I recently hit a milestone. 100 coaching calls since I started offering coaching last year. The majority of these calls have been with freelancers or those with aspiring agencies in the digital marketing field.
Some have included regular brick and mortar businesses, ecommerce sites, and even a blogger that despite my warnings that I don’t feel qualified to coach someone on a blog, decided to go ahead with it anyway.
I focus on providing a lot of value in my coaching calls, but one thing has been a huge surprise. I didn’t expect to learn so much!
So in this post, I’m going to share with you what I discovered most people have in common.
You will learn:
- The problems that plague every beginner and advanced business owner
- How to make your business more predictable
- Setting up different income streams
- How to set yourself up for success
- and much more
5 Things EVERYONE Has in Common
Before I dive into this, I just wanted to mention that offering coaching has been one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done.
I was hesitant at first. I don’t even remember why, maybe it was the animosity I felt towards some internet marketers that prey on people wanting a better life. Maybe it was being afraid to try to aggressively monetize or market to my list.
Or maybe I felt like I’m not really that good at teaching people.
I know those were thoughts at different points over the past few years. The biggest one, was being worried about not delivering enough value.
I’m so incredibly paranoid about not delivering value that it definitely hurts me. From not publishing content, to being on a 30 minute coaching call…for an hour and a half.
Many of you suggested that I offer coaching, long before I was really thinking about it. I wish I followed your advice earlier. Seeing people hit their goals and knowing that your advice has been able to help them get there, is probably one of the best things in life.
Anyway, enough of that.. let’s jump in.
Setting the Right Foundation
I feel like I talk about this too much. I have a section on this for the Agency Boot Camp lead magnet I created, which you may have seen a pop up opt in box, or you’ll see the opt in at the end of the post.
It’s a 7 day email course, free, and in one section I discuss setting up the proper foundation for your business.
What’s included in that post, isn’t a catch-all guideline for setting up the right foundation. It’s just some basics.
Every person I have had coaching calls with, had an issue with the foundation of their business.
For active businesses, this includes:
- Their website
- Setting up 1 consistent lead source / medium
- Creating sales materials
- Packaging their services
Every single person, has had an issue with these things. Some have been pretty far in their business, not just someone starting out and hitting the 5k/mo mark. Some have been 30, 40, 50k/mo and still lacked strength in their foundation.
I’ll briefly discuss a few of these things to give you an idea of what to improve.
The Website – The thing about digital marketing is that you have to impress clients with your own website. YOUR website needs to look better than theirs. It’s not just an issue with design, and perception, it’s an issue of positioning, building trust, helping you convert clients.
A website with a couple pages isn’t enough. Look at some larger companies, look at the content they have, the pages they have. These are companies you’re going to compete with. Replicate what they do and you’ll at least be confident when you show your website to clients or potential clients.
But it’s more than that too.. Your website is the cornerstone of everything you will be doing online to drive leads to your business.
Setting Up 1 Consistent Marketing Channel – It’s been amazing how many people have built their business without a clear method to bring in new leads. Some people have been half way to 7 figures without a consistent marketing strategy, or any marketing at all.
Others have just been doing a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and having a little bit of success here and there but nothing sustainable, nothing predictable.
9 out 10 coaching clients come into this without a reliable way to drive leads.
Does that sound like you? Focus on one thing to start implementing, once you implement a specific strategy then focus on improving it. Once you have one strategy down, then repeat the process with something else.
Creating Your Own Sales Materials – Another thing most people don’t have prepared, is content and assets that can help them sell.
I like to set mini goals for each person, and one common goal is to come up with some packages for web design, or whatever it is they offer. Once they come up with packages, create a well designed sales sheet using some flyer template where you can save as a PDF and send to interested leads while you’re on the phone with them.
This accomplishes multiple things.
- Packages for services you offer, makes it easier for you to scale. It also cuts down time that you have to spend on sending custom proposals. It also allows you to improve your margins. When you have packaged offers, it’s easier to handle fulfillment since you’re dealing with a set scope of work.
- It improves your closing rate. How? Well, when you send your pricing sheet to interested leads, it makes the conversation pretty easy. They have a need for what you’re offering, now all you need is for them to tell you which package seems like the best fit for their business.
What I recommend including on your sales sheet, is different value based add ons. You could also create your own wording for these add ons, like “Tested through Conversion Algorithms”, which is something I had on my pricing sheet for website design. This was actually a simple formula I used that took 2 minutes for me to gauge how well a site will convert.
The details of what it did, isn’t important. The important thing is that it was something our leads would ask questions about.
That’s the key… get them to ask questions about the different features, and get them to say which one they like the best, and you know you have them hooked.
Actually Implementing a Marketing Strategy
Another thing everyone has in common, is that they all know the ins and outs of marketing. Every single person, has surprised me with their immense knowledge on so many tactics, but few are actually implementing any of that knowledge.
This is a common theme in business, and especially internet marketing and offline marketing.
We all have a ton of information available. We can learn how to do everything we could ever want to do by a few google searches.
Why is it that we can have the knowledge to do all of these things, but not implement it?
I think it comes down to comfort.
We find something that works well, or maybe it doesn’t even work well but it is delivering some sort of results and we think that’s enough.
I think most of us, myself included, fall into that trap where we’re just comfortable enough to not do anything drastic to change our situations.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
- You need a core strategy that you can depend on.
- Once you have that core strategy, you need to add another one
- You finish 1 and 2…Now it’s time to experiment
The core strategy – For some, they come into this without a core strategy, they don’t have any single method they can count on to drive revenue growth and profits. Others, they do have one, but it’s not optimized or maybe they’re missing out on a lot of potential.
This could be something like email marketing, cold calling, direct mail, networking groups, voicemail drops, ppc, content marketing / inbound marketing etc.
If it’s not performing well, I usually dive in a bit deeper to see what improvements could be made. For example, a couple people had a lot of organic traffic that converted into leads and into customers. I identified a couple areas where they could get quick wins to boost the traffic of buy-related keywords.
Another person was sending direct mail as their primary source but response rates were low.
Those were issues related to not perfecting the core strategy. They were almost there… but it wasn’t good enough to be a reliable and predictable strategy.
Your Secondary Lead Stream – Once you have your core strategy perfected, it’s time to diversify. Yeah, diversification isn’t just for income, it’s for lead generation too.
For this part of your overall marketing strategy, it is my recommendation and preference to implement something that is more passive.
Think, cold email marketing… adwords or other forms of PPC. Something where you do the work once, and you have minimal upkeep.
I prefer cold email marketing, because you can run a scraper like Mobile / Profit Renegade to scrape yellow pages or superpages for emails, spend a couple hours typing up 3 months of emails, and you have a pretty hands off lead generation method.
My guide, Ice Cold Email Gold walks you through the process start to finish.
The idea here is that you don’t want to drastically increase the amount of time you’re working in your business. You also don’t want to take away your existing time in other areas of business and your life.
Something somewhat easy, low maintenance, and not requiring daily input of your time is the most ideal situation for your secondary lead source.
With things like cold calling, you have to invest your time into it, not just once, but forever. When you stop doing it, you stop generating leads.
With a more passive lead generation source, you’re able to do things semi-automatically, which is good for generating leads of course, but more importantly, allows you to focus on everything else you have going on.
Experimental Marketing – Now that you have 2 lead gen methods set up, it’s time to start experimenting and see what sticks.
Maybe you want to test out reddit, because you’ve heard how cheap the clicks are there… go for it. Or maybe linkedin PPC, facebook ads with a funnel, etc.
Put a little bit of money aside for an experimental budget.
Who knows, you may end up replacing your core strategy with something that can drive more leads at a cheaper cost.
If it fails, at least you were able to test it out, and at the very least, increased exposure to your brand.
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Adding Additional Income Streams
No, I’m not going to tell you to build a shopify site to supplement your SEO income… although maybe it wouldn’t be a terrible idea.
Even the more established agency and business owners that have entered my coaching program, have struggled with adding additional streams of income.
Let’s say you’re really good at offering website design services. You have a decent amount of clients, they trust you.
Website design is a one time fee. It’s a no brainer to offer hosting / maintenance at an additional yearly cost. Or if you’re offering SEO, then you’ve seen people wanting SEO and have a mess of a site. It’s relatively easy to cross sell a redesign right?
What about logo design? Business card design and printing?
For me, I was designing websites and putting the websites on their own hosting. That alone brought all kinds of problems because something would happen with a website being down, or something happening and I would be responsible for fixing whatever issue that came up.
More than half of the time, it was an issue with hosting.
Keeping track of all those logins, remembering the quirks of each different company and their cpanel or lack of.
It was a hassle.
Then I started to offer hosting and maintenance at around $350-450/year. I put clients either on my dedicated server or one of my resellers, and it streamlined the process. I offered unlimited content changes, and additions to photo galleries or coupon pages.
100 clients at $350/year is $35,000 in additional income.
Then I started offering SEO as well, never as a lead in service (until later on) but something to upsell to my customers. If you have 100 clients on your hosting, you can expect at least 10-20% of them would be willing to buy something else. Let’s just say 15% of them buy local SEO at $300/mo. That’s an extra $4,500/mo or $54,000/year.
Now you’re almost at 6 figures with additional income, not including your main product / service.
The point here is that you should start thinking about adding in services or products you can offer to your clients. They’re getting marketed to for these services every single day… why let someone else get paid for it?
Wanting Too Much Control
The next thing every single person has in common, is that they have difficulties giving up control.
It’s always in different areas too. Things that seem like it would be easy to outsource but people choose not to.
To be completely honest, this has always been an issue for myself as well.
For some, they want to be heavily involved in the design process. Often times wanting to do the work themselves because they pride themselves on great design. Or maybe it’s related to bookkeeping, they have experience in that area before getting into their own business so they feel they can do it better than someone else.
Or maybe it’s graphic design, SEO, doing all the on page optimization because they don’t trust someone else doing it.
For me, it was an issue in many different areas. I was 2 years into my business and still setting up sub domains for building out sites for clients. I was finding templates, installing it, not wanting to give FTP or cpanel access to one of my team members.
Later, I didn’t trust anyone to do on page SEO the right way.
After that, I didn’t trust people to send emails for me.
Looking back, it seems silly. And I remember the relief I felt when I first gave FTP and cpanel access to a team member.
One thing I’ve learned from my past experience and the experiences I’ve had in coaching calls, is that holding on to too much control is a recipe for stagnation. It holds you back from being able to scale, and from having more free time for yourself!
Is this effecting you?
Here’s how to fix it:
- Find one small area of your business you spend too much in. Replace yourself. This could be something as simple as uploading images for client sites, or doing your own bookkeeping.
- Repeat the process, over and over and over.
It’s that simple.
Replacing yourself is easy. Getting to the point where you’re willing to be replaced is much more difficult.
Lacking Long Term Business Assets
Nobody enters a business thinking they will be doing this the rest of their lives. They usually have some sort of exit strategy or idea of what they want to happen.
Maybe it’s to pass on to the next generation, or maybe it’s to cash out and sell your business.
Whatever your goal here is, whether it is to sell, or continue on for decades to come, there’s an important piece of the puzzle everyone seems to lack.
Long term business assets.
Sure, buying commercial real estate would be a long term asset, but what I mean is assets related to your business and growth. Assets that help you sell, drive leads, nurture leads, etc.
Assets that will be in place and help you next month, next year, maybe the next few years.
What kind of assets am I talking about? Here’s a few:
- Your email list (opt in and cold emails)
- Blog content
- Lead nurturing funnel
- Outsourcer / employee training programs
Obviously, an email list is a long term asset. Even if your email list is solely consisting of scraped emails, it’s still an asset.
Blog content, while it isn’t a quick, short term strategy, blog content can contribute to lead generation efforts long term. What you write today, you can see benefits a year from now and even further into the future.
One thing I did, was write blog posts on different competitors. At one time, I was ranking for these keywords:
- yellowbook websites
- yellowbook website reviews
- hibu reviews
- hibu websites
- vistaprint websites
- web.com website reviews
- godaddy website tonight review
- dexx websites
- Service Magic (and like 50 related keywords, then they rebranded)
The blog content was pretty easy at that point, just 800-1000 words usually. Nothing crazy like what I do on IncomeBully with post length.
These posts ended up becoming long term assets, that generated traffic for years, and leads as well. I ended up getting cease and desist letters from each of these competitors… and that’s when you know what you’re doing is making a big impact.
Both yellowbook and service magic clients were great targets for me. I dominated top 3 spots for both of those brand keywords. Eventually, they both rebranded (yellowbook to hibu for their website, and service magic to homeadvisor) and I’m sure there were other contributing factors but in my mind, I may have played a role in that.
It’s not just blog content though. Content in general can be a huge asset. Lead nurturing funnels are great examples of that, as well as training materials for employees and outsourcers.
If you outsource something, document what you have to do to train the person. Take note of questions they have, and then afterwards create a training document. This helps you in multiple ways:
- The time you put in for training people is greatly reduced because you’re creating training materials that can be used again and again and again
- This makes scaling much easier
- If you were to sell your company, creating a training program for every aspect of your business, greatly improves the value of your company as a whole.
- Less stress, because if one of your employees or outsourcers flake out, they’re easily replaced.
These are just a few examples of long term assets for your business. Of course there’s much more you can use, like lead magnets, ebooks, white papers, case studies, etc.
Everyone I talk to, struggles in this area. It doesn’t matter if they’re brand new or have been around for a long time.
People tend to ignore the impact of content as a long term asset.
Over 3,000 words in, I feel like I should have just made this into some sort of ebook.
And since I’ve gone this entire time without actually pitching my coaching offers, now is a good time to change that. I have 2 different options available.
- Hourly coaching – you just pay by the hour, usually ideal for people struggling with one specific thing.
- Agency Domination 12 month program – This is for people that want monthly coaching, with a custom plan to achieve their goals. Long term, a lot more hand holding and goal focused.
Now that I got that out of the way, I hope you guys and girls find this helpful. Maybe coaching is out of the question right now, or maybe you’re not sure about that level of commitment. That’s fine, I hope you’ll be able to use information in this post to improve your business.
Any questions, comments? Leave them below!