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The Full and Complete Guide to Starting your Offline Business

Discussion in 'Offline Marketing' started by Winchester, Oct 29, 2011.

  1. Winchester

    Winchester BANNED BANNED

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    Around six years ago I got into the Internet Marketing business. I realized almost instantly that this was the next big thing and that it was a lucrative industry but it seemed to lack something for me. You see internet marketing sales required something more than just a great sales pitch and a great sales service you also needed to find a method to drive traffic to your pitch. Rather than try and take on the three front fight I decided to combine the lucrative untapped potential of online advertising in the offline world and create a consulting business revolving around online presence. With my degrees in human psychology, english and marketing and my previous experience in IT and Web Design I built a business model to bring in clients from the offline world with a lot less effort. Contained with in this thread is everything you need to know to get you started and how I did it.

    Important: It does take a while before I get into discussing monetization and sales strategy - I assume that many people who are brand new will be reading this guide and therefore I start right at the beginning - if you are only interested in sales and monetization skip down to that section.

    Lesson 1 - Foundations of your Company:

    First and foremost you are going to make the decision as to if you are going to be a company or an individual and this is solely a matter of branding. Many people will discuss with you the legal differences between being a company and a consultant; and sure there are some major ones (but of course I provide you the solutions to over come that either way), the important thing in my eyes who do you want to be:

    A) The SEO labor company - you take payments for linkbuilding, article blasting and on page seo campaigns.

    Or

    B) The marketing consultant - you are paid for your ideas and rising base metrics other than SERP

    The reason I make the distinction is very simple, make yourself stand out to your clients is a matter of brand reputation, in the offline world (especially for you younger IM'ers) brand is going to be a matter of crucial importance; and if you've ever read "The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding" By Al and Laura Ries (the two most respected branding experts in the world) you will understand that one of the most important of these laws is:

    The Law of Expansion - Which states that any expansion to your brand from your core service will temporarily increase sales, but ultimately dilute your brand reputation.

    In other words, do one thing and do it better than anyone else. There are hundreds of delicatessens across the United States, they carry everything from sandwiches, to gum, to coffee they are your everything you need corner deli. Then Subway came along and said "I'm going to do one type of thing, sandwiches, in fact I'm only going to do submarine sandwiches" and it became a natural brand.

    People have a naturally inclination to relate one concept with a noun, which is why branding works and you want their natural association to be the thing that you do best.

    Over all I am going to suggest becoming a marketing consultant simply because it is easier and more productive to build brand focus around your name and because you are in a more unique marketplace. Each days CEO's and purchasing managers are getting emails and phone calls about their SEO - people in SEO farms offering them to be first in a certain keyword, and very few people coming to them and saying "I want to build the relationship you have with your clients online by building exposure, communication and advocacy across trackable metrics"

    The other advantage as as an individual you do not need to set up and register a business you can operate as a legal individual and even hire staff with out the costly and time consuming process of becoming a corporate entity.

    Lesson 2 - The Business Model Setup:

    The business model for this project is simple; you are going to pitch various internet marketing services to local clients, explaining to them that you will increase various metrics (allowing them to see these metrics and show that your worth the cost) that track website traffic, social media exposure and general advocacy.

    For these metrics you will be using Google Analytics, Klout, Titter, and Facebook for some companies other sites and services may come into play but that will be at your own discretion.

    Google Analytics:

    Google Analytics is going to be a very important metric set, not necessarily for the client but for sure for you, Analytics has some important features including "automated reporting", "Goals" and "Traffic Fluctuation Alerts" that are going to help you seem more professional and keep you on the ball. They also offer great insight to your clients target audience which allows you to send them great "free" insight emails each month which keep them coming back to asking you questions (which any smart consultant bills at a standard of 15 minutes per question).

    Google Analytics Automated Reporting:

    Automated reporting is certainly one of the most handy features offered by Google Analytics - many people try and set it up through the custom reporting and it ends up turning out like crap, rather than fiddle with metric inclusion yourself let Google take care of it by simply hitting the button below:

    [​IMG]

    Then select "Schedule" and fill out the information:
    [​IMG]

    I, personally, set the schedule to every Monday and have it sent to myself where I re-brand it and push it to the client but if you don't have the time or interest in doing that you can always just send it directly to the client, PDF format is recommended and always check "include date comparison" as your goal is to show improvement.

    Google Analytics Traffic Fluctuation Alerts:

    The next thing we want to set up is Google's Traffic Fluctuation Alerts or "Intelligence Reporting", this will alert us to any major spike, or dip, in traffic - and this is something of crucial importance because any time there is a dip we want to be the first to notice and contact the client with an email like:

    This quickly allows you to address any issue and offer an immediate solution showing you are on the ball in handling the situation and draw the heat away by offering up a metric that is preforming strongly at this time. A client should never be the first one to find out about an issue, as a consultant/service it is your job to increase their metrics and traffic and solve any problems before they happen - never let a client catch you off guard or it weakens your authority on the matter.

    On the other hand if you notice a large spike in traffic hit up the client with:

    And that's how simple it is to turn any spike in traffic (even if you had nothing to do with it) into another sales meeting (and a sales meeting where you are backed with growth metric data at that!)

    This is why we need to focus on these automated alerts so we don't miss these opportunities.

    To set them up:
    [​IMG]

    Google has a pretty good built in alert system but I like to crank it up to around 75% I'd rather receive an alert that I don't need and ignore it than miss one that I do need:
    [​IMG]

    Now however you are also going to want to add in some manual alerts, because Google won't catch everything, maybe there is a particular date like holiday, or a particular time of day such as evening, where this site based on its content should be seeing abnormal levels of traffic, if instead it sees normal traffic Google won't Alert you even though it's a problem so click on:
    [​IMG]

    Then finally select your metrics and traffic controls and activate the Alert (you can now even set it to alert you via mobile if you'd like):
    [​IMG]

    Now with these metrics in place you can not only actively give the client automated reports with very little work, and always seem like your on the ball, but using Google analytic to view traffic sources and growth you can show your services are working without competitive search engine growth.

    Other Google Notes:
    Some other things to note is Google does have a certification process for Analytics and Adwords management (adwords management will be covered in another post since it is just as lengthy of a process) but if you find yourself in need of extra credibility, want to get listed in the Google Certified Partner directory or want to access further Google training resources then the Certified Partnership may be for you. The tests are $90 each and you take them online, they are detailed but fairly easy and I can happily help to provide insights in them.

    [​IMG]

    One very important thing is to never fake your certified partnership as Google will take legal action, anywhere in the world, and they will win.

    Also, another handy tool is "Google Alerts" which you can set up to monitor when people are talking about your client so you can easily get involved in the conversation and use this natural interest to your advantage. But we'll talk more about that later on.

    Working with Klout:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Klout describes themselves as the Google Analytics of Social Media Exposure, and to be honest they are a great service. They are great for two reasons:

    1) If you are new to Social Media Management Klout quickly allows you to see what you are doing wrong and what you are doing right and which "Social Style" you are and what topics you are influential about and it there for works as a great roadmap as you are starting out in this business

    2) Klout is also great because it is a tracking metric for something that was very loose before. Previously I could manage my clients facebook and twitter and they were only ever interested in metrics that I could record (which makes sense every client wants metric results), in this case it meant the number of Fans or Followers which is something hard to tackle but with Klout I can now show other metrics including:

    "Amplification" - The ability for your message to be repeated by your followers (this indicates a level of advocacy for the client product, people like what you do and talk about it! Unpaid advertising - it's what makes the social world a gold mine)

    "True Reach" - How far your message actually reaches

    "Klout Score" - The level at which you are engage your followers and taking on new ones.

    The nice thing about Klout is after a while the metric plateaus, meaning some of the most influential people in the world only have scores of 80-90 out of 100. The average Klout user starts at around 5-10 and it is very easy to climb to around 20 and then each point gets increasingly difficult. Most of my clients sit around 30-40 and all I have to do is keep engaging customers to not fall. However, to show that I am still increasing the "Amplification" and "True Reach" metrics continue to rise with no exponential difficulty showing that my engagement growth rate of that 30-40 score is working to grow their business.

    [​IMG]

    Now the one unfortunate thing about Klout is that it does not offer automatic reporting of any type so you will have to manually report these metrics to your client and actively monitor them yourself. But it's a great sales point because no client knows anything about a Klout score except that they want one better than their competitors.

    Lesson 3 - Let's Get down to Business

    One of the most common things I am asked when someone is getting into the offline business is "What do I charge?" and this will strictly depend on your clients, your services, your professional sales ability and your reputation. When I started off I was charging $10/h and working with cheap clients. As I learned to build a reputation, and got better and my skills I took on more and more premium clients, now my average opening proposal is $3000-$5000 starting fee and $1500 - $3500 a month in charges for the client (sadly this isn't what I make because I do have overhead costs). Start off small work your way up, don't jump straight to the premium clients until you have the experience and proof to back up your craft; otherwise you risk our reputation before it's even taken off.

    Below are some of the documents I use to help keep me organized and you may find many of them useful:

    The Following is a "Proposal Cost Breakdown" given to the client after they accept a "short written proposal" this will show them where the costs are:
    [​IMG]
    Download: http://winchester-marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/DetailedFeeEstimateTable.xls

    This next one is a stylized invoice, this is what you send the client for approval when they sign back on this and make payment you can begin the work:
    [​IMG]
    Download: http://winchester-marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Invoice.xls

    Next we have a very important "Consulting Contract" if you decide you want to work on an open ended project with a client where you are unaware how much to bill in advance you will want to fill out one of these contracts. (Note: Fill in names, change country from "Canada" to your country, and edit the hourly dollar value):
    [​IMG]

    When it comes down to it the business process is going to work for you like follows:

    1. Survey For Clients
    2. Reach out to clients
    3. Meet with interested clients to explain service
    4. Draft Short Written Proposal/Presentation for client
    5. Draft Detailed price breakdown for internal purposes
    6. Submit Quote to a client
    7. Client returns Quote
    8. Begin quoted work
    9. Finish quoted work
    10. Send invoice
    11. Get paid

    Sure that's over simplified but you would be surprised at the number of people who go in with quotes for a client right away, never scare your client away with the numbers, show them services that they really want and negotiate to set up a service inside their budget. Your number one priority should be happy clients who are going to champion your cause and sing your praise!

    So how do we go about finding these clients? How do we go about making the sale? Let's continue on!

    Lesson 4 - Finding the Clients:

    Find the client can be one of the hardest things you'll ever do, when I first started off in the business world I had a part time gig with a "lead list" agency who basically paid me to headhunt companies for certain categories. I got very good at finding quality business leads but it was certainly a tiring task! here are some great ways you can get started finding and contact clients some them may sound a little strange but believe it or not they are tride and true methods of the lead hunter industry.

    First lets think about the client you are looking for, you are looking for small business or individuals who wouldn't go out and pay top dollar for a marketing agency that could handle these projects, so your company is probably looking for a non-chain business of 10-75 people, 100+ will be a big company for you when you are starting off, but give it a few years.

    Now one of the most efficient methods I found was hoping in your car (or on your bike) and driving around the city with a notepad, any time you pass a business as yourself

    1) Is this an independent business?

    2) Do they sell to people rather than other businesses?

    3) Is this business in the 10-75 employee range?

    If you answered "No" to any of these questions move on.

    If you answered "yes" write down their full legal name and an estimation of roughly how big they are (by employee count)

    Do this for your city and any neighbouring ones, because you'll probably want to get a lead list minimum of 300 companies, I prefer to work with 500 - 1000 because only around 1 - 3 % of these leads will ever be interested in what you have to say and of that only 15 - 25 % will take you on as a supplier.

    Once you have a decent size list head back home and research, research, research, you will want to find out what industry the company is in, if they went through anything news worthy lately, and the name of a decision maker there (also if you are any good at social engineering trying to find out their current marketing provider and if they do social media services may be of value to you).

    The reason we are doing all this research is because we are going to enter the field of the dreaded "Cold Calling" (although with that information it's much more of a hot call!)

    Many people will tell you that cold calling is dead, some people will even try and sell you products saying that cold calling never has to be done again and you can just email advertise. Well I can tell you from experience that the end of the day if you want to sell a service to an old fashion brick and mortar business you are going to need to learn to cold call.

    A few years back I had the luck of learning cold calling from a cold call trainer by the name of Art Sobczack of http://www.telesalesblog.com/ and http://www.businessbyphone.com/ he is by far one of the best cold callers in the industry - but I urge you, do not buy his stuff. Simple because between those two websites, his blog and his email list he gives away more than enough free tips to learn cold calling that you never need to actually buy his stuff. Just take the freebies and learn from there.

    Now when it comes to cold calling something you have to remember is you are going into this expecting that roughly 97% of people will reject you and that can be a bit of a downer but remember you only need that 3% to run a good business. Some of us will only need that 1% if they are big enough clients!

    The other thing to remember is there are a few types of people in this world and any salesman (which a cold caller is a type of) needs to be able to quickly figure out which type their client is and be able to adapt their sales pitch accordingly. Look at the two tele-sale pitches below and compare the differences to see what I mean! (The first one assumes I did pre-call research, and am talking to a Medical Healthcare Provider; the second I researched but this is my first call too and it's a building company).

    Example One:
    In this first case we've defeated the dreaded barrier of the receptionist by performing some name dropping (it's easy to find that information out online or by calling in advanced). Even in the case that Mary wouldn't be willing to take my call by giving a short sales pitch to the receptionist and ask her to pass it along to Mary. In the event that I did get Mary on the phone I would give her my sales pitch and ask to arrange a meeting where I could discuss this further with her and provide some examples.

    Example Two:
    Sometimes when you can't always research the company as much as you want, you can't get advanced calls in, you can't get executive names and you know nothing about their current service provider. These things are going to happen - this will be your most rejected pitch but some times you will get through only because you took a moment to identify their industry sector and that will spark some lingering interest (because most sales calls know nothing about the business. In fact re-reference Art Sobczack he once posted a podcast in which he record 5 sales calls all from cold call training companies trying to sell him that training. By showing no pre-interest and specialization in what he does they lost interest). If you get through on part two here is your continuation:

    What's important here? First you told him why you were different, you said we aren't going to bog you down with the same crap you've always heard. You've spoken to a feature of your service his company might be interested in "reputation management" rather than "social media exposure" because his clients are less likely to be using facebook than that of say a teenage clothing store. You've also discussed that you feel his brand identity is the important thing here, not classifiable metrics because if you think your going to grow social media metrics for a construction company you're a bit out of place.

    Cold calling can always be a challenge, but hey, give it a whirl and just make sure to always know your client, the more you know about them the better off you'll be. You'll eventually get a knack for it and I'm here to help answer questions too.

    Now lets say you have the cold call done it's time for your first meeting, what are you going to do? Quite simply it's time to break out the charts of past projects even personal ones, people love charts and they are an easy sale point. Research the company find out what there current social media standings are, do they have any positive or negative reputation on the net, do they have any existing exposure?

    By knowing where they currently stand you can approach a meeting telling them only services that are relevant to them, how you are going to solve their specific problem and you can show that you are on the ball and have done the research.

    Lesson 5 - Expansion:

    Expansion is always a challenging topic, one of the best things I can advise for most people the moment you are thinking of opening an office or hiring a new employee, stop. Don't do it. Wait. Let your capital grow at least by a yearly margin of 0.75x that cost. In example if you wanted to hire a new employee at $30,000 a year and think you have the budget for it wait until you have the budget for $52,500 that way there is always a marginal safety net. Also like most online marketers I try and keep 3 months of operation costs, cash flow positive in a bank (or a vault is good too) because at the end of the day profits don't matter if you don't have the cash to pay the bills.

    Remember the moment you start involving operating costs and other people taxes become a bigger concern, rebalancing your service fees becomes an issue and you are required (in most countries) to now pay attention to Human Resource regulation, Employee saftey code and much more that you don't have to as an individual.

    Lesson 6 - Time Tracking:

    One of the most important things you will ever do both from an organizational stance point and in the interest of profits is committing to proper use of time tracking.

    Time tracking is important because it not only keeps you on time and organized (obvious statement much?) but it also allows you to compare your expected hourly with your actual hourly, and compare the amount billed to the amount of time that goes into a project allowing you to identify services which are not as profitable as they should be and adjust them accordingly.

    When it comes to a time tracking tool I can highly recommend:
    Toggle- http://www.toggl.com

    [​IMG]

    It even has extensive plugin options and secondary modules such as team based features, syncing with basecamp and producteev. It can also be used to pre-alot time, give mobile alarms and as a billing standards calculator on non-price point projects:
    [​IMG]

    Lesson 7 -Book Keeping:

    when it comes down to it one of the most legally important things is keeping good books - because as an individual or a company you are still going to be on the tax radar and good books keep you from going to jail if you get audited.

    I recommend the "Freshbooks" http://www.freshbooks.com bookkeeping tool, it's what I personally use and its a handy interface - way more features than you actually need. Ultimately you could keep an Excel file with a money in ad money out column and just sort all your receipts but if your anything like me you for sure want something digital you can't easily loose track of. I won't go further into bookkeeping as its pretty straight forward especially with Freshbooks but if you have any questions feel free to ask.

    Quick Tips 1 -Business Mantra:

    -Note that developing a company culture can raise employee productivity by up to 30% and lower need for employee turn over.

    -A happy customer should be your number one priority, your internal policies are second to the happiness and return business of your client - your "no refunds" policy should be carefully examined if a client is uncontent with service

    -Communicate with your clients and welcome feedback, even offer surveys for service discounts as a survey can easily be constructed to sell a client on a service they don't yet own

    -Don't spend money advertising, spend money being newsworthy. In a local community news PR traction can easily outway your advertising budget at a ratio of 1:6

    Quick Tips 2 -Legal Information:

    -Watch out for Slander and Libel (negative discussion of another person, product, service or brand), know the laws and regulations pertaining to them in your area as its a very easy area to slip into - figure out what you can get away with saying and what you can't

    -Never promise a client more than you can deliver. If you fail to deliver they can take you to court on either negligence or fraud claiming the services they expected and didn't receive hurt their business. You could end up liable for damages

    -Always declare your taxes and make sure you have jumped through every legal tax hoop for you and your employees. This isn't the internet, eventually someone WILL look at your tax records.

    -Never target your competitions clients director (i.e. I send emails to all of Competitor A's clients or all of competitors A, B and C clients - this is an illegal business practice [at least in Canada, UK, USA and EU] the way around it is I send to some of competitor A B and C's clients aswell as some non-clients)


    FAQ:

    This section is reserved for any questions asked by the community, or even answered by the community.

    Q) What about Twitter and Facebook and the content management you discussed?

    When it comes down to that one of the things I charge my clients for is handling the content as well as their metrics, having a degree in English helps me advertise this a fair deal but basically I write a few months worth of content (roughly the length of their contract) with general tweets, articles and facebook posts. I then use auto posting services such as FutureTweets or Twuffer in order to drip these out over time. I take one set of time and take the payments over a few months, this allows me to focus more on client acquisitions and growth in the future[/i]

    Hope this has helped!
    Winchester
     
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    Last edited: Oct 29, 2011
  2. mark9510

    mark9510 Regular Member

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    Amazing posts, marketing consultants can definitely make a killing as long as they position themselves well enough in their prospective clients eyes.
     
  3. Winchester

    Winchester BANNED BANNED

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    Exactly, that's the great advantage of these metrics. Google Analytics and Klout metrics (aswell as twitter fans and facebook fans) are easy to drive up over time without an extensive need to spend money on it. Therefore you have trackable impactiful metrics where you can say I did X and we say increase of Y (which clients LOVE) and you are using tools to simplify it for you. I was going to go on to discuss content media control such as writing their twitter content for a year and auto posting it. But it was getting a little long :p
     
  4. ibmethatswhoib

    ibmethatswhoib Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    That's it? Contents a little thin there pffft...hah jk, nice post man.
     
  5. NilssonCPA

    NilssonCPA Junior Member

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    Great post very good and needed information. I will take use of some of those important steps.
     
  6. Moneymaker13

    Moneymaker13 Regular Member

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    Wow. I was just about to buy a domain kinda like blankwordwebconsulting.com and I was gonna start, now I saw this post should I make my company name like *My Name* Marketer Consultant or something? Or I could just go with what I was thinking before??
     
  7. Winchester

    Winchester BANNED BANNED

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    I would personally just leave it as "Yourname.com" or "Your name Marketing.com" build a brand around who you are that's the best way to do it as a consultant thats why the Reis family is so successful at it, become a brand.
     
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  8. Moneymaker13

    Moneymaker13 Regular Member

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    Thanks man! Do you mind me seeing your site if you have one? If not it's totally cool.

    Oh and I subscribed to your list, is it for mostly offline business?

    One more thing, how many services do you offer as a marketing consultant? Just SEO? Do you do Mobile? Do you design sites? etc.


    Thanks so much!
     
  9. Winchester

    Winchester BANNED BANNED

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    Sorry nothing really to show you here I do have a basic site, but it's just for basic research about our company, I also don't post my real business here.

    It's online and offline - the focus from my end is on offline but we get into a bit of everything and it's very community driven.

    Read carefully in level one and focus in, pick one thing and do it better than anyone else, then after a growth from specialization you can then diversify if you really feel there is a need too.

    You're welcome :)
     
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  10. crosscheck

    crosscheck Regular Member

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    Regardless of New or Old Great Knowledge or a Noob A unique perspective can be refreshing & turned into a Fresh Idea. Read front to back thanks man!!
     
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  11. Winchester

    Winchester BANNED BANNED

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    Thanks crosscheck - and a valid point!
     
  12. luccha

    luccha Regular Member

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    Amazing post. It would be Nice if you could upload a video on youtube with all the stuff you discussed here.
     
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  13. kokoloko75

    kokoloko75 Elite Member

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    Really interesting guide !
    Made by you ? If yes, +Rep !

    Beny
     
  14. Winchester

    Winchester BANNED BANNED

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    I had been thinking of creating a podcast series

    Yes indeed it was; thank you :)
     
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  15. _Sunny_

    _Sunny_ BANNED BANNED

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    great post!
    +rep and thanks added.
     
  16. masteraffmarket

    masteraffmarket Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Winchester you have really given a lot back to the forum. It is appreciated.

    Now as for this post is is Jr. Vip ready....kudos to you

    //MAF
     
  17. Winchester

    Winchester BANNED BANNED

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    This post isn't Jr Vip? It's public :) but thanks plenty to more to come!
     
  18. scorpion king

    scorpion king Senior Member

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    Great post. If i work as an individual consultant is it possible to manage 3+ clients at a time. Have you come across this type of situations if so how you manage it.
    And i am eagerly waiting for "adwords management" thread. I am preparing for Adwords certification as an individual. I am having hell lot of doubts. Hope you assist me there.
     
  19. kelso

    kelso Regular Member

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    Full and Complete is a good way to describe this substantial post! You got great skills!
    Great work! That is how you build reputation around here :)
     
  20. Bizzoyce

    Bizzoyce Junior Member

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    Occupation:
    Network Technician
    Location:
    Canada
    Home Page:
    Wow, what a great guide, Thank you. I can take a lot of this and apply it to what I'm doing now.