You can build brand awareness.
People like to reward companies that care — but they have to know that you exist first. Charities rely on the media to get the word out about their mission (and their fundraising events). If your small business has donated to those efforts, the media is likely to mention you in their coverage. You can get your business’s name out there and build its reputation for helping the community at the same time.
People like supporting businesses that help others.
In fact, millennials are especially receptive to cause marketing and expect companies to care about making a difference. Some companies build their brand by running a “buy one, give one” program. Like TOMS: for every pair you buy, TOMS gives a pair to someone in need.
Now, as a small business owner, this model probably isn’t right for you. But there are plenty of ways to give back. You can donate to a local school, volunteer to build homes, sponsor a sports youth team, participate in a charity auction… the list goes on. Remember, when a customer supports a business that helps others, they feel like they’ve done some good themselves. So it never hurts to mention your charitable efforts in your profile.
Employees feel good when their companies give back.
A 2017 Deloitte study linked volunteering in the workplace to a better atmosphere and a boost in employee morale. Employees can feel proud to work for a business that does good. Plus, company-sponsored volunteer time means employees get to feel good about themselves — without needing to sacrifice important time with family and friends. And when your employees feel happy, they feel motivated, which means they do better work.
You can save money on taxes.
Ok. So it’s not the best idea to donate money just so you get a tax write-off. But it’s true that there can be financial benefits as long as you donate to the right charity — usually a 501(c)(3). Check here to see how to pick the right charity and qualify for a deduction.
You can network with people — and help the community at the same time.
Networking is essential to building your business, but let’s face it — it isn’t always easy and sometimes feels pretty transactional. Supporting a charity can take some of the pressure off, while still being a meaningful use of your time.
All kinds of people like to give back. Local politicians, other business owners, even new customers. You can connect and build trust with people who believe in the same causes, not to mention build deeper ties with your community. And you can feel good about the fact that the help you give will have a positive impact on others.
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The holiday season is almost here — which means you’re either drowning in seasonal business or trying to stay busy as non-holiday business slows. Either way, you’re not alone. We asked pros for their best tips on staying ahead when winter comes.
Hire wisely. In the winter, I spend time making sure that everyone on my staff is up to par,” says stylist Winstead Barnes. Consider hiring part-time holiday help two to three months in advance, so they’re trained and ready by the time Halloween rolls around.
Update your Thumbtack profile. According to makeup artist Cynthia Mitchell, keeping your profile seasonal and in-style will help put you ahead when holiday competition picks up. And make sure you can deliver on what your profile promises. Says Cynthia, “It doesn’t hurt to update your kit to ensure you’re prepared for any new fun looks.”
Check your supply. Around the holidays, house cleaner Serene Aandahl has her staff handle their own inventory of cleaning products. This way, her team can to changing demand in real time: no over-ordering, no running out. Just as important, Serene says, “No matter how busy we get, I’m really careful not to overbook my team.”
Stay organized. If your business is seasonal around the holidays, surviving the rush comes down to how well you stay organized, says Serene. “Everyone wants their house cleaned before they host a holiday dinner. Things get busy, fast.”
Schedule wisely. Dog trainer Eric Pliner agrees with Serene about the danger of overbooking himself when things get busy. “It’s easy to overwork yourself in the middle of a surge. I’m very specific about providing time slots on my website and I stick to them so that I can maintain time off to rest and recover,” he says.
Update your calendar. “If customers hire me by completing a booking request but forget to mark me ‘hired,’ I always take the time to do it myself because I want it to be updated in my calendar,” says Serene. Keeping your Thumbtack calendar updated is really helpful for staying on top of appointments, she says — and as long as you’re marked ‘hired,’ Thumbtack automatically adds those appointments to your calendar for you.
If the holidays are your slow time. Not all businesses are busy around the holidays. For some, winter is a time to revisit marketing strategy, train employees, plan for the year ahead—and if there’s spare time — relax. This is the case for accountant JR Gramstad, whose business spikes in January and February, around the start of tax season. “A lot of accountants use the holidays to get some rest after battling deadline after deadline,” he says. JR uses that time to brush up on new tax codes so he can continue to offer the best service possible.
Got some tax tips of your own? Share them in the comments.
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Make sure you’re registered to vote. Check here to see if you are. If you’re not, don’t panic. Many states allow you to register in-person including Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa and Maine. Check the deadlines for your state here .
Request an absentee or mail-in ballot. Are your jobs booked back-to-back? If you can’t block time to vote on election day, you may be able to vote by mail. Depending on your state, you can request an absentee ballot in-person, or online here . Remember to check the deadlines for absentee ballots in your state.
Vote early. Most states allow people to vote in-person before Election Day. You don’t even need an excuse! See if your state has early voting .
Do your homework. Get familiar with what’s on your ballot beforehand. Read through your voter guide to familiarize yourself with the ballot measures and candidates. It’s a lot of homework, but you don’t have to vote on absolutely everything in your ballot. Vote for the issues you care about. It’s okay to leave something blank if you don’t have an opinion.
Double-check the details. Make sure you have the right address for your polling place by checking this this locator . And ID requirements vary by state , so double-check that you bring the right kind of ID.
That was a lot of resources we threw your way. To recap, here’s a full list:
Are you registered to vote: https://www.vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote/
Voter registration deadlines: https://www.vote.org/voter-registration-deadlines/
Get your absentee ballot: https://www.vote.org/absentee-ballot/
Absentee ballot deadlines: https://www.vote.org/absentee-ballot-deadlines/
Early voting calendar: https://www.vote.org/early-voting-calendar/
Polling place locator: https://www.vote.org/polling-place-locator/
Voter ID laws: https://www.vote.org/voter-id-laws/
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What are your readings like?
I tap into that person’s energy field and let the energy guide where I lay the cards. I see and hear messages from spirit guides and get cues from that person’s past and future.
What I’m looking for is, Are you even going to continue down the path you’re on? Or is there going to be a big disruption?
For example, sometimes people will come and ask, “Should I relocate for this job?”
As I look at the cards and their energy field, I see that a person might come into their life who will completely change the conversation about moving away. So the question is a moot point.
How detailed do you get?
I try to be specific with people. And then I check in with them to know if the information I’m giving is accurate. I look for things that nobody else could possibly know.
I met a woman a couple years ago who was changing jobs. She and her husband didn’t believe in tarot, but they’d heard I was pretty good.
I told her within a couple days you’ll meet somebody. I described the way they would look and their demeanor and explained that they’d ask her for coffee.
She started the job and two days later it happened exactly like I said it was going to. Someone in the company wanted to mentor her and asked her for coffee.
What are spirit messages like?
When we’re talking to people who don’t have a corporeal body or voice, their messages come across differently.
My dad passed away 13 years ago. He never shows up in readings for me — it’s clear that he’s moved on.
But once I was getting a reading for myself and the reader said my dad had showed up and handed me a rose.
I said, “That’s weird, it doesn’t sound like my dad. He’s not that kind of person.”
I moved on with my life. But six months later I was sitting on my back porch looking out at these thousands of knockout roses. There are 50 bushes in my backyard. And it hit me what the message was.
Right before my dad died, I joked around with him that my backyard at the time had so many leaves. It was so difficult to maintain this big beautiful forest in the back.
It occurred to me that he knew that I had moved. He had seen my roses.
Is Halloween a better time to get a reading?
Holidays like Halloween have been a part of almost every culture throughout history.
It’s a time when the veil between the spirit world and the human world is close together, when we venerate those who came before. Sometimes those people come and give messages.
I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a “best” time to get a reading. But when our mindset is like this, it’s a good time for your ancestors to let you know they’re still around, watching you and have a vested interest.
The messages show up differently than we expect.
You can find Paulette — and she can find what’s in your path — on Thumbtack.
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Marketers. They carry a powerful toolkit that few modern companies could do without. We caught up with some of Thumbtack’s smartest Top Pro marketers for tips on winning over customers.
Build your profile with your dream customers in mind.
The key to successful marketing is deciding exactly the kinds of customers you want — who they are, where they live, what their interests are. That way, you can build your website, Thumbtack profile, social media accounts and advertising so it catches their eye.
A mistake many small businesses make is trying to appeal to everyone, so as not to alienate anyone. But as top marketers know, time (and money) is best spent on customers most suited to your service. Which means setting job preferences that target exactly the kinds of people you want to work with.
Personal Trainer and former marketing director Regan-Janell Hales explains, “When I first started, I was really loose with my preferences. It took time to learn about the kind of clients that I really wanted.” These days, Regan has found her sweet spot. “Most of my clients now are middle-aged women, and they’re the most constant and loyal of the people that I train. They’re also a lot of fun to work with,” she says.
Know what you’re up against.
Get to know your competition, explains Dave Cavanaugh, a tech-insider turned wedding officiant on Thumbtack. For him, that means having insights about other wedding officiants getting contacted for jobs in the Spokane area. Dave advises, “[I want to know] who is the number one person and who is number three? Who is serving Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington?”
If you, like Dave, are new to a profession (or a veteran pro in a new area), knowing how businesses around you are succeeding helps you figure out how you can compete. When it comes to knowing where he’s situated in the pack, Dave turns to Thumbtack. “Pay attention to the Pro Insights. They can tell you a lot about how your business is doing, and what you can change to get better.”
Invest your time wisely.
Joel Stein spent years in the world of marketing before starting his own events entertainment business . Today, he’s making six-figures doing what he loves at parties across the tri-state area.
When it came to getting started on Thumbtack, Joel didn’t waste a minute and he suggests other pros follow his lead. “Put time into figuring out your pricing and crafting your messaging upfront,” he urges. And he’s right: getting your first hire on Thumbtack is a big deal, but getting there is significantly harder for pros without reviews or a completed profile.
“The little bit of time it takes to set everything up in the beginning will save you exponentially later on,” says Joel. “I’m using that time to focus on growth and hiring — setting myself up for success six, nine months down the road.”
Follow-up or miss out.
People are busy. Period. And sometimes, they need reminders to jog their memory about stuff they were supposed to do. Such is life. And such is life for your customers.
So when it comes to courting new clients on Thumbtack, always be sure to check in. Dog trainer and former marketer Kari Kerr, has made follow-up a part of her weekly routine. Kari uses a ‘tick work file’ to keep track of potential customers. “I go through the file every month to remind myself to follow up with that person four to six weeks after. People’s situations change. You would be amazed how many respond over a month later and hire me,” says Kari .
Don’t give up if things gets slow.
Top Pros and marketers agree: starting a new business takes time, patience, and bravery — so hold on and dig in. Use any extra time you might have to learn more about your services and the people you’re selling them to.
Steve Conley, a former direct marketing specialist explains of his tennis business, “Sometimes things will be slow. Don’t get discouraged.” Steve suggests using offtime to your advantage. “It’s a time to think about my best strategy on Thumbtack,” he says. Bottom line: don’t get discouraged. Rome wasn’t built in a day — and neither was your Thumbtack business.
How do you market yourself to customers? Tell us in the comments.
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A negative review can ruin your day. But there’s more you can do than just fume about it.
First, take a step back.
Don’t rush to your own defense — even when you’re right. Instead, give yourself some time to process and cool down.
It’s hard not to take it personally, but if you reply too quickly you’re probably not going to show the best side of yourself. Keep in mind that future customers will see the message thread.
Decide whether to respond.
If someone brings up a genuine concern about your work or professionalism, you should respond. But some reviews say more about the reviewer than they do about you.
When someone rants in all caps or calls you names, consider letting it lie. Chances are you won’t be able to make that person happy no matter how hard you try. Getting caught up in an argument will likely do much more damage.
Do your research.
Look into the situation and get all the details you can. If you didn’t interact directly with that customer, sit down with all the employees who did.
You don’t need to blame anyone — you’re just gathering facts, especially any details that the customer didn’t include in the review.
Do this right away so you can respond within a couple of days. It shows the customer you’re paying attention.
Write your reply.
Keep your initial response brief and positive. Thank the customer for their feedback and offer to make it right, even if you don’t feel like you did anything wrong. Don’t be defensive, but do offer context that the customer may not have included.
When it makes sense, offer a genuine apology.
Get to a concrete solution.
Focus on the present. Express that you hear the customer and want to fix things. You can offer a do-over, a credit or another form of compensation.
Avoid a back-and-forth in your reviews section. If you get more than one or two replies deep, take the conversation offline. Typing it out can get much more dramatic than a quick phone call.
Focus on the positive.
If you do get to a resolution, politely ask the customer to update their review.
Then move on. Give the rest of your customers the best service you can. Eventually, their good reviews will outweigh the bad.
Most customers say they don’t mind seeing one or two bad reviews in a sea of 5-star ratings. In fact, a few bad reviews can make customers confident that the good reviews are real.
For more tips on responding to reviews, go to Thumbtack Help . Share a few of your own tips in the comments or start a thread of your own.
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