Tip 1: Automated leads
I haven't made a cold call in 6 years. I hate cold calling and even more, I hate being cold called. From my experience a cold call is the first indication that your company is struggling and no one wants to hire a struggling company to help their struggling company. Instead, every juicy, "Please Help Us" lead has come from a form on my company website. Every page that describes a service which I offer whether it's PPC, landing pages, FB optimization or what have you, has a customized lead form with just 3-4 fields. Not enough to overwhelm the client, but enough to let them know it's not a generic form and you genuinely care about their reasons for getting in touch with you. Answering those e-mails and sending a pre-formatted proposal on my iPhone while I sit next to my wife on the beach with sand between my toes? Now that's what we call autopilot income.
Tip 2: Get off on the right foot from the get go
I've lost a lot of money on needy clients. I've learned it's better to just pass these leads off to another company rather than waste my time and resources babysitting. These clients come in the form of the "How are we doing?" Every 5 minute e-mailers, the "Let's meet once a week to review your progress" clients and the dreaded "Teach me what you're doing so I know" clients. I don't have time for this nonsense. I tell clients right from the start that they hired me to get them more leads and I'm not a babysitter. If you don't get more leads, be it phone calls or web leads, then we can schedule a meeting to discuss strategy. I once had a client (who was a very nice man by the way) simply walk into my office during a teleconference with another client and ask me how things were going. I had just started working with his flooring distribution business and saw the dreaded signals. I hushed him up and had him wait in the lobby. After 10 minutes (the phone call had only been 5) I came out and had a conversation about how valuable my time was and how if every client showed up at my door all the time then I'd of rather just opened up a day care. I was admittedly a little harsh and then followed it up with some consoling and answered a few questions. To this day whenever he e-mails me he starts it with "Sorry to bother you but can you..?" Mission accomplished. He loves the new business he's got coming in and stays out of my way while I get it for him.
Tip 3: Occasionally upsell your current client list and turbo-charge your autopilot income.
The best way to do this is with a blog and a company newsletter. Rather than blasting an e-mail about your services you need to be innovative and deliver engaging content. My last newsletter (which isn't all that fancy but clean and professional looking) had the subject of "How we increased leads to a local (insert city) business with these 3 simple steps." I described the case study and how we achieved the results. I knew that my clients didn't have time for what was involved with this new service we were offering and guess what? 30 out of the 40 clients this newsletter went out to replied back that they wanted to sign up for this new monthly subscription service. I just increased my income by 4k+ per month. All with one email and all were services that I could put on auto pilot.
Tip 4: Don't be a cheapskate, invest in some tools
Without my tool set, I'd be lost. I've got a service that makes me sound like a Fortune 500 company but rings my cell phone and lets me decide to answer or send to an automated mailbox (this allows me to vacation at least once a month). I've got a $34/month subscription to online accounting software that allows for online payments from my clients, automated monthly recurring invoicing, and an iPhone app that came with the accounting software so that I can vacation and keep everything in check (if I want to). Remember that e-mail that got my business all those new monthly up sells? I added them all to my recurring billing in my accounting software from the bar of the hotel I was staying at using the iPhone app. I also utilize a writing service to keep my clients websites updated with top notch content that makes them think I hired a team of Harvard graduates to keep their sites updated. I'm paying pennies on the dollar. You'll never get your offline business on autopilot and away from the ball and chain of your desk unless you utilize all the awesome automation tools out there.
Tip 5: Partner Up
I debated not revealing this tip as it's led to unbelievable success for me. It's so simple you'll probably bang your head against the desk. Partner up with local advertising firms. From my experience these firms are dinosaurs and are nervous as hell at the new technology coming out every day. They're dying to partner up with a business or person that can get their clients more leads and make them look like a million bucks. I have one advertising firm I partnered with that brings me 60k+ per year. And you know what the best part is? I have NO interaction with their clients. None, zilch, nada. I travel and vacation in peace. The best part is that I landed this partnership over an e-mail I sent them, no sales pitch or presentations or any of that BS. The easy sell is to explain to them that rather than hire an 80k+/year web marketer to their team, why not partner with you so they can avoid all the federal and state taxes, the health insurance, the 401k, etc. AND they can write off your services as a 1099 subcontractor expense. Deal closed.
Hope you enjoyed the read and keep on kickin' it in the offline marketing world. If you're one of those that got blasted in the latest Google update then quit your whining, pick yourself up and dust yourself and start building a real business that you can be proud of. The wealth will come. Ben Franklin once said - Wealth is not his that has it, but his that enjoys it. Use these tips to put your offline wealth on autopilot and start enjoying it!