Why classic “Local Offline Marketing” is such a high-cost, low-leverage, insecure business model One of the most active topics in Internet marketing is “Local Offline Marketing”. This topic has spawned several mini-industries, all on its own, as desperate, would-be Internet marketers rise to take the hundreds of baited hooks being cast into this increasingly toxic pond. Their offerings range from ingenious and brilliant to outright sucker-bait and drivel that’s barely legal (or even legible in many cases). Here’s a summary of my reasons for avoiding the primary business model promoted by most Local Offline Marketing “Gurus”. Reason #1: It’s LOW-Leverage This business model is based on YOU finding and converting individual local business owners as clients for your services in these types of labour-intensive activities… Search Engine Optimisation — getting the highest-possible rankings in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for your clients’ web sites — and trying to stay ahead of constant algorithm updates as the Search Engines try to thwart your efforts to manipulate the results they deliver to users. Social Media Marketing — creating and maintaining Facebook pages, Twitter backgrounds, finding and acquiring “likes”, “shares”, “followers”, etc, for your clients’ businesses, posting promotions and updates to the various social bookmarking services and social networks, and monitoring them for mentions of your clients. Reputation Management — monitoring online news reports, blog entries, Twitter tweets, Facebook comments, etc etc etc for bad or adverse reviews or comments, then trying to either have them removed, blocked or buried. Mobile Marketing — creating and maintaining mobile web sites and mobile apps for your clients, sending SMS promotions, push promotional messages, etc. Local Search Marketing — creating and maintaining accounts, content, updates, listings, citations, reviews, etc for your clients at Google+ Local, Yelp!, FourSquare, WOMO and other local marketing sites and services. Video Marketing — creating and maintaining accounts with video services like YouTube, Vimeo, etc, creating and updating promotional videos — free and paid — and avoiding penalties for terms of service violations, etc. Reputation Management — monitoring review sites for mentions of your clients, writing or obtaining customer reviews (and avoiding penalties for fake customer reviews!), managing any crisis that arises when disgruntled customers, unethical competitors and ex-employees post damaging reviews or comments, minimising the negative impact of bad reviews, etc. Pay-Per-Click Advertising — creating and managing PPC advertising accounts with Google Adwords, Bing and Yahoo!, etc. Any other service you can find or think of that will allow you to extract more money from your clients. (The Warrior Forum Special Offers board is full of them, every day. Good luck with that!) Reason #2: It’s HIGH-maintenance Not only do you have to find, attract, qualify (or disqualify), educate, bond with and convert busy, desperate, panic-stricken local small business owners to become your clients… you have to somehow KEEP them as clients by delivering fast, measurable, profitable results in the only place that counts: their bottom line! That’s a lot easier said than done, because you’re going to have to contend with… Hyper-competition — desperate new wannabe Internet marketers are coming out of the woodwork every day, lured by the hype and lies of “Gurus” and other “snake-oil” pedlars promising overnight fortunes for no effort by over-charging desperate, ignorant local small business owners. (View an example.) Price-cutting and commoditization — as these new competitors realise that they’ve been scammed and resort to desperate measures in an attempt to salvage something from their wasted money and false hopes. The waters grow murkier by the day until these opportunists either go broke or give up and move on, leaving behind a legacy of burned, cynical business owners who don’t know whom to trust. Jittery, fickle, impatient clients — who demand INSTANT results for the money they give you and who jump ship to the next desperate, price-slashing, false-promise-spouting, wannabe “Local Offline Marketing Consultant” who’s bought a bunch of ebooks, software, courses and “secrets” — but can’t get enough clients to survive. So a LOT of your time will be spent cleaning up the mess, placating nervous clients, fighting to maintain worthwhile margins — while still doing all the work that they’re paying you to do! Like I said… good luck with all that! Reason #3: NO economies of scale Typically, you’ll try to fit as many clients as possible into your client roster, then try to find ways to leverage your time and resources by creating a one-size-fits-all set of strategies and systems — and hope that it works! Or you’ll outsource as much of the work as possible to contractors in developing countries like India and the Philippines, and hope for the best. You’ll waste countless hours keeping track of them (or even just trying to find them when they vanish, as they often do), correcting mistakes, recovering from disasters, coping with unreliable Internet connections, slow data transfer, inexperience, incompetence, misunderstandings, cultural differences, the fact that English is a second, third or even fourth language for them… and all of those wasted hours unpaid and unrecoverable! Some tasks can be automated or semi-automated — but only to a limited extent, and often with unforeseen repercussions, none of them welcome. For instance, autoblogging and content spinning software were widely touted as major time and work savers — until visitors found that they couldn’t make sense of the unintelligible nonsense being posted, and the Search Engines began punishing (and de-indexing) sites using these kinds of software applications. An increasing number of “Local Offline Marketing Consultants” who outsource to developing countries are discovering the truth of the old axiom… “pay peanuts, get monkeys.” (In other words, you get what you pay for.) Savings that cost you dearly in other ways are an illusion. If you keep on doing it, it’s a delusion. Reason #4: Quantity defeats Quality When you climb on the proverbial “tiger’s back” — selling quantity of anything consumable at commodity prices — you don’t dare get off, or stop feeding the tiger constantly, without the very real risk of being eaten alive. Whether you create content or provide content-related services for a constantly-consuming client base, the time soon arrives when the quality of what you deliver begins to deteriorate in the face of that constant demand for quantity. Eventually, the balance swings in favour of quantity and, from that point on, it’s only a question of when — not if — the consumers become dissatisfied by the deteriorating quality and begin to look elsewhere. This business model is incapable of resolving this dilemma because of its… absence of economies of scale and lack of real leverage. Reason #5: Lack of long-term security There’s a fundamental dilemma in any business model that lacks economies of scale and genuine leverage: the more clients you win, the harder it is to keep them! That’s because of the immovable cap on your earning capacity: there are only 168 hours in a week (24 hours x 7 days). And that’s if you don’t eat, sleep, watch TV, exercise, spend time with family or friends, travel, shower, etc, etc, etc. It’s just like juggling: the more balls you have in the air, the more likely you are to drop them, because you only have two hands. So every lost client means YOU spending time, effort, money and emotion to find a replacement for them. And with the relentless increase in local competition for YOU, and the tighter budgets and raised expectations of local business owners (and especially their growing scepticism and cynicism after poor past experiences with “Local Offline Marketing Consultants” who failed to deliver), that draining financial and emotional cost eats into the time, energy and enthusiasm you can give to your existing clients… and raises the risk of you losing even more of them. If you’ve tried this business model, you know how real this whole scenario is — and how tough it’s becoming to make a decent living from it. So let’s not labour the point… it’s not getting any better or easier. It's time for a more effective business model for Local Offline Marketing consultants. Let's all hear YOUR thoughts on what that more effective, profitable, sustainable business model might be!