About a year or so ago me and a friend started a secondary business to provide Internet Marketing services to offline businesses. In this article I’m going to reveal what our biggest money maker has been and exactly how we do it.
We’ve made money with other things as well and I highly recommend offering everything you have to offer, but this may be a good start if you’ve been considering the notion of offering IM services offline. Or, if you’ve already started, this may be something that helps you increase profits.
The technique is fairly simple actually and somewhat inexpensive, although it does require some investment.
What I’m referring to is a specific, although very well known and proven long-term, technique that gets small business owners to call you and pay you for your expertise!
The first goal for any IMer looking to help out small businesses is to figure out the best possible way to get the most people to call you. From there you can sell them on a variety of services, so don’t worry about offering the world. We like to find one specific thing that business owners need, concentrate on getting them interested in our services in that specific thing and then expand our offer from there.
That “thing” is offering websites! Just about EVERY business owner knows the importance of a website. They may or may not know the potential that websites have in the sense of driving more business, but nearly all small business owners know that any credible business is going to have a website for their current and potential customers to view in order to find hours of operation, services offered etc.
With some IM services you really need to give them a good sales pitch in order to convince them that they NEED this service that you provide. Some good examples are SMS marketing and Google Places/Maps optimization. Those things often require salesmanship and a good call to action.
But a website is a different story. Everyone knows what a website is. Everyone knows that if they own a business, they need a website. And everyone knows what the potential benefits are to having one.
This was our thinking when we decided to concentrate on offering websites. At first we were charging too much and offering the wrong “type” of website, so there was a learning curve involved, but these days we have it down pretty well. So how do we do it?
How we Get Web Design Clients
1. First, obviously, you need a way to reach out and let people know that you offer websites. There are many, many, many different ways to do this, but we have had the most luck with yard signs and direct mail. There are pros and cons to both, but they have both been effective.
a. Yard Signs: These are probably my favorite and they are also much more consistent than direct mail. Before we started doing yard signs I always thought they were useless garbage. I see them out all over town and have previously thought of them as cheap, ineffective marketing tools. That’s until I gave them a shot! I QUICKLY realized why I see so many of them … because they work!
We use Victory Store (direct link, no aff) and we’ve been happy with them so far. We’ll typically order 100 or so signs, the more the better obviously. 100 well placed yard signs will bring in multiple phone calls just about every day! If you put a bunch out in one day, you’ll likely start having phone calls before you’re finished putting them out!
We use a white background with red lettering and we make the message as simple and to the point as possible. Something like “NEED A WEBSITE? Professional Websites for Cheap! Call 555-555-5555″
Don’t go sticking them in the busiest areas you know! You can, and it may result in a burst of calls, but they will be removed very quickly. Putting them in areas that aren’t extremely busy, but have regular traffic are often the best spots.
b. Direct Mail: This has been something that is less consistent than yard signs, but has big potential. We’ve done mailers that have brought in LOADS of calls, which have resulted in very nice profits, but we have also done mailers that have brought in very few calls and caused us to lose money. When we do send out direct mail, we either send out a standard sized flyer or a postcard. Be sure to have it designed professionally.
2. Get a designer OR stick to template websites exclusively. You can just sell template sites, but you’ll have to charge less. Custom sites bring in more money, but you will have to pay your designer too. We do make more profit from custom sites though, so it’s always a good option to offer. If you just can’t find a good designer, or just don’t want to mess with custom sites, you can just offer template sites though. To find a good designer, ask around. You can also look around on oDesk.
3 Now you need to close the sale! Depending on your own ability to sell, you may or may not need to hire a sales person or find a sales person to partner with you on the business. If this is the case, be VERY selective! Be sure the person has solid sales experience, because the last thing you want is to be paying someone, or handing over 50% of your business to someone, who can’t close a deal! On the other hand, even if you can sale, if you know of someone who’s a REALLY good sales person and they would be interested, that would free up more time for you and could end up being even more profitable.
Whether it’s you who is selling or a sales person, there are a few things to keep in mind when speaking to leads.
a. Have specific options to choose from. When we started off we decided to just play each lead by ear. Find out what their needs were then customize a site just for them. The problem is most small business owners don’t know what they want! So now we have two clear options: a template site or a custom site. So we explain the difference (a template site is not custom… THIS is what it will look like … give them options though.) A custom site is just that: custom. It will look exactly how they want it to look. Templates sites are cheap… no more than $200. Custom sites start at $900.
Another thing to keep in mind is that we have not had much success offering “packages.” The reason why, we believe, is because each potential client wants something different…usually. You’ll come across the occasional lead who is open to whatever you suggest, but most don’t want to do everything under the sun. They want a website and sometimes they’ll want SEO or Google Places optimization (for example) but rarely are they open to different packages. Packages could work though, I’m sure, if presented in the right way. We just haven’t had much luck with them.
b. Have demo sites and/or a portfolio to show them. For both options, you need to have multiple sites that your designer has done, or template sites that you’ve completed, to give them an idea of what they can expect.
c. Try to close the deal on the first call! Many people shopping for a website are doing just that, shopping. They call multiple web design companies and go with the one they like the most. So your goal should always be to close them on the first phone call! We always charge 50% up front… that’s what you’re trying to get from them ASAP. Don’t be rude or pushy, obviously, but DO offer a special discount or SOMETHING to give them a good reason to go ahead and pay that retainer and place the order right away.
d. Don’t charge crazy amounts of money, especially in this economy that won’t be getting better anytime soon! Be realistic. Some business owners are perfectly fine with spending thousands of dollars, but most are on a tight budget, especially these days, and are hesitant to spend too much with a company that they have not done business with previously. This is DRASTICALLY different though when the lead comes from a word of mouth referral, where the person who referred them has done business with you before. In THAT case they are often very willing to open up their wallets wide. For most leads however, which do not come from a word of mouth referral, you’ll want to offer good prices to convince them to gain your trust. Then you can up-sell them! We typically charge anywhere from free to $200 or so for a template site, depending on how many pages they want etc., $900 and up for a custom site and for ALL sites we charge $19-$29 per month for hosting and “webmastering” (which means we’ll make minor text edits etc. for free.)
e. After you close the deal and they’ve decided to move forward with the website design, up-sell them! SEO is a good one. We typically charge anywhere from $49/m. per keyword to $120/m. per keyword depending on how competitive it is, whether it’s a local term or not etc. You can also up-sell them on business directory submissions (which you can outsource for cheap to an oDesk worker,) google places/maps optimization (also can be outsourced to oDesk worker,) etc. etc. SEO is probably the most popular with our clients.
That’s it! Do all of these things and you have a very good chance at making some very good profits by offering professional websites to small business owners!