The 7 Best Succulents to Buy in 2019

  • Best for Full Sun: Microdasys Opuntia   Buy on Amazon Some spots in many homes are just too sunny for most plants! If you have a room with big south-facing windows or a sunroom with walls of glass, you may have found that many plants wither under too much of a glare. You need a succulent that’s used to desert climates — it will soak up that sunshine and be happy about it! Bonus: Even though they’re in the sun, these plants don’t need too much water, either, since they’re from naturally arid habitats. That makes the Microdasys Opuntia, otherwise known as the bunny ears cactus, a good choice. It can grow up to two feet tall in a container and has spots called glochids, rather than the spikes you typically see on cacti, so you don’t have to worry about getting pricked. Some microdasys opuntia grow yellow flowers, too! 
  • Best for Shade: Zamioculcas Zamiifolia   Buy on Amazon Whether you’re looking for a plant for a room with small windows or a shady corner of your porch, you need a plant that doesn’t need bright sunlight to thrive. Despite their reputation as desert-living plants, there are shade-loving succulents, too. One is the Zamioculcas zamiifolia, or ZZ Plant, which has some characteristics of a typical houseplant, including taller stems and broader leaves than you’d expect from a succulent, but with the easy-care characteristics of most succulents. This one comes in a 6” pot and can grow several feet high, though it is slow-growing compared to other plants. Consider it the perfect companion to the corner of your bedroom or living room.
  • Best for Beginners: Tillandsia Ionantha   Buy on Amazon Whether you’re a college student without much time to tend to a plant or have just moved into your first home and don’t know a thing about gardening, succulents are a great start. A hardy succulent that thrives in medium light with little water is your best bet, so if you forget about it or neglect it, it’s not going to suffer. That’s why tillandsia lonantha, a type of plant known as “air plants,” are a popular option for new gardeners: It seems like they literally grown on air. These air plants grow in just about any container, from your latest pottery project to a big seashell, in areas with partial sunlight, and can either be misted regularly or occasionally dunked in water to keep them going—both good options for someone who just might to forget to water a needier pet.
  • Best for Office: Ruby Ball Cactus     Buy on Home Depot If your desk needs a pop of color, these grafted cacti just may do the trick! Technically each plant is two cacti in one — a ruby ball cactus grafted on top of another variety to showcase its spectacular color. These plants do well in bright areas, but away from windows, so they can grow well on your desk even if you’re a cube or two in from the corner office. They require little water, and they’re small, so they can add a touch of nature to your desk without cluttering a small space. All you really need is a touch of green and pink to make your desk feel friendlier!  
  • Best for a Terrarium: Rosette Collection   Buy on Amazon Succulents are a great choice if you’re looking to put together a variety of plants for a terrarium or mixed container garden on a coffee table or dining table. A succulent requires little upkeep and can keep your space looking green for months on end, and a fraction of the cost of stocking it with fresh bouquets. And if you’re looking to put together a lush terrarium, you’ll want a variety of smaller-scale plants in different shapes and colors with similar growing conditions. An easy way to do it is to buy a pre-mixed variety pack to fit the container you’re using. This succulent mix is available in several different bundles, from a four-pack up to a pack of 265, to suit many sizes of containers. Each plant comes in its own 2” pot that you can plant right into your container. 
  • Best for Winter: Aloe Plant   Buy on Amazon Dry air, low sunlight and chillier temperatures mark the winter season, both indoors and out. And while we hope it’s warmer inside your house than it is outside, some succulents don’t do well if you set the thermostat below 75 degrees or so. Plus, you need a plant that can survive a trip or two over the holidays with maybe just one check-in from a neighbor, or none at all. An aloe plant is a good indoor option to enjoy even in winter, since it does well in lower temperatures than many succulents, and can grow just as easily in indirect, bright or artificial light. In the winter, it will go dormant, meaning it requires even less water but will still weather though, but come spring it should flourish in your home. And aloe plants do live up to their reputations: If you cut or burn yourself, juice from the leaves can help soothe the wound. 
  • Best for Outdoors: Agave Americana   Buy on Amazon You wouldn’t know it from the work Mother Nature puts in, but growing succulents outdoorsmay be the toughest space of all! If you live in most areas of the United States, you’ll want a plant that can withstand pretty dramatic temperature fluctuations, pouring rain or a streak of sunny days, and other tricks the weather has in store that your indoor plants don’t have to put up with. Agave Americana, also known as Tuxedo Agave, is native to the Americas, so it can thrive outside and grows quickly, especially when planted in the ground instead of a container. 

How Contractors Can Use Talk Triggers To Ignite Word Of Mouth Marketing

Does the cherished ‘word of mouth’ just happen from doing a good job time and time again?  Most contractors think it does. Be professional, be prompt, make the customers happy, repeat, and the market will talk.  That’s the adage. While it may get you a referral from a customer, when prompted, savvy marketers know there is a strategy behind word of mouth.  

Supercharged word of mouth advertising that propels a business to another ‘zero’ on their income statement doesn’t just happen.  Rather, it is the result of strategic tactics to igniting conversations amongst the target audience. Jay Baer calls them Talk Triggers and very recently published the book eloquently called Talk Triggers.   

Although the term ‘talk triggers’ was unknown to me, I’ve personally been using a talk trigger secretly in my patio contracting company for a few years.  While I share many marketing strategies on this blog my use of a talk trigger is one of the marketing strategies I’ve kept to myself. But first…

What Is A Talk Trigger & How Does It Affect Word Of Mouth

I couldn’t find a specific definition for ‘talk trigger’ so I’ll take a crack at it based on my understanding of the subject.  A talk trigger is a specific unique action or addition related to a product or service that is intended to create conversation.  In other words, something unique that makes people talk about it.

While luxury cars and experiences on tours are naturally conducive to ‘talk’, contracting is not.  Nobody really wants to talk about the contractor they hired or be associated with the brand except for when they have a need — usually a painful and pricey need that they don’t want to be reminded of.  

That is why contractors and other trades business owners should be particularly interested in talk triggers… they take the focus off a non-glamorous service and induce a buzz by putting that chatter on something else.  

Talk Trigger Examples

Starbucks misspells names on the coffee cups.  Nope, they weren’t idiots with that one!

Double Tree hotels give a damn good chocolate chip cookie on checkout.

LockBusters owned by Jay Sofer is the highest-rated locksmith in Manhattan on Yelp. His talk trigger has helped him achieve that rating.  What is it? after he finishes working on your locks, he does a security audit of your premises, and oils every door and window lock for free.

A local screen enclosure contracting company in SWFL leave a decoy owl on the top of the screen enclosure after performing services.  The decoy owl usefully keeps birds and rodents, that frequently damage screen mesh away, and leaves a lasting conversation spark about “that fake bird at the top of the screen enclosure”.

The conversation goes two ways;

*”Other” represents the person engaging in conversation with our customer.  I’m not sure if it is the best word, but it does suffice!

Customer: “I had some work done and the screen company put this fake bird on the top of my enclosure to keep the birds away”
Other: “Oh that’s interesting.  What company did the work?”

Or

Other: “You have a bird hanging out up there”
Customer: “Oh that thing is fake is.  The Screen company put it up there; it keeps away birds and rats”
Other: “Oh that’s interesting.  What company did the work?”

BOOM.  Our boring projects have become a topic of conversation!

Yes, I just gave away my secret talk trigger.

4 Key Elements For Your Word of Mouth Marketing Talk Trigger

After reading this list, there’s no doubt you can see the value a talk trigger has in word of mouth advertising.  Here are 4 key elements to keep in mind when considering a talk trigger adapted from Jay’s appearance on EOFire (podcast).

Remarkable.  Your talk trigger needs to unique; something that nobody else is doing.  If you’re an HVAC company, throwing in a free replacement on every service, that is isn’t going to cut it.  Neither is a handwritten thank you note. While a nice gesture that may earn some repeat business, nobody is going to say “this company sent me a nice thank you letter”.  You need something that is going to stand out.

Repeatable. You need to be able to repeat your talk trigger for EVERY customer.  Just dropping your talk trigger for select customers here and there won’t cut it.  Everyone that initiates your service needs to get the talk trigger and thus you need to be able to repeat it quick and easily.  

Reasonable.  Ever heard an advertisement or claim, like a car dealer offering a chance at a ‘free car’, and think “who’s actually going to get that?”  You’re not alone. Your talk trigger needs to be something reasonable that every customer can expect. That’s good news however as it doesn’t mean you need deep pockets to pull off a talk trigger strategy!

Relevant.  The talk trigger used by my own company ads value and prevents damage to the services/product rendered.  It’s relevant. Lockbusters, giving away chocolate chip cookies like a hotel chain wouldn’t work because it is not relevant.  Not to mention, you aren’t going to want a cookie off the fingertips of a greasy hand.

Leveraging Your Talk Trigger To Get Maximum Exposure

In boring trades businesses, organic social media exposure is tough to come by.  Trades services aren’t glamorous and usually aren’t enthusiastic purchases; no one wants to share about the ordeal of having thousands of dollars of unexpected repair bills.  As such, rarely does the customer base take to social media, except to complain.

This gives way to a huge opportunity for your talk trigger in social media content.  A remarkable talk trigger will be referenced in reviews and comments on social media.  If photographable, encourage your customers to take pictures and share on Facebook.

With organic content in hand (or on the wall), it’s time to get more eyes on it!  Paid advertisements work wonders here.

Going Forward With Word Of Mouth Marketing

Stop playing the game of ‘hope and wait’ for word of mouth.  Get creative and identify a talk trigger your business can use to propel the word of mouth.  Once a talk trigger is in place, leverage it up with social media. Get your customers to mention or share images of it online, then crank up the paid ads to get more eyes on it!  

The Ultimate Home Maintenance Checklist

For many owners, home maintenance happens only when something goes awry. Overflowing gutters, a balky furnace, or a chimney that refuses to draw provoke an expensive emergency call to service technicians. Worse, your family’s safety could be in jeopardy when key areas of your home are neglected for too long. To limit or even eliminate service delays, preserve your home’s value, and keep everyone comfortable, follow this home maintenance checklist on a regular basis. 

  • 01of 05 Winter     Yves Marcoux / Design Pics / Getty Images With cold temperatures and harsh elements pressing in, the focus of winter home maintenance is damage control. Because of inclement weather, you may not have the leisure to do extensive exterior repairs.
    • From a safely secured ladder, check gutters and the lower roof for ice damsand eliminate as necessary.
    • Check that the covers are still on the outside hose bibs (faucets) and that they have not iced up.
    • Use this indoor-friendly season as your opportunity to clean the basement, garage, and other interior spaces that get neglected during warm, sunny months.
    • Keep an eye on your electrical service drop and the line that leads from your home to the power pole (only if you have above-ground electric service). If large branches have fallen on or are hanging on the line, call the electric company for removal.
    • Make sure that the ground next to the house is graded away from the house to prevent interior flooding.
  • 02of 05 Spring      Bring spring decor into your staged home. Getty Images Spring home maintenance is chiefly about cleaning up after the mess and damage inflicted by winter. 
    • Clean the gutters and, using a water hose, make sure that they drain.
    • Check the exterior siding for damage and repair as needed.
    • When the roof is dry and safe to walk on, check shingles, flashing, and vents for damage.
    • Clean and replace window screens.
    • Trim back trees that may deposit branches on your home. For branches near power lines, call your electric company for pruning.
    • In late spring, install window unit air conditioners.
    • Reverse ceiling fans so that the vanes rotate in a counter-clockwise direction. This will move air downward, cooling the room.
  • 03of 05 Summer     Michael Paul / Getty Images With higher temperatures and low precipitation, summer affords comfortable working conditions to make intensive repairs that were not possible in prior seasons.
    • Make repairs to the home’s siding and paint the exterior as needed.
    • Clean and repair your outside deck.
    • Wash and apply sealant to wood fences.
    • Flush out your water heater to empty it of sediment.
    • Clean debris from window wells.
  • 04of 05 Fall      Ensure your fall home curb appeal looks inviting. Getty Images Home maintenance during the fall season is focused on preparing the house for winter. 
    • Test the sump pump by pouring water down the sump pit until the pump turns on.
    • Remove and store the window screens.
    • If your home has storm windows, install them.
    • Remove window unit air conditioners. If you have central air conditioning, winterize it.
    • Call in a furnace service and have them perform annual maintenance.
    • Call in a chimney cleaning service or clean the chimney by yourself.
    • Winterize exterior hose bibs (faucets) by protecting them with foam covers.
    • Remove leaves and debris from garden ponds and water features.
    • Reverse ceiling fans so that the vanes rotate in a clockwise direction. This will help distribute the warm air that collects near the ceiling.
    • Perform regular quarterly maintenance.
     
  • 05of 05 Regular Quarterly Maintenance      Are you prepared for home repairs? Set up a sinking fund to cover the costs. Paul Bradbury/Caiaiamge/Getty Images Every three months, perform these critical maintenance tasks:
    • Press your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector buttons to make sure that they are still working. Replace batteries as needed.
    • Check the gauges on your fire extinguishers to ensure that they are still correctly pressurized.
    • Check your water heater’s temperature and pressure (T&P) valve to make sure that it will expel water. Place a bucket below the relief tube to avoid flooding.
    • Make sure that your garage door’s safety reverse function is working and that the electric eyes are correctly positioned.
    • For low-use areas such as guest or basement bathrooms, flush the toilet, clean sediment rings from the bowl, and turn on both sink taps.
    • Check your water softener to make sure that it is topped off with enough salt.
    • Remove shower heads and sink aerators and soak in vinegar to clean out collected sediment.
    • Make sure that the dryer vent is properly venting to the outside.
    • Test all of the GFCI outlets to make sure that they are working properly. 

The Marketing Funnels For Contractors Notepad

I wanted to take a few minutes to jot down all of the online ‘funnel methods’  I use in my own marketing efforts for my contracting business.  At this point, this post is not complete, but putting it out here in public will bring me ‘reminders’ to finish it. 

First a quick clarification on what a marketing funnel is…   

What Is A Marketing Funnel?

The word funnel has become an extreme buzzword.  Everyone wants a funnel.  Funnels are amazing.  But to most local business owners, a funnel is this mystical thing that some guru sets up and POOF business happens.  I’ve you’ve ever looked into ClickFunnels, you certainly know what I mean.  And if you’ve ever hired a funnel guru, you know that the POOF part doesn’t always happen.

A funnel seems far more complicated than it really is.  Marketers and agencies that sell funnels won’t tell you this.  

Essentially a marketing funnel is just a process for delivering intent-based ads, to a targeted audience, and then directing them to a page that motivates them to take an action.  In the case of trades businesses that are usually ‘requesting 

Part of ‘funneling’ can be ‘branding’ the targeted audience so that when you do show them intent-based ads; there is already an established connection which generally leads to more conversions.

There can also be a separate sales funnel which occurs below the marketing funnel or simultaneously with it.  In other words, after a customer a lead has requested estimate the process of discovery, presentation, solution, closing, follow up will go on.  This is the sales funnel.  Marketing funnel efforts may also go on at this point.  Past customers may get dropped into a new funnel.

Now that that part is out of the way; let’s go on.

PPC Funnels

– Call Call Call Funnel.  This funnel is intending to place your ad right in front of search active searchers and direct them to call you.  This funnel should only run during business hours.

– After Hours Lead Form Capture Funnel.  When you’re office is closed, and no one is around to answer the phone… PPC traffic is largely worthless unless you have a page intended to capturing leads by a form submission.

– After Hours Lead Magnet Funnel.  What I’ve found is that after hours searchers aren’t always looking to request an estimate.  Rather they are searching for information, with the intent of contacting during business hours.  With an After Hours Lead Magnet Funnel, you provide searchers with quality value-added material related to the services you offer in exchange for an email address (or phone number).  Then use an email nurturing campaign to follow up with automatically during business hours.

### This is a working piece; to be continued.

Facebook Advertising Funnels For Contractors

  • Perpetual Funnel
  • Direct Response Funnel
  • Lead Magnet Funnel (with email automation)
  • Irresistible Offer Funnel (with email automation)
  • Storm Damage Funnel
  • Commercial Clients Email To FB Nurture (requires email campaign)
  • Unique Project Funnel

Linkedin

  • Lead Magnet Funnel

How to Organize A Clutter-Free Small Bedroom

It’s not easy to get a good night’s sleep in a crowded, cluttered bedroom. it’s easier to sleep when you’re not worried about folding all that laundry in the corner, and it’s easier to wake up when you don’t trip over the junk on your bedroom floor. If you have a small bedroom, the space constraints may make it that much harder to keep it calm and serene—but that just means you need to get a little more creative in keeping a small bedroom clutter-free.

1. Think Like a Minimalist

Much of what’s sold as necessary bedroom furniture isn’t really necessary. A bench at the foot of the bed, a vanity table, and a large armoire might look nice in a magazine, but in the average home, all that furniture would make it impossible to walk.

All you really need in your bedroom is a bed, space for the items you need beside you while you’re sleeping (water, tissues, etc.), and somewhere to store your clothes. You do not need a desk, or a vanity or an extra dresser. Even better, you can use two small dressers as your night tables rather than crowding your space with two small night tables and one big dresser.

2. Clear your nightstand

In a bedroom with little furniture, it’s easy to wind up piling everything onto your nightstand. To avoid that (it’s a recipe for losing watches and jewelry), buy a nightstand with drawers. It’s tempting to buy something that’s beautiful but that has very little storage space. Resist the urge and buy something with at least two drawers. With drawers, you can keep the top of your nightstand clean and clear. Limit this space to just two or three items—maybe a lamp, a box of tissues and a small dish to hold earrings and a watch. Consider mounting your bedside lamps on the wall next to your bed to free up even more space.

3. Use the space under your bed

If your bed allows for storage space underneath, this is a great place to keep shoes or off-season clothes. Just make sure to keep the space under your bed neat and clear of dust. Items to consider storing under your bed include luggage, out-of-season clothing, gift wrap, toys, linens, and books. Consider purchasing wide, flat, plastic boxes where you can keep items clean and sorted.

4. Create a calming environment.

Even if your bedroom is just one corner of a studio apartment, try to keep it free of clutter. A messy tiny room can feel like a cage, but an organized tiny room feels cozy, which is conducive to relaxation and sleep. Thinking about making a room calm can also help if you tend to associate organizing and cleaning with unpleasant chores. Be sure that there is a place for everything, and that everything has a place—even if that means moving some of your things to storage for a period of time.

5. Declutter often.

So you’ve cleared all the unnecessary furniture and stuff out of your bedroom. That’s excellent. But the organizing isn’t over. The smaller the room, the faster it’s going to become messy, even if you don’t have all that much stuff to begin with. Go through your room each week to remove unneeded receipts, packaging, food containers, or other items that may accumulate.

6. Get creative with storage space.

In a room with few obvious storage options, sometimes you can take advantage of vertical space to create your own storage solutions. Though it’s not a good idea to fill a small bedroom with lots of shelves and boxes if you don’t absolutely have to, it’s helpful to know some tricks for how to maximize space in a small room.

7. Keep shoes in their place.

You don’t have to store shoes in your bedroom just because the rest of your clothing is there. In fact, if you have more storage space elsewhere in your apartment it’s often better to use that instead. But if you want to keep shoes in your room, there are a variety of ways to store footwear neatly. Consider buying a shoe bag that can be hung on the back of your closet door, or placing shoes in a plastic box under the bed.

How Much Should Your Leads Cost? Seriously.

If you’re paying for advertising, knowing your cost per lead is a MUST.  It is key that you have an understanding of the return you are getting for each marketing dollar spent if you want to hammer down your marketing costs!

Fortunately it isn’t terribly complex to get lead tracking set up.  CallRail or What Converts are 2 programs that can be used to track form submissions and unique callers from your website.  For non website lead tracking you can easily generate a unique phone number to be used with the advertising campaign.  If you’re not already tracking your cost per lead, from paid advertising sources get started now.

But what should a lead cost you?  

The answer to this question is a proverbial ‘pot of gold’ at the end of the rainbow.  

Or ‘greener grass’ on the other side of the fence.

Even if you are tracking your current lead cost, there’s always someone claiming to do better and get leads at a lower cost.  

I know I see it in my Facebook feed with people selling marketing services; big bold claims of ‘How I Got 200 HVAC Leads in 1 Week for Only $400’… backed up by some case study.  

Here’s the kicker; assuming the case study is real, the results are likely what statisticians would call data-mined and not robust.  In other words, to generate the case study and bold claims; 1 specific time frame was used, and the market was likely carefully chosen.  These results would not be expected to be duplicated.

For example, with regards to an HVAC lead generation campaign, a sample from a company in Miami would get much lower cost per leads and a higher quantity on a week in August (hot and humid time of the year) than they would on a week in January (temperate season).  

The branding of the company can also make a radical difference.

Consider my company which has been running Facebook ads for years.  The audience we target with Facebook ads has seen us in their Facebook feed time and time again.  They know us. They’ve been subjected to our trust building ads. We’re still here. Any lead generation campaign we do will result in a lower cost per lead than a company that has never had exposure to that audience.  

At the end of it all, the only thing you can truly use as a benchmark to your lead cost, is your own cost per lead.  Quit worrying about how everyone is getting their leads so cheap, and focus on yourself.  Benchmark your lead cost, and then look for ways to lower your own cost per lead, relative to your current results!