Okay, here’s the deal. I see a lot of business owners struggle with online marketing. Most of them took an online course (like B-school), and they have a great start to a business … and then they struggle and flounder. Not because their business sucks or because no one wants what they have to offer. They struggle because there is a lot of confusing advice out there about how to best build a thriving business.
I’m not going to add to the confusion here (hopefully). I’m just going to tell you about 3 “non-traditional” ways in which I have been offered money for the services I provide. Hopefully this will open your mind to the various awesome, fun, and non-stressful ways to sell your services to people who WANT TO BUY them.
Whilst drinking a Blue Hawaii at the pool in Malaysia about a week ago, I struck up a casual conversation with a couple from Australia. After about 5 minutes of small chit chat they ask us what we do that allows us to travel for 2 months without being retired. I explain that I run an AMAZING consulting business where I help small businesses build thriving empires (yes … I do talk like this, because I am SUPER excited about the work I do). I also explain that about 40% of my work at this point is building websites for people, in addition to consulting with them.
At this, the Aussie husband begins telling me his web design horror story. The typical “we paid $15,000 and we HATE our website … the designer didn’t even listen!” I commiserate for a bit, and then he tells me that I should move to Australia and make a killing building websites (because he already has a number of people he would refer to me), and he tells me they are looking to hire a contractor to work for $50,000 a year (very part-time) to make updates as they need them. I turn the offer down (as it isn’t in alignment with my current goals) but am reminded how easy it can be to make money when you aren’t even trying.
It seems weird to get offered a job while drinking at the pool in another country, but I’m not surprised. Good things come your way when you are passionate about what you do, and when you share it with others for the sake of sharing. I wasn’t trying to “get a sale” out of this guy … I was just chatting.
How does this apply to you?
Well get out there, do stuff you like, and open yourself up to chatting with people for the sake of chatting! You never know where it will lead – it could be a new friend, a new lover, or a new client. This certainly isn’t the only “offline” lead I’ve ever received (it’s just the BIGGEST!).
2. Online Meets Offline:
I can hardly count the number of people that I met online (who happen to live in Portland) that I have become friends with … and who then hire me to consult with them and their businesses. It has never happened in a super linear fashion, and the initial intention was never that they would hire me.
It just so happened that we liked each other, they got to know me, they got to trust me, and they were convinced of my value. End result? Various new clients and contracts. I have good boundaries and great client outcomes, so mixing business and pleasure has never been an issue for me.
Plus, I have found it is virtually (no pun intended) impossible NOT to become friends with the business owners that I meet online and offline. You all ROCK and we all end up supporting each other in one way or another!
How does this apply to you? This is two-fold:
a. Don’t dismiss your friends and acquaintances when it comes to business … you never know when they will need what you have to offer.
b. Don’t be a douche-bag and try to become friends with people online in the hopes of making a quick buck off of them. It doesn’t work, and people will lose trust in you quicker than it takes to “like” your biz on Facebook.
3. Online Baby!:
Unfortunately there is a mental business trend right now (especially with people who have NO UNDERSTANDING of online business), that “all I need is a website and a product and I will make a TON of money!!”
I don’t know, maybe there was a time when this was the case … but it isn’t anymore. The online community is big and strong, and it has taken me way more time and effort to gain an “online presence” than it has to gain an offline one.
What does this mean? This means that ALL my money when I started came from contacts in Portland (my home-base), and that from there I branched out to working with people who ONLY knew me online. It could have worked this way for many reasons, but one of the biggest is that these women needed time to get to know me (and for me to build a better reputation) before they were willing to commit their time and money to working with me.
How does this apply to you?
If you just started a biz (online or offline), then please, please do not underestimate the value of your community to support you and your business. So people in your area aren’t paying as much for the services you offer? Don’t ignore them because of this; just adjust. Maybe you don’t come out of the gate trying to charge high prices that have yet to be proven valuable enough for that price tag (this is a whole other blog post in the works).
If you are an online biz STILLLLL struggling, consider some of these alternative online and offline marketing strategies to help gain traction in your business. If you are an offline business, consider how your relationships onlinapproachese can grow into something more meaningful (friendship and support!).
I hope you found this post helpful! Feel free to share your comments on this topic! Until next time …