Offline marketers, be prepared. Seriously.

25 replies
Hello dear offline consultants and/or wannabe-consultants.

The forum is filled with success stories that make the business look simple and easy. It's only fair that I offer some warnings to folks who might be a bit too over optimistic about the offline marketing business.

So without further ado, here we go:

Website design

If you are not outsourcing, be prepared to spend time here. When dealing with small businesses, the owners will want to have their hands on every little detail you can think of and many times involve tech savvy relatives in the process as well. The smaller/cheaper the gig, the more hassle. The first design sheet is just that, the first sheet. Out of many.

For bigger clients, prepare to deal with overworked and under resourced IT departments/development teams. Installing Wordpress and slapping on some affordable theme with light customizations will NOT cut it. Content writing is better be outsourced if you are not expert in the area you are dealing with and I mean outsource it to expert(s), not just SEO-writers.

Social Media

Business owners are not as clueless about social media (or understanding the importance of web presence/utilizing that presence for that matter) as people around here tend to think. In fact, MOST do "get it". Setting up accounts is not enough, you have to deliver VALUE and provide metrics of that value. Facebook friends or Twitter followers mean nothing if their presence cannot be seen under the bottom line.


Again, business owners are not clueless about importance of being found on Google or the existence of Google Maps. With technical aspects (onsite seo) and link building (offsite seo) you can provide help, but be prepared to deal with the same departments/teams as mentioned before (who, by now think you are an idiot) when working with bigger clients.

Also, getting visitors (same goes for FB friends, Twitter followers, Youtube views, etc.) is NOT enough. You have to be able to bring VALUE, as in more SALES and provide metrics of those increased sales. You might be a freelance consultant at heart, but practically you are now a full-time member of your client's company and you better be working as such.

That's it.

Keep these in mind and be prepared to WORK, then you can make it, but easy it is not. I left out the part getting clients, since it depends on so many factors and can be so easy or hard as you make it. Not to mention the prices to command.

Good luck.
#consultant #marketers #marketing #offline #prepared #seo
  • Profile picture of the author Qamar
    I agree, it is not easy to run an offline business. Most of the tips and success stories being shared here may seemed easy but the reality is different.

    There are many untold stories that are happening behind the curtain that one has to be smart to tackle.

    To avoid this I have decided to focus only one or two services for local business. For now, I am focusing on simple web design service and mobile sites design services.

    These alone have taken up my time but luckily I am seeing results that are keeping me keeping on.......

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  • Profile picture of the author Not So New
    Agreed .. Something that is too easy, just doesn't work.

    Everything worthwhile takes some elbow grease and dedication. No push button solutions even if they sound amazing.

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  • Profile picture of the author danielkanuck
    Do you really think social media can be a potent force for an offline small business owner? If you do, should they do it themselves or will the consultant be doing it themselves?
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    • Profile picture of the author Sciencemies
      Originally Posted by danielkanuck View Post

      Do you really think social media can be a potent force for an offline small business owner? If you do, should they do it themselves or will the consultant be doing it themselves?
      Depends on what it is used for.

      Communication tool? Great way to keep in touch with employees, partners, suppliers, current customers, potential customers, etc. Does a small local carpet cleaning service with it's regular, mainly elderly and not-computer savvy, customer base need it? Sure, if they want to keep in touch with their more tech savvy customers and attract new ones in the process.

      Marketing tool? Affordable way to run your sales, discounts, competitions and whatnot. Reach is potentially much bigger than you would get by the more traditional means, costs are a fraction of that and the speed is second to none. YOU have to come up with the ideas, that is how you bring in VALUE.

      Cost reduction? Communicating and marketing through social media is cheaper than by the more traditional ways. Imagine the savings on conducting a marketing research or handling most of your customer service through that as well.

      Your job is to make your client understand that by utilizing social media they can reduce costs and increase sales. If they understand that, your next job is to make them understand that they cannot do it themselves, they need you in the process. If you think they can, why are you offering this for them in the first place?

      Regarding the question who should run the whole thing? Again, depends. There's a lot of tools out there to help, but if you are taking the updating for yourself get compensated for that. Social media is NOT free, it takes time and it takes work. Remember, you are NOT their customer service agent.

      Good luck.

      EDIT. I almost forgot. Be prepared to deal with social media experts, whether they are owner's relatives for smaller, or marketing managers/directors for bigger clients.
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      • Profile picture of the author dtaylor
        This is exactly why I stay away from Facebook for the clientele I usually target. If I were doing restaurants or clubs it would be a natural. For most service businesses it is a LOT of work to get enough likes to make a difference.

        Even getting a lot of likes for something like a popular restaurant or club is quite a bit of consistent effort. NOt the way I want to spend my time.

        While quite a few are quite tech savvy, they are hiring you for an overall approach and so that you, hopefully, will know where they should be focusing their efforts and budgets.

        Totally agree with your point about know-it-all relatives or friends but it is not just this industry. It is especially funny when a relative is in charge and acts like he knows everything about it but you are able to point out several no-brainers in the first 5 minutes of looking.

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  • Profile picture of the author P1
    Exactly! coming in I thought it would be easier than it is.

    It is a lot of work and don't think you can just outsource everything you have to know every aspect of what you're offering or you look very dumb when you the business owner asks you about it.

    I must also add the business owners that ARE clueless won't want the service so you have to really know how to pitch yourself.

    Originally Posted by danielkanuck View Post

    Do you really think social media can be a potent force for an offline small business owner? If you do, should they do it themselves or will the consultant be doing it themselves?
    I think it is because you can connect to all your customers in a split second like a email list or SMS.

    If you offer social media you are pretty much handling it all yourself and you should ask for a monthly fee to maintain it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Danielm
    Funny about the relatives. I had the son of a client call me yesterday, ask about design specifics for a site I agreed to do at a HUGE discount for a charity. He wanted me to put automatic streaming background music on the homepage... ew.

    The more I do this the farther I want to be from being called a web designer, but with some people as soon as they hear internet.... can you make me a new website??
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  • Profile picture of the author velinfo
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    • Profile picture of the author AUKev
      Great advice. Offline marketing is definitely a grind. The struggle for me is the length of the sale cycle. I have a client that verbally committed to move forward with his project 10 weeks ago. A sizable project no less. I cannot start the project without significant input from him. He wants the full suite of services: website redesign, SEO, fanpage, youtube channel with video marketing, but he cannot find the time to give me an hour. Heck, I cannot even get him to send me a logo.

      I currently have 4 customers in the queue that have agreed to a project, but will not stop long enough to hand over the necessary information or to approve a milestone before moving forward.

      Very frustrating to say the least. I may end my Contract Services Agreement to put an end date on the project where they lose their deposit and I move on to another client should they miss the deadline.

      Anyone have any suggestions on how to get customers to move forward and provide the relevant info? I come from a software engineering background and I am used to working from detailed specs that are hammered out prior to developing. This hurry up and wait is by far the hardest part of working offline. In fact, I am surprised to admit that it is harder than the actual selling.
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  • Profile picture of the author TycoonRob
    AUKev - I'm running into similar issues with a few recent prospective clients. They're all good to go thru the sales process. They loved the presentation, idea, etc. They're ready to go. They know the price upfront - no surprises. We give them a proposal that just puts it in black and white. Now they have to think about it, or they're busy, or blah blah blah. ACTION!!! Just need businesses who are ready to get moving.

    Doubt everything you believe.

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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Nash
    Pretty spot on there Sciencemies. Offline requires lots of hard work..

    What do you guys think about offline companies (small) that's having a Facebook page? Seems like everyone just wants it, just to have one. If You can't manage it, don't have one.

    ~Alex Nash

    Learn from your mistakes. Experience is priceless.

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  • Profile picture of the author kiteg2
    What do you guys think about offline companies (small) that's having a Facebook page? Seems like everyone just wants it, just to have one. If You can't manage it, don't have one.
    Incredibly small minded,
    What happens when a litigement claim goes viral, not to mention all the dumb stuff that gets posted and the stuff people get arrested for and the breeches in privacy, there are many reasons why a small business would be smart to have a presence here

    Do you really think social media can be a potent force for an offline small business owner? If you do, should they do it themselves or will the consultant be doing it themselves?
    The answer to both would be social media managers, This will be a vital tool in offline marketing for years to come.
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  • Profile picture of the author linaO
    Hard, sometimes extra thick! When I first started taking clients (web design), my first client happened to be a victoria secret model that wanted a "scream out loud" site, something that'll separate her from the other models. She wanted it in 3 days. Like a novice, I took on her project, for 7k. It was awesome. She loved the website at time of delivery.

    As soon as I closed out the client, not even 30 minutes later she sent me one email after the next claiming the site does not load, her fb link is showing her page as SHE sees it (this was because she was automatically logged in when she clicked the fb link on her page lol) and etc.

    Her site worked perfectly. She just didn't like the fact that she paid me 7k. And this my fellow warriors, is called buyer's remorse. I offered a week of free maintenance. She was happy as hell but as soon as it was over, back to complaining and fault finding.

    Good business, concrete hard.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Binnie
    Sound advice, it's not as easy out there as some make out.
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  • Profile picture of the author addison.agnote
    Even offline businesses and small businesses need online presence if they really want success for their business. Maximize the potentials of your business by promoting it on the web through social media.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mac the Knife
    Just a note about Facebook. I make it a PRIORITY that the business has to be involved PROACTIVELY in the building of the page LIKES. This means, access to their email database, fliers in their place of business (if applicable), in their ads, whenever they are communicating with clients etc. It is NOT about the number of likes, it is about the engagement, so getting likes from active clients is key.

    Mac the Knife
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  • Profile picture of the author ratna
    Good thing I stumble upon this post

    All those offline business products promotions sure make it sounds that everything is sooooo simple. They make it sounds like ALL business owners will have no clue about anything you offer and they will want to have your services.

    This post is a good confirmation of what I've suspected for awhile that it is not as easy as it sound. That an offline business is still a business and it still requires all the things required of a good business man/woman. Things such as the sales and marketing, the know-how basic knowledge, etc.

    However, by saying all this, I don't mean to say that all WSO on offline marketing is bad. There are still some offline marketing products that are great, but they are far few in between.

    Anyway, let keep this threat going to help all of us grow in our offline marketing business.



    Helping Small Businesses improve their sales and profits through Internet, Mobile, and Social Marketing.

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  • Profile picture of the author SuzyBlack
    Small business owners can be a hassle, but in saying that, if you deliver what you have promised - which usually means what you have agreed upon & outlined in a contract, you will cover yourself in the event of complaints.

    Yes you can expect revisions if what you are delivering isn't to the clients expectations, so sometimes its better to sit down at the beginning and take time to find out the clients ideas. Ask them about sites that they like, ask them about what they envisage their site to be like and what they want to achieve from it. For some, it's just an ego boost to say "I have a website' (these clients are GOLD) but for others, its the be all and end all of all their marketing efforts.

    Yes, you should be aware, but as the Scouts say 'Be Prepared'. If you aren't great at copy, or don't have someone to do that for you, then just outsource & add that into the quote.

    On the social media note, MAKE SURE that you are charging for the effort that you put in, there are lots of small businesses that are out there and think that once you have set up a facebook page for them, you will update it with info about their business - for free! If they don't want to do it themselves, then you need to charge, and if they do do it themselves, make sure they understand the pitfalls of not using someone who is qualified to generate leads.
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  • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
    I didn't read follow up posts, only the first.

    I do have to say though, that I disagree with this and I'm not sure where you are finding your clients, or perhaps you aren't establishing proper boundaries from the start. I do agree that the low budget high hassle clients are always an issue, best to avoid them or make them pay to play!

    The reality is.... making money online and offline, is very easy. It just takes time, action, and common sense with the ability to make adjustments as needed!
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  • Profile picture of the author Samway
    Definitely great advice. I like it! It's better to believe that it's not going too be easy and discover that things are running rather smoothly than the other way around. Great thought! :-)
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    • Profile picture of the author IsGabeW
      Agreed...most small businesses DO know about all the things you mentioned ANDDDDD many of them have been burned in the past by bad people with a good sales pitch and horrible results. So you really need to be on your A-game to succeed. Its def not an easy world to make money in. But with some creative thinking and hard work, it can be done.

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  • Profile picture of the author dancorkill
    Some great advice here. On web design you mention its hard because they like to be involved, I find the exact same thing and used to let them be involved. The problem is you then establish yourself as their biatch instead of the expert that is going to help them. If they are telling you what to do, that is because YOU are letting them tell you what to do, call them out on it.

    Life gets a lot easier when you start laying down the law. It seems like a few innocent suggestions at first, but anyone that starts telling you how to do online marketing isn't going to be an easy client to manage long term.

    I agree heavily with the bring value part and would add hammer that value into your client consistently, question them every month on how much $$$ you made them. If you do that they will never leave and appreciate you. Have data to back it up, too many people are just throwing around opinions, provide facts not opinions. (people don't want X position in serps/twitter pages/latest IM craze, they want more customers, more $, so make sure to report on the important stuff.

    Some people make the mistake of bringing value but never highlighting it to the client, don't just assume that they know you are working hard and bringing them lots of leads. Phone call tracking can help a lot here if they are an offline biz.

    Then there is people not bringing value, they will just lose.
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  • Profile picture of the author TWalker
    Totally disagree with the OP on many points.

    I/you/We are the experts in the field. If your not you need to go and study up some more. We spend a lot of time understanding the latest trends and what is important.

    Most people I talk to about SEO, social media etc have no idea what to do. I sold a site today to a man who is good at what he does (selling timeshare points) but I had to completely dumb everything down or he would have been overwhelmed.

    He introduced me as: "An email guy" because thats all he really understands.

    Not everyone knows as little as he does and some know as much as much as I do but if they know that much they are one of us and we probably are not selling to them.

    Take advantage of the fact that you know more about it and don't assume people know what you do about this business. Keep it simple for them.
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  • Profile picture of the author piazorayarevelo
    Easy it is not indeed. Especially the SEO process.. You have to go through that activity every single day just to promote a website. But, the results are really great.
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  • Profile picture of the author JerrickYeoh
    Usually SEO and Social Media can work with self learning.
    Just web design may consume more time unless we outsource it .
    Outsource usually expensive so you unable to go for long term.
    May learn the basic of CSS and so on to learn how to change the color, content and picture.
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  • Profile picture of the author sdentrepreneur
    Part of being successful with Offline Marketing is being a good salesman. You must learn how to build a sales pipeline, have a sales process and know how to close a deal. Of course you must have the skills to service the client but what is great about Internet Marketing, you can outsource your weaknesses.

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