Archive for promoting yourself

04 Jan 2015

How to scale up your agency: a fresh approach

9 Comments affiliate marketing, finance and economics, local advertising, outdoor activities, people management, promoting yourself, Stand Up for the Little Guy

A colleague and I were discussing “leadership” and what that truly meant.  We came up with this analogy, which I hope you’ll enjoy.

Moving rocks for a living? Imagine you move rocks for a living.  The more rocks you move, the more you’re paid.  You don’t move rocks, you don’t get paid.  Thus, you understand the direct linkage between putting in time and compensation.  This is the hourly wage model– some rock movers get paid more than others, whether flipping burgers, working in a big corporation, or drilling teeth. The more teeth you can drill, the more you’re paid.  Are you a corporate wage slave or someone who is paid piecemeal?  This was me for twenty years of my life– a prostitute selling my time for money. Whether I billed $5 per hour or $250– it was the same thing. One day in the proverbial quarry, you decide that moving more rocks to get paid more was not the right answer.  At best, you might move 20% more rocks than the other guy in a particular day, but it wasn’t sustainable.  So you leave the quarry for 7 days, much to the surprise of your fellow laborers. In that time you move no rocks and make no income.


But when you come back, you are driving a bulldozer.  Now, in one day you are able to move 100 times what a single laborer can do. But to get that bulldozer, you had to temporarily earn nothing– plus spend money to buy the vehicle and spend time learning how to drive the thing.  Your fellow laborers, noses down, continue to keep moving rocks– they don’t look up to see you in the bulldozer. They have heard about bulldozers in the magazines, but never thought it was something possible for them.

You hang out with the other guys driving bulldozers.  You have newfound wealth, which is fleeting, since the crowd you run with also enjoys the same standard of living.  You’re right back in the middle of your peers.  It feels great to be 100 times more productive than you were before, but you’re not quite fulfilled.


So you leave the quarry again and disappear for 7 days.  In that time you move no rocks and make no income.  And when you return, you are back with 100 bulldozers and 100 other eager new bulldozer operators. You’ve opened a bulldozer training school!  Flocks of manual laborers who used to move rocks now come to be trained by you.  And you make a commission on the rocks they move, since these laborers didn’t have enough money to buy their own bulldozers.  These laborers are now moving 100 times what they did before, but given the costs of training, equipment, and your profit, they only make 10 times what they did before.  Still, they are happy.

And you are temporarily happy.  With 100 bulldozer operators moving 100 times as many rocks as a single man can do, you’re at 10,000 times your earlier productivity.  Your lifestyle has changed, too.  You have have a Granite Card by American Express and have a new mansion in Boulder. People admire you–you’re a ROCK star. They think that the secret to your success is getting stoned.

But it’s not enough– something inside you is not quite satisfied.  You can only train so many new bulldozer operators per day.  You’re still moving rocks in a sense, just mass quantities. Growth in your bulldozer school is directly related to the amount of time you’ve put in.  So one day you close the bulldozer school.  The press thinks you’ve gone mad– that you’ve lost your marble.


You disappear for 7 days.  And when you return, you’re holding a brochure in your hand– “How to Open Your Own Bulldozer Training School”.  You’re created a franchise model, where you are training up other school owners. You have first hand experience in training new bulldozer operators, so new school owners can rely on your experience.  You now have sold 100 franchises, each one with a happy owner training 100 bulldozer operators, who in turn do the work of 100 laborers.  That’s 1 million times leverage.


You would not have been able to pull this off unless you had personal experience moving rocks, driving bulldozers, training bulldozer operators, and running a franchised business.  You were able to take your knowledge and multiply it.   If you didn’t intimately understand each aspect of the business, scaling up would have just multiplied losses.

Now examine your life and what you do.  Are you moving rocks or are you multiplying? Writing software is a multiplication process.  You can write one copy and sell it an infinite number of times.  You could hand-build a single PPC campaign for a client or perhaps write a campaign management tool that can do it over and over in an automated fashion.  But just like the rock moving analogy, if you aren’t a practitioner with hands-on experience in managing campaigns, your automation won’t be effective.  There are lots of guys selling software that builds websites, manages PPC campaigns, creates SEO reports, sends out emails, and any variety of tasks.

If you want to create massive value, consider the rocks that you are moving. Can you write software or processes that can make life easier for others– or perhaps do some task faster, more effectively, or at lower cost?  Everyone has something they know exceedingly well.  What is that skill for you?  You don’t have to be able to write code.  Software is nothing more than rules for machines, just like processes are rules for humans.

living the McLife? McDonalds is a software company that just happens to make burgers.  People go to McDonalds not because it has the most delicious burgers, but for the consistency of the food and the experience. You can take pimply-faced teens all over the world, minds distracted with their latest relationship dramas, speaking different languages, skilled or not– and still turn out that same value meal each time. That’s process for you.


BlitzLocal is about empowering individuals to become entrepreneurs– we provide the tools and process to allow folks who know little about internet marketing, but are eager and willing to learn, to perform like experts. Our analysts are trained to help small business owners grow their practices.  We’re about the little guy helping the little guy.  Do you want to be a part of our team?  Contact me to find out more.

13 Feb 2014

7 Ways Speakers Misbehave at a Conference

1 Comment promoting yourself, social media
John Chow has 8 killer tips on how to supercharge your conference productivity.
But how about the stuff you absolutely shouldn’t do?
  1. Promote your stuff.  Ironically, the best way to generate business is to never tout your own stuff. Let your knowledge speak for itself and let others speak for you.
  2. Read your slides. The best presenters don’t even use PowerPoint. If you know your stuff, the slides are just eye candy. If you’re presenting a technical paper, as opposed to an inspirational keynote, it may be different.
  3. Say “uh” or “ah” a lot. You might not notice it. Ask friends to count for you. Go to ToastMasters to practice your speaking skills. It was huge for me. Costs almost nothing– probably have one at your workplace.
  4. Come just for your session. Try to spend time with the other speakers in the speaker room before you’re up. Get a sense of the audience by attending some of the other sessions.  Go say thank you to the folks behind the scenes who make it all possible. It’s the hour after you finish speaking that you generate the most business. Make yourself available.1468589_615357308527321_550900457_n
  5. Forget to promote your session. If you’re are at a show with multiple tracks, you might be speaking against a “big name” in another track at the same time. By learning the agenda and reaching out to other speakers, you can cross-promote each others’ sessions from the podium. I happen to like to run Facebook posts to folks attending the show. Have you seen them?2014-02-13 13_16_51-BlitzMetrics
  6. Give the same presentation again. One of my favorite techniques at conferences is to personalize the first minute in such a way that the audience knows we made it just for them. For example, we’ll do Facebook graph search examples with the names of friends who are speaking or other companies there. Maybe we’ll create a voiceover or cartoon that pokes fun at a burning issue at the show.
  7. Bomb the feedback form. If you are in the top third of speaker ratings, the organizers will likely ask you back next year. Do the first 6 things here properly and you’ll get rave reviews.
What’s your favorite tip?
27 Jan 2014

What I learned from 4.5 days watching Travis Wright– master storyteller in action

No Comments facebook marketing and advertising, promoting yourself
He’s a big Jayhawks fan.

And a fan of the Chiefs– even got the previous head coach fired.
2014-01-27 22_46_03-Travis Wright - Timeline Photos
Master storyteller, media manipulator and stand-up comedian.
Makes his corporate presentations funny, too.
He sprinkles animated gifs into his presentation– try it!

Social in real life translates into social online. Do you think big people are inherently funnier?
We’re both BIG fan of 24 Hour Fatness.
2014-01-27 23_44_36-Travis @ 24 Hour Fitness
We didn’t sleep much.
2014-01-27 23_47_08-Alex Houg - Alex Houg's Photos
Since we were plotting how to drive marketing awesomeness on current events. If you were a company in the SF bay area, what would you do here?
2014-01-27 23_52_38-Travis Wright - Loved watching BatKid today... Another reason why...
2014-01-27 23_55_20-Feature_ Social Brands and Influencers - Technorati
And having used his Technorati podcast series to interview Jay Baer, Brian Clark, Joe Pulizzi, and others– he can get more. Maybe Zuck is next?
Watch his new company, Media Think Labs, to see what he and friends concoct.


24 Sep 2013

Attack of the potty mouths on Facebook– how to immunize yourself

5 Comments facebook marketing and advertising, Online marketing, promoting yourself
If you’ve run a boosted post (just don’t do it) or a newsfeed ad, you’ll get this.

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 12.14.19 PM (1)

No, it’s not Tourette’s. It’s people who don’t understand that pages can pay to show up in the newsfeed. You can snipe a single person’s newsfeed, even without their friends or your fan noticing.

They will say, “Get off my Facebook”, mark the post as spam, or even request a take-down.

Ads in the newsfeed, especially mobile, are only going to increase.

Fortunately, Facebook offers a few levels of protection.
The profanity filter catches most bad words.

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 12.19.38 PM

But you can add in your own for good measure.

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 12.20.40 PM

So while Bill O’Connor posted his verbal diarrhea 21 times today, we were automatically protected by Facebook. Didn’t even show up once.

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 2.59.39 AM

But that’s no excuse to blanket the feed with untargeted, self-promotional ads.
Just know that you’ll get “some” negative feedback.

On a large page, it’s not uncommon to have 100 negative actions on a post.  But compared to getting 110,000 likes, this is less than 0.1%– less than 1 in 1,000.

So you have to consider the percentage– keep it under half a percent.

CMO’s will often freak out if they have even one or two negative comments/actions.

What’s your experience or opinion here, my friend?
02 Jul 2013

How to not suck at public speaking

2 Comments facebook marketing and advertising, promoting yourself
Dennis Yu Conversion Conference

Photo by Tim Ash –

I was so afraid of speaking publicly that I hid until I had to come out.


Even a meeting with just 5 people gave me the shivers– I’d freeze up and later kick myself on all the clever things that I should have said then.


Fast forward a few years and what used to be anxiety turns to excitement– even in crowds of a couple thousand. I can’t wait to share the latest tips on how to grow your business on Facebook. I want to help and I have only 50 minutes to cram in as much as I can.




Are you scared of driving your car to work?
You probably do it mindlessly, though it’s a complex series of coordinated tasks. But you’ve practiced it. There’s no fear.


When you know your topic forwards and backwards, you can spend your time enjoying the audience as opposed to worrying about making key points or hitting slide transitions.


I’ve spoken at least 500 times on Facebook marketing over the last 6 years via webinars, conferences, and live TV interviews. Double that if you include all forms of PPC going back to the year 2000.


It doesn’t mean that I know everything. But I have devoured everything I can get my hands on and talk to everyone else who is in our niche.


Confidence doesn’t come from speaking tricks such as pretending everyone is in their underwear, giving yourself a pep-talk, or telling a funny joke to break the ice. Gimmicks. Talk about something you truly are passionate about– so nuts about the issue that you want to tell everyone about it.


A friend of mine is passionate about blood hemoglobin types and their ability to carry oxygen. He has a doctorate and presents at medical conferences. Yeah, believe it.




Photo by Tim Ash –

In the course of building up your knowledge, you begin to know and be known by everyone in your niche. I like to call out other speakers in my presentation as I notice them– citing their work and expertise.  Sometimes I call them on stage to present with me! This builds your authority, creates interactivity, and makes a receptive crowd.


If this is your first public speaking gig, going off the cuff or doing an hour talk with no slide support might be a reach.  But see if you can talk in 60 second segments.  Got 20 minutes? Budget for 20 slides and 20 tidbits.


Make sure you review who else is speaking. Don’t just read the conference guide, but go deeper. Because you’re a speaker, too, you can connect with them on LinkedIn, ask them for a tidbit to include in your deck (citing them, of course), and hang out in the speakers’ room during the show. You’ll be more comfortable and knowledgeable– and likely be invited to speak at other conferences, if that’s what you like.


The conference scene in your niche is super small. Even folks with horrible presentation skills and outdated knowledge are on the circuit merely because of their friendships.  Most shows do provide speakers with audience feedback– so long as you’re not bottom third, you’re probably okay.


2013-07-02 21_35_27-Microsoft Excel - CC_Chicago2013_TabulatedResults_Dennis Yu  [Compatibility Mode




But if you don’t know anyone and need to get your start, make sure you:
  • Know the conference productivity hacks as an attendee first.
  • Know how to prepare during the show.
  • Get with the organizers to be super helpful. You can get anyone’s time with these tricks.
  • Start guest blogging so that these people see your knowledge. Like this.
Takes less time than you think to do this once you get a groove going. This post, for example, took me 12 minutes to write and I referenced other articles I wrote to give them a boost. You can reuse your tidbits for your presentations– recycling is in!


And this reinforces your knowledge, which makes you a better presenter.



  • Don’t read the slides. Tell stories with your slide imagery backing it up.
  • Never pitch your product or service, even if you’re a vendor that has the hottest thing on the market. If you need to generate leads, invite a customer to talk about how they solved a problem– lightly mentioning your tool, but focusing more on the issues your client faced.
  • Don’t be the AH MONSTER. Tape yourself and see how many “umms” and “ahhs” you have. You might be surprised. If you’re under 30, watch for “like” and “you know”. Once you see this, you’ll never be able to un-see it among your friends.  Go to ToastMasters, pause between sentences– do anything except eject verbal diarrhea upon your audience.
  • Bring at least 30 business cards. The instant you’re done speaking, if you’re done a decent job, expect a queue up front.

Photo by Tim Ash –

28 Feb 2012

Dennis Yu: Taking Facebook Marketing by Digital Storm!

No Comments Cool Products, promoting yourself

So I decide to have some fun and ask a local student to write a biography for me. This is what he came up with.


Dennis Yu is not only a Facebook Marketing expert and CEO of a company, he is also an avid anteater collector and loves Magic: the Gathering!

Dennis Yu, CEO of and Facebook marketing expert, has recently shocked the online world, both with his expertise and knowledge of Facebook dashboards and analytics, but also by revealing more about his interesting and dynamic personal life.

“First and Foremost, my passion is Facebook marketing,” said Yu. “My company provides dashboards to really help companies see how their social media is working and devise plans to grow and succeed their social media, and in turn, their brand.” However, to most Facebook experts, that is not news. Dennis has been a staple provider of must-have tools and is an industry legend. The more newsworthy materials are what Dennis revealed in a recent interview with local student and social media wannabe Mitch Mallory. “Dennis is such a dynamic person, and to learn more about his personal life was an absolute revelation to me,” said Mallory. “It was a look inside the mind of a successful, dynamic, and exciting man.”

For one, Yu is an avid collector of anteaters. As in, those animals with the long noses that eat ants. As is expected, his interest in them came out of mere practicality. “In college, we had an ant problem,” said Yu. “I’ve always tried to think outside the proverbial box, so I thought it might be fun to adopt a rescue anteater, as we had a shelter close by.The rest, as they say, is history.” Interestingly enough, Yu now has seven anteaters, and this reporter can say accurately, each one is known and loved by Dennis. (He claims to not have a favorite, but Grizelda, the 7 year old pygmy anteater, seemed to get the most cuddle time.)

Another lesser-known fact about Yu is that he is an avid player of the card game Magic: the Gathering, which had its heyday in the early 1990’s.  “Again, this interest came out of my passion for marketing,” said Yu. “I love strategizing a plan for companies and providing them with the tools to really find the success they’re seeking. Magic, for me, provides that same challenge but in the relaxed, friendly environment of my basement. I love finding the right tools, in this case the warlocks and dragons, and executing a plan to help myself and my orcs succeed.” Although Dennis is world-renowned for his social media tools and strategies, these new revelations made him even more beloved to his dedicated followers and fans.

“Wow, anteaters?” said an obviously delighted Sarah Darlington, a devoted Facebook and Twitter follower of Yu’s. “I honestly am considering getting one of my own if it helps me be as good as Dennis is.”

Dennis is an avid Tweeter, Facebook marketer, and CEO of Dennis has been featured by CBS News, NPR, and The Wall Street Journal, among dozens of other publications and outlets. His social media tools have been used by brands big and small around the world. Dennis can be contacted at





27 Feb 2012

Keith Wilcox: Blogger, Businessman, Father Extraordinaire

No Comments Featured, promoting yourself

Below is an opinion piece that I solicited from a total stranger.  I paid him $5 using a service called Fiverr asking him to write a quick bio.  Below is what I got. Pretty cool, huh?


Keith Wilcox is living a life many parents can only dream of. After a string of soul-sucking and unfortunate jobs, Keith has finally found the good life, home-schooling his kids, working from home, and imparting parenting wisdom to people around the globe.

The first thing people may wonder about Keith is how, exactly, he is able to give credible parenting advice? The reasons are many, but consider these:

First, Keith was a nationally-ranked high school athlete. What does that have to do with parenting and advice? Plenty—it took hours, months, and years of dedication to get to that level. Keith, even in his early years, was able to stick to a task and find success after the hard work. Those same principles of hard work, discipline, and success have translated quite well into his parenting skills and advice.

Second, Keith has used that athletic success to help his son become a professional tennis player. Again, it’s almost hard to comprehend what a difficult task that is, with the level of competition and the insane amounts of dedication it takes, not just from the player, but from those around him, and in this case, his dad Keith.

And third, Keith has chosen to home school his sons. While the reasons are sundry, it doesn’t take much more than a glance at any news story on any day (like today’s shooting at a public school in Ohio) to see why a father would want to home school his sons. Not only does he get to impart to them the many life lessons and character-building experiences he has had, but he is able to bond with them on a level many fathers with they could with their children.

Lastly, Keith is simply a fulfilled person. So many people go through life searching for a purpose, trying to fill a void, and that emptiness can affect them and those around them. Keith, on the other hand, is extremely fulfilled, living the life he always desired. In Keith’s own words, “My life will be complete and I can die happy when I know that my kids have grown up to be strong, intelligent, and self sufficient people.” With the amount of love and dedication to his children he has shown in his life thus far, it can be safely said that Keith is a complete, happy, and dynamic businessman, blogger, husband, and father.

07 Nov 2011

Help! How to Succeed as a First-Time Project Manager

3 Comments people management, promoting yourself, Stand Up for the Little Guy

Congratulations! You’ve been promoted to manage your very first project. You’ve demonstrated that you’re a good worker bee— you can make campaigns, prepare reports, and do whatever else you’ve been assigned.

But managing a project is a completely different matter. Now, instead of dutifully doing what you’re told, you have to figure out what the client wants, build project plans, coordinate between multiple people, and make sure things happen on time and in the right way. Being new in the position and perhaps even young (which makes it harder), you’re afraid that your co-workers and client might not respect you or that you don’t have authority.

Relax—use these simple techniques and it will be hard to fail.

First, get organized. If you are not organized yourself, there’s no way you can begin to think about tracking all the things that your teammates are doing. Are you using basecamp to track who is doing what? Every task should have a description, be assigned to a person, and have a due date. These 3 items are the building blocks of project management—who is doing it, what they’re doing, when is it due.

Use it for anything you could potentially forget about—people you have to call, stuff you need to read, even personal errands. You don’t need Microsoft Project Central or any fancy software—even the Tasks feature in Gmail is sufficient. Even a simple spiral notebook works just fine.

When you’re organized, you don’t have to worry about that one thing you know you were told a few weeks ago, but lost track of. Terrible feeling to be lost and behind—it’s like drowning. So don’t let yourself get there. Check your email twice per day and quickly take care of things by doing one of the following—do it, delete it, or delegate it.


There’s no other option. Don’t read it and then mark it unread. Don’t skim over things with the thinking that you’ll come back to it later. You gain massive efficiency by taking care of things just once—the first time. Plus, when you take care of things right away, they don’t fester into bigger problems that result in all sorts of drama later.

I can’t tell you how many people I see complain about being busy or having too many emails, when all they’re really doing is just moving sand from one pile to another, getting nothing done.

Second, create a specific statement of the goal. If you’re lucky enough to have just one project to manage, this is easy. The client may want a website to do X in Y amount of time for Z dollars. Then you break down X into minute little measurable tasks that you assign out to people. Perhaps there is a Statement of Work you can reference where most of the work is already done for you.

In either case, you should check back with the client to affirm the requirements, if for no other reason that to show them that you care and to start building a relationship. Many first time project managers fail by hiding from the start, letting their project go down in flames while they bite their lips in silence. Perhaps they are afraid of looking stupid or whatever reason, but the net result of these good intentions is failure, all the same.

Establishing with the client that you are the lead—the person they can go to for anything—is critical to get you off on the right foot. It then takes the burden off your boss, who likely doesn’t want to step in and do your job for you. Your boss is busy doing other things and if they’re a good boss, will only want to step in if you are in trouble.


If the client feels the need to relay requirements or other project communication with your boss, then they are saying you have failed to do your job. So you want to establish the requirements early and make it clear you are responsible.

Third, communicate actively with your project stakeholders. We like to use the RACI model, which stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed.

You are the Rmeaning that you’re Responsible for the project success. Completely.
The buck stops with you, even if so-and-so didn’t reply to your email or give you access to that particular system. It’s your job to stay on top of dependencies, as opposed to having a great set of excuses later when someone else fails in silence. There is only one R, else you have too many cooks in the kitchen.A is Accountable, which covers multiple people that are accountable for doing particular tasks.
Sometimes you are the R and the A for smaller projects. But more often, you delegate tasks to engineers and designers who are on the hook for various things. And these folks will forget to do their things, do them improperly, provide excuses why it was someone else’s responsibility, and so forth.
You are there to resolve these issues before they become visible to the client—you want to monitor this BEFORE you have slipped the schedule irreparably, and before the big emergency.
A great project manager can see problems in advance, then escalate as needed.
C is consulted, which means that you might need the expertise, advice, or permission of others to proceed. The C role is dangerous here, since a lot of people will want to be involved in your project, especially if it’s high profile and involves social media—something that everyone feels they are an expert in.
To prevent meeting madness, where you’re unable to hold meetings because of too many people wanting to attend, make it super clear who is doing what in the Accountable section—the list of tasks.You’ll come across many corporate folks who will say they are responsible in some vague sort of way, upon which you politely explain your role, who else is accountable for certain tasks, and then ask them what exactly they would like to do in this project.
If you’re suave, you can pacify these backseat drivers. If you’re too blunt, you’ll offend these people, even if it’s clear that they have no specific useful skills to the project or add any type of value.I is Informed. These are folks who you should keep updated, usually AFTER you have made a decision and have taken action.
Only the Consulted people need to be asked in advance of a decision. Because most corporate folks attribute their value in direct proportion to how many meetings they attend (if you’re busy, then you must be in high demand and very important), you’ll have to fight to keep most folks in the I bucket versus somewhere else. The easiest way to ward off these folks is to publish meeting minutes. That way, they’re not afraid of missing something juicy from not having attended—they can merely read the summary.
Ask yourself how many project managers are guilty of not publishing the meeting minutes? They’re the ones who are struggling and haven’t even gotten around to placing people in the RACI roles.
Ironically, their excuse is that they’re too busy. The reason they’re too busy is that they’re wasting time doing nonsensical things to actually have time to produce things of value.
There you have it. Nothing magical. But it sure works like magic. When you make it clear that you have a goal, specified the team and specific tasks needed to get to your goal, the waters will part. The cubicle dwellers will respect that you have a mission. Those who want to know what’s going on don’t have to call a meeting to waste the precious time of your team—they can just log into basecamp or read the latest meeting minutes.
If the big boss decides to derail you because of the latest fire drill, you can confidently say “yes” to any of her requests, because you at the same time mention the impact to the work schedule you’re already on.If the client decides to change his mind and increase the scope of the project (they would never do that!), then you can say “yes”—AND the impact is $X and Y days to the timeline.
You never say “yes, but”, which is arguing with them. You say “yes, and”. Let them trade off between time, money, and scope—pick two, as they say.If you follow these three steps I this orders— to get organized, be clear on your goals, and run the RACI project management model—you’re well-protected from every angle.
People will marvel and how well you manage and what a good job you do. By making the model clear, everyone knows what is expected, so there’s little room to hide. The typical corporate cubicle monsters who are looking for a big company to hide in will know they are not welcome. And you’ll be spending less time dealing with the same old excuses, and more time doing things that you enjoy.How do you fare against this model? Are there certain techniques that work well for you? Perhaps you have a horror story to share (names kept anonymous to protect the guilty)?

08 Mar 2011

The best $5 I ever spent

3 Comments Cool Products, facebook marketing and advertising, promoting yourself, social media

I met this fellow Jason Stephens on  He did a killer impersonation of Morgan Freeman and Christopher Walken, which you can listen to here. Yes, I got this for only $5. And, no, this is not a paid endorsement.  I was so thrilled working with him that I wrote this blog post in gratitude.

The unintended effect is likely that Jason’s book of business will get so full from word of mouth that I’ll never be able to hire him again– at least not at this super steal of a price.  So go in and hire him for $5 before it’s too late. This is his profile.

If this was a good tip, please let me know in the comments below.

10 Mar 2010

Five Magic Words to Grow Your Online Marketing Agency

15 Comments Featured, internet marketing training, people management, promoting yourself

Sometimes you get a piece of advice so deep, yet so obvious, that you have to stop for a minute to think about it. Thanks to Gillian Muessig, President of SEOmoz, for mentoring me on this– her five magic words a bit later….

Have you ever been approached by a prospective client that would like to do business with you, but clearly doesn’t have the money? These are “wanna be” clients. They can’t afford to be clients, but have champagne tastes on a beer budget. See if any of these sound familiar to you:

  • “We want to be business partners with you and share the risk” (translation: “we have no money”).
  • “If you deliver us the revenue, then we can pay you your fee” (translation: “we have no money”).
  • “I can get this a lot cheaper elsewhere” (translation: “we have no money”).
  • “Let’s do a trade-out of services” (translation: “we have no money”).
  • “We need to ask you some questions to qualify you” (translation: “we have no money and want to string you along for free advice in the meantime”).

If you ever hear any of this, here are the 5 magic words you say…. Drum roll, please…


Repeat that to yourself three times to lock it into your head. Don’t fall into the trap of selling yourself short. You’ll regret taking on a cheap client– and not only are they the ones with the least money, but also the neediest and hardest to deal with. Our best clients pay us handsomely, treat us well, and are a joy to work with. The clients where we’ve made exceptions to this rule suck the life out of us and sometimes make us wonder why we’re in this business. Spare your staff the angst and remember these 5 magic words, else you risk losing your best people, too (who can work anywhere).

Tell the prospect, firmly and politely, that you work with a select group of clients — that you work with the best in the industry and pay your people well, because you have the best people. Mention that you don’t compete on being the cheapest game in town, nor are you the most expensive. If they keep pushing, hold the line — say that you’re not a discount agency, that you can refer them to other agencies that would gladly take their project.

The clients that do pass this bar are going to be businesses that are likely to be solid in their operations, have folks who appreciate value, and will rekindle the excitement that caused you to strike out on your own to begin with. You’re being paid well enough to afford to do a good job, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your staff members look forward to working with these clients and the enthusiasm is infectious.

Bruce Clay pulled me aside at SMX Advanced last year and gave me similar advice. He said the key to getting the right clients is to “stand in the middle of the road, arms outstretched, screaming that you are the best.” Half the people will think you’re crazy and walk away. The other half will say “Gee, he really must be the best” and then hire you.

Bruce also advised to ask the prospect this question, “If your child was sick, would you go for the cheapest heart surgeon or the best?” That should do it. If not, you don’t want to work with them. Their business is like their child– and when you have only one shot to do it right, they should choose the best every time, unless they have no money.

You don’t want or need to have every potential deal that’s out there. Be choosy. Would you rather have 40 clients that each pay you $1k a month in fees or 4 clients that each pay you $10k a month? If you have 4 clients, you can focus your efforts to deliver solid value, build a solid relationship, and have on-going solid business deals — as opposed to spreading your efforts thin among the chorus of squeaky wheels that compete for your attention.

So let’s make it 6 magic words, courtesy of Gillian:


Maybe when that prospective clients get a little larger, they’ll be right for you– or maybe if they’re serious about what it takes to succeed in online marketing. But remember that if you’re having a hard time with them when they haven’t even paid a dime, imagine how they’ll be when they’ve handed you a few dollars.

If you follow the Pareto Principle (the 80/20 rule), then remember that you need only a few clients to have a great business. Don’t be afraid to cut some clients loose. They may have been right for you a couple years ago when you were a smaller firm or just getting started. But now you’re a different company and have moved on to a different client base. You can recommend others that can do a great job.

If you like this, please let me know or send a note to Gillian thanking her for the advice she’s has generously given here.

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