The Box Crusher Podcast episode 1

In this opening episode, I invite listeners to tell me if the show sucks so far. Hard to imagine, since I’m just 3 minutes in….. but who knows.

What this podcast is:

  •  a show to help plumbers, maids, landscapers, builders, etc market their blue collar businesses online and offline.

What you get:

  • Ideas to market your biz
  • Stories about other entrepreneurs with unique marketing tactics
  • Ways to take action and avoid endless planning in your business

What you won’t hear:

  • Outrageous stories of internet experts telling you how to buy Ferraris after just 30 days of working his “plan”

Yoga Teachers and Landscapers

What in the world do yoga teachers and landscapers have in common?

They both operate in the real world for the most part.

Surely some yoga teachers share their knowledge via the web. Still, most share in person, with sweat and patience at a physical location.

The same holds true for landscapers and other blue-collar businesses. Most landscapers I know do not build water gardens on MineCraft. Or mow lawns in the Sims world. They sweat it out on real addresses on planet Earth.

market your lawn care business

See how I connected yoga and landscaping? Thank you. I think I’m brilliant also.

Why bring this connection up, other than to prove my brilliance? It gives me a chance to talk about an amazing conversation with a yoga teacher I had last week.

I was booking Hope for the podcast I work with, and she told me about her business. She not only teaches yoga, she also uses the fitness platform to engage her audience as a professional speaker.

We talked about pain points in her business. Hope told me how she wanted to increase her brand awareness. This led to talk of her marketing efforts.

Two key points that caught my attention:

  1. Her speaking gigs were lined up for the most part with written letters from her PR person.
  2. Recently, she had a great comparison between Facebook ads and newspaper ads for her yoga business.

newspaper ads 2017

She told me how sick she was of all the advertising in her Facebook feed. Of course we all notice how more and more posts are about a business and less about what our cousin ate for lunch. Neither are good things to pay attention to 95 percent of the time by the way!

“I wonder if we’re just trying to reinvent the wheel with all these funnels, email opt-ins, and lead magnets,” Hope said.

The reason she got all the speaking engagements due to the letter writing from her booker, was due to every other speaker trying to email the venue. Or people trying to connect with venue managers via ads online. That’s my assumption anyway. How many letters through snail mail were sent to venues to book speakers?

Probably only a handful. Maybe just hers!

As for the newspaper ads, this was really exciting for me. I could do an entire series on businesses that thrive on newspaper ads in 2017. When I began my little lawn care business in 2003, I used my local paper to build up my customer base. It cost about $7 a week and my average customer paid $160 a month.

A no-brainer right? I stopped running the ads when my schedule was full and word of mouth took over. I had 50 customers in the end.

The yoga teacher told me how she had one class where half the students came directly from a newspaper ad. Half SON!

She stated that she got sign ups from a FB campaign for another class. But that no one showed up!

Let me say it again. No one who signed up via Facebook bothered to show up to her class!

This comparison is so powerful. It speaks to the nature of a physical business compared to digital offerings that are a better fit for online ads.

  • Maybe folks on FB are less likely to get off their asses and actually attend any fitness class. It’s easy to sign up online. There’s zero accountability if you never show. Think how meaningless the “like” button is when you think you are supporting a cause. It’s much more powerful to work a soup kitchen than click a button supporting a homeless organization.
  • People reading a newspaper could have been already searching for a fitness class in their area. So they were motivated before they saw the ad.
  • Folks reading a paper are more old-school, with their focus being better. The people who signed up on FB, were likely distracted by a cat video moments after they “dedicated” themselves to yoga.

do facebook ads work for small business

This post should open your eyes to new (old) ways to market your business.

Hope told me that “We may be wasting our time with these new marketing techniques.”

The point being that just because an online personality tells you they built up an email list by running AdWords for 365 days, you are not them! Your local business may benefit from AdWords and Facebook ads long-term, but you have to connect on a ground level.

I’m a big fan of Facebook ads for branding over the long haul. As for getting someone to call me, then pay me within a few days, I will opt for a newspaper ad. If I need money in the bank in the next 72 hours I best get my ass on the phone and start cold calling. I don’t have time to ramp up 1,200 likes or shares on FB, in the hopes that someone sees my offer in the next day or two and offers to pay me.

If you are running any sort of localized business:

  • bakery
  • lawn care
  • painting
  • roofing
  • building
  • plumbing
  • yoga teacher
  • fitness coach

Then you need to remember how the wheel of marketing was invented.

I don’t give a damn about all the talk of newspapers going the way of the horse and buggy. Use the horse and buggy until it is no longer working for your specific business.

I don’t care if cold calling is hard. It gets results immediately.

I will leave funnels and branding to the experts. I just know that local businesses need cash flow, or else they will not survive to build a funnel.

Cash flow comes from direct contact with potential customers. Funny memes that get a ton of likes and shares are helpful in building a following for a blue-collar biz. However, you need to pay bills in the meantime, while you build your online tribe of clients.

Don’t forget old-school advertising that can produce revenue right away.

And if you get stressed out over how to advertise your business, maybe take a yoga class. Or at the very least, stretch each morning before you jump on that commercial lawn mower.

Facebook Groups for Plumbers

How many Facebook Groups are there for plumbers?

No idea.

Who wants to hang out with a bunch of plumbers anyway? Even plumbers don’t want to hear about other guys in their profession dropping a bologna sandwich in a septic tank.

plumber marketing

The same goes for trim dudes, brick masons, and sheet-rock workers. The only reason they’d have to join Facebook Groups would be to bitch about all the suck involved with their daily routines.

  • Clients that complain about the price.
  • Workers who get drunk the night before then call in sick.
  • Their wives blowing up their phones while they’re trying to get the lumber unloaded before the rain starts.

Trust me, small business owners get their fill of shop talk while on the job daily. A Facebook Group full of guys with issues just like theirs….. well they might as well talk to themselves!

Which they probably do, being stressed out business owners.

So I’m writing this post to bash FB Groups right?

No…. Pay attention. I’m just getting warmed up.

I love me some Facebook Groups. Conversely, I kinda hate Mark Zuckerberg, but I can’t get into why right now (OK, he ruined the world with the meaningless “like” button.) There, I said it.

For me Facebook Groups have been a wonderful place to connect with like-minded folks. Not necessarily folks in the same line of work as me (though there have been a few of those as well). Mainly I have connected with people whom I can help a bit as they struggle in their freelancing business. Or ones that have trouble with marketing themselves.

Of course I have been assisted myself, often by high level members of the group. An administrator with 35,000 members is an impressive person. Getting such an individual to private message me to help me out or shout out a project I am promoting is no small thing.

If you are a landscaper or builder or a plumber, what kind of groups should you be joining? Great question.

The short answer is any FB Group in which you can be helpful once inside.

You could offer tips for people who are having small plumbing issues. Or if you’re a landscaper, you could offer tips on the best time to plant tulips.

So who would need these helpful insights? Folks in your service area of course. So since you are a physical business, just search for groups that are located in your territory.

small business territory

It may seem odd to join a “community improvement” FB Group, but that is a great fit. You do make your community better each time you stop a leak or tear out an old toilet right?

You make your town better one house at a time. The fact that you already get paid to do so matters not. You are providing a service that your community cannot do without.

For my money, Facebook Groups have been the most valuable section of this social network. Ads are not a guaranteed success. Posting articles on your business page may take a while to get attention. FB Live videos are more work than building a damn deck. But connections to real Facebookers (AKA humans) is never a waste of time.

Let me say that again. Connecting to people on FB is never a waste of time.

Your physical business requires a person (customer) that needs help with some service. Whether that is roofing repair, painting, or laying new sod, you don’t make sales to robots or email addresses. Your cash flow comes from red-blooded humans.

plumber robots

I started using FB Groups last year when I began looking for guests to interview on a podcast I help with weekly. I cannot say how valuable this has been for me. I now have a digital rolodex of all the cool people I have met during this process.

For example:

  • A guy who sells black tea from China.
  • An amazing admin for a huge FB Group who has shown me that being myself (lots of cuss words and some arrogance) pays off.
  • Several people who have helped me do the booking for the show by introducing me to their entrepreneur friends.
  • A blind scooter guy.

Now you want me to lay out a strategy to promote your blue collar business on these groups right? 

You expect me to tell you to build a funnel with some freebies to folks in the group so they will buy from you when their lawn needs a sprinkler system. Or their car needs a new transmission?

Forget funnels! I’m so sick of that word.

How about you just connect with the good people you find on Facebook. Take the Zig Ziglar route.

“When looking for new friends, they will be difficult to find. But when looking to be a friend, the search is much easier.”

Be a friend to those on any Facebook Group you join. From community improvement groups to entertainment niche groups, enjoy the company of the people who are like you. Make connections in a genuine way and you will never have a shortage of work.

It’s funny how people recommend your business even when they don’t know if you are a good plumber since they have not needed your service yet. These people recommend you because you are a plumber they know.

And they like you.

worthless facebook likes



Blue Collar Business Marketing Sucks

If you’re running a blue collar business, you have to be confused by all the marketing messages you see online. I know I used to spin my wheels looking at all the options for reaching new customers for my lawncare business.


There are a million ways to market a plumbing biz, a remodeling company, a landscaping business, etc. And there’s 1,255 know-it-all gurus per square mile of internet.

They want you to:

  • Post Youtube videos since the SEO is easier now with vids.
  • Stop using Twitter since it’s not growing.
  • Spend $1000 on Facebook ads to see what works (Actual advice I heard from Neil Patel on a podcast interview!) I know the guy has crazy smarts, but damn, do you have a grand laying around to test some ideas out?
  • Put a Facebook Pixel on your website. Is there a 300 page manual involved?
  • Use Google analytics to see how long users are staying on your landing page. You know, so you can tweak the copy (text on your site) in order to keep readers on your page.
  • Create multiple landing pages in case one does 2 percent better than the rest. Good plan. However, it took you and your geeky nephew 12 hours to make the first landing page. Do you really have time to dive into more?

The point is this. You cannot try every single tactic that internet marketers suggest. You can try, but a mental breakdown will be the result.


I’m here to keep you out of a padded room.

There’s nothing wrong with listening to startup podcasts and reading eBooks by internet marketing experts. Just know that focusing on one tactic at a time is better than trying to use all the methods heard daily on the web.

Since you can never have time for all these guru tactics, why not give focus a chance?

If you’re operating a grading business or running a lawn mower shop, you stay busy enough with the physical labor. Most small businesses have just enough staff to make things run smoothly. Not smoothly enough for the owner to never step in to help though.

I know. I did the bookkeeping, blade sharpening, oil changing, marketing, and most of the grass mowing when I was a full time landscaper. My helpers were much appreciated, but I had to get my hands dirty to actually make a profit.

too many hats blue collar business

The mower shop I used back in the day had a husband and wife team running it. They were always there. Not on a beach like Tim Ferris with some 4-hour work week plan.

I’ve no beef with Tim. Though even he doesn’t live by his 4-hour philosophy book that made him super rich. He still grinds on a daily basis.

Focus is your friend when it comes to marketing.

For me, I would try one platform at a time to see what worked. That doesn’t mean spending $1000 on FB ads to see if my assumptions about 70-year old women being in love with my targeted ads there.


Instead, I would spend a single dollar a day for 14 to 30 days to see if I got any engagement at all on Facebook. Making sure to change up each post to see what is not working. It could be:

  • The wrong message.
  • An easy to ignore photo in the post.
  • The wrong time of day to post.
  • The wrong targeted audience.

After 30 days you should know if Facebook is going to work with your methods. Maybe you should ask for a local expert to help with your postings. Or move on to another social platform to see if perhaps Pinterest works better for you.

If your work involves beautiful landscapes, then photos could get you the attention you need for your landscaping operation.

Depending on your target market, you may do better with quick conversations on Twitter or even SnapChat. Though unless you’re selling to high schoolers, SnapChat may be a reach. I have no clue what to do with SC.

And you should be glad I’m telling you that. Other experts like Gary Vaynerchuk say it’s a good plan to know every social media platform that arises. That may be fine for a college kid running a tech biz from his dorm. Not true for Joe The Plumber who’s elbow deep in a septic tank.

Joe better keep it simple with one or two channels to gain some traction online.

  • Joe could blog about the disgusting week he had.
  • He could post to FB about what not to put in the garbage disposal.
  • Or he could do Youtube videos about the cool equipment he just bought that will soon be covered in used toilet paper.

septic tank service

And if you think that type of content doesn’t show a company in a professional light…. get real. People looking for a plumber aren’t looking for a guy in a 3-piece suit.

They want a man not afraid to get dirty. One who has fallen in a septic tank and lived to tell about it.

If you think writing a boring story each week on your FB page about how “We strive to help our customers, no matter how tough the job,” will work, think again. Your potential customers already expect you to do a good job.

I’m pretty sure they won’t pay up if it’s clear you don’t have a clue what you’re doing.

Your job as a marketer is to make them pay attention to you. To listen when you talk or type out a post.

If you’re going at this online marketing thing alone, then it’s a tough road.

Especially when all the online gurus are speaking a different language. They are focused on helping app creators to sell their games.

Or giving bloggers tips to get noticed.

These gurus, while very knowledgeable, are not in touch with the average Jimbo who just rolled on 22 gallons of paint in eight hours. Badass painter there! My dad has done it and more, so I know.

I am not an elite internet marketing guru.

Just a former landscaper with a superpower that involves writing and other content creation that gets attention. I don’t know every move you should make when it comes to marketing your business online.

What I do know is that you can’t make all the moves that the experts are telling you to try with their endless stream of content.

You don’t need each social media channel to grow your business. You only need to get folks to pay attention to the one or two you do engage on.

I feel your pain and I have been where you are. I’ve busted my knuckles turning a wrench on commercial lawn mowers. I’ve dropped off 500 flyers in a day only to get 5 calls for estimates. And I am a working class dude still.

Lucky for you all, I’ve wasted a lot of time online learning a lot of marketing techniques. So I know what works.

Mainly, what works is not spreading your efforts too thin. By paying attention to how customers actually find you (just ask them), you will learn which efforts to increase.

Feel free to shoot me an email if I can be of help with content creation for your website or social media pages.

I’m not as smart as guys like Neil Patel and others. However, I am in touch with business that involve dirt under the fingernails.

And I promise not to overwhelm you with too many tactics. I’ll keep it simple, yet effective.