In the last article I introduced you to the idea of using your existing experience to start a second career as a Local Marketing Consultant. You could start by helping out a few friends and colleagues, or go for it and build a real legitimate business.
Either way, when clients are spending money with you this is a serious business. Even if your first client is doing you a favor they won’t want to waste a penny on marketing that doesn’t bring results. In my experience many small businesses don’t have an actual marketing budget. They simply spend money when they have to and don’t know how to measure results. They’ll see your services as an expense, not an investment. So understanding the customer and figuring how to help them should be Job One.
Later in this series we’ll discuss why it makes sense to work only with clients who DO have marketing budgets. But when you’re starting out you’ll be excited to take what you can get.
Learning the Ropes of Local Internet Marketing
There’s no shortage of training programs that promise to make you an overnight success as a Local Marketing Consultant. While I agree that it’s possible to get lucky once in awhile you still have to know what to offer, whom to offer it to, how much to charge and how to deliver results. If you can’t deliver results you’ll work that much harder finding lots of one-off clients and have no repeat business.
How long did it take for you to become proficient in your former job? Years? Decades? You either had formal training or you started at the bottom and worked your way up. So it’s reasonable to assume that this new direction will require some training, baby steps, and even a bit of trial and error until you discover what works best for you.
Progressive and Strategic Learning is the Key to Your Success
Think of it as learning a new language. You can go the total immersion route where the instructor points to pictures and speaks to you only in that language until a few words start to make sense. If you stick with it you will start to understand complete sentences. At some point you’ll be able to speak well enough to be understood. The more proficient you become the less time it will take your brain to translate words and thoughts into words.
Why did I choose to offer services to local businesses?
The best way to explain this is to tell yet another story.
My big “Why” was that I had a lot of experience in a variety of industries, which (I guess) made me overqualified for the work I wanted to do. In no particular order, I had been an in-house consultant for a few startup technology companies, an interim manager for a half dozen publicly held companies, taught at executive training seminars and done career counseling. For two years I was a marketing director for Ringling Brothers.
And that was before going back to school to train as a chef and starting a catering business. In fact, I got interested in marketing on the internet because I needed better and cheaper ways to find customers. Having a website meant that if people could find me online they could access most of the information they needed to decide whether or not to book me. It also meant fewer time consuming consultations that may or may not have resulted in business.
My first marketing client was a restaurant I supplied products to. Actually, I was just talking to the owner about how my new website was helping grow my business and he asked if I could help him do the same. So I brokered a deal with my web developer and helped write write the copy. That was around 1999 and it goes to show that you don’t have to know absolutely everything to get started.
Maybe you’ve never owned a business of your own but you probably know someone who does. Think about all the businesses you patronize. Start observing what they are doing to get customers. Your first client may be right in front of you.