Monday, January 14, 2013
In order to have better SEO Soap Warehouse moved its main blog to its own site in 2010. We will leave the old posts here and will occasionally include some from our new location, as with the few here from 2011. But to see all our posts please visit the new location and be sure to subscribe to the feed to get each new post e-mailed to you.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
2 minutes: Check Twitter to listen about your company and products.
1.5 minutes: Scan Google Alerts for your company name, products or executives names.
1 minutes: Check Facebook stats at your Companies Page
3 minutes: Look for questions and answer at least one a day
2.5 minutes: Use Google Reeder to check other sites like Flicker, Digg and others.
Now the longer you spend at some, like with Q&A's, that will be to your advantage. You may have days where you find more than one or two questions that would be good for you to answer so realistically you may spend 20-30 minutes on these five items on some days. Or you may only do 4 for the 5 like I do most of the time.
1. Checking Twitter. Well first you have to have a Twitter account. And that is easy and free by going to http://www.twitter.com/. Once you are set up you can then use one of two tools; TweetDeck or Twitter Search.
For TweetDeck you must go to their web site http://www.tweekdeck.com/ and sign up, it's free and then set up your scan board. I like this because once it is turned on at the beginning of the day every time a new item is posted to any of the categories you have it set to show, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. the posts will flash up in the top right corner of your screen and ping you. If you are at your computer you can glance up to see if it is a post you would like to comment on. Remember sites like Facebook are about relationships not selling so just making comments keeps you relevant to your FB friends.
Now Twitter Search is much easier and you can use it as much or as little as you want each day. Just go to the Home Page and up in the search bar put in your companies name. Be sure to place quotation marks around it or you will get posts that contain all the words themselves not just in the order of your business name. For example Joe's Pressure Washing will return "Joe's" "pressure" "washing" and "pressure washing" instead of the "Joe's Pressure Washing" that you want. Or you can go to the advanced search and enter it there before saving. You might also want to chose some that are close, that your customers might enter instead and incorrectly, like "Joe's Power Washing" "Joe's Power Wash" and remember capitalization does not matter. You can also list product names if your business has them, like ours does. After each search you can click at the top on the "Save this Search" button if you where happy with the results. Once it is saved when you come back each day. Look just above the posts and click on the "Searches" tab. A scrolled down menu will appear with all the searches you have saved. Click on which ever one you want to check at that time. You can also keep up to date with temporary items and delete them once they are over.
2. Scan Google Alerts. This is very similar to the Twitter searches we just discussed. You go to www.google.com/alerts to set them up. You list what you want to know about that is coming out on the web and then set it as to how often to send the results to your email account. I have it set for as it happens but I have over 10 alerts, and I might check it a few times during the day. You may only have a few you will need to set for, so once a day or even once a week may be fine. But remember the longer you wait the longer your response time will be to react to anything negative. You will need to have your business name as well as your own name. For those I would set it for all results. But for topics you might want to set it for Only the best results like I do for "restaurant fire", "power washing", "pressure washing", "graffiti removal" and again do not forget the quote marks. You can also set it for whole phrases as well like "fleet truck washing". You can also use a special email account just for these alerts so you do not clutter up your regular account or have your email filters set so that any email coming from Google Alerts goes into a separate folder so it is easy to open and scan them. This is what I do. I also have alerts set for topic phrases to gather information for my blogs.
3. Check Facebook Stats. Go to your company page on Facebook. On the top right hand under the bar, click on the Edit page button, when this comes up on the left side there is a list and near the bottom of the list is a bar graph called Insights. This will give you a lot of valuable information about who is coming and using your site. It can tell you how many daily, weekly and monthly users are using your site. It also shows what posts got interactions. Enabling you to go back to the post and continue the conversation.
4. Search for questions to answer. You need to put your self out there as an authority in your business or just to interact. For this you can use sites like Ask.com at http://www.ask.com/answers/ and click on the Ask People tab, at Facebook Questions http://www.facebook.com/questions/ see what your friends are asking and answer or ask your own question with poll options. With Yahoo answers you can get out into the www audience not just the people you know and this can bring even more people to you. This is the one I use the most. Go to http://answers.yahoo.com/ and set your account up. and then to browse categories. Most of you will find questions to answer in the Home and Garden section. Found one asking about paint colors, if bleach hurts vinyl siding, what size pressure washer to buy to start up in the business and how much should an average pressure washing job cost. All these and more would have been great for many of you to answer. You make your comments and then you are able to link to web pages to back up your answers. You can link to your own website but do not use it all the time or as the sole link. Anyone can click on your avatar with the answer and find your information that you set up when you joined and this is where you need to list your web site and company information. Also if you have good answers, the person that asked the questions chooses the best answer, then you get a better ranking and more people will listen to what you have to say. You can also create a network and gain fans.
5. Google Reader found at https://www.google.com/reader/ this is good if you already have a Google e-mail account or want to get one just to have your Google alerts sent to it and to use the reader. You can link your web site , your competitors sites, Youtube, Flicker any site you want to visit to check on what is new.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
- First move victim to a cool or shaded area and administer water.
- Loosen any constricting clothing or extra layers of clothing.
- Check victims temperature if possible, note if they are sweaty or dry.
- You can place cool towels or wet clothes on the head, chest, midsection, and arms to reduce body temp, but do not use ice.
- Ask the person simple questions and to follow simple commands, such as what day it is, their children's name, to touch their finger to their nose, or count back from ten.
- If you suspect heat stroke call for help immediately, lie the person down with legs slightly raised, if conscious allow them to sit up to drink fluids, ideally a sport drink, every 5 - 10 minutes until help arrives.
As many Internet savy folks know, not having your blog live on your own main site gives you NO SEO benefit. Having a blog is a great first step, but you do not need to be building up Google's presence on the Internet. Therefore about a year ago we moved our main blogging on to our own site at http://info.soapwarehouse.biz/Default.aspx. I will still be posting some of the best articles on this site to keep it current and allow those that find it, to follow us and learn about Soap Warehouse.
We hope to see you there. You can also use the links below to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as well as subscribe to our blogs RSS feed. http://info.soapwarehouse.biz/blog-0/
Have a great day.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
He wanted to know if most pressure washing professionals are using QuickBooks (QB) for their book keeping. Well QB is the #1 seller for a reason. But we use QB for so much more and since I have friends that work with Intuit in QB design and debugging, I have learned how QB can also help small business owners with their marketing.
And since June is National Entrepreneur Do-it-Yourself Marketing Month this would be a great time to show everyone some tricks and hand out tips.
First if you are not using QB you should really consider it. And if you are not fully using the report features, you are missing out on a major portion of what QB can do for you.
Did you know you can use features in QB to segment your customers in to specific groups to use later for marketing?
Go to your QB and pull up the Customer Center. Once there click on any customer you want. There you will see just under the Customer name a field called “Customer Type” This was designed to be used to indicate almost anything about your customer that you want, but it can be used for marketing by creating reports. It has been reported in surveys to QB that over 60% of QB users do not use the "customer type" function which is a terrible waste. To get to this field click on the “Edit Customer” button, top right. Once there click on the “Additional Information” tab. Now you can access the drop down menu and use the “Add New” feature. I would suggest using this to segment your customers buy type of work you do. For example if you do only a limited type of work like only house or window washing you might want to list the types but Square foot size ranges or type of house or building. Ex: Under 1000, 1500-2000, Two story, split level, ranch, strip mall etc.
But most of you have a range of work you perform like house wash, roof wash, and flat work (such as driveways or side walks). Then your list could look like this: House wash <1000sq, House wash/gutters, Gutter clean only, deck wash only, deck wash/strip & stain, etc. I have not found a limit to the number that you can use and no # is given in QB help.
Some might want to use the “Job Type” under the “Job” tab in this way instead which would also be fine, but if you have already been using QB for a while and have never used the Job function it is not possible to go back and convert past invoices so this may not be where you want to segment. But you can use it moving forward as a great tool to separate invoices for the different jobs you do for customers. But you must be consistent in naming your types of jobs to make reporting easier later. But with the “Customer Type” area you can go back and modify all or as many customer records as you would like.
Once you are using the “Type” area you can create reports that give you details to make e-mail or direct mail campaigns work.
You can also use Custom fields to help you even further. For instance you could set one of these fields to be called “last date of service” then every time you have finished invoicing a customer you go here and enter in the date the job was completed. Later when you need to find customers to fill your schedule in a specific location or area you could create a custom report asking it to give you all house wash only, house/gutter and house wash/roof cleaning customers that you have not serviced yet this year to be listed. This list could further be sorted by adding other criteria like city or zip code and then be exported to an excel file where an e-mail list is made to send out a targeted e-mail offer, for example saying that you will be in that area next week and that you have three slots open and if they call and book an appointment by Friday they will get a free gutter cleaning (Or any other added service benefit you may want to offer)
Using the date of service you can also make your lists for thank you cards for the past month, find customers that have missed their normal yearly cleaning time or even for sending out customer Birthday cards if you have made a field for that.
Other things to look for when researching customer files: Review their invoices. Are they a once a year house washing customer that you have been washing for the last 5 years? You could send out a customer appreciation or referral offer. Is there a pattern of when they call or schedule their service with you? If you are slow in June you could possibly pre sell past July customers early with a phone call or an offer. Have you ever done any extra side work during one of these visits but not every time or have you ever noted there was other work available at this home that you have not done or that some one else is doing? Send them an offer like; “With any house wash every 100 square feet of flat work cleaned, you get 10 feet free.” to help get work you have not had in the past but know is available.
Make use of the notes section! Take notes on the job in a note book or on the quote form and transfer these notes into QB for a future gold mine of marketing information. Like “Customer just put in a pool, add quote for pool deck next year.”
In the newest QB version 11 they have a great new feature that allows you to attach additional documents to the file as a whole or to each invoice, estimate or sales order. You can use this feature to attach photos of the job, either at the time of the job quote, or B & A photos of the job after you are done. Then next time you can pull up what the property looked like to remind you of certain things you may have forgot to include in your costs or to notice changes when you visit that have been made since that last job that might change the price. Such as added planter boxes to the deck railings. You can also use this to attach copies of supply lists or invoices so you can remember how many cans of stain, the exact color and price you paid last time. This way you can find out the current pricing for these items ahead of time and adjust your billing or estimate accordingly. You can go back and attach new documents to old invoices with out a problem so even if you have supply lists, invoices and photos 10 years old you can still add them now to your current customer records. Once you have made and attached the copies, you may be able to get rid of the old paper work altogether. Clutter saving alert!
If you have different crews or employees doing work for you be sure to use the “Rep” drop down menu for this. This can help you track who did the quote? How many hours some one worked or the number of jobs done when paying your employees or if a customer has a praise or complaint you can easily tell who was last at that job. Or if a customer asks for the same tech you will know who to schedule. Even if changed to a new Rep at the next job visit or quote, the older invoice will still retain the past information. Great feature to use.
Now one feature I wish they would change is in the wording of the drop down menu in the “Job Info” tab. Right now it lists: None, Pending, Awarded, In Progress, Closed, and Not Awarded. I would like this to also allow you to add to these ones like: Quoted, Scheduled, Do Not Accept Job, etc.
But even leaving it this way you could still do a search for all pending sales orders to find customers that you quoted for a job (pending) that never called you back, to allow you to make a call or mailing list for follow up contact. You can also get pretty long with your job description with about 100 characters. The “Job Type” names must be shorter, at about 20 characters and this is where you can segment your customers by the work done, if you did not want to use the first location I discussed earlier "Customer Type".
Another really cool new feature in QB 11 is the map and directions feature. Not sure if a booked customer lives near one that is calling to schedule? Just click on the word “map” in blue under the customers address and the location will come up in Google Maps. It can also give you directions between addresses. It also gives you a space to enter notes if you have to remember things like “Gate will be locked, combo is 5-23-16 and must close gate behind or dogs will get out.” But this only works for the main address for the customer, so if you have a commercial customer with one mailing address and multiple locations knowing where their post office box or corporate office is may not be as helpful.
There are so many ways you can use the custom fields for marketing there is no way to list them all and I am sure you might think of ways I have not heard of yet. Only realize that in the older versions there are only 7 slots that can be used for custom field entry and once they have been made and used they can not be changed unless you make one inactive. Once you make it inactive it will not be searchable. The newer QB11 and maybe even QB10 will let you have more than 7. This has allowed us to add things like Facebook Friend and Newsletter subscriber as custom fields to our current customer accounts.
Well I hope this has helped you QB users and any that may be trying to decide if QB is a smart investment. But no matter what computer book keeping system you use, be sure to continuously make back up copies. We back up our QB files to readable/writable disks each week and once a month run a complete drive copy of our data to alternating portable hard drives. This way we can never lose more than a single week of QB data or a whole month of most of our other data to fire or theft. Another way is to pay for off site down loading, which is becoming very convenient and more affordable than ever before.
Monday, April 11, 2011
During this month I plan to give you some suggestions, links to resources and hard facts to try and help you reach this goal.
Social Media is the new way to reach old and potentially newcustomers. Inbound Marketing is the future of small business. Outboundmarketing may become all but extinct in the next 10 years. It isnecessary to have more than a web site these days and to try and findcustomers via direct mail, e-mail and other media campaigns. Customersare tuning out and avoiding traditional methods business use to use tosell their products and services. New prospects want to find you whenthey need you, not you find them and interupt their day. They want realvalue and information even before they are willing to contact you about aservice you could provide for them.
As we know most web surfers will make a decision to stay on your sitein less than 3 seconds and many web analyst’s are saying that it hasmoved down now to less than 2 seconds.
So how can you make your web site be the one a service surfer will find and then stop and take a look at?
I will give you a list of 5 key elements here and then elaborate a little for you under the list.
- Quality information above the fold and on the left 1/3 of the web page.
- An obvious offer and call to action.
- Examples of how to solve their problems (the reason they have searched)
- Include visuals (especially video)
- Ways to continue to be educated or engage if they want too.
Your business name that corresponds with the work you do: Bill’sPressure Washing and House Cleaning. You can even use multiple names andhave multiple sites if your work is strongly divided, such as AllKitchen Hood Cleaning and Bill’s Pressure Washing. You can still use onephone, just have two separate numbers that are forwarded to a singlephone, most phones now will let you know where the number was forwardedfrom so you will know how to answer the call.
Or you may need to have multiple landing pages added to your website, designed toward each part of work that you cover. It no longersmart to have just one main page of your web site listing everything youdo. You must have that plus a page for your deck cleaning and repair,roof washing and gutter cleaning, house washing, concrete cleaning,Christmas light decorating... any job you do can have its own page whichin turn can all link back to one contact entry page.
And with so many new searchers using their phones, iPads and othersmaller screen devices you will need to revise your pages to give thoseviewers information in the way they will see it, only the left top 1/3 of the page.
Ok on to point #2. Now that your surfer has stopped you need to grabthem with an offer and call to action. Do you offer same day freeestimates? Free gutter cleaning with new roof cleaning? 20 sq ft freeconcrete cleaning with each 100 ft cleaned?
What ever the offer is, make it stand out, be clearand then have an obvious button to click on for them to take actionwith. I could write a complete blog just about how to do this, and Iwill, but for now just know this is what needs to happen to get thecontact.
Point #3, to be able to give examples of how you can solve theirproblem, you first need to know what that problem is! This is wherecreating pages within your web site with Meta tags and key words tospecific words and long tail phrases people to search are become very important. You want some one that searches for “lowest priced house washing in Fulton county”to find your page on house washing, not to be taken to someone else’spage or even to your web site to a page about deck washing or roofcleaning, even though you may do all three, that surfer will haveclicked off your site before you can blink. I will expand on this in afuture blog post.
#4 - visuals. Visuals are becoming more and more important tosurfers; they don’t want to have to read everything they want to know, they want to see it.Pictures tell the story many times much easier and faster than wordscan. The brain can process pictures over 10 times faster than whenreading information that the picture is showing. For example:
These Before and After photos of removing rust from a concrete patiois understood much faster than reading the statements. “We can cleanyour concrete patio, walk way or drive way from rust, dirt, oil, andtire marks.” or “We can remove rust caused by patio furniture, so on and so forth.”Not that you should not still make the statement, but understand thatpeople scan information, especially text and photos catch the eye.Videos are even better. You can improve the time spent on your sitetremendously, sometimes by more than 20% with video. For example if youraverage page view is currently 6 seconds and you add even one 1 minutevideo, when it is watched you have increased your view time over 10%.Have multiple videos available that are shorter like 20-30 seconds andyou will increase the number of videos a single person will be willingto watch and you can reach view rates of 20-40% higher than yourstarting 6% rate. Be sure to state near the video how long each one isto increase the chance of even the first view. People will not click onvideos they feel are too evolved or will abandon one once it starts ifit is moving too slowly or does not start to answer their problem orquestion.
Lastly give your surfer the option to learn more and engage with youin the future. Offer them newsletters, future discounts if they leaveyou their email, links to other information they may want to learnabout, etc. These are opportunities to be able to contact these peoplein the future even if they did not click over and fill out your freeestimate or contact form. They may just be price shopping and would likethe opportunity to try you later if you sent them a discount offer andwould be willing to just leave you their email address but not theirname, so don’t require it.
I know this has been a little long but I hope you will come back andview the follow up posts that we will have. To be sure you are included,you can join our e-mail list by going to our web site www.soapwarehouse.biz then youwill receive newsletters or you can go and like our Facebookpage's or subscribe to this blog and you will know when new posts areadded. You can even follow us on Twitter.
Thanks for reading.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
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