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May 2012

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 itlocal marketing consultant 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.

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She became a reluctant entrepreneur some 25 years ago, after resigning from one job before finding another.

After a few weeks of uncertainty she discovered that businesses would pay a premium to freelancers who could fill short-termget a new career management positions.  One three-month engagement led to another, then another, then another.

She gained more experience providing professional services to a variety of companies than she ever would have working her way up the corporate ladder of just one.

Of course, none of that really matters to today’s employers because she’s now considered “too old”.

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When the recession hit, many of my friends and colleagues lost their jobs.  Some even lost their homes.  Others had to leave California’s Silicon Valley to find cheaper housing, only to find that jobs on the other end were also few and far between.  All of them lost a bit of dignity.

Even lowering one’s salary requirements can backfire because employers don’t trust you to stay if you get a better offer.

The problem is, there just aren’t enough jobs to go around and the available ones tend to go to people much younger than you and I.  Mature job seekers need not apply to jobs that say the following:

Intern wanted:  They’re looking for free labor.

New college grads:  They’re looking for cheap labor.

3-5 years experience only:  They want young, cheap labor.

Must state salary requirements:  Again – young, cheap labor.

As a former corporate employment consultant I can tell you the conversations that would often take place after we interviewed older candidates.

“Do they have enough energy?”

“Will they fit in?”

“Can they learn to do things our way?”

“Can they make a long term commitment?”

And those are some of the nicer comments.  I suppose it’s even worse these days.

An Emerging Market Where Age Can Be an Asset

Here’s an idea if you have been laid off, want to work part time (but not at WalMart) or don’t have enough savings to make it to retirement age.  If no one will hire you, hire yourself.  It can be easier to start a business than to find a job.  Especially if you’re anywhere near 50.

As a Local Marketing Consultant to small businesses you could potentially write your own ticket.

There are almost 23 million small and medium size businesses in the US alone.  And what do they all need?  They need more customers.  As a Local Marketing Consultant to small businesses you could potentially write your own ticket.  And the problem solving skills you’ve developed during your life and career are a marketable asset that these businesses will pay you for.

With The Right Approach and Advice This is Very Doable

Large corporations have marketing departments, technical staff and sales teams.  Smaller businesses, especially in this economy, tend to outsource as much of these activities as they can.  Local Marketing Consultants use a variety of internet marketing methods to generate new customers and get existing customers to buy more.  And the good news is that with a little basic training and your computer you can build a sustainable business.  If you choose to work within an industry you know something about, your previous experience can be a huge asset.

In the next article I’ll share with you my some of my experience as a Local Marketing Consultant and what I think it takes to build a successful practice.

And in case you’re wondering, the person I talked about at the beginning of this article is ME.

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In today’s post I have a cool little Google places optimization tip for you that allows us to get a “best ever reviews ” badge on our clients Google places listing.best ever-reviews google places

These best ever reviews are very simple to get however I don’t see very many local businesses with these best ever review badges, nor do I see many local Internet marketing consultants talking about this tip.

Google places optimization is getting more difficult as Google changes things around so anything that we can do to help our clients not only get higher rankings on Google places but to stand out more is a huge benefit for us and our clients.

Check out the video below…

httpv://youtu.be/u3yyBEQV6KE

In the last part of that video you can see where I talk about an additional ticket you can use to help your Google places optimization and consulting clients by using a QR code to make it extremely easy for customers to go directly to the page where they can add reviews and of course the best ever reviews.

QR codes becoming more a more prevalent with smart phones exploding in sales I firmly believe that you must incorporate QR codes in as many places as you can and educate customers to use them even if it means creating a short video or article or anything to help customers get a QR code reader and then use it.

If you want to learn more tips, tactics and strategies like that then head over to local Internet marketing University to get the full story.

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