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Business Savings: Some Thoughts for 2018

Business Savings: Some Thoughts for 2018

My husband, as many of your already know, is an accountant. And like many in his profession, he is security and numbers driven. Full transparency, I consider a small miracle we made it through our first year with relatively few disagreements over finances.

Not household finances (we had a successful system there to prevent any arguments from day one: essentially we had allowances in personal accounts that we could spend however we wanted without any opinions from the other person), but, rather, business finances.

For years I operated my business from invoice to invoice, essentially. My husband would encourage me to bank some of our revenue for a rainy day, but I would always find something new to invest in or some unexpected expense would come up.

But after a couple of years I finally gave in and started saving. It was painful at first, as our business savings sometimes just grew by $500 or $1,000 per month, but eventually we had enough saved that we were always ahead one month in our business checking and we had one month of expenses in our savings account. That took us about 18 months to accrue, but I have to admit that getting that built up felt PHENOMENAL and was a huge sigh of relief that I didn’t even know was in me! Of course, once you get that initial cushion the next goal is 4 months and then 6.

Which leads me to this for you. The traditional recommendation is to save 3-6 months of operating expenses in your business savings account. How much do you currently have saved? If you are ready to commit, write down your goal get going. Need some accountability? Respond here and I’ll send a few additional words of encouragement. But no matter what you do, get to saving. I promise the feeling will be so liberating!

xox

Tara

p.s. And Dear, if you happen to read this one…although I’ve told you so many times, let me declare it publicly: you were right. 😉

p.p.s. Have you read The Journey to $100K yet? It’s chock full of great business advice for achieving your first (or next!) big financial milestones.

By | 2018-03-15T00:01:02+00:00 March 14th, 2018|Business Advice, Business Operations|0 Comments

Leveraging the New Facebook Algorithim—That’s Right, Leveraging

Change generally brings about one of two reactions: resistance or resourcefulness. But with this particular change to the Facebook algorithm, those who commit to their content have a golden opportunity.

For this piece I asked Laura Roeder (CEO, MeetEdgar), Amanda Bond (The Ad Strategist), Krista Lettko (co-founder, Authentic Audience), and Jess Walman (CEO, Jess Walman) to contribute.

And of course, you’ll find my insight as well. I’m Tara Zirker, founder and owner of Successful Ads Club.

Laura, set the stage for us!

“Let it never be said that Facebook doesn’t tell you what it wants! They were very clear in their announcement of this algorithm change that if you want your Page’s posts to be higher in the News Feed, they should SPARK CONVERSATION in their audience. Pages that successfully prioritize that type of engagement are going to reap some serious benefits from this algorithm change.

In retrospect, it makes a lot of sense that Facebook would announce this algorithm change just a few weeks after announcing that they’ll be restricting reach and demoting Pages for posts that qualify as engagement bait. (Posts like, “Comment ‘Yes’ if you love dogs!”) Facebook is committing itself to rewarding Pages that get not just engagement, but high-quality engagement.

Want to use these changes to your advantage? Post updates that’ll get people talking to you and to *each other*! Ask questions. Share juicy guides and news stories that’ll invite conversation. When you share a link, invite people to sound off by commenting on your update! Host live video and encourage viewers to share their thoughts and questions in the comments.

If it’s quality content that successfully sparks genuine conversations, Facebook is going to reward it with higher visibility. (And if you share an update that sparks a great conversation, don’t be afraid to share it again in the future, so new people can see it and have *another* great conversation!)”

Laura Roeder is the founder and CEO of MeetEdgar, a social media management tool (that I, Tara, personally love!) that allows you to reshare your status updates.

So let’s talk about those conversations. You’d be lying a little if you said you weren’t inspired by my friend Amanda Bond’s business page. By her correct assessment, engagement is KING! So how do we do it? How do we create meaningful and active engagement? Up next: A tip and a strategy for you by none other than Amanda Bond.

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Amanda Bond

“Alright, interwebs friends… the biggest strategy I have for you, it’s a doozy. Ready? …

BE-freaking-HUMAN when it comes to your Facebook content.

Full stop. That’s it.

Obviously I’m being a bit facetious but the key takeaway here is to stop treating Facebook as your own personal megaphone and start creating relevant content that inspires your brand community. Create platform. Facilitate discussion. Essentially… do the dang work to get people fired up over what you’re throwing down.

An actionable way to understand what content resonates with your audience is to measure the results of each and every post you put out (whether it’s a paid post or organically to your page).

How? You measure results using something called your Engagement Rate. In a nutshell, that’s the percentage of people who dig your content so much, they do something about it—react, comment, share, click—after seeing your posts in their news feeds.

Here’s how to find out how much engagement each post gets:

  1. Sign in as an Page Admin to view your Facebook Page Insights.
  2. Add the number of clicks (blue bar) + the number of reactions, comments, & shares (red bar) together to get the total number of post engagements.
  3. Divide the total number of post engagements by the total reach.
  4. And, then multiply that number by 100.
  5. The resulting answer is the percentage of people who took-hella-action on your post!!!

For the first example in the image: 2,200 + 321 = 2,521 / 15,2000 = .166 x 100 = 16.6% Engagement

Then, your only job on Facebook is to keep experimenting with your content to strive and maintain (or beat!) your current engagement rates. Then the next time they change the algorithm, you have an arsenal of content you KNOW performs well for your audience. #takeyourpowerback

To supercharge these tips, try Engagement Looping. It’s a ninja little trick when responding to comments on your posts. Instead of just giving their comment a like, respond to each comment with an open ended question creating an open loop in conversation. Many times the original poster will come back to continue the convo. This results in an audience full of raving fans all while appeasing the algorithm gods along the way.

Amanda Bond is the owner of The Ad Strategist helping people to stop guessing and starting getting results with their Facebook ads.

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Hel-lo! Being human is possibly one of the best marketing guidelines out there. Let’s dive in deeper here. I brought in my colleague Krista Lettko to talk about that. She’s one of the best in the business when it comes to building authentic followings. She has a prolific track record building extremely visible brands that grow to hundreds of thousands and then millions of followers. Chances are good you follow her clients on Instagram.
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Krista Lettko

“I, for one, am excited about the opportunities this new update will bring for my clients. Look at the brands that have continued their success even as the algorithms have evolved over the years and it’s no surprise that these brands all have one thing in common: authenticity.

People recognize when content is authentic. It resonates with them.

How do you create authentic content?

  1. Find your ‘Why.’ When people buy into your why, they will buy what you are selling. Why do you do what you do? Why should people care about what you are selling? Why do your customers experience something different and more meaningful from that of your competitors? Have the founder write a personalized message about why they started the company. Talk about a company-wide initiative and why it’s important to you. Don’t have an initiative that ties back to your ‘why?’ Get one. 
  2. Provide value. If you are constantly calling people to action with buy, buy, buy and do, do, do, you are nothing more than a salesperson when what you want to be is an EXPERT. Share industry knowledge with your audience. Educate them. How are things changing? Where are they going? What meaningful conversations can you start in your online community? Open up. Don’t be afraid to have a perspective. 
  3. Start doing LIVE feed videos. Many businesses spend a lot of time editing complicated videos shot on expensive cameras, but the truth is all people really want to see is you. According to Mark Zuckerberg, LIVE videos will be shared more as the new algorithm rolls out. One of my clients spends about $2,000 per month on video content. Lots of time goes into editing this video every month. She also does on-the-fly Facebook LIVE sessions. Guess which one gets more views? The lives! Why? She is authentic in who she is and has a ton of value to provide her current and future customers. When she sits in her house, with no make-up on, and just speaks from the heart, her engagement goes WAY, WAY up. 
  4. People crave simplicity. They crave authenticity, connection, meaningful conversation, and engagement. If your brand has a meaningful ‘Why’ and if you believe in what it is you are selling, this algorithm will work in your favor, save you money, and present an amazing opportunity to create an authentic relationship with your audience. Be transparent, share your ‘Why,’ and earn the trust of your customer. They will stay with you forever.”

Krista Lettko is the co-founder of Authentic Audience: a marketing and Facebook ad agency that specializes in yoga and wellness businesses. Authenticaudience.co.

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We’ve talked what FB is looking for, engagement, and authenticity, but what about how to find things to talk about? Most of us could use an idea or two. For that, I turned to Jess Walman, an ad strategist friend of mine.

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Jess Walman

“Find hot topics going on in your industry and spark a conversation on it. Not only spark a conversation, but provide your unique viewpoint and don’t be afraid to be controversial. Ask people their opinions on the topic. From there be sure to interact and engage with the comments throughout the day. The more interaction, the more Facebook will favor it with higher visibility.

This even works if you want to find a hot topic going on globally, whether it’s politics, socio-economic, or the Kardashians. Find something that’s currently relevant in the world, tie it back to your industry and message, and create a conversation.

A client of mine created a post that went viral because she tied an Olympic athlete (during the Olympics) to parenting (her niche) and created a discussion on how his parents parenting affected his life and reaching his goals. She was relevant and unique! Now, not all of your posts will go viral by doing this, but you will create better quality posts this way and get higher visibility with Facebook.”

Jess Walman is an ad and sales funnel strategist. You can find her work at www.jessicawalman.com

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And that leads me to…myself. Let me tie this together with a couple of tips for LEVERAGING Facebook. ___

Tara Zirker

Listen folks, Facebook wants our branded content to feel native (think NATURAL) to the newsfeed. Consider the stories you LOVE and instinctively respond to: weddings, pups, babes (I mean babies, but ya know, whatever that means to you), social causes, reunions.

These are the posts that pause your feed and make you think, reflect, and relate.

These are the posts that prompt you to engage.

Do this for your audience. Forget the filler and fluffy material. Spark great conversation that reminds people about your ‘Why’—as Krista so eloquently put it.

Even for ads? Yes.

Especially for ads.

Those who figure out HOW to use their Facebook presence (pages, groups, ads, and, yes, personal profiles) in a way that supports the community will prosper. Be helpful, connect people, provide recommendations—again, ask questions—inspire and show up for the party. What would you talk about over dinner with friends? Business? Life? That’s a great starting point for how to BE on Facebook.

I’ll leave you with a couple of tips on building your Facebook community in a way that serves your needs, too:

#1) Consider keeping people ON the platform. For example, share your blog posts on Facebook versus directing people off site. Worried about losing traffic to your pixel? Don’t. You can retarget your ads to anyone who engaged with your page (and  Instagram profile, watched videos, interacted with your brick and mortar location, etc.). Your blog post (posted in its entirety vs. as a link) can be an engagement magnet on Facebook, thus making the algorithm happy.

#2) Support your other marketing channels with authentic ads. Your anchor emails (those with calls to actions for events, launches, etc)  should always be complemented with fantastic ads to cover all your bases—aka, to find your followers where they are.

I recently attended a mastermind event in NYC with someone I wanted to work with more closely for awhile. I’d been following her prior to the event and, somehow, the email announcing this opportunity got filtered off to a folder. BUT she had an ad, with much of the same content as her email, sent out to people on her list. I saw that and signed up 24 hours later.

#3) And, finally, this is your warning bell. 2018 IS the year to master Facebook. It’s still a bargain and one of the best digital marketing opportunities of this decade, but it will get increasingly competitive and more expensive. So come join the fun while it’s still a great deal.

Tara Zirker is owner of Successful Ads Club, a unique membership for business owners who want to learn to do their own ads. www.SuccessfulAdsClub.com

How has the algorithm update affected you? What’s your big takeaway from this here? Share in the comments on Facebook! And please SHARE this with those you know who would benefit. xx

By | 2018-02-07T19:46:03+00:00 February 7th, 2018|Business Advice, Facebook, Facebook Advertising, Marketing, Social Media|2 Comments

2017 in Review: The Biggest Lessons in Business as a Brand New Mother

2017 in Review

What a year it has been. As any new parent can probably relate to, it was a blur. Yet, as I sit to reflect, now, there were some great themes and lessons learned, which I’m always happy to share. So, let’s dive in.

Becoming a Mom to Sweet Hazel

My little Hazel was born in January. But before I can say more about what the experience of becoming a mother has been like, I have to give a little honest context and say the real real: I thought I would dislike being a mom.

Like, I would love having kids (especially when they were older, possibly adults) but not actually enjoy the actual motions and routines of mothering. Too much to share out loud? I think a lot of my friends have the same fear so I’ll leave it.

I was shocked, oh about 60 seconds after Hazie was born, to realize that this was going to be the greatest and grandest job out there and I remember the sudden flash of thought that I was really, really going to like this new role.  As she nestled into me, I realized that this profound love for this little human hazelnut was going to rule all. Fast forward a year later and that has only proven to be truer than I ever could have even imagined at the time.

She has awakened my world in ways I never imagined. One of my favorites includes rediscovering the world through a child’s eyes.

There was this spectacular moment late last year while traveling when she noticed birds for the first time, as a large flock of swallows flew overhead. Suddenly her eyes grew large and she gleefully started screaming and wriggling every which way to watch these creatures paint the sky with their zigs and zags.

It not only captured her parents, but a sizable crowd lingered to watch this baby see, with delighted wonder and for the first time in her life, mother nature’s arial show. Something the rest of us had all probably long taken for granted and likely wouldn’t have even noticed in that moment.

Hazel has also been my favorite reminder that it’s never too late to have a great childhood. I’m living mine now with her.

The BIG Focus: Narrowing Down

As many of my friends and coaching clients have heard me say over and over again, it takes awhile for a business to feel productive (actually, by most professional estimates, about 3 years).

Meaning: you’ve figured out what you offer and to whom you offer it and how you offer it to them.

In the beginning you say yes to a lot. In fact, it’s your job to do so. Because what you start your business selling will probably NOT be what you ultimately end up selling.

But a few years in, your job shifts to the grand focus of scaling up your best product(s) or service(s) and you find a new muscle you may have not flexed too much before: your NO muscle. And trust me, this muscle is tougher to develop. It looks like this:

✔️You stop hedging (taking on work outside of your core offerings “just in case” or because it’s familiar).

✔️You say no more than you say yes.

✔️You double down on your sole offering(s) and you go deep.

One of the best examples I’ve ever seen of this was one of our advertising clients who, from her library of half a dozen offers, decided to focus on one, only one, for a year to see what would happen. She went from $200K the year before to $1.2M the year she decided to focus. Of course she grew a team and her advertising budget to support that result, but it’s a great example of what can happen when you focus on what you discover works best for you and your company.

This brings me back to just after Hazel was born. I knew I couldn’t sustain two sides of my company any longer without some major help (those who have known our journey, know that our agency had two branches: one where we worked on the full digital footprint for brick and mortar spas and second burgeoning branch of business devoted to Facebook advertising for a variety of businesses including online companies).

A few conversations with our team revealed that nobody felt energized enough to step into a leadership role of taking over the side of our company that was the biggest lift (the marketing side), so with heavy hearts we made plans to begin closing it down over the following quarter.

This, by the way, was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made in business. Our clients were shocked initially but, and this is important to share, every single one of them congratulated me on narrowing down, especially as a new mother. Our team was worried initially, but it turned into this wonderful moment as we encouraged our clients to continue to work with our team members individually (and most did). We culminated the transition with a beautiful closing ceremony for our team, led by one of our greatest consultants and dearest business friends, at the end of May. That day was HARD!

That was the original thing I started.

It was where almost all of our security was (or where I thought it was).

It was in an industry I thought I would always serve.

It was half of of our revenue.

More than half of our team.

The next morning, the day after it was officially wrapped up, I woke up feeling lighter than ever.

And then Launching Successful Ads Club

With so much space freed up from closing the highest energy side of our company, I had so much more space! I got to dig into the advertising side of our company again full force. Our clients and contracts got bigger and bigger. We booked out months in advance. Our best month with our full agency (both sides of the business) was the month Hazel was born. Our second best month this year came two months after closing down the marketing side. I share this with one purpose only: to impress upon you the benefits of FOCUS. I was so scared to narrow down, but I have to say, on the other side, it was the best business decision I ever made!

But here’s what else we did: we launched a complimentary product that filled one of the biggest gaps in the market: ongoing support for people running their own Facebook ads. A boutique membership for business owners who just need to know they’re doing the right things with their accounts and want tips on how to optimize their results.

We called it Successful Ads Club and launched it over Thanksgiving. I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to sign our first 75 members in those first 10 days. Of course, with memberships you have attrition and all sorts of things, but we’re going to grow this to several hundred members this year and it’s honestly one of my favorite projects I have ever done.

It’s such an incredible feeling to help a business owner master and control their own lead generation and to see the results of people savings hundreds and thousands of dollars per month just by tweaking and testing what we recommend has been awesome. This whole project was funded, time-wise, by the space that was created. Not just the actual time, but also the mental space to even think it up (I’m ALWAYS thinking up ideas) and getting it into action (the REAL work).

BUSINESS GOALS

Goals. 😂😂😂

Now, all of our ambitious goals of doubling revenue went right out the window once I realized the transition to becoming a parent was going to be far more, I’ll say it, excruciating than I imagined. Not because of Hazel, but because of myself. For example, I gave myself 3 weeks of maternity leave (what the heck was I doing?! Never, never again…that’s not even humane). Any mom would tell you that’s just going to make for very rocky experience in transitioning into literally what is an entirely new existence as brand new parents (new role, new responsibilities, new schedules, new way of BEING).  I had no idea what I was in for and the transition I was about to go through.  And I didn’t give our family nearly enough time to adjust before I was back to work and trying to figure out what just happened to our life and find a new “balance” (not gonna happen anytime soon, I finally figured out a few weeks in). On top of that Hazel had colic and reflux and so there was an extra layer of complexity.

Then, we closed half our company.

So, if we’re talking business and revenue goals, we ended exactly what we did the year before, revenue wise. BUT what did happen was our probability rose like 👍. That was a huge win and for this year I’ll take it.

But the biggest win is probably that we didn’t close the entire company. Cue the crazy laughing emoji. Listen, I say it tongue in cheek, but I know you first time moms with work or businesses out there can relate. Isn’t this the wildest ride??

And yet, as we’re nearing a full year, and everything is normalizing and coming into focus and my old drive is returning full force, somehow it seems like it was just always meant to be this way. We’re getting to schedules and routines that work really well, Hazel is almost a toddler and has two adoring parents chasing her around for giggles all day, and we’ve figuring out a scale to my work that works for this season of life. It’s far from perfect, but it’s really, truly getting there.

I can’t wait for what’s to come as we continue to grow our little family and our business, and I’ll keep sharing out all the lessons all along the way.

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

xox

Tara

By | 2018-01-17T10:53:41+00:00 January 17th, 2018|Review|0 Comments