“Google Ads” and “Facebook Boosted Posts” are really, really popular right now. BUT the costs of these are getting higher and higher as well. A lot of businesses are struggling to measure the return on investment (ROI), and many are now turning to something far more easily measurable – direct marketing.
Direct marketing use to mean sending addressed letters using a mail merge between Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel but these days it means email marketing.
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.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org versus the far less professional: email@example.com.
These factors combined produced a bottleneck effect in the job market, which made it difficult for certain workers to advance their careers, while others, typically young graduates, struggled to gain a foothold in the job market at all.
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.
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?
NOT SO LONG AGO, bookkeepers and accountants only had to learn to work with one accounting program. That was back when MYOB, the market leader, had a strangle-hold on the industry, and though a few alternatives – Reckon, Quickbooks – tried to squeeze out a space for themselves, MYOB was too embedded in the accounting industry.
But the rise of cloud accounting has changed all that. Besides the reinvention of a couple of old brands (QuickBooks and Reckon – though the latter has exited the market again), it’s also birthed a new market leader in Xero, which now has more paid member accounts in Australia and New Zealand than arch rival MYOB.
A number of smaller players to have entered market, too. There’s Zoho, which has built an entire suite of productivity apps; and straightforward cloud accounting programs, such as Saasu and Freshbooks – to name only a few.
There was no big, expensive outlay to buy the software – Xero offers a free trial, after all – and for the most part, setting up a Xero account, creating invoices, estimates and recording expenses was remarkably easy.
Many bookkeepers, who had been working with MYOB, quickly started offering bookkeeping services in Xero, and there are many more who work exclusively in Xero.
These bookkeepers are usually part of the Xero Partner program, but there are some that just prefer using Xero because it’s cheaper and easier for their clients to use, which makes their job a lot easier.
Most bookkeepers are diversifying, not just in the services they offer (from only providing daily reconciliations services to providing BAS, payroll and credit management services) but also the programs they work with.
Many highly skilled bookkeepers not only work in MYOB and Xero, but some also work in larger enterprise reporting systems, such as Oracle and SAP.
Doing so enables, predominantly contract bookkeepers, to work with a range of different businesses and increase their income.
Even bookkeepers who don’t work with large enterprise reporting systems, but who do work with the major accounting programs Xero, MYOB and QuickBooks, are still able to increase their earning potential.
Learn the major accounting programs for one low price!
We are constantly updating our Special Offers page to include a variety of combination deals on our online training courses to provide established bookkeepers and would-be bookkeepers with the most training material for the lowest price.
In one of our current special offers, students who enrol in our MYOB AccountRight and Xero online courses will also receive QuickBooks Online and MYOB Essentials online courses FOR FREE.
Remember, becoming proficient in a number of different software packages takes you a long way towards being able to offer diverse services to your clients. Then you only have to decide which services to offer — BAS, payroll, credit management — or perhaps all three and more? One you know what you can offer your clients, you’re well on your way to operating a successful bookkeeping business.
Google My Business, Google Site & Google Maps – ALL FREE
DURING A HOME RENOVATION project for an investment property I was involved with recently, I needed to find lots of different tradespeople in the Newcastle area — and quickly.
I also wanted to look up trade tips that would help me solve a few renovation issues, and it made me realise just how important Google Maps and local searches are.
This is in addition to local classifieds and online services like Gumtree and Airtasker.
Create a free website with Google Sites
A local painter and handyman named Mark helped me with many aspects of the Newcastle renovation project and we talked a lot about the ways he could increase his profile in the Newcastle area to grow his business.
I created him a simple website for free using Google G Suite’s Sites application, and also set up Mark’s Google My Business Account, so he would show up in local search listings and on Google Maps — all of which is free with a Google G Suite account. (A G Suite account costs as little as $5 per month, per user.)
By the way, I suggested that he shouldn’t take a photograph for his website after he’d just gotten a buzz cut, but he did it anyway! 😉
Google is a cheap and easy way to get online
Using the productivity tools contained in Google G Suite Course is a great way for businesses to get organised with great SPAM filtering email, calendars and scheduling, tasks and to do lists and much more, and using Google Sites enabled Mark to get online cheaply and easily. And because you’re using a Google product (Google Sites) to create your website, it’s a simple way to make sure you’ll be discovered in Google Maps and local Search results.
Although WordPress offers greater functionality, and is a more robust content management system, it also requires more technical skills to ensure your website is able to be discovered in Google Search and Maps results. It’s also a little trickier to integrate with Google G Suite and other productivity apps. (We offer training courses in WordPress for this reason.)
If you need help setting up your Google G Suite account, and would like to learn how to set up a Google Sites website to increase your online presence for your business, we cover Google G Suite in our Digital and Social Media Online Training Course. Visit our website for more information or to enrol.
I HAVE JUST BEEN THROUGH a gruuelling experience with our hosting company, technical people and course creators to make sure that EzyLearn continues to be the first choice for Bookkeeping and Marketing Courses.
Our servers are now twice as fast and have more storage so existing students should experience some nice and fast access speeds — unless you’re in an NBN area that drops out all the time (sorry Telstra, I love you BUT the access speed is no different from what it was over here in the NSW Lake Macquarie area!)
In case you weren’t aware, I was recently heavily involved in a renovation of an investment property in Newcastle (which I really enjoyed and has given us a whole lot of extra content from real world experiences with local tradies like electricians, plumbers, chippies, painters and more) but am now back on the tools (the internet and software tools, that is) and keen to continue improving every aspects of our courses for existing AND new students.
We’ve coming up to the crazy, silly season once again that is Christmas, and I thought I’d push our marketing up another notch to help those who want to learn more to improve their lives and businesses in 2018. I hope I’m not too early in thinking like this but it’s a great time to think about what’s important in life and go and get it.
New people, new experience and MORE new content
I’ve spoken with some fantastic people who’ve joined us in the accounting software space and they have some tremendous experience in the ERP (Enterprise resource planning) side of accounting — that is accounting software as used by mid size companies. From this, we’re going to share some great information, tips and experiences to help those businesses who either deal with larger companies as clients, or who are at the stage of ramping up their accounting as a mid size business.
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.
ONLINE RATINGS AND REVIEWS ARE a great way to determine whether a business is trustworthy or whether they products and services they provide will suit your needs. TripAdvisor and Yelp have transformed the hospitality and accommodation industry, for example. And Airbnb is doing similar with short-term rentals.
While recently working on a home renovation in Newcastle, I came across a carpenter who had seven employees working for him. Jimmy the Chippy in Belmont has been in business nine years, has no website or online presence — but his business is booming.
How does he do it?
The old fashioned way! He does exceptional work for his customers and clients, who hire him again and again and refer him to friends, relatives, colleagues and so on. He also made a point of networking with local builders and plumbers in the area, who contact him when they have work to do, and refer him to other builders and plumbers as well.
Use word of mouth
If you’re looking locally, and the online ratings and reviews of the businesses you’re trying to decide between aren’t helping, asking a friend, relative or work colleague if they know any of the businesses.
If no one in your social network knows the business, you can also google an online forum like Whirlpool, where members frequently provide fair and balanced opinions of businesses they’ve dealt with — and if they don’t, they’re usually called out for it.
Testimonials are helpful, too
Real estate agents, accountants and many other businesses — EzyLearn included — use testimonials rather than ratings or reviews (except on Facebook), so you shouldn’t discount these just because they’ve been vetted before going online.
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 ask each student whether it is ok to publish these beforehand. 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.
IT CAN BE DIFFICULT to tell whether online ratings and reviews are real or not. One easy way to get a pretty good idea of what’s real and what’s not is checking for a balance of positive and negative ratings and reviews that have been left by real people who’ve used their Gmail or Facebook account.
Reviews are better than ratings
If you’re a person who relies on ratings and reviews to make purchasing decisions, you’ll know you can’t really tell the trustworthiness of a businesses if it only asks customers to leave a rating (usually out of 4 or 5). Similarly it’s hard to tell what people really think of a business if they’ve only left ratings rather than reviews.
Businesses with a good mixture of ratings and reviews, where a customer has been able to leave a comment justifying the rating they gave the business, make it much easier to make a decision.
Check the content of reviews
You don’t need to read thousands of reviews for a business, but it helps to read a few of them to see what customers are saying. This also helps determine whether these reviews are truly independent or not.
What are reviewers actually commenting on, and if they’re negative, is there a pattern? Is a local restaurant consistently understaffed or does a plumber often fail to turn up on time? Are the complaints about things that would concern you or are they petty — a long queue at a cafe that still serves good food and coffee, for example.
Positive reviews provide useful information
If the reviews of a business are mostly positive, do they provide any useful information? Hundreds and hundreds of reviews that simply say “great” or “fantastic” don’t tell you enough about what customers thought were great or fantastic about that business.
People might have really liked something that doesn’t suit your needs. It is also a good indicator that they’re not entirely true or real reviews either.
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.