company called EzyAccess, I worked with lots of different contractors who were located all over Australia. There was Frankie in customer service, located in the Gold Coast, Queensland; Gary, our product specialist located in Goulburn, New South Wales; and our computer guys, Linus and Rodger, each from Sydney; along with three other women located in Sydney — Dulcie, Michelle and Angela — responsible for admin and marketing respectively. of course, then there was me: travelling between Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
Manage your time efficiently
To manage my team of remote contractors, I used Google G Suite (then called Google Apps for Work) — Google Calendar, in particular.
We used Google Calendar to schedule time for particular tasks each person was working on so everyone knew what everyone else was up to, and could easily schedule time to collaborate on certain projects that required help from other team members — Linus and Rodger, for instance, frequently collaborated on projects. We also used Google Calendar to schedule meetings (internal and external ones) and sales calls. (More specifically, we’ve given a case study of a hairdressing salon doing this in a previous blog post.)
Set up your own Google G-Suite with our Digital and Social Media Online Course
If you need help setting up your Google G Suite account, and would like to learn how your business can become more productive and earn more money, we cover Google G Suite in our Digital and Social Media training course. Visit our website for more information or to enrol.
Don’t miss a golden opportunity to build brand awareness!
I RECENTLY SPOKE WITH a few different Novocastrian real estate agents recently about a property I was renovating. One of them had a billboard near a train station, another paid for bus stop ads, and another created trailer signs that could be towed and parked in strategic places. None of them used Google or Facebook ads. This was a missed opportunity, and I’ll tell you why in a moment.
Outdoor advertising, along with DL flyers and advertising in your local newspaper, are designed to keep your brand in front of mind with people who know you and live in your local area. Brand awareness is an incredibly important marketing strategy for any business. We took a look late last year at how bookkeepers can learn from real estate agents about marketing using Facebook.
Social and digital marketing is crucial
Although outdoor and print marketing are important brand building tactics, digital and social media marketing should form a part of your brand campaigns. The internet is where most people turn to get information quickly, even local information.
We used Facebook ads in our social and digital marketing strategy we used for McGrath real estate agent Derek Farmer. A client list of names based on mobile phone numbers was used to target people in the Northbridge area who already had some past experience with Derek — they’d met at an auction, open home, he’d sold a friend or neighbour’s home, or they’d previously bought one of his listings. We helped Derek achieve Page 1 rankings on Google without using any paid advertising.
Targeted Facebook ads keep you front of mind
This targeted advertising helped build brand awareness with those people in a relatively non-invasive way, so that when Derek did reach out to them by phone, email or in-person, they would already be very aware of who Derek was and the type of property sales he specialised in.
This ensured Derek didn’t lose a listing because someone couldn’t remember who he was, and ended up listing their property with an agent who did take the time to build brand awareness within their local community and with past clients.
Do you want help growing your online and social media presence?
Are you in business as a bookkeeper, tradesperson, retailer, trainer or real estate agent and want to stand out from the crowd? We can teach you the online marketing techniques to help you do just this! Check out what’s included in our comprehensive Social Media and Digital Marketing online training courses. Alternatively, you can learn more about Facebook targeted advertising in our Facebook training courses.
Researching the Market is a Crucial Part of Every Business Strategy
In a previous post, Is Your Charge-Out Rate a Marketing or Business Strategy?, I talked about Mark the painter, who charged a really low day rate that ultimately proved to be unsuccessful, because he couldn’t carry out the volume of jobs he needed to for it to be profitable.
When I asked Mark why he chose such a low day rate, he said it was because no other painter could possibly compete with him. Sure that’s probably true, but obviously, for good reason!
What Mark really should have done was to research the market to determine precisely what other painters are charging, and for which services.
A good starting point is to determine the average price for your industry. Be diligent and look at as many businesses in your local and surrounding areas to ensure you’re getting a clear picture of what people are charging.
It’s really hard to justify charging much below the industry average, even if you’re trying to get new business.
As I mentioned in the last post about day rates, low prices is a numbers game. Unless you’re able to turn work around exceptionally quickly to justify taking a cut on your profit margin, then it’s probably not worth it.
In our work with National Bookkeeping we discovered that bookkeeper charge out rates fall into some distinct categories based on their knowledge, experience and how they prefer to work. These rates are a great guide to help you become comfortable with your own hourly rate.
Give customers savings in other areas
Rather than reducing your rates to get new business, try to give customers savings elsewhere. You can do this by providing something your competitors aren’t, which is why researching the market thoroughly is a crucial part of your business strategy.
If you determine that your competitors charge a call out fee or a fee to prepare walls, this is a good place to start reducing or eliminating those charges in order to make yourself more competitive.
How are people finding you?
If potential customers are finding you via your website, it’s important to have a good call to action that contains reasons for people to make contact with you. Then make sure you highlight the reasons to call.
Competitors copy so keep changing your offers
Believe it or not, one of the most challenging aspects of your market research and the OFFER you make to potential customers is that your competitors will also be researching what you are doing and if they feel it is a good offer they may copy it — so you may want to have a couple different offers and discounts and change them regularly to stay unique.
Use WordPress, a Blog and Social Media posts to keep your business looking fresh online and as well as attract the attention of potential customers — we cover all of this in our Digital & Social Media Marketing Courses.
You can learn how to research the market by enrolling in the Market Research Module of our Business StartUp Training Course as a stand alone mini course. Visit our website for more information or to enrol.
I RECENTLY MET A PAINTER during a residential renovation I was involved with in Newcastle (an extremely valuable experience that will help us add to our property investment courses.)
We got talking about how he wins new clients and he said:
I advertise on social media that I’m available for $150 a day because no one can compete with it.
The price he chose is insanely cheap, and he knew other painters wouldn’t be able to compete with this as a day rate. However, there are downsides to this. Such a cheap day rate also means that he’ll be stretched financially and that he won’t be able to hire anyone else to do the work. He’ll need to be paid daily and likely can’t afford to provide any sort of credit (like 7 day terms etc).
It made me wonder whether it was such a good idea because cheap prices is a volume game. Companies like Amazon and Kmart are willing to lower their profit margins to undercut other retailers if it means they make up for it in the volume of product their shift.
In other words, rather than make $20 profit on an item, and only selling 200, they’re willing to make $5 as long as they sell 100, minimum. Otherwise, it’s just a bad business strategy. You may want to read more about blue ocean versus red ocean strategies.
Is trades and services ever a volume game?
Mark, the painter I was talking about, received lots of enquiries. In that respect, his social media campaign had been a success! But Mark wasn’t a big company; he was a one man band. Now he spent most of his days driving around and quoting for jobs.
This meant that when he was working for clients, there were often days where he could only work a half day or had to break the day rate down into an hourly one. Some days, Mark only earned $100. This was simply because he wasn’t doing the number of jobs he needed to in order to make his low day rate a profitable strategy for his business.
Focus on your business strategy first
What Mark had inadvertently done was prioritise his marketing strategy over that of his business. He’d generated lot of interest in his business by advertising his services at such a low day rate, but by not setting any terms or conditions around that rate, it makes it really hard to Mark to increase his rates next time those clients ask him to work for them again.
Setting rates correctly is something we cover in our Business Start Up Online Training Course. In particular, we look at determining a business strategy for your business, before you start marketing your business and services.
The question of pricing and what we offer in our advertising is something we consider before ever going live when we help clients with their marketing strategies too. Hire a marketing manager to oversea all your digital and social media marketing for a low monthly fee.
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Real estate agents are seeing purple!
THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY IS undergoing substantial disruption. Only the real estate agents and agencies that decide to innovate will make it out the other side.
A big part of that means letting go of the traditional model and embracing a new, transparent real estate sales model, but many agents are still reluctant to change.
And that’s a mistake.
Disruption to the real estate industry coming from many sources
Although much of the disruption is coming from technology companies, such as REA Group and Domain Group in Australia, as well as the tech giants Facebook and Google, other established players, recognising that the timing is right, are entering the fray too.
Together, these businesses are changing the way real estate in this country and across the world is bought, sold and rented. If real estate agents aren’t proactive about this change, they’ll end up being reactive. And they’ll miss out.
One of the Case Studies in our Digital & Social Media Marketing Courses centres upon a McGrath agent based in Sydney’s Cammeray. This agent, Derek, comes to realise his own personal brand is as powerful with local residents as the McGrath brand because he is a hard-working agent and his vendors love him.
Via the virion Digital Agency we were able to help Derek create a website and social media campaign to further hone and build his brand as a property expert.
Jim’s to cut agents’ grass
Take Jim’s Group, the franchise group known for mowing lawns and fixing broken antennas. Last week, they announced their intention to enter the real estate fray with a new, low-cost service for both agents and homeowners.
The division, which is being headed up by a Jim’s Group veteran and the former sales director of low-cost real estate service Hello Real Estate, will charge agents a flat $1,800 a month franchise fee.
Homeowners will also be able to suggest how much commission they’d like to pay the agent to sell their home. (It’s understood there’ll be a threshold for how low commissions will actually go.)
Jim’s agents will work remotely from their home offices — or their cars — as most Jim’s franchisees currently do, and they’ll have substantially lower overheads so they can provide the same service to homeowners as a traditional real estate agent, only for less.
As an existing and trusted franchise group in Australia, they won’t have to overcome the same barriers like name recognition and trust that new entrants to the market — your Purplebricks, say — did. (Of course, the Purplebricks service is also quantifiably different to the proposed Jim’s service.)
Agents who don’t think Jim’s will make a serious dent in the industry may be right. But that misses the point; the franchise model is about giving business owners a cushion between them and flying solo. Plenty of people work in franchises — real estate is the most franchised industry in this country — but not all of them do. There’s plenty of room for independent agents to take this idea and operate their own agency the same way — and keep their $1,800 franchise fee while they’re at it!
Proptech sector friend or foe?
That brings us to the biggest source of disruption in the real estate industry: the proptech sector. In Australia, agents need to be cautious of
- REA Group,
- Domain Group,
- Facebook and
But they also need to be wary of any new entrant that puts an “Uber” spin on the sector. (Domain recently opened up its developer APIs to encourage tech startups to use their data to create disruptive new services.)
At the moment REA Group and Domain are focussed on moving closer to the transaction, but they’re also heavily investing in tech to ward off any disruption from tech titans Facebook and Google, which they consider the biggest threat to the real estate industry in this country, and the world. (eBay-owned Gumtree also shouldn’t be excluded from this conversation.)
Would you advertise with a competitor?
Both real estate groups have acquired (or launched through partnerships) their own mortgage broking businesses — Domain’s Domain Loan Finder is a JV with online broker Lendi; REA Group acquired mortgage broker Smartline, and launched its own white label service in conjunction with NAB, called realestate.com.au Home Loans.
Trades & Everything Else!
They each also own stakes in tradie sites Oneflare (Domain) and hipages (REA), connection services Compare & Connect (Domain) and Beevo (Domain), property data and mapping firm PriceFinder (Domain), real estate CRM MyDesktop (Domain) [read more about the best real estate agent CRM’s], and property inspection app Homepass (Domain); Domain will also launch insurance comparison service Domain Insure and real estate agent training and education program Domain Academy.
And REA Group is busy building robots and virtual assistants, which can respond to customer enquiry — requests for Section 32 documents, schedule inspections, and so on.
Neither Domain nor REA are likely to bite the hands that feed them by introducing a real estate agency service or cutting agents out of the picture entirely — this year, REA Group posted revenue of $633.5 million from its Australian operations, of which $538.2 million was derived from agents advertising on its site.
Agents need to innovate NOW
But by owning the real estate “ecosystem”, they make the role of the real estate agent much less vital — and ripe for a new service to come in (like a Jim’s Real Estate) and say, “hey we can do it better.” Before long, that’ll become the “traditional” real estate model, just as the classified websites that usurped newspaper classifieds are now considered the “traditional” model of buying and selling stuff online.
To stay ahead of disruption, agents need to educate themselves. Continuing professional development (CPD) is a mandatory part of staying licensed in every state or territory. Provided agents undertake recognised training and keep their CPD points up, they can study anything relevant to the business of real estate.
Digital marketing is a fundamental part of real estate. Agents who understand how to market themselves online to get new business and demonstrate transparency about how the process works will stay ahead of the curve. Derek Farmer used educational videos and blog posts to explain the buying and selling process, and share market news and analysis.
This makes a sales agent an indispensable source of knowledge and a trusted advisor to buyers and sellers throughout the process, which can’t be replicated by a robot, virtual assistant or app. Virion also helps agents create a digital market strategy for their business, and to fill up their website or social media pages with content that provides information to buyers and sellers they’re currently getting from … Domain and realestate.com.au!
Agents should create their own property ecosystem
Domain and REA are doing their darndest to keep people on their sites for longer. They’re sewing up the entire property buying and selling process with complementary services (insurances, connections, mortgages) and they’re pushing more and more into content (videos, journalism, content marketing); Domain is particularly innovative in the content space, thanks to its Fairfax roots.
As a result, buyers and sellers are coming to agents forearmed, and again, the role of the agent is diminished. But agents can stay in home buyers and sellers minds by creating their own property ecosystem: start a website, fill it with good quality content, use a CRM to manage your lists of buyers, sellers, tradespeople — who have become one of the most important players in the sales process — and pump messages out your database regularly.
Finally, look at introducing a different fee or commissions structure for certain types of property or across the board. This is where the industry is heading and fighting it will only leave you in the same position the newspaper industry was in with the advent of online classifieds; cable TV providers with the rise of VOD services; music labels with streaming services, and so on.
Visit the EzyLearn website to learn more about our continuing professional development (CPD) training courses. To create your own property ecosystem with a digital marketing strategy and content, visit Virion’s website for more information.
Why you should employ a bookkeeper to help manage the books
PERHAPS YOU ARE a small business owner who is trying hard to keep up to speed with your regulatory bookkeeping requirements. But no sooner does one quarter end and another one seems to roll by with the commensurate paperwork due all over again. This is taking away from your regular work and you’re falling behind — and half the time you’re not even sure that it’s being done correctly. It sounds like you should be seriously considering finding a bookkeeper for your business.
Even if you have training in how to use Xero, MYOB or Quickbooks, or some other cloud accounting program, finding a great bookkeeper can make all the difference to your business. However, although there might seem to be plenty of “bookkeepers” around, finding the right one bookkeeper for your business is not an altogether easy thing to do. And if you’re financially challenged, you also need to find a bookkeeper who won’t break the bank.
Bookkeeper, accountant or tax professional?
These days, the term bookkeeper is almost an umbrella term for all the different types of accounting and tax professionals available to you, from basic data entry bookkeepers right through to specialised BAS and tax agents.
There are even some bookkeepers who are so knowledgeable in one particular accounting program that the software company has endorsed them as certified consultants or advisors, and some earn commission from accounting software companies, while there are others who aren’t beholden to any particular software company. We outline four steps you can take to narrow down the search.
Step One: What Kind of Bookkeeper Do You Need?
Think about your business and how it operates. Do you have lots of business purchases and transactions each week? Do you employ staff? Do you work in a specialised industry? Are you registered for GST? Do you require a bookkeeper to work onsite at your premises or can they work remotely?
Write down the needs of your business to help you determine the kind of financial help, and therefore, what kind of bookkeeper you need for your business.
Step Two: Research Local Bookkeepers in Your Area
Visit the websites of some local bookkeepers in your area, or search the National Bookkeeping Directory to find bookkeepers matching your requirements located near you. If you don’t require a bookkeeper to visit your premises, broaden your scope and research bookkeepers who can work remotely. Make a shortlist of potential bookkeepers.
Step Three: Check the TPB Register
BAS and tax agents are required, by law, to register with the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB), so if your business requires either a tax or BAS agent (or both), the TPB Register should be your first port of call to ensure the person who have in mind is currently registered to provide BAS or tax services.
Step Four: Interview Your Preferred Bookkeepers
During step two, you made a shortlist of potential bookkeepers, and, assuming your TPB search didn’t turn up anything to be wary of, you should now set about contacting each one to get to know more about the services they provide.
It’s a good idea to ask them how long they’ve been working as a bookkeeper for, the sorts of businesses they’ve worked with in the past, and any expectations they may have of you. You should also ask for a written quote for their services. This quote should form part of your professional services agreement.
Many bookkeepers will provide an initial consultation, and if not, ask them to. We outline a number of things you can expect and ask them at this first consultation.
If you need help making your small business dream become a reality — with business planning and templates, identifying target markets, with any form of marketing and advertising, including social media, even just setting up a great looking website — then check out our EzyStartUp Course or contact us for more information.
Still unsure whether you can trust online ratings and reviews?
IT CAN BE HARD to know whether you can really trust online ratings and reviews, whether these reviews and ratings are objective and even relevant and how they compare to recommendations and testimonials. By recommendations we mean word of mouth referrals from your friends and family and so forth, and testimonials that have been written by real people — with real names and real locations!
In our recent post about recommendations we suggested that you ask a friend, relative or colleague if they’ve ever had experience with a business you’re thinking of using — chances are, if your friends live locally they may well have; or if the business is a chain or franchise operating over a wide area.
Also ask other businesses
When seeking a professional recommendation you can also ask other businesses. Find out what their experiences have been, if any. Often businesses will have a relationship with each other even if it is not, at first, apparent.
For instance, a symbiotic relationship tends to exist between real estate agents and tradespeople. Agents will regularly draw up a list of preferred tradespeople that they work with and recommend to their tenants, landlords and vendors.
And there are plenty of tradespeople who do the same for real estate agents that they’ve had professional dealings with. There are plenty of other examples of these sorts of professional recommendations.
Beware professional bias
Of course, just as you should be wary of overly positive or negative ratings and reviews online, you should be likewise when soliciting professional reviews. If one business regularly referred work by another, even if they don’t think they’re a great business to deal with, neither party will necessarily say anything bad about each other.
In the end, when looking for a tradesperson, real estate agent or some other professional service, be sure to do all your research. Ask around for personal referrals, check them up online, and get in touch with each business directly to see which one is the best fit for you.
Real people, real locations
At EzyLearn we provide testimonials from our students, which include their full name and location, and why they chose EzyLearn to study in the first place. We also offer a money-back guarantee and free samples of our course content, so students know they can trust they’re making the right choice. Visit our website for more information and to see our wide range of courses.
At EzyLearn we offer online training courses to help you up-skill and find employment. Choose from our range of cloud-based online accounting software courses, to business start up and management courses, to marketing and sales courses, or update and further your skills in a range of Microsoft Office programs (Excel, PowerPoint, Word) or social media and WordPress web design).