January 18, 2013 5 Comments
My partner, and marketing expert, Rob Scott, talks list building and how to turn prospects into fans.
January 18, 2013 5 Comments
My partner, and marketing expert, Rob Scott, talks list building and how to turn prospects into fans.
November 1, 2012 1 Comment
by: NEIL PATEL
Although I don’t do much consulting these days, I used to run a consulting company. It was an Internet marketing agency that helped small and large brands like GM, HP, Samsung, Viacom, AOL, boost their traffic through search engine optimization and social media marketing.
I did it for around 6 years and boy did I make a lot of mistakes. Running a consulting company is tough and sadly it’s a lot less sexier than it seems…
Here are 7 things I learned from running a consulting company:
Consulting companies have a high churn rate. Some consultants claim that they have never lost a client, but that’s a bunch of horse crap. If a customer doesn’t renew their contract, I consider that a lost client.
You never know how long a client is going to last, so make sure you do everything possible to keep them. Here’s what I used to do to ensure that clients stay as long as possible:
You are always going to have clients telling you what they want. And although they are paying you, they shouldn’t be telling you what you should be doing.
See, you were hired because you have a specific expertise that they don’t have. This is why it should be you telling the client what is best for them. It doesn’t matter if they like what you have to say or not, your job as a consultant is to do what’s best for the client.
If you focus on doing what’s best for them, your work will provide better results for their company.
When trying to do what’s best for your client, you will run into roadblocks. The best way to be prepared for this is to show them data that backs up what you want to do and show how it is best solution for them.
Every once in a while you’ll have clients who make snarky remarks on how much they are paying you or how they feel they can do your job better than you can. Don’t take crap from clients; make sure you show them that you’re worth every penny.
You can do this by showing their return on investment. For example, with my consulting company, we looked at 3 numbers: average revenue per transaction, conversion rate, and search engine traffic. We used those metrics to show how much additional revenue we brought in through our efforts.
This shows how valuable of an asset you are, assuming you are actually providing results. The next time they are thinking about canning you, they’ll think twice because they know you actually bring in more money than you cost.
Just like how I mentioned last week, you have to dress to impress. The better you dress the higher of a consulting rate you can demand.
When I started off as a consultant I dressed like a bum, and I wasn’t able to make more than $100 an hour. Once I started to dress a bit nicer I was able to make up to $250 an hour. And when I dressed really nice, I was able to command rates in the four-figure range.
Not only does a nice wardrobe show potential clients that you are successful, but it will help boost your confidence. Plus, clients want to pay people who successful as they hope they can bring that same success to their company.
One of the first things I learned is that there is an inverse correlation between how much a client pays you and how many times they complain. In other words, the more money a client pays you, the less they will complain.
Large paying clients usually have a lot more cash, so spending it isn’t as big of a deal. They know that if they want to continue to grow, they have to spend money. And when doing so, sometimes things work out, while other times they don’t… but at the end of the day you have to keep on making bets.
Smaller clients on the other hand don’t have that much money. So if they hire you and you mess up, they usually don’t have the luxury to hire someone else like the larger clients do.
When you first start off you may have to take on smaller paying clients, but your goal should be to transition to the larger paying ones as quickly as possible.
As I mentioned in lesson number 5, you should be going after larger paying clients. If you don’t have a bunch of case studies or years of experience under your belt, don’t worry. You can still lock in the big guys.
All you have to do is figure out what separates your consulting company from the larger ones. Big clients typically pay big consulting companies, but if you can show why you are better than the bigger ones, you will lock them in.
At my consulting firm, I realized that clients loved how I would work on their projects compared to how bigger firms assigned them junior consultants. Once I found this out I would tell potential clients how I personally would be working on their project and how they wouldn’t get that with the bigger firms.
Like I mentioned earlier, you are going to lose clients. It’s just a matter of time. Because of this you should try to conserve as much cash as possible. When things go south you don’t want to have to fire people, instead you want to operate off of your reserves.
A few ways you can conserve cash is by:
Running a consulting company isn’t easy. It’s a lot of work, and you have tons of bosses (each one of your clients is your boss). Although it can pay very well, at the same time it can be very stressful.
If you want to reduce your stress as a consultant, make sure you learn from your mistakes and only take on clients you can actually provide results to. Because being with a client is like being in a marriage. Sometimes you get into it for the wrong reasons and eventually they hit you in the face.
So do yourself a favor, don’t get into a marriage unless you know it will work.
September 7, 2012 3 Comments
Nellie Akalp is CEO of CorpNet.com, her second incorporation filing service based on her strong passion to assist small business owners and entrepreneurs in starting and protecting their business. She has formed more than 100,000 corporations and LLCs across the U.S. To learn more about Nellie and see how she can help your business get off the ground quickly and affordably, please visit here.
Whether telecommuting or freelancing, more and more professionals are trading in the cubicle for the home office. We hear all about the perks of the work from home lifestyle — no long commutes, more time with family, conference calls in pajamas, etc. But what about the challenges? It’s not always easy to stay productive in the face of countless distractions.
If you’re working from home, chances are you’re a freelancer, consultant, or small business owner. This means your ability to get paid is directly tied to how productive you are. As a freelancer, wasting time equals wasting money.
Here are some tips on how to stay focused as you move through the workday, while still enjoying all the unique benefits of working at home.
When you work at an office, family and friends seem to naturally respect your schedule. But when you’re working from home, you’ll inevitably get calls at 11:00 a.m. or be expected to handle the daily errands. I’m not saying you shouldn’t wait for the cable appointment or chat on the phone, but be mindful of how easy it is to have time ripped from your workday.
It’s important to set boundaries, if needed. People will respect your schedule, only if you respect it first.
It’s easy to become distracted, particularly when dealing with a task that’s challenging or a bit dull. If you find yourself losing focus, tell yourself to dedicate just 15 more minutes to the task on hand. Knowing there’s an end in sight might inject new energy into the project. And if not, move on to something else and return to it when you’re in a better mindset.
Ever wonder why you’re ultra productive when facing a tight deadline, while a simple task can take hours to complete? You might chalk this up to working well under pressure, but it could also be Parkinsons Law, which basically states that a task will expand to fill the time you can give it. Combat this phenomenon by imposing your own deadlines for specific tasks. These can be as complicated as finishing a proposal or as simple as responding to a client email.
Digital distractions aren’t just limited to Facebook and YouTube. For most, the daily barrage of emails and IMs from friends and colleagues ends up being the day’s biggest time sink. If you’re stuck in your inbox, dedicate chunks of the day when you unplug from your phone and email to get work done. You can log back on afterward and power through the necessary responses.
Ideally you can have an area dedicated as your office (and preferably with a door so you can shut out unwanted distractions). Creating boundaries not only helps you be more productive “at work,” but also helps you decompress during your personal time.
If you find yourself stuck (and you’ve already tried the “just 15 more minutes” tactic), change your environment. Go work at the café for an hour, or brainstorm at the park. A change in scenery can spark new ideas and give you newfound focus.
Ever finish up the day and wonder where your time went? If you’re self-employed, it’s important to understand exactly how you’re using your time. Every so often, conduct a detailed audit of your day and keep track of what you did and how long it took. These audits can reveal great insights into your daily workflow and can help you make adjustments where needed — whether it’s getting help for your bookkeeping, dropping an overly demanding client, or condensing multiple trips to the grocery store.
I tend to have multiple lists running at any given time. One list keeps track of longer term goals (for example, the projects I need to complete by the end of the week or month). Then each morning I also create a focused outline for the day’s tasks. Try to keep your daily list as realistic and uncluttered as possible. Nothing can sap your motivation like staring at an overly ambitious list full of items you can’t possibly complete.
Whether you’re working at home or in the office, it’s not possible to stay focused for hours on end. Breaks are an integral part of the workday, but make sure your free time counts. Have you ever denied yourself a trip to the gym or lunch with a friend “because you’re too busy?”
Chances are that on that very same day, you spent well over an hour browsing eBay, watching TV, looking at Facebook, checking your online bank account, or organizing your medicine cabinet. Busy work doesn’t accomplish anything and won’t recharge your batteries. So take your dog for a hike, take an actual lunch, or do whatever you enjoy. You’ll not only end up being happier, but more productive as well.
What are some of the ways that you cut out distractions and stay productive while working from home? Share your best practices in the comments.
August 7, 2012 Leave a comment
One sure-fire way to get your business known is by using press releases. A press release is written material that announces a news type event. Television networks, radio stations, magazines, and newspapers as well as online resources will publish the announcement if your news story peaks interest.
People are interested in the news and are always looking for a good story. Business owners can use press releases to give them those good stories while making a name for their company. The best way to do that is to make sure the release is a story and not simply an advertisement for your business.
Press Releases Provide Powerful Benefits to Small and Big Business Owners Alike
Press Releases are the most popular means of providing publicity online and offline. They have many advantages that both small and big business owners can profit from. Some of those are:
More traffic to your site - The press release that gets published on one of the media outlets will have your website link provided within it. Those who have reviewed your release and want more information will click through the link or check out the website.
Build a brand - What better way to get your business name into the minds of your target audience or anyone who happens to read your press releases. The more a consumer sees your business name being mentioned the more likely they will remember it the next time they, or someone they know, is in need of your products.
Inexpensive way to get free publicity - Getting an effective press release written will cost you some money. Some will include the costs of submitting it for you, so the cost of getting the free publicity will be inexpensive.
Gain Credibility - The press release can also help to get your business more credibility. Potential consumers will start to see you as an expert in your field and think that you should be the one to go to when they need the products you offer.
What News Items You Can Create to Make an Effective Release
By no means should you wait around for something newsworthy to happen within your business before you can start benefiting from news releases. Why wait? Start now.
Create news stories from what’s already going on. Here are some things that could be turned into news stories for your news release:
Some of these stories can not only be newsworthy items but also show what a humanitarian you or your business is. Credibility comes into play again and we all know that credibility helps to build rapport with your target audience and gains you a higher “expert” level.
Press releases are one of the most powerful publicity tools available today for all business owners. Use it to your advantage and join all the other successful internet marketers who have used press releases many times in the past with very positive results.
July 17, 2012 Leave a comment
By: Josh Druck
Designing and launching a new e-commerce business that enables buyers to purchase products is a major initiative. In addition, faulty evaluation of market opportunities and inadequate planning has resulted in many, many Web based business failures.
Several interrelated decisions must be made and some questions need to be answered before jumping into a new concept.
Here are 9 for you to think about:
1) Which customer groups should I serve?
2) How do I provide a compelling set of benefits to my targeted customer?
3) How do I differentiate myself versus online and offline competitors?
4) How do I communicate with customers?
5) What is the content “look and feel”, level of community, and degree of personalization?
6) How should I structure my organization? What business services and software choices do I need to consider?
7) Who are my potential partners? Whose capabilities complement ours?
8) How will this business provide value to shareholders and investors?
9) What metrics should I use to judge the progress of the business? How do I value the business?
Deciding internet objectives and style of business are key ingredients in starting an online business. Do your research and see how people in the industry speak to customers. You’ll find the people you call threats are often the most willing to help.
Also don’t forget the always popular S.W.O.T analysis : An overview of your businesses Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats.
Image source: Quicksprout.com