So, I’ve made a breakthrough in business experience pertaining to my marketing strategy firm: After a little over five years of trial and error, I’ve solidified four reliable methods of delivering consistent, predictable revenue to the company in the form of client contracts.
- Freelancing websites
- Direct e-mail
- Paid advertising
- Trade shows/conferences
As we are 100% self-funded so far, my team and I have tried a multitude of different ways to bring in clients despite our budget restrictions. I’ve had the most success with my Upwork profile; that’s what’s kept us afloat during financial downturns.
Even if I’ve pulled in much more, I’ve deliberately chosen to only live off of roughly $20,000 per year while reinvesting every other dollar into experiments of varying forms.
I’ve learned not to reinvent the wheel
For a while there, I actually wanted to get off of Upwork. In the beginning, I viewed it as a crutch that, to rely on for revenue, demonstrated the weakness to my character as an entrepreneur.
Then, as I evolved over the years, once I actually developed the ability to get off of Upwork, I realized that, no, that’s exactly one of the best ways to build a marketing firm for a multitude of reasons. Most of the reasons involve the credibility and trustworthiness of my firm: its services and my leadership as a CEO. Once I developed enough skill to pull in clients without Upwork was the moment I decided to keep Upwork as a revenue stream.
For instance, let’s say I would officially leave all freelancing websites entirely and pull in clients without them.
Then what? How do I go into that exchange feeling safe in such a way that I will be consistently paid for my services?
Oh, I know, a great way to conduct international business would be with an escrow. What’s a great escrow I can use, hmmm….
…oh, that’s right: Upwork.
Meanwhile, as people leave 5-star reviews on my profile, the world knows that they are not faked because those reviews are verified by a credible third-party. That instantly shuts down the majority of people who may think me some kind of scam artist (of which many marketers are, sadly), which greatly plays into my favor.
If I’m a legitimate entrepreneur, then in my industry, freelancing websites like Upwork only serve to help me because they back me and protect my reputation in multiple ways.
So, in other words, I had actually started off doing the right thing from day 1. I burned a lot of time thinking that my success had to be an uphill battle: If something was working too well, there must be something wrong with it.
No. That’s exactly how not to think.
The way to think in this situation is to identify what’s working, and triple-down on that. Then, expand what works through experimentation.
How OMI is putting its Chess pieces in place for a long-term strategy
For me, what’s worked to build an international marketing firm from the ground up has been those four things listed above.
So, I’ve led my team to expand into other freelancing websites, such as PeoplePerHour.com, to expand our presence and ability to conquer market share.
Then, experiments with highly targeted cold e-mail have also proven to deliver leads reliably as well.
Paid advertising speaks for itself and should be a staple of any business to some degree or another, so long as they’re able to get their ROI to the right ratio.
And then trade shows/conferences require the investment of money to fly, to buy the event ticket, pay for the booth you’ll speak at, the hotel, etc. However, what I’ve found is that not only do people trust you that much more in person; what I call gold clients are what are in abundance at those shows.
I classify gold clients as the VC-backed entrepreneurs and well-established corporate businesses who can afford to pay the $70,000 – $150,000 per year contracts.
You have to put yourself in your best client’s shoes
And it makes sense why they would be the ones at those shows, because it takes money to be at those shows, which investors will also be at, as well.
Everyone’s trying to find each other there. And the price you have to pay to be there is kind of like a filter that creates a cultural standard: If you’re there, then you’re at a certain level of budget by default, in most scenarios.
There are people who gamble with a low budget to afford being at those things; however, they are the minority: the exception to the rule.
The general rule is this: If you can afford to be at those shows, then you’re typically either an investor who knows entrepreneurs who would love to hire you, or an investor-backed entrepreneur who is already looking to hire you…both having the budget to do so.
Therein, within the past week alone, I’ve developed the leads of two gold clients just through one of our channels, and we’ve only just begun with our paid advertising.
So, what I’m going to do is seek one or two solid gold clients, ones that I can build a beneficial, mutual, business relationship with for the long-term. Then, I plan on still living within my means of only $20,000 to $30,000 per year in personal income while I reinvest everything into scaling the company’s passive income streams by developing our paid content.
That way, I can keep my business relationships who may not pay me/us millions of dollars per year. Yet, we will still make millions of dollars per year through my firm’s passive income streams, such as by the paid content that we advertise to the masses that haven’t contracted me as their marketing strategist, but pay to access the company’s private content and attend our mastermind groups.
For instance, if I land two $6,000-per month contracts (which I’ve absolutely done, several times), then that’s ~$12,000 per month. I only need $2,000 to $3,000 to live comfortably off of with my family. which means that’s anywhere between $9,000 to $10,000 extra per month that I can reinvest into growing my business: Paying my worker’s salaries, paid advertising, affording events, etc.
Building my brand in general.
It’s been a very good week of progress.
Mike Norton is an American award-winning Internet marketing strategist with a BA in Internet marketing from Full Sail University.
He’s also a writer, entrepreneur, and a quantum physicist studying part-time at the University of York. He is the bestselling independent author of Fighting for Redemption, and a veteran of the United States military who is a 7-time winner of the USS Dwight Eisenhower award for essays of world peace and respect.
As a mostly self-educated vagabond, he gains inspiration from a myriad of experiences wrought from the adventures of his nomadic lifestyle. He prolifically writes and journals where ever he goes in the world, from one country to the next.