Growing a Service Business… Without Adding Clients

I just ran across a piece about growing service firms “from the inside out”. I believe this piece was specifically written for law firms, but in running an internet marketing agency I find it just as true for my situation and clientele.

Look inward to branch out. Take a look at the firm’s top clients over the last three years or so. How many of your services are used by each one? There may be an opportunity here. If you have done stellar work in one practice area, your client will most likely be amenable to hearing about other practice areas that apply to their business. To outsiders, expanding your business with an existing client shows that they value and have confidence in you, and in turn, serves as a law firm marketing technique. It also builds your resume and track record in the practice in which you would like to augment.

I have a number of law firm clients so naturally I browse this industry a bit, and often find that law firm marketing strategies are really just professional service strategies… except the whole concept of “legal marketing” is a bit new, so some tried-and-true concepts can get further legs in that industry.

Let’s provide a little translation to the arena of “web marketing”:

Practice Areas = Services
Resume = Portfolio

Basically the general concept is that its often better to build revenue by further serving your existing client base. I believe there are several other good reasons for this, not mentioned above as they are perhaps not as important for a large law firm as they are for a small internet marketing agency:

  • you know your current clients pay their bills on time… new clients might not.
  • you already know how much attention and communication your current clients demand.
  • they are generally already pleased with your service, and thus a positive bias heuristic kicks in… they believe you do a good job at one thing and will likely believe that you do a good job in many areas.
  • at least for me, its easier to handle a smaller number of clients than a larger number of smaller clients.

Small Business Profits

Not really a web-related article here – but something I found interesting nonetheless.

In general I’m typically not a fan of this author’s articles. She rights on personal and small business related financing, and frankly she writes some things that make me think she doesn’t have a great grasp on it herself – but I’m not here to bash.

In this article, MP Dunleavey notes some figures by the Interal Revenue Service:

According to the latest figures from the Internal Revenue Service, the average sole proprietor (i.e., non-farm businesses that filed a Schedule C) reported net receipts of about $53,272 in 2003.

The average net profit: About $11.

Wow. $11 average profit on $53,000 revenue. That’s .02% profit margin. Ouch!

Interesting CafePress Project

Jennifer Laycock of Search Engine Guide is doing a bit of a project where she is taking 30 days, no startup money and seeing if she can create a modestly profitable business. Admittedly, with no startup capital “profitable” is really any income, but nonetheless her articles are quite interesting.

She really hits the spectrum of internet marketing in that she leverages outsourcing of production and order fulfillment (to CafePress), leverages affiliate marketing, uses Google AdSense as an extra source of income and generates traffic through Google AdWords (PPC), a blog, a – get this – interesting idea and defined target market, press and organic search engine rankings which she was able to achieve so quickly by bypassing the highly debated sandbox effect by using a page on an established domain. Her articles are of interest to anyone who is involved in internet marketing, SEO, entreprenuership in general or certainly her niche market of mothers who are breastfeeding.

(Originally found via the FreshYields blog)

Growing a Web Marketing Business

I have recently been inspired to grow my one-person (well, sorta…) SEO and web marketing shop to a slightly larger venture. The reason: larger projects. Larger projects and more projects – strangely enough – require more time. Apparently there are only 24 hours in one day, no matter how hard I try to reject that fact. As such, I ran a few numbers and am now reviewing office space in the area and also looking to perhaps make one or two “hires” in the next couple of months.

Its both exciting and a bit nerve-racking, as up until now I’ve been in control of the entire show. I am also making a bit of a strategic shift along with the operational and physical shift, in that I plan to offer a “higher end” service that truly focuses on the primary goal of improving websites to help them produce results. That may mean organic SEO, it may mean PPC management, online publicity campaigns, research, site re-design and conversion analysis, etc. Make a better site that delivers more value and produces greater results. That’s what we’ll aim to do for our clients.

If you know anyone with solid analytical skills that is interested in either part-time work or possibly an SEO / Internet Marketing Internship in the Baltimore, Maryland area feel free to send them my way. I won’t put my email address here but if you’re interested and have some basic internet research abilities you should be able to find it fairly easily.