Does Your Inbound Marketing Strategy Suck?

The Internet is Here to Stay…

…as are Inbound Marketing and Social Media!

So, why do so many websites…well…suck?

Note: In order to justify the title of this article, a blatant attack really (although not intended to be taken personally), I must explain who I am and what qualifies me to make such a statement.

As the owner of and the chief cook and bottle washer for an inbound marketing consultancy, The Ultimate Internet Image, LLC, I am immersed in all things Internet. In fact, I have been building my inbound marketing consulting firm for several years now.

Before my Internet period, I was an academician for a moment (a physical anthropologist), and immediately prior to my stint as Indiana Jones, and I did love it, I was an entrepreneur.

I guess “was” isn’t exactly accurate. Entrepreneurs are kind of like cops and firemen. Once a cop or fireman, always a cop or fireman. The same holds true for entrepreneurs…it is a lifetime affliction.

Prior to my Indiana Jones adventures, I was in sales, primarily as an advertising and marketing specialist. I have also created, built, and/or managed several other businesses in the real world, the brick and mortar world. The same businesses that are often referred to as “offline business” in today’s segmented business environment. I believe this mindset is flawed and it can be a fatal mistake. In other words, a perspective your business may not survive.

The marriage of inbound marketing experience with brick and mortar experience and long-term real world success has been a real boon for my clients. Understanding both the offline and online worlds, and being able to negotiate effectively in both, has provided a real advantage in perspective and application.

The Ultimate Internet Image: Inbound Marketing Consulting

The Ultimate Internet Image specializes in search engine optimization (SEO), website/blog development, social media management, lead generation, direct response marketing, pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, management, branding, and online marketing for local businesses and professional practices.

Inbound Marketing Consulting, the New SEO, and Social Media

Inbound Marketing Consulting, Social Media, and the New SEO: Demand Proven Expertise

Over the past several years I have examined, dissected, and critiqued thousands of websites and blogs, particularly in the context of inbound marketing, SEO, and now what some are calling social media SEO (the latter is still be debated). Interestingly, by examining, dissecting, and critiquing so many websites and blogs, I have been able to determine the mistakes and flaws in a client’s inbound marketing strategy early on. This is vital! Not only because it has made it possible to identify mistakes and missteps, it has also made it easier and less costly (in terms of ranking, time, and income lost) to remedy any number of common and not-so-common errors.

Determining ineffective marketing strategies, and identifying the myriad errors made in construction and implementation, will yield greater opportunities for growth and profit.

Web Developers and Inbound Marketing Consultants

I have studied the very best and the absolute worst and I have come to the conclusion that most web developers have no business in the business…because they fail to understand marketing in any of its forms.

Additionally, most marketing firm employees (i.e., inbound marketing consultants, social media specialists, support staff, etc.) need to go back to school and study anthropology.

Why anthropology?

Because most sales and marketing consultants fail to understand people, communities, and cultures, and how important their interrelationships are. Incredibly, many inbound (Internet, online) marketing consultants have little or no experience talking to and working with business owners and professionals face-to-face and belly-to-belly. An anthropological perspective is holistic, the emphasis is on the big picture and how the parts come together to affect and impact the whole.

I will offer examples of what I feel are the best and the worst websites, blogs, articles, video, and ebooks in an upcoming article.

The Blind Leading the Blind: Social Media Managers and SEO

I have come to the realization that, in far too many instances, the blind are leading the blind when it comes to all things Internet. It is a certainty when it comes to inbound marketing and social media marketing!

And just because SEO is complex, a real conundrum, you cannot simply ignore it. SEO is not going away and it is not morphing into social media!

If you do not build your online real estate properly (i.e., websites, blogs, etc)? Your websites and blogs will not rank and the business down the street or around the corner investing in the proper foundation is going to be in business in 10 years and you will not.

Harsh?

Perhaps!

But 100% honest and dead on!

You must ask yourself one question:

How much is it worth to me to be sure that I will survive not only the first 5 years but the second?

In today’s competitive business climate, and has there even been a time when business hasn’t competitive? Your business’s inbound marketing strategy must be unique, professionally designed, and expertly administered.

A meatball sundae will not do it (Read: Seth Godin’s Meatball Sundae*), you must create something amazing. The foundation you build for your online real estate, and the application of the new media to include social media, video sharing, and so much more, must be unique and exciting…or you are throwing your money away on a meatball sundae.

NOTE: A rank amateur calling himself or herself a “social media specialist,” an “inbound marketing consultant” or an “entrepreneur” will only assure your business’s failure in record time.

 

Are you a Social Media Specialist? I'm a Social Media Specialist Too?

Calling yourself a social media specialist doesn’t make it so!

I have read, listened to, digested, and applied the books, videos, and audio presentations exploring business, the human condition, and all things marketing by Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell, Sir Richard Branson, and many others.

I have also examined a myriad of books, ebooks, videos, audio presentations, webinars, and manuals written and/or produced by the Internet’s young Turks, the new wave of online Intelligentsia: Chris Brogan, Brian Clark, Gary Vaynerchuk, Sonia Simone, Darren Rouse, David Merman Scott, Mari Smith, Mike Koenigs, and others. Many of the resources written by these men and women are absolutely brilliant and essential if you hope to survive in business long-term…online or “offline.”

Ultimately, all business is online business now!

Finally, I’ve absorbed the requisite MBA bibles by the old masters. Among the most important works, I suggest The E-Myth Revisted: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It? by Michael Gerber, Good to Great and Great by Choice by Jim Collins, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, and dozens of others.

From Godin to Gerber, Gladwell to Hill, and Brogan and Clark to Carnegie there is one consistent theme:

Most businesses don’t make it!

In fact, in The E-Myth Revisted: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It?, Michael Gerber suggests that 80% of all businesses fail in the first 5 years and that of the 20% that make it through the first 5 years, 80% of the survivors are out of business by the end of the next 5 years.

Do the math!

If 100 businesses open their doors, either as a strictly online business or as a brick and mortar business, with or without an online presence (note: to go into business without an online marketing strategy is certain death), 80 will post the dreaded “Out of Business” sign by the end of the 5th year.

Again, beginning with 100 new businesses, 80 of those businesses fail within 5 years!

In fact, many will perish prior to transitioning out of what Michael Gerber refers to as infancy…never making it into adolescence. Sadly, the businesses failing to transition will close their doors within 2-3 years.

After 5 years…20 businesses remain!

Of the first 100 we have 20, of the first 1000 we have 200, and out of the first 10,000 there are 2000.

How many businesses are around at the 10 year mark?

4 of the first 100!

That’s right!

4!

Of the 100, 1000, or 10,000 enthusiastic entrepreneurs, those optimistic new business owners that started a decade ago, every one sure they’d make it, 4% will make it beyond 10 years.

That is, for every 10,000 new businesses started on January 1, 2000, less than 400 were still doing business on January 1, 2010!

Happy New Year!

Okay, are you ready?

Now that I have your attention, and my intention was not to discourage you or blow your mind, it was to wake you up, to shake you up, and to impress upon you how important it is to use the very best inbound marketing consulting firm you can hire.

You brother-in-law’s best buddy from high school who creates XYZ freebie websites in his spare time will assure one thing:

“Out of Business!”

Make sure you don’t skimp on the most important business investment you will make.

Yes, the most important…and in absolutely every way!

If you cut corners, hire one of the many rank amateurs calling himself or herself a “social media specialist,” an “inbound marketing consultant” or an “entrepreneur” with little or no experience, one result is certain:

“Out of Business!”

And you will fail in record time!

Do you want to talk turkey? Pizza? Real estate? HVAC? Plumbing? Plastic surgery? Podiatry? Yoga? Construction?

Anything?

Inbound Marketing Consulting isn't Kid Stuff!

Anyone Can Call Themselves an Inbound Marketing Consultant

Whether you use The Ultimate Internet Image for your search engine optimization (SEO), website/blog development, social media management, lead generation, direct response marketing, pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, management, branding, online marketing for local businesses and professional practices or another firm?

Hire someone with experience, someone with online and “real world” business success. And use someone who is committed to you and your business. Your business success should be your marketing consultant’s obsession. If it is not his or her obsession, or worse yet you don’t have someone working with you, find someone at once.

Talk to someone, reputable firms will provide you with a consultation and a comprehensive marketing analysis. The best will also provide you with a competitive analysis, as well.

Finally, the relationship you have with your inbound marketing consultant is as close to a marriage as you can get in business. Make sure you are compatible. You will be joined at the hip and your success depends on the relationship you develop. So hire the right consultant and the right inbound consulting firm because your success and your business’s survival depends on it.

Ask questions and don’t settle for less than the best!

Want to talk?

Call us today!

Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr.
The Ultimate Internet Image, LLC
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
216-712-7004 (office)
440-821-7018 (mobile)

*Want a copy of Meatball Sundae? Call for a free consultation and I’ll bring you a copy. No kidding!

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Klout 14 Months Later: Still Unreliable and Erratic

The Klout Score Remains Unreliable

Klout Fails to Convince:

Perks, Influencers, K+ are Questionable

Over the past several months I have used Klout, analyzed Klout, scrutinized Klout! I embarked upon a year long study after ripping Klout in August of 2010.

See: Inbound Marketing Week in Review: A Hard Look at Social Media Klout: Inbound Marketing and Social Media Perspective and Review–Introducing Klout, TweetPivot, and Spezify!

Feeling I may have been too harsh, and desiring to be fair, I stepped back, took a deep breath, and then stepped back in.

Boy…did I step in…it!

Of one thing I am absolutely certain, the Klout Score has as much real value as a daily horoscope. It can also be argued, and quite convincingly I might add, that the horoscope is probably right more often…at least relative to your Klout Score.

@Klout can’t have it both ways!

If the old data was BS, the new system reflects that fact. If the data was reliable? Then Klout scores wouldn’t have changed quite so drastically…and overnight!

Significantly, one might be inclined to argue that Klout was either wrong then…or they are wrong now. In fact, I’d argue that it’s not merely a matter of either/or. I suggest that Klout has been consistently wrong!

Once again, Klout defines its lack of integrity, consistency, and value!

A detailed analysis of Klout “Influencers” confirms the pure fiction of the Klout score. In fact, Stephen King would be proud, and perhaps a little jealous given the upcoming launch of 11/22/63.

Influencers?

10 out of 10 people listed as influencing me have had little or no contact with me across any of my many social media profiles.

Dogs and Cats and Monsters…

…Oh my!

Incredibly, Klout has given a number of pets very high Klout scores. I guess the dogs are simply trying to get a leg up on the competition? Well, good for Klout…and good for a few good animals.

BTW, who is influencing Poochie? Or better yet, and perhaps more suggestive of just how ridiculous the whole Klout algorithm is, who is being influenced by Poochie?

Now that’s not silly, it’s sad!

The silliness of the daily Klout score has come full circle from the days when their data was clearly “hinky!”

And now I just don’t see the point!

We might as well read our horoscopes! They have the same grounding in reality…and may indeed be more accurate!

Ultimately, whether or not you follow your Klout score is up to you. Obviously!

I will leave you with this:

If social media is a new religion, the newest manifestation of an opiate for the masses, and the Internet along with it, then the Klout score must be viewed as a perverted attempt to establish a daily record. Ultimately, the Klout score is an indication of just how determined businesses, organizations, and government agencies are to define Internet usage, generally, and social media usage, in particular. The pursuit of metrics to define the value and impact of social media has become a multi-million dollar enterprise. Why? So companies can use the data collected to manipulate and control the buying behavior of the public, those individuals buying into this newest form of religion…social media.

See you on Twitter!

John Zajaros
The Ultimate Internet Image
440-821-7018

NOTE: When I mention religion, I am referring to it in its broadest, most figurative context. However, one can not help but notice the profound impact this new form of worship is having on individuals, groups, businesses, agencies; and yes, governments. Doubt me Thomas? Well, just take a look at what happened across the Middle East in the past year. Then tell me the Internet and social media didn’t have a profound impact on the very existence of governments. In our own backyards? And now across The Pond? The Occupy Wall Street movement has been fueled, in large measure, by the connections made via the Internet, generally; and, via social media, specifically. There is more to follow, much more. I simply hope we are not putting our faith in false gods. Or Klout scores!

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Inbound Marketing Overview and the Central Hub Strategy

Inbound Marketing and Social Media:

A Recipe for Success Online

Inbound marketing is successful when you view it in terms of a combination of permission marketing and search driven marketing. In other words, you want to be where your potential clients are….when your potential clients are searching for your services. If you are not, you will be ineffective and your inbound marketing strategy will fail.

Central  Hub: You must view your website in terms of a central hub. The idea is to drive as much traffic as possible to your hub by creating excitement, authority, and, above all, interesting content.

Video: We are in the video generation most online advertising and inbound marketing is driven by video. That is where the lion’s share of your clients will come from. An effective video campaign will send your business soaring, a lackluster video campaign will kill it!

Blogging for Business: Blogging is crucial! In fact, the static website of just a few pages is on its way out…if not dead already! The website that is primarily image-based, particularly when it comes to text, is worthless. You will derive ZERO SEO value from images alone. When a website full of images is crawled, it shows up as blank. A balance of text, images, and video is essential. Blogging also develops interest in your business and provides a line of communication between you and your clients that is invaluable. Blogging is essential for any business trying to grow and relate to their target market long term.

Viral Video and the Rest of the Online Guru Hocus Pocus: Forget about viral! Yes, that’s right…forget about it! If you intentionally set out to create a viral video or make some other sort of online media go viral, it will almost certainly fail! Focus on quality content that will interest your target market and get shared.

Note: I have videos and articles on websites around the world and very few, if any, would be considered viral. But they all get shared and it all translates into backlinks, subscribers, social media connections, clients, and friends.

Yes, friends!

Redirects: Redirects can be useful but if you are hoping to derive any SEO value from a super domain name that you are only using as a redirect to your not-so-great url, you are wasting your time, money…and a quality domain name too boot!

Articles: Articles accomplish several things at once. Articles establish you as an authority in your niche, they deliver backlinks to your main hub (although this is changing), and they drive traffic to your main hub. Even with the new shifts in Google’s algorithm, article marketing is still a crucial component of a solid inbound marketing strategy.

John Jones: Who is your target market? What does he look like? What are his interests? How does he dress? You must be able to SEE John Jones in order to relate to him…or Jane Jones for that matter!

Social Media: Social media is also essential! All of the components of an effective inbound marketing strategy must work together, in concert, if you are going to succeed. This is not an optional strategy, it is imperative if you want to compete in today’s market. Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook (both personal and a fan/business page), YouTube, Dailymotion, Break, Viddler, Foursquare, and others are the key to social media success. Ping.fm is the best way to reach most of the core social media sites in one blast, Hellotxt is another, and XeeSM.com is the third. If you integrate these social media hubs into your overall strategy it will make your job much easier.

Warning: Do not use social media as a vehicle to spam your followers or you will kill any suucess you may have otherwise achieved! Additionally, if you spam, all you will have following you are fellow spammers…and they will eventually unfollow you as well!

Additional Blogs: Google’s Blogger, Squidoo, HubPages, and others are also useful and can be tied directly into your social media hubs for constant updating! These should be included, as they are virtually effortless to maintain and they do end up on page one!

Keyword Research: Most keywords are insignificant. Many businesses beginning to explore inbound marketing focus on keywords that drive ZERO traffic to your website. The key is to know not only what terms are searched for, something Google does well, it is crucial that you know which keywords get the most CLICKS! Click through rate is crucial.

Google Analytics: Metrics are also key! You must know who is visiting your website and where they are coming from if you are to develop and intelligent and effective, long term inbound marketing strategy.

Testing: A/B testing is probably the simplest and most effective, at least when starting out. Long term strategies can be added from there.

Consistency: An inbound marketing strategy must be applied daily if it to work! Social media can be time intensive at first. The longer you do it, the easier it will become. Blogging must be done at least 3 times per week for best results. A video blog with adequate text to introduce and provide a synopsis of the video can make all the difference in terms of SEO value.

SEO: SEO or search engine optimization is a long term strategy! Yes, there are certain tweaks and some people believe Google provides a bit of a nod to new entities on the web…but that is debatable. Google is King Kong on the Internet right now and they are changing their algorithms constantly. The best strategy is one that is keyword rich and delivers superior content.

Video, Article, and Social Media Delivery Software and Memberships: There are several delivery systems in the form of membership sites and software that can be used to make you job easier. It is crucial to use these systems in order to reduce the amount of time you must spend on tedious projects…or get your employees in on it and have them do it. In the long run, your labor costs will kill you. It is best to use the membership sites available to you. We will review many of these as we progress.

Video Creation: There are several video sharing and video creation sites online. Animoto is simple and effective for creating short, interesting videos. Vimeo, Viddler, YouTube, Dailymotion, and several other video sharing sites will allow you to add your own logo and message for a fee. It is well worth it long term. While placing YouTube videos on your blog and website may be cost effective short term, long term you want to create your own identity without relying on YouTube. I have integrated my Flip MinoHD videos through Camtasia to Screencast. Others use Amazon’s video platform and still others Brightcove. Whatever the platform, make sure you learn all the ins and outs, so it remains trouble-free and cost effective!

In the next article I will discuss several sites I recommend you set up profiles on and how to do it for next to nothing and with little effort. Your profile should be keyword rich and your image a professional and/or easily identifiable one. In addition to Google’s Keyword Tool, I sincerely feel that Market Samurai is the class online at this time. Check it out for free & then upgrade if you like it!

I love it!

Discussion: We will discuss any questions or comments you may have and raise here. I hope this helps you as you begin, at once, to create your new and Ultimate Internet Image…or help others to get there!

I look forward to sharing ideas and/or working with you and believe we can position you to do great things in your niche as a brick and mortar business, an online business, or as an Internet, inbound marketing consultancy!

John Zajaros (Jack)
The Ultimate Internet Image
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
440-821-7018 (cell)
johnzajaros@gmail.com

Note: Just assume links are affiliate links and that way there can be no misunderstandings!

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The Simplicity of Search: Understanding Search and Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing and Search-based Targeting

Chasing Traffic is About Getting Them to Uncover You!

The point of Internet listings, complete with creating effective domain names, is to get in front of as many searchers as possible. They aren’t looking for you, they’re looking for a service based on a simple search term that expands as the search fails…thus leading to the long tail!

First, set aside your ego!

People are not looking for you online, they’re looking for a specific solution. If you happen to have incredible brand awareness and can solve their problem? Great! Maybe you are Dell or BMW or State Farm. However, as a rule, online consumers will not type your name into the search box, they’ll type in the search term that satisfies a specific need, requirement, etc.

Something you probably already know:

If they’re typing your name in to the search box? You should be spending your marketing effort (read: cash, money, resources, keesash, moola, bread ) elsewhere!

The secret to online success, inbound marketing success, Internet commerce success?

1) Get in front of as many people searching for what you are already offering

2) Offer a product searchers are already seeking out

3) Get in front of a trend based on viral marketing mojo

Number 2 is the secret to real success online, get in front of a lot of people seeking a given product or service.

Number 1 is what most businesses do because they already have a lot of stuff to sell and have experience selling it in the offline world.

They think, “Hey! It’s just another market and we can simply do the same thing in this slightly different venue, with some of that new-aged Internet inbound marketing stuff…right?!”

“Yeeaaah!” Jon Lovitz would say, “that’s the ticket!”

You can indeed be successful exploiting Number 1! If you are creative and remember a few rules, rules that have nothing to do with the excess baggage you have probably carried over with you from the offline, outbound marketing world.

As Seth Godin as so aptly stated, and I’ll paraphrase, a Meatball Sundae just won’t cut it!

Believe it or not, an incredible number of otherwise very savvy businessmen and women chase Number 3 and quickly go broke!

Or, if they are smart, lucky, and quick studies, they may wake up and avoid crashing into the rocks. You see, many go broke listening to the Siren’s Song.

You know what I am talking about?

Internet marketing gurus, gurus who are experts at doing just one thing, selling bright, shining objects to those otherwise savvy businesspeople who have lost all real business sense as they pursue the Online Gold Rush or believe they can create a Meatball Sundae!

The fact is, the Internet is different and inbound marketing is very different! In order to succeed, you must not only create a new marketing strategy, you must create a different business mindset, and then you have to  reset your thinking about how to pursue customers or clients, customers and/or clients who now hold all the cards and will seek out your product because it serves their wants, needs, and desires.

If you aren’t where they’re looking? You are out of luck and, very quickly, out of business online and offline.

So, reset your thinking this year and, if your marketing consultant is telling you that all it will take is a little whipped cream and topping for that Meatball Sundae…get a new inbound marketing consultant.

Yesterday!

John Zajaros
The Ultimate Internet Image
440-821-7018 (cell-anytime)

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How to Succeed at Inbound Marketing: The Secrets to Prospecting Part I

Building an Inbound Marketing Consultancy…

…or Social Media Management Firm

Prospecting is one of the major stumbling blocks to inbound marketing consulting and social media management success. Paradoxically, prospecting is crucial for success because, in order to help others build their businesses, we must simultaneously build ours.

If we do not find and develop inbound marketing and/or social media clients, we will never be able to do what we love to do….what we are good at doing. To help others succeed, using the inbound marketing and social media management strategies we have come to understand and believe in, we have to seek out and educate brick and mortar business owners and professional people (i.e., M.D.s and D.O.s, dentists, chiropractors, podiatrists, attorneys, accountants, etc.) about what it is we do and why it is in their best interest to allow us to assist them with the transition from an old media, outbound marketing strategy that no longer works to a new media, inbound marketing strategy that will.

Significantly, is it not only crucial that we identify inbound marketing and social media management prospects, we must have a plan in place to contact, develop, and educate them once we do.

I’ve mentored several inbound marketing consultants, men and women just beginning to build their inbound marketing consultancies; and, in almost every case, they have reached the same point with much the same reaction. Interestingly, while they have followed enough of the steps I will discuss below to have made a contact…they don’t know what to do next!

Or, they have actually been contacted by a prospective inbound marketing client only to freeze up!

Failure and Teachable Moments: Prospecting and Inbound Marketing

Significantly, many of these failed calls did not fail because the consultant didn’t know his or her craft…quite the contrary. They failed because they simply placed too much pressure on themselves and froze up. Ultimately, the call ends badly and a contact that may have developed into an inbound marketing client instead developed into a teachable moment and a valuable lesson.

Note: We learn as much from these failures, if not more, than we do from calls that go just right and end with an appointment being made. Keep in mind, the sole purpose of the call is to make a good enough first impression to get a second appointment. At this point you do not know if you have a prospective inbound marketing client or not, so don’t try to sell anything. Once you develop that mindset, it is easier to talk to business owners and professionals. You see, at this point you do not have a sales situation, all you have is conversation.

While you may conceive of selling as difficult, having a conversation is easy…so quit trying to sell!

What do we do?

How are these calls handled?

Well, first you have to get the inbound marketing or social media management prospect to call. This means generating prospects, knowing how they are likely to react, and being comfortable enough with yourself, the phone, and the material (inbound marketing and social media) to do a good job; and that all comes with experience.

We will discuss more about this in part two.

However, the first thing we need to do is to identify the prospect, and then develop the prospect, so they are willing to take that initial step and either make contact…or be receptive to our first follow up contact.

For you to understand how big a step it is for most business owners and professional people to make that first call, think back to how you felt the first time you contacted someone about getting help to build your business.

If you haven’t, you will…Almost everyone does!

Interestingly, the emotions experienced by an individual making that first call, the individual on the other end of the receiver, are a combination of desperation, curiosity, and fear.

  • Desperation - Because they generally have an issue with their marketing. Their marketing is generally some form of outbound marketing…or perhaps a static website that dates back to ’90s online marketing mentality. The “offline” business owner or professional is in pain or they wouldn’t have made the call. In other words, they have a problem with their marketing and they know they have a problem.
  • Curious - Two, they are a bit curious about you, particularly if your message resonated with them enough to prompt a call. That also means they will probably be cautiously receptive, provided you don’t come off like a nervous idiot!
  • Afraid - Finally, they are afraid for a number of reasons:
    • They are undoubtedly afraid that you are going to come across as some high pressure jerk. This is how they may feel…not how you actually are. I hope!
    • Or, conversely, you that may come across as someone who cannot help him or her at all…thus leaving the business owner in even worse shape. Keep this in mind: Deep down they hope you have the solution; and, it took a lot for them to make the call…so handle it properly! They want to talk to you, they are simply apprehensive…afraid!
    • They are also afraid because they may have to change something. Or a lot of somethings; and, people resist change. We all fear and resist change, so be aware of that fact; and, deal with it with confidence, reassurance, and educationat the right time!

For all of the above reasons, and many more, you have your work cut out for you!

Now that you have some idea of what you are up against, you can at least begin to design an approach that is appealing, low-keyed, and effective.

You have two choices:

  1. “Throw enough spaghetti against the wall and some of it will stick!” This is the old shotgun method. Some stick a pin in a map and then begin to prospect geographically. Others tailor their efforts demographically, still with something of a shotgun approach. Still others use a combination of geography, demographics, and psychographics (we will get into this next) to get as close a look at their target market and their buying behavior as possible but they are still using a broad-cased approach with little or no real broad-based research…beyond that mentioned above.
    1. Direct Mail - I personally like direct mail and use it a lot! If it is done right, and over time, direct mail can be very effective based on ROI. The problem most people have with direct mail is that it doesn’t get opened because it looks like junk mail or it doesn’t pass the 3 second test and goes right into the waste basket. We will deal more with this in an upcoming article.
    2. Craigslist – Actually, all of the free online classified directories work and they also do well with Google, particularly Craigslist. It is free and, if you are not using it, spam and the negative media notwithstanding, you are throwing away a few clients yearly. Over a five year period, that is a significant sum of money!
    3. Backpage, Kijiji (eBay), etc – The same goes for these free classified sites, they are all useful and every inbound marketing and social media management firm should have a presence on them. Even the sponsored listings are ridiculously inexpensive…so do it!
    4. Cold Calling – I am not a big fan of cold calling, in fact I loathed it, particularly in the old school way. However, there is a course available that has transformed cold calling and it is worth a look. Even if you only use the course as a means of getting comfortable with the phone, because we all us it, this course is a must. It is called Unlock the Game by Ari Galper. The inbound marketing consultants I have mentored will tell you, this is the first course I suggest for all new consultants. It is a must! The free training alone is incredible and will change your thinking and your approach to the phone, and prospecting, forever.
    5. Others - This is where I place all the other things that you might like to try. However, if you apply the other strategies, those listed above and those I will get to below, you really won’t have time to fool around with a lot of them. One I will suggest is the Yellow Pages.
      1. The Yellow Pages - Businesses advertising in the Yellow Pages have watched response drop and the prices for ads skyrocket. Many of these business people are looking to get out. Be creative and do you research and you will find very good inbound marketing prospects in the Yellow Pages. If you have the time, this can be a valuable resource.
      2. Valpak – Valpak used to be one of those things that hit the trash, validating The 3 Second Rule! Now I view it as a resource. If a merchant is willing to go to the time and effort, not to mention the expense, of setting up a Valpak account? They will be interested in what you have to say…provided you approach them properly and educate them thoroughly. I place Valpak advertisers into one of three categories and then develop them accordingly. Again, I will cover this in an upcoming article dealing with direct mail and inbound marketing consulting.
  2. You can get creative! Creative prospecting includes a variety of strategies, all designed to find the hungry market…what I have heard others refer to as the hungry fish. I am not crazy about calling prospective clients fish but if it helps you visualize what I am talking about…whatever works and so much the better. However, your prospective clients are people just like you with real world concerns, families, and businesses to provide for, keep afloat, and run. The more human you perceive them to be, and not just as “hungry fish” or “target audiences” or even “prospects,” the easier it will be to connect with them, build interest, relationships, confidence, trust, bonds, and clients for life!
    1. First – Go where the business people are. Join the Chamber of Commerce, the Jaycees, etc. I’ve mentioned this marketing step before. Get the membership directories but be careful not to prospect to them aggressively or right off the bat. Learn who the key influencers are and attempt to get to know them, very much as you would do on a social media site. Chamber of Commerce members are a there for a reason, to network and to build their businesses. If you can help them build their businesses, once they get to know you, you are in!
    2. Go to the local library and offer to teach a class on how small businesses can build an online presence. Libraries usually introduce these programs well in advance, usually in a bulletin, so you can get great exposure and have plenty of time to develop the course material. Libraries usually require an outline but that can be accomplished in an afternoon. You can teach the class as an over your shoulder course, one in which the students (local business people) follow along throughout an inbound marketing campaign set up. Or, you can simply do the A-B-Cs of inbound marketing and social media. The latter works well if relate it to local offline business. In either case, you will have many people approach you and ask if they can hire you or at least talk to you about what they can do to improve their online marketing. It is up to you to do the rest. Hence forth, you will be viewed as an authority in your community and the word will spread rapidly.
    3. Get a digital recorder and drive through your town, making note of the new businesses, the grand openings, and certain high value or high ticket businesses that attract your eye. Once you have “carded” the area (i.e., recorded the information, picked up local newspapers, maps, periodicals, grocery store handouts, and the rest), go back to the office, transcribe the information, note the advertising, and create a spreadsheet. Then it is time to do some research. Make sure you log the following information:
      1. Name
      2. Address
      3. Phone – Verify from infoUSA.com
      4. Web address (if they have one – note if they do not)
        1. Alexa Rankings
        2. SEO Information (to be covered in an upcoming article)
      5. Google them and establish how deep their online presence goes and what they are doing in the way of inbound marketing and social media to build The Ultimate Internet Image (couldn’t resist!)
      6. Email address from website About and Contact Us as well as from Whois.com and BetterWhoIs.com
      7. Business Owner – Contact Name infogroup/infoUSA.com
      8. Contact Title
      9. Verify Mailing Address from American Chruch Lists
      10. Type of Business
      11. Employee Size
      12. How Long in Business
      13. Other Relevant Data
  3. Referrals and Warm Contacts – These are either referrals from business owners and professionals you are already assisting (I will go into how to develop referrals and letters of recommendation – testimonials in an upcoming article). You can also approach the individuals you do business with and pass out a business cards, strike up a casual conversation, and ask them if they have a few minutes and take it from there. How you handle referrals and how you handle your warm market are different but they are both high quality leads and a great source of business.
  4. Local Newspapers – Businesses spend a lot of money on newspaper advertising with very little to show for it. I suggest OfflineBiz.com. When you upgrade to the Gold forum you get a letter as part of your introductory series that converts better than any direct mail piece I have ever used! I am talking about 12-18% for every mailing that goes out. The nice part is that you can use it in conjunction with newspaper ads, magazine ads, Yellow Pages ads, etc. It is without a doubt the best letter I have ever used for response on a cold mailing as part of a direct mail campaign. Try it! It will be worth it. And OfflineBiz.com offers instructional material that is really quite good. If you use the information and the letter provided by OfflineBiz.com you will see your response rate related to newspaper advertising prospecting in association with direct mail skyrocket. I have never seen anything like it! Sound like a commercial? It works or I wouldn’t mention it, affiliate link or not!

Prospecting for inbound marketing and social media clients is about…

…research, experience, and empathy!

If you can put yourself in your prospective inbound marketing client’s shoes and understand everything there is to know about them before they call you, or before you call them, you can speak intelligently…without pressuring them!

The key is to make it a conversation and get the appointment.

The appointment may lead to something…and it may not. It is up to you and the prospective client at that point. However, if you lay the groundwork and choose your prospective clients well, combining the best of both approaches, the spaghetti approach and the creative approach, you will have more business than you know what to do with…long term.

Ultimately, we will get into greater detail with respect to several of these points.

But for now…know this:

You can never do too much prospecting and you can never be too prepared. However, do not try to sell anything over the phone and do absolutely no selling on the first visit.

Your job is to listen, learn, and understand!

If you can do that, you will be on your way to inbound marketing and social media management success!

John Zajaros
The Ultimate Internet Image
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
Skype: johnzajaros1
216-712-7004

PS, I am accepting 5 students and will work with them for the next 180 days. You will have your business up and running in that amount of time and be making money. Guaranteed! For more information, you may contact me via my personal email address: excellencepaidforward@gmail.com

PPS, Watch for Part II. We will deal with the nuts and bolts of each issue.

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