How to sell local clients
If you’re an affiliate, you’ve heard a lot about local. Drive down the street and look at all those businesses– 40% of them don’t have websites, and of the ones that do, only 8% are doing PPC. Of those that are doing PPC, it’s highly unlikely they’re as good as you. But while setting up a PPC campaign for a Denver liposuction surgeon might be easy– you just choose a few keywords, make a couple ads, and send them to a landing page– getting the clients is where most local marketing companies fail. We’ll get to the secret in a bit– keep reading…
So let’s talk about how to actually get these businesses to become your clients, starting first bywhat NOT to do:
- Cold calling– Going door-to-door and walking into someone’s business is NOT cool. You are a stranger, they’re busy running their office– and most of the time you won’t even be able to get to the decision maker. The receptionist will stop you. Might as well sell magazines and charity chocolate bars, since you’re just going to get rejected. Rejection sucks– you want THEM to come to you. That allows you to set the price and puts you in a great spot. More on that in a sec.
- Spending money on PPC— Yeah, I know it’s hypocritical. You are selling PPC, but don’t do it to promote yourself. The reason you don’t is the same as cold calling– selling SUCKS. You spend money, waste your time, and have to deal with rejection. And that’s just more marketing cost you have to pass on to the clients.
- Building the most awesome, informative website about your services— Let me tell you something. You don’t even need to have a website! “But what if they want to see my website?”
you ask. Tell them that you’re so busy serving clients first that your site is still in progress. Clients first, see?
- Giving away services for cheap or free: Someone probably told you that if you’re just getting started and don’t have a client list, then you need to do the first few for cheap to build up a portfolio. That’s complete nonsense. Most prospects won’t ask you, for example, about other Italian restaurants or veterinarians that you’ve done. Discounting your services devalues you in the client’s eyes, plus will make you unmotivated to work hard for so little money.
- Talking about how well you know PPC, SEO, social media, etc: Seems counter-intuitive, right? They’re a business owner, not another affiliate. The more you sprinkle acronyms into your language, the more you’re losing them. You’re not speaking their language. I almost never mention the word PPC to clients. Instead, I say “I couldn’t find your name on Google. But we can get you to show up if you let us advertise on Google for you.”
So those are the 5 most common ways to fail at selling and getting new clients. There are a few companies in the local space– VC-funded monsters that have tens or hundreds of millions of funding to blow on these techniques. But if we’re talking about YOUR money, then focus on what actually works.
And now the secret to how to sell local clients….
The secret is that you don’t sell– you let others sell for you because of your reputation. So you get clients by building up your reputation.
Put on a seminar at the local chamber of commerce or networking event– if you can charge $15 each, even better. Not because you need the money, but because it makes folks who attend take you seriously. Every one of the 5 mistakes mentioned above degrades and devalues your offering– it turns you into a panderer instead of a highly sought after expert.
In the course of every day life, you will run into people who are small business owners. There’s 20 million of them– how can you not? And when you’re talking to friends about how Google works– which we do all the time to folks who don’t understand what we do– you’re equipping others to sell your services.
And each friend of yours has perhaps 100 friends that they talk to and will mention that you’re an expert on getting people on Google. So you should almost never take on a project from a friend– but you should definitely consider taking on a project from a friend of a friend. A friend will expect a “good friend” discount, while a “weak tie” (friend of a friend) will not. Plus the number of people that you are connected to 2 steps away is 100 times larger than those just 1 step away.
And when those people come knocking, because a friend told them that you’re a Google expert, then you run them through this process:
- What do you want to show up on Google for?
- Let’s do a search and see who is there now.
- It’s going to cost between $1,000 and $5,000 a month to advertise on Google– depending on how much market share you want. Shall we start with $1,000 a month for a couple months to see how we do?
- We can track exactly how our ads are doing- how many visitors click on the ads and then how many calls result from that. That allows us to calculate the cost per call. You’ll probably be between $40 and $100 a call, depending on the competition. We’ll have to test.
- And from there, we can adjust the ads based on what kinds of clients you want (more laser hair removal, and less botox? Sure).
- We will place a phone number on the website that is only on the web, just for tracking, which bounces to your regular number.
- No website? We can make a minisite for you.
- Sign here and gimme your credit card.
If they don’t get that, whine about cost, or complain, then don’t push the issue. You have a number of other interested clients that you have to get back to. You don’t want bad clients. There are so many local businesses out there that you can have your pick– and that includes the competitors of the guys who aren’t really interested in your online advertising service.
So there you have it. No need to deal with rejection. Don’t have to spend a lot of money or build a site. Just have to casually talk about getting onto Google with your friends, who then spread the word for you. And then you walk those friends of friends via the process I’ve just laid out.
The hardest part is the first few weeks to build your reputation. You might feel like an imposter if you haven’t done it before. Take heart that local PPC is not the hard part, nor is listing clients with Google and BING Local Business Center. Just remember that you’re competing against the other local dentists and massage therapists- not thousands of affiliates worldwide.
And once you have a few of them down, then these clients tell their friends— and soon you have a thriving business of people who are seeking you out. You just have to sit back, take the calls, and decide which of them you want. Doesn’t sound like selling does it?
Now managing clients, building sites, setting up call tracking, billing credit cards automatically, and so forth is a whole different set of issues– I’ll write another post on that if people want to hear it. But as for selling, it’s easy when you let others sell for you.