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Old 12-13-2004   #1
rustybrick
 
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Virtual SEM

This session is about how to outsource, hire people out.

Jill Whalen was up first, she has been doing SEO work for almost 10 years. If you are running your own SEM company you can do it all, get employees or outsource pieces. If you do it yourself you will find that there is not enough time in the day, you will never be as good as an expert in that niche, you will probably notice lower quality of work and bad client relations, and there is overall less money to be made. If you specialize and become an expert you will do what you like, you will learn your niche inside and out and outsource everything else. If you do outsource, you must be able to be a project manager, see the big picture, find good people you like, communicate your needs well, let go and trust those you outsource, and "be Donald Trump if necessary" (meaning, 'your fired" to those bad vendors). Benefits include; get to do what you like, higher quality of work, more clients, more work, have a network of colleagues, and no real payroll and no office. (Jill admits she works in her PJs; she said it but she said it with a ton of humor). Aspects Jill outsources, KR, Copywriting, proof reading link building and PPC management.

Stacy Williams from Prominent Placement was up next. She will go over how to handle the logistics of this, people, system and resources.
> People: Dealing with clients ; option 1, be a control freak as the bottleneck; option 2, trained account manager working directly with clients. She prefers to higher account managers and train them SEM to work with hers clients. She prefers to higher as sub contractors over employees. Full time vs. part time: SAHMs (Stay At Home Moms). She says that there are many women out there that are smart, experiences and eager to work from home. They make the most grateful and loyal workers. She recently outsourced SEO Research Labs (Dan Theis's company) for a really low cost. Training through online courses, books and on the job. You need to track time well; she says QuickBooks has a time module and you can use TimeFox or some other tool.
> Systems: Process manual, you need to document every step in the process, this is a must. This becomes a company asset, and it ensures consistency and standards. This is also part of the on job training process. Minimizes problems and saves time in the long run. All her vendors have her company email address (@mycompany.com), and they looked into the phone services and selected the local phone company with extensions with voice mail options, with conferencing and efax. Sharing data with people remotely is an other challenge. They tried to set up a VPN but they didnt want to make sure the network was up 24/7, so they opted out of that. They also didnt want to do colocation because of the price. So they decided to go with a 3rd party ASP solution named MarketingCentral.
> Resources to save your business and your sanity: The E Myth Revisited, Why Most Small Businesses Dont Work and What to Do About It. The Small Business Development Center (sba.gov/sbdc) to they can help you write a business plan.

Scottie Claiborne from Right Click Web Consulting and works for Kascher Group. Scottie will talk about it from the other side of the coin, being the specialist. Why Specialize; Humans tend to feel they need to be good at everything, but in reality you should focus on what your good at. Maximize your Talents, do what is natural to you and focus on becoming the very best at what you do. Minimize your Weakness, find other solutions. SEO Specialties Broken Down: Keyword Research, Competitive Analysis; Copywriting; Technical and Programming, Link Building, Usability and marketing; Statistical Analysis and Other Value Added Services. Reselling to pros and not the clients, so price your services at the wholesale cost (like Dan Theis), if you market direct to public then dont undercut your partners, should be a value to partners (save time, economics, quality of work). Marketing yourself; find the companies you want to work with, get them hooked, and let them find you (articles, speaking and forums). As you become an expert in your speciality you do not need to do it all.

Finally Ani Kortikar from NetraMind was up, he is at a bit of a disadvantage, since I got a cold call from one of his sales reps in India. He starts off describing his company, they have 45 people across the world. Pros of being small include nimble, personal service, personal relations. Cons; lack of scalability (lack of standardized quality process, lack of repeatable delivery process, lack of standardized HR) and unpredictable cash flow (lack of cost analysis and pricing power). Wrong reasons to outsource include; reducing costs and 24 x 7 operations. Right reasons; focus on core competencies, cost management, scalability, control over delivery, explore new profitable customer segments, etc. People, Process and Technology was pretty much covered already. There is a culture challenge, the "Us vs. Them". Also is there a local presence. Communication is hard. Time differences. Overall good presentation.

Q: How do you find these stay at home moms?
A: She sends out an email to her friends and it spreads virally and then she screens them with exercises. You can also go to the PTA or parenting forums.

Q: How do you get business early on?
A: Scottie said she got a lot of new business from forums by giving out free advice. Whenever Stacy competes against a big player, she says "do you want to be a little fish in a big pond?" Then for all, word of mouth takes control.

Q: How do you address the challenges from working in India?
A: His big challenge is conveying that they can get the job done. The second challenge was there needed to be a process. Trust fact was a big factor as well.
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