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This week I've gone into the archives and pulled a very special recording for you. What you're about to hear is the first interview I ever did for Consulting Tycoon back in 2010.
I'm talking with Liz Canney, and ex-retiree who accidentally started her consulting business and made $12,000 her first month.
Now, some of the specific tactics we talk about might have changed, but the underlying principles of how Liz became so successful so quickly, remain the same.
In this interview, Liz reveals exactly how she did it.
In this episode:
- How Liz “accidentally” got her first offline consulting client.
- The simple 4-step system you can use to close 75%-80% of free consultations into paying clients — without ever hearing a “no”.
- How Liz gets around the fact that she is a complete newbie and has no “proof”.
- A remarkable outsourcing tip (Liz outsources most of the work) for getting cheap, reliable local workers.
And much more!
Kyle: I’d like to welcome everyone to today’s call. Today I have Liz Canney on the phone and she recently started her own consulting website and consulting business. Liz, good to have you on the line.
Liz: Thanks, Kyle; it’s a pleasure to be here.
Kyle: Let’s start off with your story. What were you doing before you started your consulting business?
Liz: Well, about three years ago, I guess (maybe a bit longer), I retired and within six months, I started to realize that you can only play so much golf, do so much patchwork and gossip about your friends over lunch, so I wanted to do something else. So I got into network marketing. It didn’t take too long for me to realize that there was an awful lot of pressure from up line.
I really wanted to just sell products full retail and make a 20 or 25% commission, but unfortunately, the people at the top didn’t really like that and in the end, I sort of said, “Well, you can keep your business and I’ll go elsewhere.” I got out of there. I did that a couple of times with a couple of different companies to find exactly the same thing.
So I finally decided to try Internet marketing because people said, “Oh, there’s lots of money in Internet marketing,” so off I went. I did have a certain amount of success. In fact, as far as affiliate marketing was concerned, I do quite well. I had what I called plenty of “running away from home” money, so that was really good, but it was just recently that I discovered that there’s a huge market for offline businesses.
When I say offline businesses, I’m talking about your brick-and-mortar businesses, your traditional stuff. Everyone has a website but no one’s making any money from it, so that’s why I decided to do something in that area.
Kyle: What was it that tipped your hat to that market? What was it that led you to the consulting business?
Liz: I read a book by Andrew Cavanagh called “Online Gold from Offline Business,” and also something written by the Rhodes brothers.
Kyle: Matt and John.
Liz: Yes. I really liked what they had to say. As it turned out, one of the things that Andrew said in his book was, “If you’re going to do this, get off your backside and do it.” My husband and I just dug up our front yard because with the watering restrictions we have in Canberra we had no grass, so I went up to the local gardening shop.
This guy has been my gardener for 15 years, so off I go. It wasn’t really in my mind to talk to him about his business or Internet marketing or anything like that. It just happened that during the conversation I asked him, “Do you have a website?” He said, “Well, no, I don’t, but I’ve been really thinking about getting one. I had one before. It was really terrible and I didn’t have time to maintain it.”
Before I knew it, something like 30 or 40 minutes later, he’s still talking to me about getting a website but he said, “I have no idea where to get started,” so I just said to him, “Maybe I can help you there.” We made an appointment to have a meeting. I sat down with him and we went through a whole heap of stuff that could possibly happen for his business. He asked me to put it into writing for him. I did that and within two days, he said, “Right, let’s do it.” So I’ve been working on his business with him for the last six weeks, just about ready to go.
Kyle: Wow, that’s excellent. Is that how you get clients now? You still do the in-person, cold-calling type thing?
Liz: No, I don’t cold call at all, actually. Here’s a real secret I’m going to give you. This is working like a dream for me. I love networking. I go to breakfasts because I like food, I go to lunch because I like food, and I go to after-hours because I like food and drinks, and I meet lots of people. At business functions, you meet people who have a business, who generally have a website.
They’re not getting any traffic to it, mind you, but they do have a website, and they have business cards. Whenever I’m talking to a prospective client and I hand them my business card, they generally say something like, “Oh, Online Marketing Magician. What’s Online Marketing Magician?” and it’s at that point that I just say to them, “Before I answer that, do you mind if I ask you what you’re going to do with my business card?”
I generally get a stunned silence and then I’ll get a comment after a few seconds saying, “Oh, well, I’ll give you a call if I can,” or, “I’ll put it in a box,” or the smartasses will say, “I’ll throw it in the wash or flush it down the loo.” But once they’ve finished speaking, I can then generally say to them, “The reason I ask that question is because I teach business people to use other people’s business cards to create huge profits.”
The next question is, “Wow, how do you do that?” That’s it—I then offer them a free consultation for a hour and phone them the next day, that afternoon or whatever; get the appointment and I’m in the door. It’s easy! It’s like two minutes of conversation.
Kyle: That’s excellent. That’s one of the things I teach—when people ask you what you do, you don’t just tell them you’re a business consultant or you’re an Internet marketing consultant because that tends to get a blank stare. Instead, you say something that gets them intrigued and gets them to ask you, “Wow, how do you do that?”
Like you said, then you’ve got them on the hook, they’re intrigued and they want to know exactly how you can help them, so that’s great. When you started, did you have a website? Did you have a certain set of skills that you decided you were going to offer to people? Did you have a big idea?
Liz: When I got started, I had read the book and I loved the idea of the offline marketing stuff. Then I went and spoke to my gardening guy. I came home after seeing him thinking, “Oh, my god. What do I do now?” So I just sat down and worked out, the first thing everybody needs is a list.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re online or offline, a list meant e-mail marketing. E-mail marketing means a newsletter or free report. Let’s get them set up there first; let’s show them the importance of an e-mail list. Then I started to get some phone calls from other people, mainly through the gardening guy. He was telling these friends of his in business, “Give Liz Canney a call because she’ll do this, this and this for you.”
One of them I actually knew quite well. I’ll tell you a little story here. He has been in business, again, for 15 years. I’m not going to name his business, but let’s just say hypothetically it’s computer security. He’s had this website for years and years, he’s had this business for 15 years. He asked me to come and see him.
I had his details, I then went and had a look at his website. Really, it was a mess. It was really difficult to find your way around it, it wasn’t saying anything much about anything because it was really only half finished. According to him, he didn’t have time to get it finished. He had no opt-ion form on his website. He has a database, I know that, but he hasn’t been using it.
Then I went to his competitors. I found a list of the main keywords that were being used and put it into Google AdWords and checked them out in all the different categories in the local Canberra directory. His website was nowhere to be found, his name was nowhere to be found. So here’s this guy with a local Canberra business and he’s getting no business from his website because he’s not even there.
I put it all into a folder, I printed stuff off and made it look really good. When I went back to see him, to sit down with him for his one-hour consultation, I was able to pull this stuff out, show him what I had done and it was like, “Wow, I had no idea.” He suddenly realized what he was missing out on. He signed me up straight away and paid top dollar.
Kyle: That’s a very good tactic right there—having specific proof about their business. Rather than just making big claims and telling him what you can do, you actually showed him where his specific problems were. That’s excellent.
Liz: Exactly, because at this stage, I don’t have the credentials to go in there and say, “I’m this, I’m wonderful, I’ve been around for years, blah, blah, blah.” I just tell them, “I’m brand new, this is a brand-new business and I’ve been marketing on the Internet for the last three years. I do know what I’m talking about. You’ll have to take my word for it.”
When I can produce stuff to show them what they’re missing out on, it makes me look really good and there’s no argument. Kyle, I really love these people. I’m really very sorry for them, They’re so time-poor. They have very little, if any, knowledge, and let me tell you, they are so ripped-off when they get into website design and building and stuff like that. If I could tell you another brief story…
Kyle: Love to hear it.
Liz: It’s about another client that I have picked up. Again, it was a referral. She uses this one web designer and she has three websites. They’re all exactly the same; they’re just all different subjects and is charged, for hosting, $300 a year for each website, $900 a year.
Kyle: Wow! That’s not uncommon either.
Liz: It’s very common and it’s daylight robbery. I do understand that these guys are out to make a living like the rest of us, but to do that to someone is just robbing them blind as far as I’m concerned. Needless to say, she’s no longer with him. She had actually pulled his websites before speaking to me anyway. I outsource all the websites to a guy that I use in the U.S. who’s just fabulous, and then I charge accordingly. She’s just saved herself about $800 in hosting. You’ve got to look after them.
Kyle: That’s excellent. I think that’s a common theme that you find in almost all of your small-business clients, is that they are working 40, 60, 80 hours a week just running their business. They don’t have time to learn any of this other stuff. When people come up and offer them the world and sell them all these great things, they honestly don’t know any better and they kind of just pay whatever they get charged.
You’ll find a lot of people, if they do have a website, they pay a good couple thousand dollars for it but it’s not in the search engines, it’s not getting any traffic, it’s not doing them any good and they basically have been ripped off. If you can come in there genuinely wanting to help them, you’re in a really good position.
Liz: Absolutely. The thing with them is that they have a website with a specific company name and they hand out their business cards, brochures, their website is on all of their stationary, and they think that that’s the only way to get business is by handing out the card with the website on it, “Go to my website.”
But they have no idea how much business they’re actually losing by not being in their local directories under all sorts of niche headings. I guess it’s not the job of a web designer to do that anyway; his job is to design websites and make what he can. As you said, the simplest of websites is $2,000.
Kyle: I think a lot of people just don’t realize the difference. They think you have a website and people just automatically come to it. They don’t even realize that there is that second step of actually getting traffic to the website.
Liz: That’s right. Once it’s done, they’re still in the position of not being able to look after it, so you have to maintain it for them. Again, if the web designers learn a little bit more about search engine optimization and all the other stuff that goes with it, they might find that instead of ripping their clients off, they would be able to get themselves residual income just in a maintenance program.
Kyle: Definitely. You’re providing a lot more value to them as well by offering those sorts of things. You’re relatively new to this. What would be your tips for other newbies getting started?
Liz: Don’t be frightened of it. Just as Andrew Cavanagh says, “Get off your backside and go and do it.” Get yourself some business cards. If you’re really serious and you really have the courage to go out there and meet people, get yourself some business cards. They are going to be your number-one tool. You can get them for nothing.
There’s a place called www.VistaPrint.com.au and they are free. They take about two weeks and don’t cost you a cent. They’re not bad. Some of them are really nice business cards. Or you can go to www.Click.com, which are about $50 for 250 and they’re quite nice as well. You get those in two to three days. That’s going to be your main tool.
You get out there and learn to hand out those business cards and make sure that you put it to them pretty much what I was saying earlier, that you’re not going to answer their question until they tell you what they’re going to do with your business card. No one’s expecting that question, let me tell you. It’s a ripper. If you could see their faces, they just have no idea what to say. It gets a great response.
So learn a really, really good paragraph to give people about it and have them intrigued so they really want to know what it is you do. Whatever they do, once they’ve got the attention of the client, do not go into your sales spiel—just don’t do it. Do what I do and try and get that appointment. I give a one-hour complimentary consultation.
Kyle: That’s what I do as well. My whole thing is trying to get them in for that one-hour consultation and that’s where you start building a bit of rapport with them and start building that relationship. It naturally transitions into a sale without much hard sales tactics or anything like that.
Liz: That’s exactly right. If you can get them intrigued by your comments and interested enough to agree to have you call and make an appointment with them, then you’re two-thirds of the way. Once you’ve got their business card and you can see their website, then all you have to do is your homework.
Just do all of that research beforehand. It really doesn’t take all that long—another hour or so—to do it really well and go in there fully armed to show them what they’re missing out on, and you’ve won it. I went to a breakfast function recently, came away with 14 cards and got eight appointments out of it.
Kyle: That’s awesome.
Liz: It’s almost unheard of.
Kyle: I should get myself out to some networking functions. I’ve always been a bit of a recluse in my business. I’ve got some copywriting skills so I tend to default to direct mail and those sorts of things, but from all accounts of people I’ve spoken to who do go to networking functions, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. There are so many people there with a lot of money to spend and no real clue how to get the Internet thing to work.
Liz: Absolutely. As you say, something like 75% of people will not go out there and do the networking thing. Networking is not that hard, but it’s not that easy either. You’ve got to have a personality where you like talking to and listening to people. The worst networkers in the world are those who come charging into your face, throw their business cards at you and gobble you up with a sales pitch. They’re really hard to get rid of and in fact, I don’t even want their business cards. They’re generally sales reps and not business owners, I’ve noticed.
Kyle: Yes, you want to always make sure you’re speaking to the business owner, the decision maker, who can actually sign you a check.
Liz: That’s right, but at the same time quite often, especially in a town like Canberra, you’ve got to get through some of the workers, the employed staff. Some of them are really good sales reps and really do have the ear of the boss.
Kyle: Do you find most of the people you’re speaking with at these things are owners or do you get a bit of red tape trying to get through the employees to get to the big guy?
Liz: It’s probably 80/20—20% of the people would be not the bosses. Obviously I’m not after any government business, not that there is much anyway, but this isn’t the kind of thing the government wants to do and if you did, they wouldn’t pay you properly anyway, so why bother with them?
Kyle: Their sales process tends to be quite long as well. They’ll stretch out projects for six months, then not pay for six months, and you don’t want those kinds of clients.
Liz: That’s another thing too, when it comes to payment, I’ve got bills to pay. I outsource almost everything. I outsource a lot of the writing, all of the websites—I’m not going to touch those. As I said, I’ve got a really good guy. I outsource wherever possible so I need money in order to be able to pay the people that I’m outsourcing to, so if they will give me the amount up front, I will give them a 10% discount. Otherwise I want a 50% deposit. Not a problem.
Kyle: I find that offline business owners are used to paying those kinds of things. If you talk to online business owners, they want you to do everything for free and they’ll pay you if you get results, but offline, they’re used to writing big checks. They’re used to paying sometimes 100%, if not 50% up front, so I’ve found it quite easy getting those sorts of things as well. You said you outsource everything. Do you have a pretty wide range of services you can offer because of that?
Liz: I tend to. I guess as my business is beginning to grow and I’m getting more and more articles to be written, I’m really going to be on the search for some good writers as time goes on—that’s the main thing. I’ve got Joel, the guy that does the websites for me. He’s beginning to get a little bit snowed under with what I’ve been giving him and his own stuff as well. It’s just constantly being on the search looking for the right people to do things.
Kyle: It’s a constant issue. I guess I’m in a similar position to you, where at the moment I’m actually doing everything myself, but I am looking to outsource because the workload simply becomes too much. I’ve had quite a lot of trouble finding good, reliable people who work for decent rates, who get the job done on time and can be relied upon project in, project out. The issue I’ve found is, I find someone good and they’ll do a great job for me. Then the next job comes along and they’re not available or they’re nowhere to be found. Do you have any tips on those sorts of things?
Liz: Uni students.
Liz: Yes. Just go to the local university and advertise for journalist students and let them know that you’re looking for someone to do five, ten, 15, 20 articles as week. I’ve got a young guy here that is starting to do more and more for me. I said to him just recently, “I don’t know what I’m going to do if you ever go or if I start getting too much and you can’t handle it.” He said, “Don’t worry, Liz, my mates all want the money.”
He’s proven to be extremely reliable and his work is quite good. Let’s face it, we want quality content but it doesn’t have to be perfect. The whole purpose in what I’m doing is to get articles out so that we can get exposure for the client’s website in the local directory in whatever category it happens to be.
Kyle: Is that the main way you market your clients online, is though article marketing?
Liz: Yes, absolutely. I haven’t even touched PPC with them at this stage. Number one, because I don’t know too much about it myself. I’m not confident with it. The 30-Day Challenge starts again next week and I think they’re going to be covering it quite in depth. It’s a knowledge I’d like to have but I don’t really like PPC anyway. I think it can be so expensive for people, although I have to admit, with one of my clients we found some PPC for 13 cents, so that was pretty good. She’s giving that a go for about $50 so we’ll see what happens with her.
Kyle: The main issue I’ve found with PPC for small, local businesses, especially if they’re only selling in a local market, is there’s just not enough traffic to spend the time it takes to set up the campaigns. It’s just not worth it. You just don’t get enough traffic. It’s a lot easier to just write a few articles and that’s generally all it takes to get a front-page Google listing.
Liz: That’s what I’m finding as well. I’m doing a couple of things. All of my clients so far have gone on to the maintenance contract and that’s a really nice income to have coming in because they don’t have the time to do it. My suggestion to them is to have either a newsletter once a month, or in the case of my gardening guy, for example, there’s so much happening every single month in that industry.
One group of articles that we’ve just put together for him is butterfly gardening. We do a four-week series on getting butterflies into your garden. Then he’s got all the summer stuff coming so we can start building up for the different kinds of plants that he’s getting in.
For example, last year there was a real shortage of yellow petunias, so if he’s going to have them this year, which he thinks he is, we’ll start letting his customers know that there are going to be yellow petunias coming in this year, but they’re still going to be rare. Just anything that we can think of, and we put something out every week.
Kyle: That’s excellent.
Liz: One article every week, multiply that by 100, that’s a lot of articles every week that we’re going to have to do if you’ve got 100 customers. That’s where all the outsourcing comes in.
Kyle: You mentioned the maintenance contract. When you first sell something to the business, what do you sell to them? Is it just a website or do you create some kind of a custom package for them. With the maintenance contract, how does that work? Do you have a set maintenance contract for everyone or is that custom designed as well?
Liz: It’s custom designed. I do have packages for people. Most of the people that I’ve been dealing with to date have a database, but they don’t have an e-mail marketing campaign. Some of them have thousands of people on their lists. One of the packages that I have is that I’ll put together a complete AWeber setup for them, or an e-mail marketing setup, including autoresponders, et cetera and import their database into the system for them.
But I will not allow it to go ahead if they haven’t contacted those people in under three months because they’ll just get themselves into a lot of strife if they start getting a bundle of people reporting them for spam. You know what it’s like. That’s the rule. They either have to contact them themselves or get someone to contact them.
The best idea is, as people come in, to just ask them for their e-mail address and do they mind if they send them a newsletter, free report, or whatever. So we work out what they really need or whatever it is they’re going to do. That’s the first thing.
Then we have a look at their website to see if they need to have the website upgraded. If they’re going to use AWeber, they really need to have an opt-in form on their website. Would you agree with that?
Kyle: Yes, most definitely.
Liz: Everyone—doesn’t matter who it is—they’ve got to do something about getting an opt-in form onto their website. They need to get the code and get their web designer to do it, or set up a new blog. I’m big on blogs. I’m big on business blogging. I’m finding it quite easy to convince them to get onto WordPress blog. Mine is static and there’s a blog on there.
Kyle: I thought it was all WordPress.
Liz: It is WordPress but it’s a static website and a blog, all done on WordPress.
Kyle: Okay, that’s how I do mine as well. I find just the SEO benefits and the speed at which you can get a site up there—WordPress is unmatched.
Liz: Absolutely. So instead of writing a full article into a newsletter and then sending it out each month or week or whatever, to the client listing, I’ve suggested (and it’s also what I do) that they just link it back to the latest blog. If you’re doing a blog each week, then rather than doing it twice, you’re going to get the benefit of having the search engines looking at the website as well and noticing the changes in content happening and they don’t have to do it twice.
They quite like that idea. That’s the other thing we do. It’s the whole SEO thing that we go through. The packages at this stage go from around $500 just purely for the autoresponders and e-mail marketing, up to $1,500 for the entire package, but they will go up to $2,500 or $3,000 as I become more established, because there is a lot of work.
Kyle: You don’t find much resistance at those price levels?
Liz: None whatsoever.
Kyle: I think coming in around that $2,000 mark, you won’t get any resistance whatsoever. A lot of these businesses will be spending maybe $5,000 to $10,000 a year on yellow pages and they’re lucky if they get a call a month from it. If you can develop them a website that’s getting customers almost every day, that’s a bonus.
We’ve talked a fair bit about your business and how it all works, but do you want to give us the big-picture overview of how your whole business systems works from start to finish, from getting a client through to actually closing them and doing the work?
Liz: There are only four steps: Networking, business cards, free consultation, and the wow factor. We talked about all of those things and it’s that simple. That’s just putting the whole thing into perspective. Go and do some networking, get to meet people, get your little spiel ready that’s short, brief and to the point. Get their business cards because you want them anyway for your own system.
Kyle: Yes, so you can do the follow-up and be in charge.
Liz: Yes, that’s right. You want them to subscribe to your newsletter as well. The free consultation is vitally important. You’ve got to give something for nothing and they’ll give you an hour of their time, and then they’ll just decide whether you’re worth it or not. When you do that research and have that wow factor, that’s it, you don’t have to go any further; they’ll close it for you. I’ve never had to close it, they just do it. They say to me, “Okay, when can we get started?”
Kyle: Famous words. What would you say your closing rate is once you’ve gone through that whole process? This is quite a simple process, but at the same time it is very powerful. What kind of closing rates do you get once you get someone to that free consultation?
Liz: With the free consultation, it’s definitely around about the 75 to 80%, and absolutely no one has said no. There have been people telling me that they’ve got a budget restriction or they’re not quite ready or they want to talk to someone. If they say they want to talk to someone, you can almost be sure that you’re going to lose them about 90% of the time, I think, but I haven’t had anyone give me a no yet. I was telling you about the 14—I’ve got eight new customers out of that and the other six are still on the back burner. To tell you the truth, I couldn’t handle them right now if I wanted to.
Kyle: I think that’s a good problem to have.
Liz: Yes, right. Two a week is a really nice income.
Kyle: You were telling me just before we started the call that you’ve made more money from your consulting business in the last few weeks than you had in your affiliate marketing business for the last few years. Do you want to talk about that for a moment?
Liz: Absolutely because I’m charging a lot higher than I was ever getting through affiliate marketing anyway, and you work out nine clients by about $1,500 each plus…well, probably I exaggerated a bit when I said I earned more money in the last few weeks than I have in the last few years, but I’ve done pretty well. On a month-to-month basis I certainly have.
Then I’ve got my maintenance contracts on top of that and we were talking about that easier as well. I’m going to set that at $200 because it doesn’t matter who they are, sooner or later I’m going to have to write articles for them, a couple of articles a week or month.
I do give them, at the end of the month, all of their stats off the computer and hand deliver them. I take them around and I sit down and talk to them so they’ve got a bit of time with me. I’ll do that for as long as I can, but I think that it’s not an unfair amount. It’s $50 a week.
Kyle: It’s not very much at all, is it?
Liz: No. They’ don’t quibble. I have a guarantee. Nobody wants to be giving back thousands of dollars if this thing doesn’t work, if they don’t get people to their website. My guarantee started off as six months but it’s now 12 months. I give a 12-month guarantee and if in that time, they haven’t seen any results from their Internet marketing, then I’ll give them another 12 months of maintenance free.
Kyle: That’s pretty good.
Liz: I thought it was pretty generous actually, but I’m quite convinced that we’re seeing some results already anyway, just from my gardening guy. We’ve got a couple of articles that are leading toward his phone number at this stage.
Kyle: Oh, that’s excellent.
Liz: So that’s about it, but it’s easy. Don’t make anything hard out of it. It’s just really easy and being organized. And don’t race out there and try and get hundreds of people in a couple of months; you can certainly do it but you’ll fall flat on your face and ruin any reputation you’re starting to build because you’re not going to be able to provide the service. Go steady, a bit at a time.
Kyle: I think that really is the key—getting out there and taking action. Your whole system is quite simple. There are four steps and none of the steps are that involved. I must teach 50 different modules that you can do within the consulting business.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, you don’t need to do everything; you only need to do like 10% of everything that I teach and you can still be very successful just doing things the way you want to do and the way that works for you and your personality. It’s quite easy to be successful quite quickly, as you’ve proven.
Liz: It is, and I love it. Enjoy what you’re doing. It’s not just the money, it’s the people that you’re dealing with. They really are human beings and they do have problems, worries and situations like the rest of us do. If you go in there with the “money, money, money” attitude, they’ll pick up on it really quickly.
I feel so genuine and honest about dealing with these people because my heart goes out to them. They work so hard and quite often for very little profit. They have no idea what they’re doing. They’re doing the best they can and really need help.
Kyle: Yes, they do, and if you come from a place of genuinely wanting to help them, that will show through. As I said before, you don’t have to close the sale. It just happens naturally.
Liz: That’s right.