Innovative New Ways To Expand Your Offline Biz

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Hey guys, it's been a while since I've contributed to this forum (been swamped), so I figure it's about time I gave back to this great community.

Recently I've been exploring innovative new ways to expand my offline consulting biz, and I've came across a few methods that have attracted a ton of new clients for my business.

First off, you need to automate absolutely everything you can. This is nothing new to most people here on the forum, but I still think it needs to be touched on.

There are 3 main areas that you need to look at when you are trying to automate your business - these areas are:

  • Obtaining Clients
  • Working with Clients / providing the service
  • Following up with Clients
Now I'm not going to go into what services you should offer clients, or how to do SEO, etc. There are tons of threads in this forum covering those topics, so go ahead and do a quick search and you should be able to find a wealth of information on the topic.

First up is obtaining clients. There are many, many ways to do this; so I'll try to provide as many as possible. Remember, you ideally want to automate as much of this as you can, so that you can expand effectively.


1.) Obtaining Clients


One of my favorite ways to do this is to hire a commission-only sales force. This means that you are hiring "independent contractors" that will go out and visit businesses for you, and you only pay them when they make a sale. This is important, because it means that you are only paying these people if they bring in profit for you. There are no real costs involved, because you can pay them out of the profit they bring in.

This is far less risky than hiring and training actual employees that you pay by the hour, who might not even bring in a single sale. My favorite way to obtain these sales people are through Craigslist and local college campuses; however feel free to use your imagination here. I currently have 16 commission-only sales people working for me, and I'm constantly trying to obtain more. The great part is they work all over the country, because you can keep in touch and train them via phone and e-mail exclusively.


Another great way to obtain clients is by hiring a telemarketing firm via Elance. I've done this with great success, and it completely automates my telemarketing/cold-calling process. You can expect to pay a quality firm $10/hour for their telemarketing services, but it is a drop in the bucket compared to the profit you will bring in. I usually have the telemarketers contact businesses in my area; and notify me when they schedule an appointment. I then visit with the business owner face-to-face, and close the sale.

On average (and this varies according to a number of different factors), the telemarketing firm I use obtains 1 appointment every 3 hours of calling or so. From there, I usually convert about 40-50% of those appointments into paying customers. That equals out to $60-$75 per paying client, a cost that I will pay day in and day out (considering I charge $1,500 at a bare minimum for a simple web design service). On that note, DO NOT SHORTCHANGE YOURSELF!!! Some people will tell you to charge low at the beginning to build a portfolio. This is madness. If a company needs your services; they will pay good money. It all depends on how you present the benefits to the business owner, not on the amount of clients you've had in the past.

Now I'm starting to combine the above two methods (commission-only sales force and a telemarketing firm), so that the telemarketing firm also contacts businesses all across the country where my sales representatives are located as well. Then, I send the sales rep to go in and close the sale. They get a commission, and you don't have to leave your computer. This is something I am just starting to do, but it is working extremely well so far. If you haven't tried either of the above methods, ease into it first before trying anything fancy. Get started by hiring your first commission-only sales person, and go from there.


A third way that I like to obtain clients, and one that has proved to convert the best, is by using a personal touch when you contact businesses. I go to sendacookiecard(dot)com (I'm not affiliated with them in any way), and send the 8 cookie package to law firms (since they have proved to pay the most for my services in the past, and are probably the most difficult businesses to speak with someone that can make decisions). This requires an investment, but it is absolutely worth it. I have the website send a custom card along with the cookies, and on the front of the card is a screenshot of the first page of Google, with "law firms city here" in the search bar (city here is replaced, of course, with their specific city). In photoshop I circle the organic search results in red.

Then, on the inside of the card, I have them write a short note that says something like this:

"Hi - my name is..., and I'm the owner of a local marketing company called..."

"We strive to provide our clients with professional service with a personal touch. In addition, we can get your website onto the first page of Google, which will generate huge exposure and additional clients."

"If you would like to learn more, or simply have a friendly chat, please go ahead and call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX. I hope to hear from you, and I hope you enjoy the cookies!"


That's actually longer than the note I usually include, but you get the point. You would not believe how many business owners (lawyers no less) call almost right away, eager to speak with me! They love the personal touch, and their receptionist loves it too the next time you walk in (because those cookies are inevitably shared )

Sounds silly, but it's extremely effective.


That is, of course, another method you can automate using a commission-only sales staff if you don't want to do it yourself.



2.) Working with clients / Providing the Service

This is one aspect of the business that I hate, to be completely honest. The majority of business owners are extremely pleasant and are grateful that you are taking the time to work with them and increase their profits. However, there are always a few businesses that you will spend nearly half of your time trying to please. They require revision after revision (I had one business request 12 separate revisions on a single website. Took nearly 3 months to get the website perfect in their eyes.)

That's why there is no reason for you to do this yourself. As long as you are charging decently (which you should be), you can afford to hire the following:

1.) A Virtual Assistant

There are plenty (probably hundreds) of firms out there that will provide you with a virtual assistant. This is someone that will manage all of your clients, help you with appointments, etc. Their job will be to coordinate your sales force, and get the client's work finished. NOTE: This person will not be doing the work themselves, only managing the people that are doing the work.

This assistant will probably cost you around $600-$800 a month, and will earn every penny.

2.) Freelance workers

I say freelance, but what you will actually be doing is finding 1 or 2 consistent workers that you can trust to get the job done. They will be the people doing the SEO on the websites, creating the websites, installing the autoresponders into the websites, etc. (Depending on what services you are offering). I personally used Elance at the beginning to find a few freelance workers that did good work, and now I always use the same people.

Note: These are the people that the virtual assistant will be working with to get the client's work done. You don't want to have to worry about constantly asking for updates, etc. That is what the virtual assistant is for. And I strongly believe that you should invest the first check you get into a virtual assistant, it will blow your mind how much time (and stress) you will save.



3.) Following up with clients

You might have been wondering why I made this a category by itself. In fact, I'm guessing that even if you are already working with a number of clients in your offline consulting business, you are probably not doing this (or at least doing it effectively).

This will be one of your biggest money-makers. When you take on a client, you need to stay organized and make sure you know what you are providing them with. (I use the virtual assistant to keep everything organized in an excel spreadsheet). If you offer three general services (Website Design, SEO, and Autoresponder Integration), and you only provide your client with a Website Design, you need to follow up with that client.

If you provide excellent service, they will work with you again. Generally I use the same telemarketing firm that I mentioned above to follow up with clients according to a set schedule. Exactly 3 weeks after their website is finished (or 3 weeks after they bought an SEO package, etc.), I have the telemarketing firm call them and ask how everything is going. The call goes like this:

"Hi, this is XXXX from XXXX. I just wanted to give you a call and see how the website is working out for you?

"Oh it's great! yadda yadda customers love it etc."

"Great! I'm glad we could help you out with that. Also, we just started a new promotion that allows past customers to receive (Whatever service they didn't buy before) at a 50% discount. We are striving to provide excellent service at a price that works for you. How about we set up a meeting to talk about it more?"

And then they try to close the sale. Make sure you work with a telemarketing firm that is not rude or pushy - they are representing you. There are quite a few great firms out there, but there are some bads ones as well. Just make sure you work with the right one.


Basically, make it a point to follow-up with past customers. They are much easier to sell to because they've worked with you before, and they know that you provide personal, excellent service.


Quick note on pricing:

You should be charging, at the bare minimum, $1,500 for a simple direct response website design.

Personally, I offer three services to clients:

Website Design
SEO
Autoresponder Creation/Integration


I charge $1,500-$3,000 for the website design (depending on what they need/what industry they're in).

For SEO, I charge $1,000-$3,000 upfront at a bare minimum (this depends again on industry/competitiveness of search terms), plus $500-$1,000 per month to maintain their search engine ranking.

For Autoresponder Creation/Integration, I charge $1,000-$2,000 for installing it and creating 7 messages; after that each additional message is $50-$100.


The point is, don't shortchange yourself. Keep in mind the industry's income and profit per client, and go from there. I charge lawyers and real estate agents a premium because their income level is so high and each new client I bring them generates a hefty profit.





The bottom line is, you need to put systems in place to handle everything for you. You are not a marketer anymore, you are not a website designer, you are not a sales person. You are, from here on out, a conductor. You are conducting the symphony of systems, and your job is to make sure that everything continues to run smoothly. Just stay organized, coordinate everything effectively, and you will be able to expand faster than you would believe.

I hope this helped some of you, and if you are just starting out or thinking about starting out, don't let the novel above fool you - this business is easy. Just get out there and get your first client, and go from there. Or skip that step entirely and get to work hiring your commission-only sales force, and have them get your first sale for you.

Above all, get started.

"Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out." - Robert Collier



Have a good one!

All the best,
Jonathon Locke
#consulting #offline #strategies
  • Profile picture of the author TyBrown
    Really great info on here. If you have a minute I'd love to hear more about your experience with outsourcing your telemarketing efforts.

    I'm currently exploring an idea where I would use telemarketers. My idea was to use CL and get independent contractors from in my locaarea, I hadn't thought of using elance. My concerns with using elance would be that it could be difficult to find people who make calls up to my standards, could be difficult to incentivize, would run the risk of someone hurting my brand, etc.

    How do you manage quality control issues?
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonathon Locke
    Hey Ty, thanks for the kind words. The key is to find a company that can provide that superior quality. I briefly considered hiring the telemarketers myself, but my goal was to minimize my workload, not expand it - so I decided to go looking for companies that could provide what I needed. Go ahead and shoot me a PM, and I'll give you a few companies to look at.

    All the best,
    Jonathon Locke
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  • Thanks for the post Jonathon, there's some great information in there.

    Most people don't realize how much money they are letting slip through their fingers by not contacting past customers and following up with them. If they worked with you once, chances are they'll work with you again if you can identify something they need that you can provide.

    Again, great post!

    John
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  • Profile picture of the author iw433
    Awesome! That post could have been a WSO. Very informative.
    Thanks.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonathon Locke
    Hey not a problem, glad I could help!

    All the best,
    Jonathon Locke
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  • Profile picture of the author Lisa Gergets
    Hi Jonathon - wondering if you could provide an example of a basic site you'd be charging, say, $1500 for creating? Or just list the basic elements a site like that would include?

    Such excellent information in your post - I'm printing it! Thank you!
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonathon Locke
    Hey TinkerAndPo, thanks for the response. I'd be glad to provide you a sample site - go ahead and send me a PM, and I'll get an example over to you. I just need to make sure my client's privacy is respected and want to avoid posting the link to the site here (I'm sure you understand ). Thanks, and have a good one!

    All the best,
    Jonathon Locke
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonathon Locke
    Hey Traffic-bug, thanks for the kind words. The key is getting everything automated from the start - if you can implement systems to take care of the monotonous tasks, expansion becomes much easier. Have a good one!

    All the best,
    Jonathon Locke
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonathon Locke
    Hey Tinker, just letting you know that I don't think I received any PM from you - I'm more than happy to show you an example, so feel free to send one!

    All the best,
    Jonathon Locke
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    • Profile picture of the author timmykins
      HI Jonathon,

      Really informative post. Thank you.

      Personally I have thought about systemising but find myself trying to do everything! I would be interested to know how you go about finding good outsource workers, especially on elance, and the like.

      Regards

      Tim
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    • Profile picture of the author beninewie
      HI Jonathon,

      Great post! Just wondering if you could expand a little bit on the training of your commission only salesforce? What kind of things do you train them in? Is it just getting them acquainted with your offer, or is it more in-depth?

      Cheers,
      Ben
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  • Profile picture of the author duffmarketing
    I echo the statement made above, this post could have been a WSO! I hadn't thought of the VA angle before, and I believe the first chance I get at being able to afford one, that's what I'm doing! Yes there's a lot to keep up with... prospecting, consulting, selling, then doling out the work, follow-up, implement, test, market, sell some more, follow-up some more, tweak this, tweak that, make phone calls, run to the bank, answer emails, etc..... and then Tuesday rolls around, lol
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  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Cotter
    Hi Jonathon,
    Great post.
    I had a question about what kind of SEO services you provide for you initial $1,000-$3,000 upfront at a bare minimum (this depends again on industry/competitiveness of search terms), plus $500-$1,000 per month to maintain their search engine ranking.

    Thanks
    Kevin

    Also sent you a PM.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonathon Locke
    Hey guys, sorry about not checking this thread to answer questions!

    Generally when I train my sales reps, I provide them with an employee handbook that explains every service I offer, how to approach the business owners, how to upsell the services, why the business owners benefit from our services, etc.

    On Elance it is all about trial and error - I generally post a job, then check references on the bidders. I contact past companies that have worked with the provider, and if the price is right and the referrals are positive, then I give them a try. Once you find some good workers, build good business relationships with them and work with them again in the future.

    Hey Kevin - it really depends on the business. If I'm speaking with a law firm, I might just work with them and target 2-3 of their most relevant phrases (for example, if they are primarily a divorce attorney firm, then that is one of the three phrases I focus on). The law arena is usually quite competitive, and top rankings can equate to some high-paying clients.

    On the other hand, if I'm talking to a fashion boutique, I might offer a more inclusive SEO package for that price. Probably around 10-20 keywords targeted, with some article creation, link building campaign, etc.

    Hope this helps guys!

    All the best,
    Jonathon Locke
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    • Profile picture of the author duffmarketing
      Jonathon, in reference to my reply above re: keeping up with everything, how do you recommend Offline Warriors to keep up with everything. What kind of paper trail/computer file system do you use to manage so many projects from so many areas (so many sales people, clients, outsources, etc.). I've been seeking such a "project management" system for a while and can't find one. That in itself would also make a great WSO. Thanks for the great insights!

      [edit to add following]

      I did see above that you mention getting a VA to keep everything together, but I was wondering more about what systems and software can one use if they aren't quite able to afford the VA in the beginning.

      Thanks... Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author Mr Money Maker
    Hey, great information, you really did a lot of work. I read what you said about getting a website ranked on top of google for your customers.....it's a great business , I have done this myself off and on.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonathon Locke
    Hey guys, thanks for the replies. Steve, I generally use a combination of Microsoft Access 07 (with the marketing project plugin, call tracker plugin, and a few various others); with Microsoft Accounting 07 to track everything. Thanks for the kind works Mr. Money Maker!

    All the best,
    Jonathon Locke
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