Q&A with local business marketing expert Ben Fathers

Ever thought about local business marketing? Why you should build a FREE website for a business in your local area.

This week, I had a chat with new Internet Income Detective contributor Ben Fathers. As well as being a long-time reader of this very email and newsletter, Ben has found himself a very lucrative business in the field of local business marketing. ??Charging local businesses to market online on their behalf sounds like a daunting and difficult process. However, Ben was a total newbie when he started out – and shows that you don’t need to be expert to make local business marketing work for you.

Here are some of the questions I put to Ben. If you have any questions about Ben and his business please drop us an email (detective@canonburypublishing.com) and I will pass them on.

How long have you been working in the field of local business marketing?

I started out in affiliate marketing back in 2005 and got into local business marketing about 5 years ago.

How did you start? Who was your first client?

I started out by helping out friends, family and people in my local community. ??It would be anything from a helpful free ‘consultation’ down my local pub over a drink, to doing a free Facebook page for their business, to any other way that I could help them really.

It took me a whole year to finally figure out that I should be taking it a bit more seriously and actually be charging for my services.

When I figured that out, I soon acquired my first paying customer who was a local double glazing and conservatory company. ??A friend recommended me and I agreed to go and see them at their offices to see if I felt that I could help them out.

After our initial meeting, I went away to draw up a plan that I felt would work for them and to cut a long story short… they are still with me to this day paying me £669.80 a month for managing their online marketing, for which they get a fantastic ROI and happily gave me a testimonial for my book.

Can you tell us about a few of your clients and the services you offer them?

I have a range of clients as I have been doing it a while now… To name a few

I have done a brochure-type website for an outdoors adventure company in Llandudno, Wales (www.llandudnoadventures.co.uk). They wanted a website to showcase all of their activities they offer and wanted some printable flyers designed to advertise in their local area. I outsourced the website on Elance for about £150 and got the flyers designed on Fiverr for £3.50.

Another website that I did was for a self-employed mini digger driver: www.minidiggerrental.co.uk. The brief was to create a website that “made the phone ring”, to bring in business. I did a basic WordPress website and put in on Google Places (Also known as Google Plus Local) with some very basic SEO. The owner, John, now receives regular weekly enquiries and is fully booked until September this year. This took me about 1–2 days to setup.

I can go into a bit more detail on my first client, the conservatory company, because they are quite an interesting case study. I do a few things for them, including SEO, Google Adwords management, video SEO and social media management. The social media management is basically just doing posts to their Facebook page and tweets on their Twitter account. This whole online marketing process is now pretty much entirely automated, apart from doing a monthly report and sending them an invoice at the beginning of each month. Although it took some time to initially set up four years ago, it’s been a fantastic additional income stream for me – for a couple of hours work each month.

How do you decide how much to charge?

This is a tough one. The first rule I learned is to never price things too cheaply. This is one of the biggest mistakes that I see

To help drive this point home, this is where people’s ‘Number System’ comes into play. Compare three people: a university student earning minimum wage at their local coffee shop to a middle-aged professional lawyer to a businessman taking in £500,000 a year. The businessman is making more money in a week than the student does in a year. Their number system is therefore completely different. The businessman is used to dealing with bigger numbers.

Now let’s assume that each of these people are looking for you to do a website for them. If you charge the business owner £250 for a full site, what do you think their perception is of the product you’re delivering? Not much. In fact, they probably won’t even do it. ??These guys generally love to brag to their friends about how much they spent on their newest car or their newest set of £2,000 golf clubs. They can’t brag about a website that cost them £250 and wouldn’t think it was a good quality website for this little.

You have to charge them at their number system level. In this case, it’s far higher than £250 and in fact just a few weeks ago, I know someone who paid £45,000 for a website that could probably be outsourced offshore for closer to £2,000. Now that’s a good profit margin!

When you’re starting out as a local business marketing consultant, you may not have much money and your number system might be different than the clients you’re after.

Adjust your pricing to suit their system, not yours. Just because £250 or £500 may seem steep to you, don’t assume it’s steep to your potential clients. Look at what else they spend their money on to advertise their business. See how much it costs them to run ads in the local newspaper and if they are in national magazines, then charge even more!

How much do you have to deal with clients face-to-face?

Not much at all. Quite often after two initial face-to-face meetings, I will never see them again and just keep it to a monthly phone call.

How do you usually find your clients?

It’s now completely word of mouth and I can be a bit more selective with which clients I take on. However everyone has to start somewhere, and I started out by doing things for free, updating my Facebook about the services that I offer and just telling friends what I do.

Quite often, just doing this is enough! My students get access to software that I developed to help them get clients and there are other methods that I teach them, like the local sniper method, but if you just do the above then you should be well on your way to getting started.

Do you ever offer services that you aren’t expert in?

Absolutely, all the time!

I started out as a newbie, just like everyone does, and I remember when someone mentioned SEO, I thought they were speaking in a different language.

I don’t think anyone can learn every service to offer to local businesses and there would be no reason to learn any thanks to the global economy that we live in.

Outsourcing offshore is very accessible these days and our role is to just play a middleman between the company and the offshore worker. Anyone can do this; I have now managed over 50 projects on outsourcing sites like Elance, oDesk and Freelancer from bespoke software to website creation and various online marketing services.

Do I need to know a lot about Internet Marketing to start this business?

Honestly, not at all… You only have to know more than the potential client that you are talking to – the truth is that most people who have even dabbled in affiliate marketing are in a stronger position than they realise.

What advice would you give someone starting out in local business marketing?

I would recommend to get started and just do something. If you do your first job for free, then what’s the worst that could happen?

I have been doing various Internet marketing for nearly 10 years now and I still believe that one of the quickest routes to financial freedom is in local business marketing.

I’d like to thank Ben for taking the time to answer my questions. In the next issue of the Internet Income Detective newsletter he is going to be letting us in on some of the secrets of his success in local business marketing.

If you aren’t signed up to receive that you can try it out risk-free here.

I’m off to start Googling some local businesses I might be able to approach!

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