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Diary of the Disenchanted

Discussion in 'Offline Marketing' started by GuinnessMan, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. GuinnessMan

    GuinnessMan Junior Member

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    So my story may be a long one but we can chalk it up to a therapy session for sure.

    About 2 years ago I and a now good friend started what we aimed to be a unique web design company offering the ole "Free Website" solution for anyone interested as well as a general information hub for all things business Internet related. We started with no website and a few clients to a really nice fairly automated website with 45 clients(don't think I can post links yet).

    Both of us ran the company on the side, while we built up the "secret sauce" inner workings and business plan in hopes to be able to develop it into "the next big thing". It's one of the reasons you start a business, in hopes for it to be big enough to be sustainable to itself and all involved.

    We have bigger and better aspirations that just being a web design company. We have more than a few big ideas that we're working toward but we've been utilizing a "patience is a virtue" mentality as to not totally burn ourselves out while building the "next big thing". In order to not lose our ideas to the ether (or the burn out of actually running a business) we have a perpetual draft of a business plan to at least document progress, processes and to maintain our outlook always making decisions based on how the ideal company we want to be would make its decisions. (Took that concept from the book "The E-Myth" by Michael Gerber) So that being preserved, we maintain ourselves and the ideals by maintaining this web design company that doesn't want to be just a web design company.

    While every month has been more profitable than the next, we're looking to really get things going and now that I am working from home (in another endeavor doing completely different work) I am way more available to take on the task of growing the business.

    We have previously been getting most all of our business from direct referrals from friends, family and previous businesses. We then started utilizing Craigslist for leads and have turned around some successful proposals for design through that venue. We feel we need to break out more than we are now.

    I have been lurking around these forums for about 3 years now and have picked up little interesting tidbits here and there. Some causing me to second guess about 15 different niche ideas by now. This place is FULL of helpful information. I've primarily used the information here coupled with a few other forums to learn at least the basics to intermediate aspects of SEO and have actually grown to absolutely love SEO as a concept and as an offering. I enjoy helping and seeing others benefit even if it is at little to no benefit to me.

    I have performed some well researched (but really don't see the "amazing results" of) SeNukeX campaigns (on free trials) and utilized some free indexing sites as well as performed some on-site/off-site SEO optimization (loading speed/keywords/regular content updates/minor social sharing).

    At present I now have allocated about about 48 hours a week and the other co-founder about 20 hours a week to put into the business. We have used this time to work on automating the process of creating a self-hosted WordPress website as well as creating a system to release updates to our mailing list (of currently only about 200 people) and to anyone who wants some free support to learning, understanding and using their [wordpress] website. We are currently in the marketing phase and are completing email templates, cold call scripts, "Free Reports" and other graphical endeavors to further the chances of sale for our existing traffic.

    We are also working on a video series and toying with the idea of running webinars to further assist in gaining traffic and becoming a relevant source for information not just about websites but about the benefit of the Internet as a whole. Starting small, growing bigger.

    We have an "affiliate referral program" that I have signed up a few people for as well with a decent payoff but nothing consistent to the point of posting a WSO. How do you do those anyways? I hate the typical "5 page scrolling sales page"...[tangent]

    So - all is well and good for the slow growth model...now for the acceleration...

    We've hired people here and there to either do sales emails (I like the idea of human emails even if templates are used - personalizing each email has given me a great response over copy/paste) or sales/prospecting phone calls. Some on commission only. Others with an $8/hr incentive or commission plan. All efforts with them have failed. Consistency sucks for some reason. Either people get discouraged and stop caring and I let them go, or I get the email contact saying they just aren't up to it or people don't send out the emails on a daily basis. I just can't get the consistency.

    So here I am with a few problems:

    1. Inconsistent workforce - I don't mind making calls/sending emails on my own but in an effort to work on the other aspects of the business to grow out of being just web design it is necessary to free myself up to work on the additional endeavors. How to I get reliable people to write emails/make phone calls daily without calling it quits...if even for a couple weeks so I can actually make an assessment of what works and what doesn't.

    2. I am unfamiliar with how to use anything effectively outside of SeNukeX. I see there are plenty of other tools out there to use as well, but the learning curve of learning another program(s) seems all for not as I'm not really seeing the campaigns from SeNukeX really paying off for organic traffic. Maybe my key wording is terrible or my campaign choices suck? Maybe SeNukeX is terrible...maybe the indexing portion (over using the free indexers) is the weak link? I'm writing my own articles and spinning them properly and effectively so what gives? I want to test out our automated product - I need more traffic for that. I love statistics and the idea of A/B testing - can't do that when your clients come to you through referrals via phone/email/craigslist (though we get a lot of traffic from posts on craigslist)

    3. Social Media. We have just under 150 Facebook likes to our page and a handful of Twitter followers. Twitter Adder, Tweet Attacks, manual list growth...what's the deal? I am going to grow these lists but should I full on NUKE these lists with new followers/fans? LinkedIN has brought us some good traffic as well.

    3. What should I invest about $200-$300 a month into? I'm looking to have the best lead generation possible with the best return possible (why I chose to hire someone to do the money making work). Again, give me traffic so that I can test our product. We currently run no ad campaigns (Google/Facebook/Bing) probably because I don't trust the keywords, alternately because I ran some test campaigns and really didn't amount to much (though I found that Bing likes us way more than Google does).

    4. What am I missing? First thing to do when you think you know everything is to stop and realize you know nothing. So what is it? What does the forum recommend? Should I close up shop, go into the JV thread and use our combined 68 hours a week for something else?

    5. What questions am I not asking here? What questions should I not concern myself with asking? What information/date should I collect and provide to be answered to help with a final case study? I would much rather see this post end up being a post of dos and don'ts and help for others to see through my successes failures what they can do with their own business, especially since I understand my niche is kind of like having every niche be my niche. I will post updates about the progress of my business - the help I'm taking - the advice I'm not. I'm inspired by the other posts that are similar to this and I see how motivating this forum is for others in general. Thought I would tap into it while providing the return of case study for all to see. I want to contribute.

    Thoughts (preferably in depth) are welcome. I feel like I'm throwing all sorts of mud at the wall to see what sticks. Today is a down day (as is probably seen in my writing) but it's not a mood people who know me would see me in often. I'm a firm believer in the persistence and determination model (as long as it doesn't make me go broke). Just figured I would reach out today more than others.
     
  2. theag

    theag Junior Member

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    I dont really get your current business. do you have a system set up where clients create their own website through your tool? or what do you mean by automated? there are a lot of those services out there, many with big VC financing, so you can probably forget about that.

    I think you should broaden your product range, just read around the offline section and you will find a lot of great working methods..
     
  3. GuinnessMan

    GuinnessMan Junior Member

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    Why can't I reply? Trying to paste even 2 sentences of a reply triggers moderation.
     
  4. gritts

    gritts Junior Member

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    While I haven't had any personal experience with it, I've heard about some good results from getting people from Craigslist or posting a help flyer at a college to get some workers to do the cold calling/emailing from what I've read on here. You may also have luck with some of your own friends/relatives as some of mine have been useful for getting referrals as they are good speakers and work in environments where they interact with other business owners so they've managed to send some clients my way.
     
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  5. IamNRE

    IamNRE Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Get yourself a 1on1 coach from WaForum.

    Sounds like your head is all over the place. Try just using the methods that have been working for you so far and scale those up.

    Tracking, tell people that ref. to us "xyz code1" to get a discount when they first order. i.e if your posting on CL, tell em to use code: CL ATL W15
    (craiglist atlanta week 15). etc.

    SEO is not easy, if you are not sure why its not working, hire an expert to see what you have been doing to see if the keywords are messed up or something else. If you are not serious about SEO *and its not proved to be the best source to getting leads. Then leave it, outsource it later.... Again, focus on what has been working and scale that.

    Regarding work force, are you paying those people a good wage for their time ? If not don't expect them to work. The only one you can depend on is yourself and your partner.

    Good luck, hang in there :) Spend cash to have someone figure out what is not working, i.e SEO expert or IM coach.

    Be lean, cut all shit thats not proven to work.

    If craiglist has worked scale that up. Track with "TEL X W15" discount codes.

    Let me have a quick look at your website (just wondering what that whole automation is about).

    I will send you my email.
     
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  6. GuinnessMan

    GuinnessMan Junior Member

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    Thanks for your insight. I've sent you an email with some information.
     
  7. GuinnessMan

    GuinnessMan Junior Member

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    Head being all over the place is an understatement. I find it to be more productive than not, but like you say - ditch the things that don't work, even if the methods that aren't working should be.

    As for continuing forward (and having my head all over the place) the new Pinterest traffic building ideas seem interesting. Reading up a little on that today. Usually reserve Tuesdays for education.
     
  8. GuinnessMan

    GuinnessMan Junior Member

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    The flyer at the college is a good idea. I've also been told that contacting the career center at local colleges to let them know of the openings/opportunities is another way. We've got a few universities and community colleges within a 20 mile radius. I'll see about creating a cool looking flyer to post up. Thanks.