Today’s guest is Lisa Haas from Actuate Social.  We’re talking about how a blue collar business can use social media successfully.

Lisa has a long background in family business as well as having a degree in marketing.  She helps people who own blue-collar businesses think through their process of being credible with potential client and customers.

If you think you don’t need an online presence, you need to listen to this episode to find out why that assumption just might be wrong.  I found this conversation an interesting one and I’m sure you will also.

Here are some of the things we’ll be covering in this episode of The Business Sustainability Podcast:

  • Why you need an online presence because whether you like it or not, your potential customers are checking you out online.
  • You want your present and potential customers to think that you’re the best and you can provide expertise with the right online presence.
  • Without a great online presence, it’s going to be hard for you to stay top of mind with stakeholders in your buisness.
  • Find out where you should start a social media program even if you have nothing going right now.
  • Understand who you are and what you should be doing to make your company more visible.


Narrator:         Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful.

Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.

Josh:                Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick and you’re at The Sustainable Business.

Today, my guest is Lisa Haas. Lisa owns a company called Actuate Social. She is 35 miles outside of Denver, Colorado, in a small little mountain town. I love those little small mountain towns up in Denver.  You should too. But at any rate, instead of me rambling on, which I have this really bad habit of doing, I’m going to bring Lisa in in because she has a pretty interesting back story I would love to have you hear. Let’s bring Lisa on the show.

Hey, Lisa, how are you today?

Lisa:                I’m wonderful, Josh. Thank you so much for the invitation to join you today.

Josh:                It’s my pleasure. I’ve really been looking forward to this. Before we got on you started telling me a little bit about your background which I found really interesting. Could you take us through it?

Lisa:                Yeah, I’d be happy to. I grew up in a family business. My mom and dad actually had a company that created little DC motors which are the little magnetic motors in printers, and cop car lights, and door locks et cetera. I grew up in that organization and really credit a lot of my business acumen from watching my parents. I started in their accounting department. And then I went to college and I got a degree in sales and marketing and sold all kinds of different things including advertising and grease and payroll services for about 12 years.

And then I just realized that I was really done in the corporate environment, from a sales point of view, and wanted to go out and create my own organization. Really, I had to be in the footsteps of my parents. Basically, I quit corporate and I wrote down on a piece of paper everything that I loved to do – technology, connecting people, those other things that go along with business. And people coming and asking me about Facebook and Linked In and Twitter. Really, not knowing what those tools were.

I was up in the middle of the night, as a business owner sometimes we are a awake, kind of considering the world, around 3:00 A.M. I flipped on Donny Deutsche. I think, he was with CNBC at the time. A woman was down there talking a little bit about there was all this demand out here for this product that she had created and that she wanted to create the supply around it. The light bulb went on for me that, realizing so many people were confused about what social media and what it does for business. And at that time, it was really brand new. I’ve been doing this for eight or nine years now. Facebook’s only 13 or 14. Just to give you some idea of just how new this world was at that time, I just began to educate myself and read every book I could get my hand on and experiments and being certified in a couple of things at that stage of the game and launched a social media company.

And so, here we are. Now, I help empower business to really take themselves to the next level online and engage their network to grow their businesses.

Josh:                Okay. I’m a plumbing company or a construction company of any sort and– or let’s say I’m a commercial contractor, instead of a plumbing company. I’ll make it a little bit tougher for you. Why do I care about social media?

Lisa:                You know, social media has so many different applications whether you’re a plumber or a commercial contractor or [inaudible 00:03:41] that these are really truly new communication tools that we’re using to engage the population. It’s important. Even in those environments, while you may not necessarily drive traffic in like a brick and mortar environment, people will vet you and determine if they want to work with you by looking at you online.

I believe the latest statistics out of Forbes is that 68% of decision is now made online before they ever engage you in any way, shape or form. The commercial contractor, my organization, I’m a business owner as well, getting ready to contract and bring in a commercial contractor who lays flooring or does plumbing, electrical, you name it, go online and vet these individuals and determine, “Are they going to be a good fit for my projects before I ever contact them on the phone?” That’s the first big reason. It’s as if it’s a really credibility mark.

The second is, if I could find you online – and even if I’ve got a relationship with you, if I mention that you’re a part of my contractor, whoever it is ultimately signing the check, my consumer, is also going to be looking online in order to determine, “Are we working with the best?” It’s really just a place for people to get to know you effectively.

And then third, it’s really about staying top of mind. There’s a lot of competition in the marketplace. It’s easy to consistently keep yourself in front of individuals on an internet basis more so than just shaking hands and kissing babies at a networking event. We get millions of messages a day. Now, it’s easy to forget the individuals in our world even after we’ve had exemplary service. Those are the really big three reasons why I think a contractor, it’s really important for them to be here in some way, shape or form, even if it’s not everywhere.

Josh:                I ask this question to almost all the social media folks who come on the show so I’ll ask you the same question.

Lisa:                Sure.

Josh:                Which is I’m going to start an online presence – it could be social media. It could be my website. It could be e-mail. It could be lots of different areas. Where would you start if you’re a small, privately held company – like your father’s business, and what is the first thing that you would recommend to have today?

Lisa:                First thing I always recommend would be, go and determine where’s your audience. Where are your buyers? Where are the people who refer you online? Not only are they referring you online but where are they located online?

For example, a contractor may not necessarily need to be on Twitter because their buyers aren’t on Twitter. Where we look at a Facebook environment with [inaudible 00:06:11] and they’re in the US, it’s kind of a no-brainer to go where the people are. It’s identify that first. That could help to identify who are you. Understanding your vision, your mission, your core values that really having that in alignment will help you understand how to better engage these people online.

Then, it’s about taking stock. What pieces do you need? [inaudible 00:06:34] critical. You don’t need to necessarily be on SnapChat though if your audience isn’t there. Identifying your audience first is always my first bit of engagement.

Josh:                I’m never sure what SnapChat is and, frankly, I don’t want to spend time learning about that but that’s okay.

Lisa:                Yeah. It’s the Face Page game, I get it. I totally get it.

Josh:                What you’re  really saying is that the first step of having a good online presence is having a clear understanding of who you are, what you are, why you are, and walking your talk?

Lisa:                Exactly. I mean, that’s really if you don’t understand who you are and how you’re going to approach the world, social media could eat you alive. I mean, there’s a lot of people out here who could give you a negative review in some way, and if you don’t have a plan in place about what you stand for, that could easily throw your businesses into a tizzy. That’s not the goal here. This is about staying top of mind and building a network that feeds you consistently.

And then second is, know your audience. Who’s your target market? Is it general business practices. Does that mean that we toss out our brain as far as business is concerned. We’re just going to take what we know and then apply it to a new platform.

Josh:                I often have conversations with business owners and some are clients, some are friends, some are people I just wander into on a subway some place. I will often ask them who their customers are and their answer is “everybody”. When you hear that, what’s your reaction?

Lisa:                That’s the death of any marketer. You can’t possibly talk to the 8 billion people that are on this planet. Everybody is not your client. Also, most importantly, I can’t look for you, who it is that you need in your business when you tell me everybody.

Instead, I encourage people to come up with what’s called personas. There are three different types of target markets you may be going after. And when you have the ability to stand in front of somebody and say, “I’m looking for someone who owns a red bow tie”. It’s a great example. I now immediately start thinking, “Okay, well, red bow tie but I know somebody with a red tie or who has a bow tie but it’s not red.” And now, I’ve gotten specific enough that you’ve triggered my brain to begin to think about who you’re actually looking for. When you tell me “everyone”, well, I can’t help you because I don’t know everyone.

Josh:                Right so–

Lisa:                But when you’re specific, your network will definitely jump in.

Josh:                Where does building the tribe fit in? I mean, specificity would allow you to say, “Well, here’s a tribe that I should have.” But if I’m in a business, like your father was, how would he go about building a tribe?

Lisa:                My dad purchased a business that existed so we had a little bit of a customer base in place. We started with, “Who do we work with already?” And then we walked through a persona exercise. “Who are these individuals? What kind of car do they drive? Do they have children? Do they have income levels that they spend their free time?” and really dug into the psyche of the individual, rather than just the demographic, rather than the statistics of 35-year-old man who drives a Lexus.

We started to get into like, we play kickball on the weekend and coach Little League so that we knew better where to find them on a guerrilla or back streets level and then appeal for having in the world. That’s the first place we always look is, “Who are we really working with? Can we identify them?”

Now, if you’re a brand new business and you don’t know that is. Well, then you start looking at who’s attracting? Who are you bringing into your business? Just naturally [inaudible 00:10:07] referring you to are saying, “Hey, it’d be really interesting to be working with that individual.” Once you have the couple of people you’re working with, you then just build a persona around those people and figure out, “Where are there more?”

Josh:                Cool. Once you build your persona, you know who you are and you want to build an online presence, would you say that the website’s the most important place to start? Social media’s the most important place to start? Building an e-mail list is the most important place to start? I mean, what order would you go through?

Lisa:                I am going to say having at least a web page in some way, shape or form in today’s world is pretty critical. It’s the online business card. You have to invest a ton of money in today’s world. I don’t necessarily love these tools but the land of Wix and some of those, you can easily click [inaudible 00:10:54] in and at least create a page for yourself so when people look for you, they can find you.

Now, I often will use things like a Linked In platform as well and just have that be my website. I’m just not funded yet to be able to spend a couple of thousand dollars on a website. But the website’s pretty important. If I can’t find you and really look at who are you in some way, I’m already starting to think maybe you’re not up to speed in today’s world. That would be the first.

In tandem with that, I’m always building an e-mail database. It’s almost like the first thing you start doing because e-mail’s really still has [inaudible 00:11:27] that we often look for that hits that bottom line. Even though you may only have a hundred people on an e-mail list, it’s the thing that we’re in front of all day. And certainly in front of a Facebook page all day long. So, those two things are really the most critical when you first get started.

And once you have a network of people that you’ve shooken hands, kissed some babies your butt out and you collected some e-mails, you’ve got a place to lead people to learn more about you, then you start moving into the social networks by identifying, “Where are those people already?” This e-mail database that I have, are they on Linked In? Are they on Twitter? Are they not on any of it?” There are some of those, I’ve done some talks at Colorado contractor-type stuff and these people there, they just aren’t on the social networks yet. They’re coming but they’re just not quite there yet. But that’s a small sliver of the population, 22% that aren’t here yet so concentrate on the ones who are here, from an online presence point of view.

Josh:                That makes a lot of sense.

Let’s assume the business has been around for 10 or 15 years. We’re not really in startup world as far as costs go. The website is not going to be a Wix website. Maybe someone spends $3,000, $5,000, maybe $10,000 for the website but probably around $3,000 to $5,000. What should be in that website?

Lisa:                You know, some critical bits. First of all, your homepage, having a video there certainly helps a ton to keep people on your site. In today’s world, we’re more and more moving towards video platform. I think having some sort of a produced video on that front page. Now, if you’re not quite to that stage, at least a well-organized homepage with good content and good keywords.

About us is typically the second page people will look at. It’s having a page that showcases your team, talks about who you are, the mission of the organization – what you stand for. And then people typically move into the services platform. They really want to see what you offer.

And then, finally, contact page that allows a web form in place for people to complete and send you. I would also encourage you to periodically check that contact form every once a month or so just making sure it’s still working. In today’s world, technology sometimes fails so you want to make sure you’re checking on your stuff.

And then, finally, making sure that it’s optimized in some way. There’s a lot of tools that your developer or yourself plug-ins who– a Word Press content management system that helps just list you on Google a little more effectively.

Then, the final thing when you have a website, consistently add new content to it on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, whatever you have, your capacity to do. Every time you add new content, you gain more credibility with the internet world as well “Do you help people?” Give them a reason to come back and look at website for new information. So that’s just a strategy, a blog strategy or an e-mail newsletter strategy. It’s adding new content whether it’d be testimonials, new pictures of your projects or even just some knowledge that you want to share with the world. You’re going to have a better chance of being found in the internet world via social and the search engines.

Josh:                If you have an e-mail newsletter, should you also post that e-mail newsletter as a blog post on your regular company website?

Lisa:                Sure, you can. I love to reproduce content and put it in multiple places. [inaudible 00:14:48] careful like if you’re going to put them on multiple websites, there are some rules in the search engine world about duplicating content, that’s no fun. However, usually the strategies [inaudible 00:14:59] is, “If you want the content quickly, join my e-mail newsletter. You’ll get it.” Creating a little bit of exclusivity if there are some timely information that can be shared. And then sharing it and posting it to my website.

Remember though, a lot of people will join your e-mail because they ultimately want to get information from you they can’t find somewhere else. If you’re going to use a strategy where you’re going to re-purpose your blog out to your website and it’s going to be e-mail content, know [inaudible 00:15:26].

Josh:                Makes sense. Let’s talk about social media for a while. Again, your blue collar business, which social media platform probably makes the most sense and why?

Lisa:                Again, it’s going to depend. If you’re business-to-consumer driven, Facebook is the no-brainer because we do have such a large percentage of the population on it, from kids to the grandmothers. There is some credibility by being in that network.

The other thing that Facebook does so well is advertising – targeted advertising where I can literally run programs that target homeowners who’ve recently received a HELOC mortgage to remodel their home in some way, shape or form and I can target in on those individuals and place myself in front of them. There’s great methods there.

Now, if you’re  more of a contractor business-to-business environment, we certainly see that in more the Linked In space. Facebook now is really kind of like the heart. It’s kind of loving on each other, consumer facing. Linked In’s more brain where we’re really business-to-business and showing up as an authority on our topic.

If you find that you’re audience is in Linked In and they’re in a business-to-business environment. Like, commercial, for example, looking for [inaudible 00:16:38] are considering a build out, or a [inaudible 00:16:41], or a moving in some way. You can target those organizations if you know who your decision maker is and really get in front of that smaller population.

[inaudible 00:16:50] the Linked In at this point’s got, I see conflicting statistics, anywhere from 21% to 28% of the population on it. You know your world is there, that’s kind of the no-brainer place to be versus a Facebook which is business-to-consumer.

Twitter’s really about short, fast-paced messaging. In the contractor world, I mean, I certainly see that there are some individuals that are there but they’re pretty niched and you’re really in that environment looking for reporters, things that you may want to comment on from a news point of view – technology, pop culture, rather than really staying in front of a world or referral sources and strategic partners.

Josh:                Cool.

Lisa:                So a combination, probably, of Facebook – Linked In.

Josh:                That makes sense. What if I’m spending $15,000 in the Yellow Pages, should I stop that and take that money and put it into online advertising?

Lisa:                Well, if you like effective marketing techniques, I’m going to say yes. I remember the days of the yellow book.

Josh:                I’m assuming we do.

Lisa:                Yeah. Great —

Josh:                By the way, this is [inaudible 00:17:54] I always thought with people I’m working with is about their yellow page ad spend which I think is often ridiculous but – so that was kind of a loaded question.

Lisa:                Yeah. You know, I would re-allocate it. Yellow book, when we actually, when we moved up here to the foothills and we got a phone book actually. And we both marveled. My husband and I are in our 40s. We marveled at the fact that this book arrived. We hadn’t seen one in a decade. It was really fascinating because we’re like, “Oh my God, I forgot about these. They used to be on every corner with the payphone and you put quarters in and you could call people.”

If you feel like Yellow Book has got a little bit of value, I’m not saying you should just throw it all the way out. There are certainly some old school individuals writing stories of people finding people in the yellow book. More often, what you’re finding those that yellow pages and selling you into that and then they’re putting you online through [inaudible 00:18:44] environment.

Instead, I usually encourage people, “Why don’t you take that and put it into an Angie’s List environment? OI put it into this Home Builder. There are several of these different types of organizations that are online and targeted in front of people who are ready to buy your product, rather than just flipping through a colored ad inside of a yellow book that this younger population doesn’t even know what it is.

Josh:                Lisa, we have time for one more question in the podcast portion of this presentation. I’m curious, if I’m going to do an online thing website and I want to do it right, what’s the range of amount of money I should be spending and why?

Lisa:                Just a digital campaign, in general?

Josh:                Yeah, a digital campaign in general. I mean, what should be my annual spend for marketing if I’m going to really do social media and online properly? I know there’s a hugely wide range but let’s say I was spending $25,000 on my traditional marketing through Yellow Pages and print and I’ve become convinced that that’s not the way to go, should I be spending that much money or should I spend less, and where should I spend it?

Lisa:                That’s the big question, depending on each industry, obviously. The marketing statistics tell us to maintain brand awareness; 8% to 10% of your annual budget, in general, should go towards marketing efforts in some way, shape or form. You might need 15% to 18% of your annual budget allocated towards marketing.

Now, there’s an element of test track just in the world of social media because social media is not just marketing. It’s got customer service, public relations, outreach, testimonial drive. There are so many things– reputation management, that is more than just selling.

Let’s say that $25,000 you’re spending in your traditional marketing, you still want to maintain a brochure, a good website, a good business card, any collateral that you many provide to a buyer in person. But you want to then take a carving of that. I’d take $6,000 of that $25,00 and start to put it towards some online programs to help bring an access point to your audience to be able to engage you. Whether they’re messaging you via Facebook platform or sending you a Linked In message or they’re subscribing to your e-mail programs. If you’re looking at a minimum $500 to $1,000 a month to be dedicated to some sort of an online program. And then you begin to track and slowly move some of that traditional money into an online platform, traditional and online, working in conjunction with one another.

Josh:                Cool. Lisa, we are unfortunately out of time. My guess is people are going to want to contact you and find out more about what you do. If they want to do that, how would they do that?

Lisa:                Sure. You just want to come to my website – actuatesocial. It’s or literally go to any website on a Google environment and type in Lisa Haas social media Denver and you’ll find me all over the place. I check and monitor all of my social media networks. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In. My website’s in place so you certainly can e-mail me at

Josh:                Cool.

Lisa mentioned a couple of things today that you might be interested in and I can give you. One is, I have this one-hour audio CD. It’s called Success to Sustainability: The Five Things You Need to be Concerned About to Create an Economically and Personally Sustainable Business. It’s really easy to get it. You just take out your smartphone and please don’t do this if you’re driving right now, which most of you likely are, but wait til you stop driving. Take out your smartphone and text the word SUSTAINABLE to 44222. That’s the word SUSTAINABLE to 44222.

This is Josh Patrick. You’ve been at the Sustainable Business. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.

Narrator:         You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around 100 years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802‑846‑1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at, or you can send Josh an e-mail at

Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.


Topics: blue collar business, sustainable business podcast, Marketing, social media, podcast

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