Red lifebuoy on blue background

Picture this: You’re days into a power crisis, living with no electricity or running water, and your roof starts leaking. A chunk of your ceiling collapses, dumping rubble all over your bed. Then another leak occurs in your bathroom…and another in your kitchen.  

It sounds like a nightmare, but not long ago, this exact sequence of events was reality for Lisa Gochman, a resident of Houston, Texas. 

“It’s a hot mess,” Gochman told The New York Times. “I’m trying to just kind of go with it…I’ve cried a couple times.” 

Sadly, Gochman is far from the only person who has had to deal with this sort of crisis. In the aftermath of the severe weather of February 2021, countless people in Texas and beyond have faced—or are currently facing—painful hardships and tragedies.  

Maybe you know someone who has experienced a similar situation. Maybe that someone is you, and you don’t have to imagine anything.  

Many of us have experienced the kind of “hot mess” Gochman describes. With the recent fires and freezes in states that house our own employees, we know firsthand the crucial roles local businesses serve in getting people back on their feet. When disaster strikes, we rely on our local plumbers, electricians, HVAC technicians, healthcare providers, legal professionals, and other businesses for immediate assistance. 

Gochman was able to contact a plumbing service that could help her quickly. But not everyone is as fortunate. After all, disasters impact businesses, too.  

As they endeavor to help people in need, those plumbers, electricians, and other intrepid professionals may be dealing with outages, messes, and difficulties of their own. On top of their and their families’ needs, business owners may encounter serious, compounding staffing and communication challenges.  

It’s another nightmare scenario. You’re getting an influx of calls and website inquiries from customers and clients who need service—ASAP—at the worst possible time for you and your team.  

When your business and the people you serve are facing the same crisis, how can you come to the rescue? 

It’s possible—all you need are the right tools.  

An automated lead tool, for instance, enables your business to meet demand when you or your employees are unavailable. It collects key information from people in need, so as soon as you’re able to, you can communicate with clients or customers, prioritize the most urgent needs, and coordinate follow-up.  

Live chat takes the conversation further, connecting website visitors with trained specialists who can answer their questions and guide them through the next steps with empathy and compassion. 

Automated or live, chat means less burden on you and your team, more control over your business, and more time to focus on your family and livelihood. 

People rely on local businesses—and thousands of businesses across the United States rely on Ruby. Learn about how Ruby makes it easy to connect with the people you serve

If you’re looking for ways to help people in need, consider giving through one or more of these nonprofit organizations:  

Our hearts go out to all of those who are currently being impacted by the severe weather in Texas and other parts of the country. We’re here to support you and hope that you and your loved ones stay safe! 

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Is your website ready for customers to visit? We have a short window to tell site visitors what we are about once we get them there.

In this last part of our discussion with David Lambert, David reveals the best rule of thumb for thinking about ad spend and how to identify an ad budget. 

Read the Interview

Jill McKenna: Hello, everybody. Thanks for joining us today. I am Jill McKenna. I’m the Campaign Marketing Manager here at Ruby, and I am truly delighted today to be speaking with my friend and colleague David Lambert, who works with us at Ruby. David, can you say a little bit about what you do for us and your background?

David Lambert:
Hi, Jill. I take on all of the paid media here at Ruby. So I do all of our digital advertising spend, Google Analytics, Google ads, Facebook ads.

So mostly anything that we do from a paid perspective, I’m involved in one way or the other when it involves marketing, and then really trying to tie that into long-term goals and optimization and efficiency. So that’s where I spend the majority of my time, as well as helping some of our systems connect and talk to each other.

Jill McKenna:
When you’re meeting with new clients, are there one or two or three things that even if they’re not going to work with you, you want to impart upon them? Like, “Hey, these are the things you really need to be doing, even if you don’t work with me?” What would those things be?

David Lambert:
It is always finding your hub. You need to have a dedicated space for people to look at you and look at the services you do. Whether that’s your website, whether that is your social profile, you have to understand if I’m telling people to check me out, see how I can help you, you need to be sending them somewhere and then that needs to be the hub of your operations or your marketing.

Generally it’s your website. You want to have your campaigns funnel into this one spot, so that you’re really proud of that one spot that you’re sending the vast majority of people that you interact with. And it’s a really good starting place for a lot of companies because they don’t necessarily think of it in that manner. But you know, your emails are all being driven to one spot. Your social networks are being driven to one spot. Your advertising is being brought to one spot.

And then getting that messaging right. I think that the five second rule is really helpful to people understanding you need to communicate something very, very quickly or else they could be lost in the shuffle, which is fine, but you really want to put that best foot forward: This is who I am. This is what I do. This is how I help you. And generally you only get a sentence, a couple of words, and maybe a little context paragraph underneath, but it might be two sentences. As much as you can whittle down your value proposition, what you do and what you want to help people be doing, boil that down to one or two sentences and then showcase that. That’s where you stand, so that’s super important because if I’m a potential customer and I hit your site and I don’t know exactly what you do, if I’m confused, that might be the only chance that I had eyes on you and I might never come back.

The likelihood of me coming back or digging into your website more is if I understand what you do and how that could help me specifically. And then you kind of build out the rest of this stuff to fortify that and help prop that up. But having those, if you have one customer, what’s the two sentences you would tell them now? I think that is super powerful and then creating, starting to think about your operations as a hub, like your website is generally that, because we don’t have as much especially now brick and mortar experiences. You want to turn your website into your store.

Jill McKenna:
That makes sense. For people just starting out or tracking their ads and their marketing spend, do you have favorite programs or software or what do you recommend for maintaining and monitoring your ad efforts?

David Lambert:
So when you’re first starting out, you’re going to be utilizing the native dashboards. So you’re going to be utilizing Google does a really good job of showing you everything that’s going on. They’ve improved vastly in the last eight years that I’ve been using them.

Once you get up to the system, it’s easy to dig into a lot of insights there. Same with Facebook. Unless you’re doing a lot of advertising, you’re just going to be utilizing those platforms and hopefully you have something on your website where you’re able to track web traffic or these other programs. It’s very common to have Google Analytics on your website where you’re able to see where people are coming from, but as you get more refined, you’ll generally want a customer relationship management software, CRM, where you’re putting all these leads into a database and attributing them to certain efforts, but it gets more refined and it’s definitely a lift from a software management perspective.

For a small business, I wouldn’t say that that they may or may not have a CRM. They may not have a person with that aptitude. It’d be really utilizing the dashboards and relying on that information and as you mature, and these are successful, then you’ll want to have more analytics set up on your website, whether you pay for someone to set it up for you so you can easily read dashboards. But to have that insight and that feedback, it does become important, especially as you start to invest more and more into your business and into advertising.

Jill McKenna:
Great. Is there anything else you’d like to impart on people who are so wondering how to go about advertising before we finish up today?

David Lambert:
I’d say I find advertising these super exciting. It’s also, nerve-wracking when you’re first starting out because you know, you worked hard for that hundred dollars. So I would take it seriously when you’re deciding to spend money for someone to look at your site. So, that’s always the test I try to give someone when they’re talking. They say, “Hey, I want to run Google ads, or I want to run Facebook ads, or I need to be all over Twitter.” So, I like to come with them with the anecdote of, how much would you spend for someone to look at your website?

That really puts it in a good lens of, “Oh, I haven’t thought about it that way.” Like, I don’t want to spend a dollar for someone to look at my website. I don’t think it’s ready. I don’t think me giving someone a dollar to visit it, would end up in a sale or a lead.

When you start to put it in that perspective, I think you get much more critical about what you want to say about the look. If you’re set, if you’re willing to spend 50 bucks for someone to click, it’s been five seconds on your site, make that five seconds impactful and really try to look at it in that lens and how am I communicating to this person? Who is this person? What are they really looking for?

Jill McKenna:
And of course you don’t want to spend $50 to get somebody on your site if your average sale or your average service is $65.

David Lambert:
Exactly.

Jill McKenna:
It’s probably not going to be your best effort. But like you said, like just monitoring it and dialing it in, it does become a puzzle. I think that one thing I see is people launch efforts, and then they feel intimidated and they don’t follow up with how it’s actually doing and then they call it a failure. But really it just needs a little bit of babysitting and tending and tweaking.

David Lambert:
Yeah, so know your numbers. That’s a great point. If it might not make sense for the $50 person to visit, if your sales aren’t there, but knowing if you sell to your customer one time or five times, if you know, most people buy five products. They come back to you several times—use the first sale. Like, you break even on the first sale. They spend 50 bucks on your site, spend 50 bucks to get in there and then they’ll, as you kind of push them to buy more, then that becomes a profitable customer for you, that’s a really good way to offset it or to think about your funnel and your numbers. And then, yeah, it’s off to the races.

Jill McKenna:
It is. I find it exciting too. Thank you so much, David. Thank you for your time and all of your thoughts and your energy and you can reach out to us at the marketing team at Ruby, if you’d like to hear more thoughts or hear more from David. We are more than willing to help out with ideas and experiences that we’ve been through. Thank you.

David Lambert:
Of course. It was a pleasure. Reach out if you have any questions. We’re happy to help in any capacities. Hopefully this was helpful to all you.

Jill McKenna:
That’s marketing@ruby.com—and one of us will field it and get back to you all. Thank you so much, David. Thanks for your time.

David Lambert:
Great. Thank you.

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Can paper mailers, radio, and print ads still matter? Absolutely!

In this second part of our discussion with David Lambert, Sr. Manager, Growth Marketing at Ruby, we talk about how technology has changed the way we use paper mail and why clients and customers are ready to see you in their snail mail.  

Read the Interview

Jill McKenna: Hello, everybody. Thanks for joining us today. I am Jill McKenna. I’m the Campaign Marketing Manager here at Ruby, and I am truly delighted today to be speaking with my friend and colleague David Lambert, who works with us at Ruby. David, can you say a little bit about what you do for us and your background?

David Lambert:
Hi, Jill. I take on all of the paid media here at Ruby. So I do all of our digital advertising spend, Google Analytics, Google ads, Facebook ads.

So mostly anything that we do from a paid perspective, I’m involved in one way or the other when it involves marketing, and then really trying to tie that into long-term goals and optimization and efficiency. So that’s where I spend the majority of my time, as well as helping some of our systems connect and talk to each other.

Jill McKenna:
So let’s say somebody goes and they do all these great advertising efforts and they really make a point to invest in engaging people and bringing them to their website. What are the biggest mistakes you see when people get people to their website and they don’t necessarily have a great experience?

David Lambert:
There is quite a bit there. A lot of it is the initial messaging. It is easy to get… You’re just trying to cram so much into your website. So you really want to be careful of when someone hits your page. What’s the one message? What’s the one thing you want them to do when they’re there? Do you want them to click to call you? Do you want them to read a headline of who you are? A big thing in web development is the five-second test. If someone hits their page, you know within five seconds who the company is, what they do, why you’re there.

That’s a really, really strong first step that you want them to know, I’m a hairstylist in Chicago and this is my brand—that “Oh, I’m in the right place. I’m looking for a hairdresser.” But then having the contact being easy to reach out, that’s the next thing. So they’re in the right spot, but how do I connect with you? There’s a couple of ways that you do that. There’s forms or telephones or emails being listed up, but we’re also seeing web chat be such a big driver of that, when it can directly communicate. I know as younger audiences, sometimes we don’t like to pick up the phone as much, but when we do, it’s really beneficial.

Sometimes that bridge of having that low friction of “I’m just going to chat to this person to ask a quick question”—that’s been super helpful for many businesses. I know that I do it when I don’t want to fill out a big form or go into their email. I just want a quick response. Then that helps me dig into further what that company does or it helps put me in this perspective of, “No, this might be a service I actually want. It needs to do this or that and I’m not finding it on your website.” It kind of replaces some of the search functionality that we’ve had to do on websites, which is often difficult to get exactly what someone’s looking for.

Having someone answer it directly to your chats, I’m sure that many people have experienced that, where it is a much quicker version of I’m able to find what I’m looking for right off the bat. Then I can decide: Do I want to call? Do I want to pursue this more? But we’ve seen really good results with helping companies utilize that, specifically at Ruby.

Jill McKenna:
Yeah. We’ve seen a lot of rise of chat since COVID began. I mean, for a lot of reasons, right? We’re in Zoom meetings all day. We don’t have time to pick up the phone, but we can get on a website and see are they open? Do they require masks? Is there a pickup protocol that I need to follow? It seems like so many industries are really embracing that. You would never open a store and not have a staff member there, and that can be the experience when you go to a website and it’s like, “Well, what now?”

David Lambert:
Yeah. Well, it’s so easy to get lost in the shuffle of things. If you went into Walmart and there was no signs or no people in there, it would take you forever to find what you’re looking for, and then the signs are helpful, but we’ve all walked down those large aisles and I just cannot find the sign that says batteries and I’m stuck. I just want this and I can go. So you flag down someone in a vest and that they kind of point you in the right direction. It’s very akin to the chat service of, I’m looking. I don’t want to dig through your FAQs. I don’t have time. I’m running between meetings. I just want this quick question answered to know if this is going to work for me or not.

Generally, those really start to prod out different things that companies wouldn’t know about that potential customer, whether that is what they’re really looking for, the questions they sort of ask. So it helps dig into their perspective of a potential lead for you. So even if they don’t convert into a paying customer or they never visit your website again, you can understand who the audience is that first was driven there and try to align either your product or service more closely to those results, or try to make those messagings more clear. If you get always the same questions, try to bubble that up so that people have that and you can check that box right away so that they’re not having to dig through.

Jill McKenna:
Yeah. I’m curious about retargeting. So for those who don’t know, you’ve definitely experienced retargeting. It’s when you look at something online and all of a sudden you’re seeing it on every webpage you go to. It’s popping back up trying to get you to look at it again and hopefully buy it. So when is retargeting worthwhile? When is maybe it not? How does somebody start thinking about retargeting for their services or brand?

David Lambert:
That’s a great question, and it comes up in 100% of conversations I have when I’m consulting for this kind of thing, it’s kind of an art and science. So it is, there is a bit of unknown of, especially when you’re starting out your first ad campaign, you really don’t know the response, or how many customers, how many potential customers have to see your website or see your ad before they convert into a sale, or even a lead. So it has to be something you’re comfortable with. You have to have enough for it to be impactful for, you know, a few hundred dollars generally a month would be pretty minimal. So you want to be looking at it in that framework. But if you know you have a high value customer, a lot of Retargeting is—I would honestly say there is mostly no situation where retargeting isn’t helping you out. It is far cheaper than getting someone to click on your site the first time. So if I’m running a Google search ad and someone clicks and gets to my site, that’s going to be far more expensive than when I’m following them around for a period of time on the internet with some graphic of reminding them, “Hey, you checked out our site. Do you still want the solution?” So as long as it aligns with your business, I think it always is fruitful, especially when you’re not charged unless they click on that banner ad or that retargeting again. It only helps to keep that conversation going.

A big thing with advertising is frequency: how many times someone sees your brand in general. Because like we were talking about, you’re bouncing between meetings and different things, and you’re trying to purchase all this different things. Once you get out of the search mode, it’s on the back burner. I might never think about those sunglasses that I actually thought were cool but I was on the fence because I didn’t want to spend 50 bucks right now. So then I’m going about my day, I’m looking at other stuff, and then that sunglass picture pops back up and I’m like, “Oh, I really do like that. Maybe I should just purchase it.”

So that’s essentially how it works, where you’re just putting a pixel on your site. People that visit then are put into an audience and you’re able to advertise based on their web traffic to other places and kind of follow them around a little bit. I would say it’s super strong. It usually has a better return because you’re utilizing those first web traffic hits and you’re trying your best to say, “Hey, we’re still here.” Especially for someone that’s not familiar with your brand at all, they might’ve searched and found you that one time, you aren’t as familiar as you need to be, you need to kind of see and be reminded a few times before you’re just going to go out with this person. It’s like hanging out with someone for the first time. You kind of want to see them a couple of times and then you’re like, “Oh, we could hang out. It wouldn’t be awkward.”

Jill McKenna:
Yeah. You want to judge how they treat the waiter or the waitress.

David Lambert:
Yeah, exactly.

Jill McKenna:
That’s going to inform everything you need to know.

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You’re here because you have a question:

How much does an answering service cost?

Maybe you’re a business owner and you don’t have the time to answer phone calls and other messages on your own. Maybe you’re wondering if an outsourced service would be more cost-effective than adding one or more receptionists to your staff. You might be looking for answering service pricing so you can compare providers. Or maybe you’re just curious about answering services and how they work.

Whatever you’re looking for, we have the answers you need—the answers about answering services. Answering answers. (“Answer” is a kind of a weird word, isn’t it?)

Anyway, in this article, you’ll learn…

  • what an answering service is
  • different ways answering service providers price their services and plans
  • why cheaper doesn’t always mean better
  • how the right answering service pays for itself

…and more. But first, let’s start with the reason you’re here:

How much does an answering service cost?

As a small business owner considering outsourcing to an answering service, likely one of the first considerations that comes to mind is “How much does an answering service cost?”

Initially, an answering service can seem like an additional cost. However, they are surprisingly affordable and cost-effective, and can offer tremendous value to a variety of businesses.

The good news is that you’ll be able to find an answering service that fits your budget. However, you may initially feel overwhelmed by your options. An answering service cost comparison isn’t always straightforward, but a little education can help you decide which one is right for your business.

The prices for answering services can vary significantly and depend on several factors, including call volume and duration of each call. Pricing also differs depending on the complexity of your business calls. Some clients simply need the name, number, and a brief message taken (about 1 minute), while others will require time upwards of 5 to 6 minutes, thereby significantly increasing the cost per call.

Your billing structure will differ based upon the type of agents you contract. Some services offer a choice of “shared” or “dedicated” agents. Shared agents also handle calls for other companies, and these services are typically paid for by the minute.

Dedicated agents are those that only handle calls for your business, and these services typically charge by the hour. Most services require that you buy full 8-hour workdays when hiring dedicated agents.

As there is no concrete law for how companies should bill for service, pricing for answering service plans can be confusing. The two most common methods of charging for answering services are per-minute billing and per-call billing.

Per-minute billing

As you may guess, with a billing-by-the-minute model, you pay for the time answering service agents spend on the phone talking to your callers. The company bills you for any outbound and inbound call increments, and you only pay for what you use.

Make sure you understand how the provider calculates call time. If it isn’t clear enough, ask how they calculate it. Also, ask if your provider rounds up your call time. For example, you want to find out if it bills in intervals, such as 1 second, 6 seconds, or 12 seconds. You also want to find out if there’s a minimum call time and if the agent’s post-call actions (such as entering notes about the call into the system or relaying messages) count toward your minutes.

Per-call billing

Pay-per-call answering service rates are another accepted billing method. The service charges a specified flat fee regardless of call length, based on the number of calls they receive. This model is less common because it can increase variability in the amount of time the answering service needs to spend on each call.

The rates can also fluctuate based on call volume. For instance, a service may opt to quote a “per call rate” of $1. While it seems straightforward enough, consider that services often charge for hang-ups and wrong numbers, which can add up rapidly.

While the cost per call can be quoted as little as $0.59, some companies may also charge for each message delivered, as opposed to providers that do not have additional fees for message delivery.

Now that you understand the pricing basics, if you’re on the fence about hiring service, continue reading. Learn everything you can about answering services, from how they work to how to choose the right answering service for your business.

You’ll come away with a deeper understanding of how an answering service can help move the dial for your business and gain confidence in the selection process moving forward.

What is an answering service?

Simply put, an answering service is a company that answers phone calls on behalf of another business. Depending on the type you choose, using an answering service can be much more than paying someone to pick up the phone for you.

A first-rate professional answering service can present your business in a positive light to existing customers and prospects, improving your brand image as well as customer satisfaction and retention rates.

The best answering service providers create meaningful, personal connections with every caller, ensuring your business stands out as truly attentive and customer-centric.

Generally speaking, there are three kinds of answering services:

Interactive voice response systems

These are the “automated response” systems that provide lists of rudimentary self-service and transfer options (e.g., “press ‘3’ to check the status of a prescription” or “press ‘6’ to speak to a pharmacist”).

Call centers

These are the traditional answering services that are less personal than a virtual receptionist but still a human being. Call centers are large operations that specialize in sales, marketing, and customer support over the phone. They are a good option for businesses in high-sales industries with thousands of customers such as retail, automotive insurance, and telecommunications.

Virtual receptionists

Virtual receptionists are real people who manage phone calls remotely (virtually) for business clients. The only difference is that they work offsite. Virtual receptionists are great for small and medium-sized businesses, businesses in high-touch industries (e.g., healthcare, real estate, law, and financial services), businesses that receive calls at nontraditional times, and businesses looking to differentiate their customer service.

Get the comprehensive guide.

Learn more about the power of virtual receptionists for your business!

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Answering service pricing: Why is it all over the place?

Answering services vary widely in terms of price and features, depending on how you use them. As we discussed earlier, most services charge by the minute or per-call. Whichever model you choose is contingent upon your business’s call volume, the features you need, and how long you intend to work with a service. 

Typically, answering services are priced based on month-to-month plan structures, contingent on the volume of calls handled by the service. Most providers offer various plans, and prices vary based on the number of minutes provided. If the minutes in a plan are exceeded, charges are usually incurred by the minute at a predetermined rate. Higher tiered packages include premium benefits and services, such as 24/7 availability and, in some instances, some internet platform answering services.

Answering services are highly personalized; it requires time for agents to learn your business inside and out. Some services charge a setup fee, while others build it into their rates.

Some answering services charge various other fees and upcharges. When calling for price quotes, ask about additional costs (e.g., setting up your account) as well as any recurring and incidental expenses (e.g., overages or holiday rates) that you may be charged. Before selecting a service, scrutinize the company’s contract to ensure you’re aware of all potential fees.

What should you look for in an answering service?

In a Clutch survey of 301 businesses that use an answering service provider, call quality received the highest average rating (4.61 out of 5), followed by responsiveness (4.55). Surprisingly, price was outranked by four other features. This most likely reflects that the cost for answer services is low enough that other features take precedent.

The right answering service can make all the difference in the success of your business. But with literally thousands of telephone answering services, the task of finding ‘the one’ isn’t that simple. Looking for the right answering service can be a challenge.

To make it easier on yourself, you need to know precisely what you’re looking for and what questions to ask to get the information you need.

Opting for the cheapest answering service plan available can be tempting. But although you may save money upfront, you ultimately get what you pay for.

Providers that offer the lowest prices on the market can compete on just one thing —price. Their service levels suffer because their clients don’t adequately compensate them to staff appropriately, hire the best talent, and train them thoroughly. Services with rock bottom rates often employ inexperienced receptionists or disregard the quality of callers’ experiences.

The right answering service can make or break your business. Agents’ experience and professionalism are two of the most important features you can look for in a service. Without great operators, you’ll have difficulty ensuring all of your customers are cared for the same way your employees would care for them. Because every caller is different, you need agents that can adapt well. Sure, gathering a name and number is essential, but each business has different needs the service should be able to meet.

As all businesses depend on customer loyalty, a personal answering service will let your callers know how important their business is. You love your customers, and a personal experience will show them how much you appreciate them. The right answering service will ensure your business creates positive first impressions and genuine connections with your callers, every time.

Best answering service: What makes a quality answering service?

Every answering service answers phone calls on behalf of another business. In choosing the right service for your business, here are some things to consider:

  • Do they provide live agent answering 24/7/365?
  • What is their typical response time?
  • Are they 100% US-based to ensure the most out of every customer conversation?
  • Can they support your needs, whether it’s full-time call answering or backup and fill-in support?
  • Can they work with your existing phone number or keep your number private with a custom, provider-hosted number?
  • Does their net promoter score (NPS) exceed industry standards?
  • In addition to call answering, do they provide online chat?

The recent shift from in-person to online presents new challenges as well as significant opportunities—companies without the ability to respond quickly enough risk losing valuable leads. Chat can close the gap, helping you respond rapidly to potentially valuable connections. Adding chat to your website can help increase leads, conversions, sales, and customer satisfaction.

Ruby: the #1 business answering service.

Trusted by over 13,000 small business owners, Ruby is a virtual receptionist and chat service company that answers your business phone during and after hours or anytime you need us. We are based in the USA and genuinely care about the level of service we provide to every client.

Learn how Ruby empowers your business to deliver personalized experiences and stay connected.

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Well, hello! Hi there! Greetings, salutations, namaste, shalom, aloha, and howdy! Hope you’re having a good morning, or afternoon, or evening, or late-night blog-reading sesh.  

My name’s Matt, and I’m Ruby’s new content strategist. Nice to meet you! 

Okay, truth be told, we’ve met before. Or, I should say that if you’re a regular visitor to the Ruby blog, we’re probably already familiar with each other. I’ve helped develop dozens of Ruby blog posts, guides, and other resources, working behind the scenes with the brilliant Markie Johansen and other members of the exceptional team here.  

Until recently, I was a self-employed writer. I spent a little over nine years running my own content marketing business, helping companies of all kinds and sizes tell their stories and connect meaningfully with their audiences. For much of that time, I was content (eh? get it?) with my career, happy to take the good (freedom, autonomy) with the less-good (uncertainty, freelance taxes). 

Then I met Ruby. And like 13,000+ customers and hundreds of Rubys before me, I fell in love. 

It’s not just what this company does, but how and why. The people, the values, the dedication to small businesses, the collective sense of humor and humanity—Ruby has it all. This is a place where everyone matters, where every interaction is kind, real, and fun. Anyone who’s ever communicated with a Ruby virtual receptionist or chat specialist has experienced the special brand of personal connection that flows through the entire organization, from the frontlines to sales and marketing, customer happiness, operations, and the executive team. 

In short, the idea of working on content full-time at Ruby was a dream job for me. A few weeks ago, the dream came true. 

Reader, they hired me. 

That’s where this story ends—and the next one begins. I’m honored to have the opportunity to share the new chapter with all of you.  

At Ruby, we take pride in creating educational, engaging, and empowering content for growing businesses and the people who operate them. As content strategist, my goal is to provide you with the resources you need to build your organization, delight your customers or clients, and make a lasting, positive impact in your community. Together with the rest of the marketing team, I’ll be expanding Ruby’s library with more content in more formats, keeping value, authenticity, and accessibility front and center. 

I’m looking forward to diving keyboard-first into this role and bringing you more tools, stories, and insights you can use to grow your business. We already have a ton of exciting stuff planned for this year, and I can’t wait to share it with you. 

Until then, I encourage you to check out our latest guide: The new front door to your business. There you’ll find plenty of information and advice (including a few sections written by yours truly) about building and optimizing your online presence. Grab it here. 

See you ‘round these parts again soon! 

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A loose pile of 1-, 5-, 10-, and 20-dollar bills, photographed by Alexander Schimmeck via Unsplash

‘Tis the season—tax season! Although it may sound like a ton of paperwork (which, to be clear, it is), this time of year also presents tons of savings opportunities for small businesses like yours. I’m talking deductions, AKA write-offs, AKA ways to reduce your taxable income for tax year 2020.

With January in the bag, most small business owners have sent out tax forms to their employees and independent contractors. Now is a good time to start gathering your own documents to file your business takes. To help you get a handle on what small businesses can write off this year, we’ve created a small business tax deductions checklist for 2020. 

Before we dive in, let’s pause and define a key phrase: “ordinary and necessary.” These two words are the criteria by which the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) decides whether business deductions are legitimate or not.

  • Deductible expenses must be ordinary. That is, they should be considered normal throughout your industry.
  • Deductible expenses must also be necessary. That means the expenses should be appropriate for the particular industry. (So, no, you probably won’t be able to write off a jacuzzi for the breakroom.)

As long as your expenses are ordinary and necessary, there are plenty of opportunities to save on your taxes for 2020. Here are 10 tax deductions worth considering*:

*Please note that while we’re small business pros, we’re not certified tax professionals. Be sure to consult with your accountant or financial advisor to determine the best course of action for you and your business.

2020 Small Business Tax Deduction Checklist

1. The qualified business income deduction

Under current tax law, many business owners can claim a 20% deduction of their qualified business income. Eligible small business owners who file Form 1040 can take this one, though it phases out once you reach an income level of $160,700 for single filers and married filers filing separately, or $321,400 for married taxpayers filing jointly.

2. Home office expenses

With so many people working from home in the past year, you’ll want to closely review the IRS’s rules around home office deductions

You can calculate this deduction in two ways:

  • The simplified method is to deduct $5 per square foot used, up to 300 square feet.
  • The standard method is to add up all costs of maintaining your house. This includes mortgage interest or rent, real estate taxes, utilities, and maintenance costs such as house cleaning and landscaping. Multiply the total cost by the percentage of the square footage that you use as your office. 

Keep in mind that we’re talking about the IRS here, so you have to meet specific criteria:

  • First, your home office has to be your principal place of business. You must conduct most business from your home office. For most people, this will be easy for 2020!
  • Next, your home office must be regularly and exclusively used for business purposes. This means it doesn’t count if you use your dining room table for work and for eating. Even if you’re in a small space, you should mark a designated work spot. (Consider taking photos of this space to keep in your tax documents in the rare event you get audited.)

3. Phone and internet costs

If you’re using the internet at home and a personal cell phone for both work and personal use, you can only deduct the portion of the bill that is used for work. Be sure to keep clear records (again, in case the IRS comes calling). If you use a home landline, you can only deduct a second landline for work purposes. 

4. Salaries, benefits, and contractors

You can deduct what you pay employees as salary, paid vacation time, and benefits. If you hire independent contractors, you can deduct their fees, too. 

5. Interest on business loans and credit cards

To say this past year was a tough one is an understatement. Countless businesses have had to take out loans or use credit cards to stay afloat. The good news is that the interest on these debts is tax-deductible—so long as the following statements are true:

  • The debt is in your name. If someone takes out a loan on your behalf, but it’s in their name, you are not legally liable for the debt. So you can’t take a deduction on the interest, even if you make all the payments. If you are legally liable, the interest is tax-deductible.
  • You and the lender intend that you will repay the loan. If you don’t have to repay, it’s a gift, and you can’t write off the interest.
  • The lender is really a lender. Getting a loan from a family member is a little sketchy in the eyes of the IRS if you’re trying to deduct interest. 

6. Moving expenses and rent expenses

Moved last year? Unfortunately, you may not be able to deduct those expenses. Under the most recently passed tax law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, only members of the US military can deduct costs related to relocating their private residences. 

If you had to move your business, however, you can deduct those expenses from your tax bill. You can also deduct the cost of renting a place of business—but not the cost of renting your home if you have a home office. (See deduction #2 above for more information.)

7. Business meals

You can deduct up to 50% of a business meal, as long as you discuss business either before, during, or after the meal, so keep your receipts. Consider writing down the purpose of the meeting or main points discussed on the back of each receipt, in case you’re audited. (Psst—looking for easy tax software? Check out Intuit ProConnect’s ProSeries.)

8. Costs related to using your car for business

If you have a car used exclusively for business, then the whole cost of owning and operating it is deductible. 

If you use your motor vehicle for both business and personal trips, keep careful track of the business mileage. There are two ways to take the deduction: 

  • Calculate the standard mileage rate. Take the total number of business miles you drive for the year and multiply it by the standard mileage rate. For 2020, the rate is 57.5 cents, a small decrease from 2019’s 58 cents. 
  • Use the actual expense method. Keep a record of all car-related costs for the year—gas, oil, repairs, tires, taxes, and licenses. Multiply the total cost of using the vehicle by the percentage of the annual miles driven for business. 

9. Other expenses

Here are a few more business expenses you may be able to write off for the 2020 tax year:

  • Advertising and promotion are completely tax-deductible. Launched a new website? Redesigned your logo? Ran a marketing campaign? Sent out advertising mailers? It can all come off your tax bill! 
  • Premiums paid for business insurance are deductible. This can include health and dental insurance for employees, property insurance, liability insurance, and workers’ compensation. 
  • Many professional fees—such as fees paid to a lawyer, accountant, or customer engagement service like Ruby—are tax-deductible.

10. COVID-related business assistance

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) introduced emergency funding through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, as well as many new tax credits. Be sure to review the credits below to know if they provide any benefit to you.

  • Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC). The ERTC credit was created as a way to keep staff employed after government-mandated closures or substantial profit loss (more than 50% for any given quarter).
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA required sick/family leave to COVID-19 affected employees and provides eligible tax credits for 100% of qualified sick-leave pay and related FICA taxes.
  • Business interest expense deduction increases. Certain business interest expense deductions have increased to 30%-50% of adjusted taxable income.

We hope this small business tax preparation checklist helps you save some money this year! The big question is what you’ll do with the money you save. You could invest it back into your business. Or upgrade your equipment. Or, better yet, save even more money and accelerate your business’s growth by hiring a service like Ruby to engage with your customers over the phone and via website chat. 

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For small business owners, choosing the right customer engagement solution has never been more important. And with so many new technologies and customer trends to keep track of as a business owner, it can be difficult to know which of your business investments is going to end up paying off in the long run.

In 2020, we faced many challenges and most of us needed a bit of extra empathy as we navigated a new way of being in the world and handling our day-to-day business. These unexpected challenges ended up contributing big time to a new customer service trend that is here to stay: responsive and empathetic customer service.  

Facing obstacle after obstacle in 2020, customers started expecting (and even demanding) that businesses prioritize personal connections and quick responses. In fact, 84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services – up from 80% in 2018.

Tip 1: Look for technology that helps improve empathy and responsiveness. 

After everything people have been through in the last year, customers are now looking to do business with companies and people they feel safe with. Making sure your customer engagement solution allows you to be proactive in communication is one of the best ways to make people feel secure and safe doing business with a company. 

Look for a customer service solution that includes phone support so people can simply pick up their phone and call to ask your team a question. With the pandemic, many businesses have noticed an uptick in phone calls as customers look to get answers about modified business hours and new safety protocols being put in place. 

And with 90% of consumers rating an “immediate response” as important or very important when they have a customer service question, it becomes clear how vital it is for business owners to find a way to connect with customers in the moment they are actually reaching out. If a business can’t help them answer a question or solve a problem right away, most customers will call, web chat, or email the next business they find on the search results page. 

Tip 2: Find personal ways to connect online.

In a 2020 report, 88% of people say they expect a personalized experience from businesses. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to many business owners but the implications around this expectation have big effects on consumer behavior.

Before the pandemic, customers would walk-by store locations or drive themselves to a physical location to do business in-person. But with a huge move to online interactions business owners have had to shift business operations to their website. Which means business owners must invest in trying to recreate that feeling of doing business in-person where you could offer a warm and genuine connection with an easy smile. 

Any customer engagement solution you choose will need to have built-in ways to help you and your team create that warm, personable connection that customers are craving these days.

Tip 3: Supporting yourself and your frontline staff.

Did you know that Google is now taking user experience into account as part of its SEO ranking algorithm? And with more customers wanting self-service options when they visit your website—having a chat option makes a lot of sense for business owners. But who can you rely on to be there 24/7 to answer the chat questions?

It’s also important that your customer engagement platform has documented and proven ways to show that your customers will be on the receiving end of genuine and helpful customer service when they call or chat with your company. 

2020 was a tough year and as we’ve moved into 2021, it will be important for business owners to find ways to support their staff. Virtual receptionist services and live chat specialists can serve as a backup for your in-house team, or take over as your front line answering solution to leave your team available for other business operations. 

Ian Golding of CCXP is a Global Customer Experience Specialist and recently said, “As we move into 2021, the employee experience has become as prominent as the customer experience. The way we treat our employees will reflect the way they treat our customers. In 2021, the companies that continue to put their people first are the ones who will succeed as the world recovers.” 

This is exactly why so many small business owners are updating their websites to include a chat option and making certain their phone lines are answered consistently by someone dedicated to making the most out of each conversation. 

Check out our 2021 Customer Engagement Report to learn more about how to prioritize personal connections with customers while ensuring your team has the support they need to deliver empathetic and proactive customer service.

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Ruby earns two Stevie awards

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Ruby.com, the premier provider of live virtual receptionist and chat services for small businesses, rang in February with the company’s first Stevie Awards — a Gold and Silver — in addition to being named the fifth largest technology service provider in Oregon and Southwest Washington by the Portland Business Journal.

Ty Sorensen, Director of Sales Operations for Ruby, received a Gold Stevie for “Sales Operations Professional of the Year,” in honor of his work streamlining sales processes and replacing almost every piece of technology in Ruby’s sales tech stack. Additionally, Ruby’s Learning & Development department received a Silver Stevie award for “Customer Service Training Team of the Year.” The team’s successful development and implementation of a remote training program in just five short weeks reduced onboarding ramp time by 10% and successfully onboarded more than 175 new hires in under four months.

“Our team amazes me daily with their desire to go above and beyond, and it’s wonderful to see those efforts celebrated on an international stage,” said Ruby CEO, Kate Winkler. “These operational teams work so furiously behind-the-scenes to ensure other Rubys can easily do their jobs — whether helping new customers experience the value of Ruby or setting new hires up for success — which in turn enables the company as a whole to grow.”

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Advertising 101—with David Lambert

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Small business owners have a few top questions like: How do you create Facebook ads? How do you identify your ideal target audience? What’s the best way to allocate budget? What are the best channels to use?

In this fantastic first installment of a three-part interview with our brilliant Senior Manager of Growth Marketing, David Lambert, we discuss the questions we hear most from small business owners and how to navigate being new to marketing.

Read the Interview

Jill McKenna: Hello, everybody. Thanks for joining us today. I am Jill McKenna. I’m the Campaign Marketing Manager here at Ruby, and I am truly delighted today to be speaking with my friend and colleague David Lambert, who works with us at Ruby. David, can you say a little bit about what you do for us and your background?

David Lambert:
Hi, Jill. I take on all of the paid media here at Ruby. So I do all of our digital advertising spend, Google Analytics, Google ads, Facebook ads.

So mostly anything that we do from a paid perspective, I’m involved in one way or the other when it involves marketing, and then really trying to tie that into long-term goals and optimization and efficiency. So that’s where I spend the majority of my time, as well as helping some of our systems connect and talk to each other.

Jill McKenna:
I have a whole list of questions for you, but I want to start with the one that I hear the most when I’m in any of the marketing groups I’m in—the women in business groups, the entrepreneur groups. The number one question that small business owners seem to have that I encounter is: How do you do Facebook ads and Facebook boosts successfully? So first, can you tell us if there’s a difference between boosts and using the ads?

David Lambert:
Yeah. The difference is pretty small. It’s pretty minor, but a boosted post is essentially something that you just put out for free. It’s an article, it’s a picture. It’s a status update, but then you’re telling Facebook: “Hey, I want to show this to an audience outside of the people that come to my page.” So I want to be promoted to, there’s different targeting parameters, but essentially it’s a post you’ve already put out there, and you’re like, I really love this post. It’s getting Likes. I want more people to see it. So then you just put it out into the world. An ad creation is essentially the same thing, but it didn’t start from a post that you’ve already done. And that’s the biggest difference. All the targeting options, being able to pay to promote it, are still all there. It’s just kind of where you started in that initial journey of things.

Jill McKenna:
Great. And to that end, for both, you really need to know who your target audience is, right? You really need to know who it is you’re targeting. Otherwise you’re just throwing salt into an ocean and it’s not going to make a difference. So how does a small business owner go about identifying their ideal customer profile or perhaps their target audience?

David Lambert:
Sure. That’s a great question. So you worked hard on your content. You know what your messaging is. And really the biggest point is: What audience do I show this in front of? Just like you’re saying. There’s a couple of ways to go about that, especially on Facebook. There’s so many different parameters, whether that’s demographics, whether you’re going after men or women, location, industry, there’s a lot of things. It’s easy to get caught up in really dialing that in super narrow, or going way too wide. The biggest thing is to find a balance. And the easiest way to do that is connecting your Facebook to your website. So you add a little script—they call it a pixel—and basically it evaluates your website traffic.

And you can go then into Facebook and say, “Hey, Facebook, do your thing. You’re an algorithm. You’re automated. Look at my traffic and find people who are similar to that.” So they do a lot of legwork, and there’s different percentages without getting too technical, but there’s like a 1% match, a 2% match, 3% match and so forth, I think up to 10. That’s a really great place to start, because you don’t have to necessarily ping down everything you’re doing. And Facebook does a good job of trying to find those people. So I think that running those kind of campaigns, along with another segment, or audience, is really powerful. So generally I start with one lookalike campaign or ad that targets what Facebook is automating, and then create an audience, a saved audience, based on who you think your customer is. Whether that’s industry specific, like lawyers, or home services, or if it’s demographic, if you know that [age] 30–45 is really where your sweet spot is with people resonating with your product, you kind of drill those down.

And Facebook does a really good suggestion for how big your audience size is. If it’s too narrow, if it’s too broad, they’ll tell you. There’s a little graph that it tells you exactly where you are. So that’s a good thing to look at in general, to know if you’re close or not, but that’s where I dig in. And then you can play with going after different little audiences. I’d start out a little broader, unless you know that this is your customer. Like, if you only sell to barbers, just go with that. You don’t have to do ages, you don’t have to go too narrow, but you want to pick a point where you’re kind of comfortable and it’s all about monitoring that success, and how many click-throughs you get, and the web activity. So I’d start a little broad, unless you are a hundred percent certain who you’re talking to, and then you can narrow it down over time and kind of save yourself some dollars there.

Jill McKenna:
And when small business owners and small business managers think about starting to dedicate a budget to ads on Facebook, or on any social media, how should they start to think about allocating dollars? And what’s a logical way to go about creating that budget?

David Lambert:
That’s a great question, and it comes up in 100% of conversations I have when I’m consulting for this kind of thing, it’s kind of an art and science. So it is, there is a bit of unknown of, especially when you’re starting out your first ad campaign, you really don’t know the response, or how many customers, how many potential customers have to see your website or see your ad before they convert into a sale, or even a lead. So it has to be something you’re comfortable with. You have to have enough for it to be impactful for, you know, a few hundred dollars generally a month would be pretty minimal. So you want to be looking at it in that framework. But if you know you have a high value customer, a lot of times people take a portion of what that first sale will be.

If your first customers walk in the door and spend a thousand dollars, you could easily calculate: I’m willing to spend 200 bucks to acquire one customer. And then I’m going to test a campaign—say I’m going to spend it a thousand dollars over the course of a month and kind of see what leads I get, how the response is and formulate it there. So it’s really important to know what your lifetime value of your customer is. But a lot of business owners, that’s a sticking point for them. They’re not too well-versed in that. In that scenario, I usually suggest, if you know your profit per month, take a percentage of that, that you’re comfortable with, whether that’s 10, 25% of your profit, try to utilize that for finding future customers, because that’s going to help bring leads into your funnel, without getting too technical, of like you’re building up an audience that you could sell to next month. You always want to be bringing people in of interest so that you’re not struggling, you’re all of a sudden, “Oh, I don’t have enough customers this month or this week. And now I don’t know what to do. I need to just spend enough money to keep the doors open.” You want to be trickling that out, and being better about optimizing or refining that, so that people are able to find you amongst the other free ways that you’re promoting yourself or improving your website. So I’d just kind of pick something that you’re comfortable with, whether that’s $100, $200, or, if you have a 10k budget, great, I probably wouldn’t throw it all at once. I’d probably slowly ramp up, but it’s deciding what you can sustain as a business and try to lure in more people to see your message.

Jill McKenna:
So, some broader questions, and transitioning to just some things I hear from: I know a lot of entrepreneurs, I know a lot of small business owners, and I see some patterns develop once their businesses is maybe a little bit established, but they’re not totally sure what to do next. And marketing or advertising can seem really overwhelming, and like something that would be a time-suck to learn and start doing. So. I’m curious if you can give a brief overview of some of the best channels for advertising for small businesses. What’s the best return on investment they can seek through some channels?

David Lambert:
Sure. There’s a lot out there, so it is easy to get daunted. I would say probably, my favorite channels, especially starting out, are generally Facebook or Google search ads. And those are for two different reasons, Google search ads, you can really get to the intent of someone. So when someone types something into Google, flowers nearby, or pool cleaners in Houston, Texas, and you see the ads pop up before the organic results, and those are people bidding on those strings of words, they’re keywords, they can be phrases, and it’s really easy to get to that intent. They cost more than, say, going to Facebook, but you know that person is actually looking for your service. So it’s easier to get into that mindset and craft your message to someone looking for pool cleaning in Texas, rather than interrupting their feed through Facebook.

And that’s more if you’re a service business. I feel like that’s really strong if you offer a service, just because you can talk to that person looking for that right now. So you have a good chance of getting there, but it’s going to cost you a little bit more for someone to click on your ad, say, five to a hundred dollars per click, depending on the audience. Like, if you’re a dentist, you’re going to be paying quite a bit of money for that click, but if you’re a pool service cleaner, it might be $15, $20 in your area. It’s an auction, so it’s hard to say just flat out, but that wouldn’t be uncommon. For Facebook, you’re kind of interrupting. They’re searching for other things, or reading news articles. And the cost is much, much cheaper. So a cost per click in that scenario could be a dollar or two; $10 would be pretty high for Facebook, depending on your segment. It could be well above that. But for general small businesses, I think that that’s realistic.

But that ad is shown to many, many more people if you set it up in that way. So even if they’re not clicking, hundreds of people are going to see your graphic. And it’s a good way to kind of establish brand, especially for consumer products like sunglasses, or food products, or something I could buy on Amazon and ship to my house in two days, those perform really well on Facebook, not that services don’t, but it just takes a little bit longer, because you’re interrupting their search. They weren’t thinking about pool cleaners necessarily.

And then they have to kind of categorize that in their mind. And if you’re shown to them several times, then it’s likely that they could convert, or they could be more interested, but it’s not as direct to the conversation as say, Google search ads would be. So I think that those are probably the best, and they’re also the biggest platforms. So if you figure those out for your business, it becomes a big staple of your marketing campaigns, and you can refine and have these new, very well-known channels that are very effective, if you figure out your formula for your audience.

Jill McKenna:
Awesome. How does a business owner go about knowing which channels might be best for them? Are there certain channels that are better for certain industries? You explained a little bit of that, but I’m wondering if there’s a hard and fast rule for some of that.

David Lambert:
I wouldn’t say super hard and fast. It tends to be a little split that way, where I would say physical services, or like people powered services, Google does a really good job. If I’m looking for an accountant, if I’m looking for a trusted professional, I think Google is just better about that. It’s more likely that they’re going to see your website. So you have more real estate for them to actually click, because they’re looking for that. So it tends to be a little higher value, but Facebook is super good about digital services. If you’re selling widgets, if you’re selling marketing services, if you’re selling some ebook, or even Amazon books, those are kind of the impulse, lower value, is a really good way for a lot of companies to start out there. But I wouldn’t say that if you’re in this segment, you can’t advertise on both.

I’ve seen it work across the board. There are ways that I would tend to go and test out. That’s the fun thing about advertising, or the not-fun thing if it’s your dollars and they’re not directly turning, but it is sort of experimenting on every channel. The investment level also really dictates where you’re going to go. Most people can’t… The small business, their first venture in advertising—I would pick one channel and really try to walk up your experience and see kind of the feedback you’re getting from it, whether that’s web traffic, whether you’re starting to get leads, rather than say, “alright, we’re ready to go, we’re ready to advertise—let’s go on all channels.”

I think that that’s the biggest thing that holds people back when they’re doing small businesses—”I need to be everywhere, right now, all the time.” And that’s really not the case. I find you’ve got to put your effort in one area and you can have it split up a little bit, but you really want to figure out one channel, whether that’s getting your website dialed in, whether that is getting a Facebook profile where people are starting to interact and comment on your stuff, or whether that’s trying Google search ads, or display ads, or YouTube if you happen to have video content, and then trying to figure—once you get some legs there and are sustainable—then you can start to think about bringing on these other channels and broadening your audience to your products.

Jill McKenna:
With that train of thought, what are some easy ways to advertise that people often look past? Often, it feels so overwhelming, we think we’ve got to reinvent the wheel, and we kind of dive in the deep end and then we feel overwhelmed and quit our efforts. So what are ways that small business owners and entrepreneurs can look at advertising in just small ways to see if they’re happy with what it might yield?

David Lambert:
Sure. I always think the most underrated campaign is not direct advertising, but word of mouth. I think we overlook that so much as just businesses in general. It’s not that well understood. I would put money toward your customer referral programs or anything, because you have someone that’s happy with your service. It can act like an advertising avenue, if you say to your happy customers, “You refer someone, we love the business.” Especially if you’re a small business, making a case, people love to help out services that they really enjoy. So I would think about putting together a program where for every sold referral, you give them some incentive, whether that’s 50 bucks, whether that’s 10% of the sale. I think that that’s a really good avenue, and it really helps you think about some of the biggest assets you have, which are your customers, and people really take recommendations and testimonials very, very highly. It’s a channel that I’d really look at.

From an advertising perspective, ones that we haven’t really hit on are, it’s a little more difficult, but those influencers, they can be really beneficial to your company if they speak directly to your customers. Or even better, is partnering with a company that’s aligned with you, but not competitive. So if they’re complimentary, that’s a really good channel to get into. So if you sell digital marketing, like SEO, search engine optimization, but that’s all you do, and you find a company that does graphic design, or they do web design, try to partner up with another small business and say, “Hey, we can pass referrals back and forth. Here’s a finder’s fee for it both ways.” That’s a really good way to try to utilize some business, because a lot of people get leads that they can’t fulfill.

So, either finding a complimentary service, or people at different stages of company size. If you’re better at working with really small businesses, it’s likely that a bigger ad agency or service provider, that’s not a good customer for them just for how they practice business. So if you can come help underneath and support customers, or leads that they’re already getting, that’s a good way to start capturing that and figure out some agreement there.

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