Over the last several days while considering edits to make where to head next I realized something very important. This guide will not serve anyone as well as it could or should unless I make an effort to niche it down enough that it is not only simple but effective.
For this reason, I have determined this first guide will cover Online Marketing for Service-based businesses such as consultants, web builders, and marketers. In the future, I will develop more guides that will incorporate the changes needed for each industry.
The reason I have picked the industry I have is that they will see the greatest immediate impact from getting to know and understand their customers. This could also apply to some local services such as law firms, coaches, and alike. We shall see as the guide develops.
Your company, startup, or even personal brand needs a solid plan for marketing online. Each path leads to its own challenges and needs. I am working to design this guide in such a way that you will be able to plug in the parameters of your needs and then see the path you should follow. Until this guide is completed with that ability I will be posting everything related to online marketing in a start to finish fashion that will allow you to build your own solid plan.
Where to Start
As I develope this guide you will see major changes, but some tenets of marketing shouldn’t ever be changed. Some of these have only been learned more recently while others take on the form of almost an ancient knowledge. The first tenet you will learn is simple:
Start With The Customer
*Additionally I will be working to ensure what I write about is implemented on this blog at a minimum. Each thing I will talk about will be tested somewhere if not here. To see the latest changes check out my change log (bottom of the page for now)
Customers: Who is your Dream Client?
Understanding who your customers are or who you would like them to be is a large part of the battle. The best resource for working through this I have ever found is Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid. He has developed an entire process that will take you cleanly through understanding who it is you would like to work with, server, and overall deliver results to.
We are going to take a stunted approach to this here and simply ask a few questions:
Who would you love to work with?
What kinds of problems do they have?
Where do these people hang out? Where do they get their information?
How can you help them?
Now we need to match this to your current business. Are you working with the people who you would most like to work with? Sometimes the answer is a very hard no. Personally, I have been down this road and it begs you to ask some specific questions such as:
If these are not my ideal clients how long do I want to keep this up?
Am I making enough money that it is truly worth it?
Do I love what I am doing?
Can I do what I love while serving the “right” clients? (Hint: The answer is nearly always yes)
Next, we will look at building your customer story and how it is going to help you find your ideal clients.
Customers: Building a Customer Story
Knowing where your dream clients are is just as important as identifying them. What good is it to know you want to help veterans if you don’t know where or how to find them. I have not fully introduced the concept of the customer story yet. So let’s take a quick look and I will add more details later. This process helps alot when used properly, and I will get into more details later.
Customer stories are all about making our ideal clients as real as if they were standing in the room with us. Our brains are kind of funny in that if I asked you to tell me ‘what age range is your customer base’ you might look at me perplexed. This is normal.
To get around this problem we build an ideal client then it is easier for us to make more accurate adjustments almost like doing it backwards.
“my ideal client is a 34 year old career driven marketer that is making progress but knows they could be doing so much more. They have been in marketing for at least 10 years and understand the major changes that have happened over that time while also seeing the things that have remained the same.”
Now it is a little easier to come back and say looking at the ideal client model and say ‘my customer base age range is approx 29-50’. We arrive at that number knowing that is going to be hard for someone much younger to fit inside our 10 year model, and anyone much older might be less likely to keep up with the current trends. (If this offends you then you might fall outside of my ideal client model 😉 )
Customers: How Will You Serve Them?
It might seem strange to start with the customer. You might already be saying, “I’m serving the wrong people.” If this is the case it is time to make some changes. The reasoning is simple here.
You only have one life to life and if you plan on living it effectively that should mean doing your best work.
The key to this is that you define what your best work is. You choose each day when you say no to one thing and yes to another. This applies to whom you choose each day that you will work with as well.
So ask yourself, take some time to think on it: “How am I going to best serve my Dream Client?”
Customers: Where “is” Your Dream Client?
Typically we know where our clients are. However, I find it difficult sometimes and more to the point I hear from my clients a often, that they do not know where their dream client is. A better way of saying this is possibly they do not know how they can effectively communicate with their client.
This is one of the major differences in the online vs IRL, In Real Live, when you are IRL you can typically walk right up to the person you need to talk with and have a conversation. Your marketing, or rather salesmanship, in this scenario may or may not be effective, but the main point is you can literally point to and directly talk with the person you need to see.
However, when we are talking about online it is important to realize that the same person you can talk with while you are in the same room will never see your carefully planned out Facebook campaign and advertising if they do not use Facebook.
More than once in helping someone with their marketing campaign some simple questions and a little reconnaissance can go a long way.
Doing Proper Recon Work
For the purposes of moving things along I will fill this section out in more detail later, however here are some prime examples of how you can ensure your Dream Client is where you think they are.
Google/Bing/Other – The engine you use is not important and often I will use different ones in the hopes of getting different results. But you want to start out by searching for the product or service you are about to offer and see if any special groups pop up such as forums, targeted fan websites, blogs, or other interesting results that might help you find your Dream Clients faster. (example to come later) Think of things like:
Have any major news articles were published in this space? Do any peoples names keep popping up? etc
Facebook – Just the same as searching on Google only this time you are looking for Pages, Groups, and Influencers in your space. You may find a few people are posting often about your topic/niche now you should investigate. Are they posting as a potential competitor to you? Are they a fan? For the Pages and Groups which ones seem to be most active? Which has the largest following?
(use this same method for any social network such as Twitter, Linkedin, etc..)
These are the changes I am making to the site as a whole during the progress of writing this post.
*This log was started a little late and represents changes as of 9/23/2017
Added push notification for updates and new posts
Integrate Facebook and G+ comments (testing different methods)
Recently I started on a project that I thought would be relatively small connecting a web app/Database to QuickBooks desktop edition. Small was not the right thought on this one. Starting out there is so much conflicting information about how to make this happen I don’t think anyone truly knows. They only seem to know what they have gotten to work for them. Beyond that, some people claim that the WebConnector will go away in the near future but I have it on good authority that it is not going away.
Info On QB Web Connector
I will post more details as I can but if you are looking to get started read the SDK for both web connector and for the QBXML/Desktop SDK. Beyond that, I am still working through my own issues, but I have found a really cool project on Git Hub and have even gone so far as to get with the developer for a deeper understanding. I’ll post more about that later.
Don’t ask me why but I have avoided even looking at it since it was announced. In my mind, I had already spent the time learning Objective-C, but never put it to good use. Well, today I have decided it’s time. This is more of a side-project so I don’t expect to make a ton of progress immediately. I know I have enough other things to get done at this point.
The last thing on my list to mention is C# and really Visual Studio. As a JetBrains and Python fan, I thought the transition to Visual Studio and C# would be far more painful than it has been. I’m making this switch for the QB project I am working on. Visual Studio is actually very nice and powerful while C# is similar enough to python that I was able to get rolling on things pretty quickly.
Gonna Try to Blog More Regularly Again
The iOS Swift class I signed up for recommended it and honestly I’ve been wanting to take a little time to bang out an update for a couple of months, but I never think about it when I actually can do so. Well, that is not entirely true as I have written a few drafts, but sometimes I just have to make myself post whatever I come up with for the day or I end up with a long list of drafts.
Other updates I’m behind on Minecraft videos for mrhobbeys, and tech videos for Hektechnologies because I got sick and have just gotten to the point I feel my voice is recovered enough. I plan on getting back on that horse very soon too.
Time for some change 🙂 – Was supposed to be a quick 100 words but here are 500+
Sherece and I are going to sell everything we can get an RV and travel!!! I will get to play more poker, she will get to work on her business ideas. Life will be cheaper and more fun.
My business stuff is all remote enabled, but I really hope I can get my head on straight and start making consistent money at poker. I have a bad case of winners tilt right now. I also need to take a break for another reason…
The other reason… FQHC around here suck. So about a year ago I decided I would try it out. The experience was horrible and continues to be. I only gave it a shot because my doctor I had found retired. So what do I get in return?
The promise of low prices with quality care… I said promise. I can guarantee they don’t listen, or my prescriptions are never filled. But worst of all they cost a ridiculous amount of money. Nearly $500 a pop. My doctor (no insurance) was charging $40 + $80 when they had to do blood work. Want to find a good deal call around…
Anyhow because they have not returned calls or faxes for my prescription I have been taking a lower dose of thyroid for a few weeks now and I can tell a difference…
So anyhow I still have to decide what a break means. I think for sure 12hr+ sessions are not going to be something I can do very often if at all. I also think it is very important for me to assess how I am doing before playing. Today and most days this week, I just haven’t been feeling it.
Lucky for me I picked up The Mental Game of Poker and I have a better system than ever to evaluate. I have suspected differences in the past when my thyroid is off, and I have noted a few, but evaluating my thinking and focus is not something I have really felt the need to do in the past.
I have been doing this very good, but high level Bible study on Angels and Demons… It is really a good thing to look deeply into other things. A few other guys and I have started a men’s Bible study and goals group.
I tell you I am really looking forward to this!
I need to throw out there also. Posted an opening on angel.co for a programmer for BPCH. I have been looking around at the possibility of selling the company, and also trying to find people interested in make other deals.
Things look really good, but I keep hearing they could look much better. I just have to decide if I am going to put in the work to get this thing going to where it should be, or I truly want to move on to something else. We are at a do or die situation. (Die being die to me; sold).
Again the nice thing is whatever happens it still fits with our current plans. BPCH can continue and grow etc… and I can be anywhere in the world with an internet connection and cell phone to make it happen.
Also want to mention on the last leg of Kelly B. Todd website. It is coming along nicely, and is a charity that I would recommend for anyone to check out.
Do you have issues with this? It’s crazy to think that I am talking about a situation where too much opportunity is causing stagnation…
Opportunity is Everywhere
I’m not bragging when I say this, but opportunity is everywhere. I think most people become immune to seeing it around them. Then there is another group completely that has the issue I have, I’m good at seeing the opportunity but not so good at picking which one to go with.
Every Opportunity Seems Damned Promising
Currently, everything I’m looking at seems awesome. Now I must admit from the time I started this post till now some of these opportunities feel more right than others, but the same problem persists because the ones that “feel right” are the hardest long shots of all of them.
Could I be too optimistic? I mean I certainly think it’s possible.
Breakdown of Current Opportunities
Hektech and Better PC Health – these seem somewhat obvious, but I have made some key changes in the last month to Hektech, and I have planned for months to do the Let’s Build a Business for Better PC Health. Growth is slow and in the future sometime I will explain some major problems I have. If you don’t know what Hektech and Better PC Health click the links of each to find out more
YouTube – This is really a small part of a bigger whole at this point, however, it could be a great opportunity. Right now I have my personal channel, Hektech, and BPCH along with another random channel that I have not done anything with but have plans to make some fun top 10 type videos on. YouTube does allow for people to make better than an average living but most of the people who are doing this have been on there for years and make high-quality videos.
Blogging – I have met a few people in the recent months that make more than you or I could possibly imagine from blogging… We are talking about over $100k monthly. I don’t think I write anything that could make that kind of money, but I could see myself doing that for sure.
Sherece’s Stores – Last on this list is Sherece’s stuff, Sherece.com and Baking Is My Yoga (Facebook and Website). We are looking at doing a Kickstarter for the latter and we already have Sherece.com running. I want to give her enough attention so that she can be successful as possible.
This leaves out the other people I am working with… It leaves out CL Harmon and The Mannford Reporter, it leaves out NJ and our planned PTA site, and at least 3 more people I can think of without trying!!!
How I Look at Each Opportunity
Well without trying to sound like some kind of nut (I likely do) I look at them damned optimistically. Hektech or Better PC Health could be extremely successful beyond the limits of “owning a freelance job”… wildly I am telling you. They are both businesses that have completely automatable systems. They could be staffed by people with minimal skill and they both would provide huge value for their customers.
YouTube, if you didn’t know it, creates millionaires. No Joke. Finding whatever it takes to make some videos that get to 1 million views monthly. I think I would only need 1 or 2 videos to do that monthly to live very well… I have heard many people get side gigs and other work from their YouTube videos, I do hope for that.
Blogging is one of those things I have always said I wanted to do, but just never really did the “right” way. People want to see consistent material of a certain quality.
Last on this list is my lovely wife’s stuff. She really has some stuff that looks like it has huge potential.
But I still Feel Stuck…
When it comes to BPCH and Hektech; I just can’t seem to figure out how to get it rolling like it should. I think that is the main reason I am doing the Let’s Build a Business on YouTube. Which brings me to my next point YouTube I see as a very long shot and not something I am banking on at all. It is kind of like blogging, however, maybe I can get it right this time around. I don’t expect to make any direct money from this. Much like YouTube, I could see how it could generate income in other ways. With Sherece’s stores I feel like I can help a lot, but don’t know all that I need to know. I for sure don’t feel I can give her the time and attention she needs or deserves.
With all this opportunity, in a way I feel stuck on two sides; which do I pick and how do I do it right? What I end up doing is just everything, which actually seems to help, but it is hard to think this is the optimal way of doing things.
Back in 2013 I wrote this post about Trello. Soon I saw my blog traffic surge to over 10,000 visitors a month and I had free Trello Gold for a long time… However, at some point, the blog lost importance for a time and I lost the post. Now it is recovered thanks to the Wayback Machine. Since I think I can get the original pictures back I’m going to post this now and add them later, otherwise, I would just make new ones.
I started using Trello sometime earlier this year as a way to help me get organized. I was working on several different things at the time and it has been a great help. Today I showed my co-worker and got some even better ideas on how to use it and he liked it enough to start using it for his work allowing some things in the company to flow more smoothly. It is just like having a well-rounded paperwork system, except everything is on the computer no papers to lose or get misplaced temporarily, all changes are tracked to the user, everyone is accountable, and the Trello system adapts nicely due to well-thought-out features and design.
I am going to attempt to show you one of the many possible ways to use Trello for your business. I have made a publicly viewable Board found here: mock-up-ello. First I will show you a few basic things, starting with creating a Board, think like quark-board or dry-erase board, the system will create a Board with 3 Lists; Todo, Doing, and Done.
Basic board of Trello
You can change the names on the lists or even add more lists until you have all that you need. I was just playing around here but you will see in the next pictures that it can be very helpful when you are trying to figure out how you want to be organized.
Adding lists to a Trello Board
The next obvious thing to do is add cards to your list(s) this is how you will be able to organize large projects into smaller ones. I made up the following like I was going to order parts for an InfoFlow channel changer modification. Here you can see that I need a few more items to complete the component.
Cards in the list on the Trello Board
Lets take a closer look at one of the Cards, capacitors seems like a good one to pick. Notice all the options you have for adding things. You can add pictures, PDFs, and more.
Editing the card on Trello
Specific to the way I am using this Trello Board I don’t want to move ordered items to a new row when I receive them instead it makes more sense for me to archive them so they do not clutter up the workspace, you will see in the next picture why this works for this Board.
Archiving a Card in Trello
In this next List Assemble (incorrectly spelled Assymble in the pictures) you can see that instead of allowing items to stick around after they have been ordered and received for specific projects I have made a check-list. As I get the items in I archive the Order Card such as Capacitors, and check it off my list.
Use of a check-list in a Card.
It is interesting to point out that although this method works it might be a sign of inefficiency on my part, but due to the flexible nature of Trello as a whole my inefficiency is minimized.
This last picture is of how easy it is to move Cards from one List to another based on their changing status, you can’t see my mouse here but I am click-holding and dragging.
Moving Card List to List
Trello is really flexible enough to be used for almost anything after you sign-up they have some sample boards and introductions that show you reading lists and other similar uses. I have my account for things like shopping lists, daily task, blog post lists, learning aid, project evaluation, and to divide large projects into smaller parts. Creating an account is so easy it is virtually painless (no pun intended).
Another great feature is one that I was not expecting right off is the time savings. I simply wanted to get organized so that I could get things done more efficiently, and I have found that stopping to think about the tasks at hand and spending the small amount of time to organize things up-front has saved far more time than it has costs.
I’ve been writing journals on and off my whole life. I’ve been doing nearly the same online with my blog and this time things are coming along nicely as I’m finding old posts and working on adding new ones.
I hope you find something helpful and please feel free to leave me a comment as I love reading them!
If you want to read more I’ll have more information on my About Page.
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