There is not the slightest doubt that people who are trying to build an online business usually have to struggle against an ever-expanding number of competitors.
When you stop to think about it, this is hardly surprising. As you get immersed in areas such as search engine optimization, web development and design, online advertising, video marketing, product creation, you soon discover that the hordes of other people doing the same thing and many of them are quite prepared to undercut your prices and push you out of the market.
Therefore the issue becomes – how can one build a business where there is virtually an unlimited supply of customers and in which there is limited competition?
The answer lies in marketing to offline businesses.
World-wide there is an astonishing number of offline businesses who either don’t have an online presence, or if they do, it is ineffectual. This means that there is an equally astonishing opportunity to build your brand and become a recognized authority with the services that you offer.
It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about web design, SEO or traffic generation, you can build a business with limited competition and minimal effort.
This incredible area of opportunity is sometimes referred to as “offline gold” and with very good reason. The challenge is to determine the needs of each customer and then offer services tailored to those needs. You then introduce them to a whole new world where they can harness the power of the internet to help them grow their own businesses. And guess whose business grows at the same time? You guessed right – yours! Offline gold is a very appropriate name
Let’s imagine for a moment a small business owner in your local community who has no web presence. You come along and show him how you can help him grow his business through an effective online presence. This owner is spending over $3,000 per year in advertising in the Yellow Pages and is not getting any new customers as a result. You find out as much as you can about his business and then you set him up with a web site, auto-responder, email, articles and videos and you get his business ranked on the first page of Google. You do this for less than he is spending on his advertising. Do you think he would be interested?
And remember – you can do this with virtually no competition because the field is wide open. All you have to do is start looking around your local community.
Marketing to offline businesses is definitely the way of the future and the way to have the perfect online business.
Do you want to have the perfect online business? Surely, you can’t say “no” to that question! That’s why you should pick up your free report Getting The Word Out
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With Facebook recently overtaking Google as the top venue for advertisers to spend their dollars, it opens a golden opportunity for those entrepreneurs who are poised and ready to take advantage of the timing and positioning.
Take a look if you haven’t already noticed, BIG business is already all over FB. They’ve found that staying in touch with folks who use and like their products is extremely easy through social media. If you’re on the fan page of one of these companies you have access to special and discounts that won’t be found anywhere else. (Exclusivity & Scarcity all in one)
You can also comment on their wall giving them direct feedback without them having to spend money from their budget in order to create, market, score, assess and evaluate a massive poll. They have the ability to ask you directly what you want most from them and respond in kind.
Now, transfer all of these big business strategies down to a smaller scale and begin to realize how easily you could go out and create and/or manage fan pages for businesses in your local community. If you’re good with graphics, that’s even better, there are FBML (facebook markup language) templates and information out there that will allow you to create custom designs for those fan pages.
If you have a knack for video (outsource if you don’t) you can and should offer to create HD videos for your clients and then upload and manage their YouTube channel for them. Oh, don’t forget to submit their video to sites like TubeMogul so that they can be categorized, keyworded and then widely distributed. This will also come in handy if you’re going to be building a blog for them.
These are only two examples of what you might offer local businesses in order to help them expand their sphere of influence. Think about them the same way for your business. If you’re not already in business, this is a good way to begin. If you already have an established offline consulting business, you could use these ideas as an adjunct to services that you’re already providing. The choice is up to you.
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One very easy way to begin your offline consulting business is to offer a service to your local businesses that will have you creating blogs for them. We who are already familiar with the SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) value that blogs hold. Blogs are very easy and quick to create. In fact, if you create these small business blogs on Blogger.com (which is a Google property), they’ll get almost immediate attention paid to them.
If you’re already using ANY of Google’s accounts (Gmail, AdWords, AdSense, etc…) you can sign into Blogger with that same ID. You always have the option of starting a new account distinctly for the purpose of this business tactic. After all, Google accounts are free.
Choose the name of your client’s blog carefully. It will reflect the name of their business and be formatted something like this:
http://mainstreethardware.blogspot.com or http://sallysbeautysalon.blogspot.com
There are a few reasons why a blog is good for your client/customer:
- Even if they have an existing website, a blog is inherently equipped with more technically beneficial features.
- It gives them a high value backlink from an historically high site. (Thank you Google)
- Blogs equal targeted traffic.
- Targeted traffic equals leads.
- Leads equal customers.
- Customers equal a better bottom line
- Blogs do a better job at keeping them in touch with their customers.
- Blogs are dynamic and easily edited or changed to keep up with special offers and sales.
A great way to begin the conversation with your potential client, that small business owner down the road, is to ask him how he keeps in touch with his existing clients right now. If they stammer or stutter for an answer, you’re in the right place.
- Explain to them how they can stay in touch with their customers very easily and cheaply.
- Tell them about all of the money getting benefits of a business blog.
- Educate them on auto-responders and how they can send out an e-mail blast right in the midst of a slow week or month in order to bring in more business.
- Describe how they can put advertisements on their site with a cooperative and complementary ad program with another business.
These ideas alongside your imagination and entrepreneurial spirit should give you enough to go out and start knocking on some doors or pick up the phone. There are dozens to hundreds of prospects for you to contact, depending on the population where you live; and don’t let that diminish your drive either.
You’re likely reading this on your computer, and you can therefore use that same computer to begin your search for the businesses that will ultimately make up the foundation and future of your business. The secret is to take action.
You’ve just been handed a simple, step by step method of getting a start in the offline consulting business. Pick an area to specialize in, pick a direction to take that specialty and PROVE to yourself that it’s as simple as making a choice. You CAN do this. Start today.
Many people in the internet marketing world are waking up to the significantly under-served opportunities available in the real world – selling online marketing services to offline brick and mortar businesses. Talk about turning bricks into gold! For those who have been engaged in this arena for some time however, many eventually find the growth of their offline consulting business limited by the constraints on their own personal time.
The obvious solution to this problem of course is to hire a salesperson. Unfortunately, while the solution may be obvious, the time spent, risks, and costs of actually hiring the right salesperson for your offline consulting business are not so obvious. Today we are going to take a look at three different options for expanding your sales force, what their advantages and disadvantages are, and which circumstances are best suited for each option.
The three options that we shall discuss for expanding your sales force are as follows:
1. Using commission only sales agents
2. Outsourcing your sales activity
3. Recruiting sales people
A commission only sales agent, or salesperson, is an independent contractor (not an employees) who usually represents or promotes more than one business/product. The big advantage to using a commission only sales agent is the low cost and low monetary risk, since you do not pay this salesperson any money at all until they actually close a sale for you. They only get paid when you make money, so there is no upfront cash outlay for your business. There is also no base salary or employment taxes to pay, nor benefits to provide, nor employment paperwork to file.
The downside though is that you can only influence these sales people, but you cannot control what they do. If they decide to focus their efforts on other products or businesses and make your services less of a priority, then there isn’t much you can do about it, so you may not want to rely solely on this kind of an arrangement for your sales force, but use it in connjuction with either or both of the other options below. Additionally, using a commission only sales agent most often works better for selling products rather than services, so you may need to spend some extra time training this kind of salesperson and familiarizing them with your offline consulting services.
Our second option of outsourcing your sales activity can really be done in one of two ways. You can choose to either outsource only certain functions (like cold-calling, telephone follow up, or managing a direct mailing campaign), or outsource the entire sales process. These may be good options for you if you need something done quickly, and the partial outsourcing option in particular may be ideal for complementing the efforts of your sales force.
However, with partial outsourcing, you still don’t have the whole job covered, so you may still need to hire a salesperson.
If you choose to outsource every part of the sales process, it will free up quite a bit of your management time. However, it is extremely difficult to do this on a commission-only basis (especially if you have a very long sales cycle). You will most likely need to agree to a shared-risk payment structure that includes both a day rate plus a commission payment. This means you have to pay for their work even if they never close a single sale!
Another significant disadvantage to outsourcing your entire sales process is that you lose the opportunity to build relationships with your customers, making this a poor long-term choice.
For maximum control of the sales process, the best option is undoubtedly to recruit your own sales people (i.e. hire your own employees). In this situation, you get to dictate where your sales people focus their efforts, and even how they should do their job.
The big problem with this of course is the risk, time and effort required, and the relatively high cost.
In this case, you do need to offer some base salary, pay employment taxes, consider providing employee benefits, and file all of the necessary employment paperwork – and all of this only after going through the whole recruiting process! And even then, you may find that you’ve hired someone who simply cannot deliver the increased sales to pay for their employment.
Most certainly there is no sure-fire solution to finding exactly the right salesperson for your offline consulting business. But if you’re currently a maxed-out, stressed-out, one-man sales force, then you should not let the potential pitfalls of hiring a salesperson stop you from doing just that. Simply think things through beforehand and make sure you’re choosing the right option for your particular situation. Keep realistic expectations of what can be accomplished when, and remember, if it does not work out, you can always make a change.