David SomerfleckDigital Marketing Specialist w/20 yrs experience
Bio

Digital marketing expert with complementary background in traditional advertising, social media, SEO, political campaign consulting, lead generation, business plan development, lead generation. Some former clients include the City & County of Denver, Caribou Coffee, Ecwid eCommerce, AOL/Time-Warner, and Microsoft. David is an active member of The Internet Society, the Internet Marketing Association, and the International Webmasters Association. Fun Facts: David is a former Certified Business Mentor for SCORE (a division of the US Small Business Administration) where he consulted with hundreds of business owners around the globe; from agency owners to lawyers, to accountants to private college owners. David once mediated a dispute scheduled to appear on the "Judge Judy" TV program and briefly operated a mediation non-profit organization. David received training in political campaign marketing communications from The White House Project. Special guest speaker on "Go For Launch," "Awesomers," "Mindful Money," "The Winning Brand," and other business podcast programs.



Recent Answers


Personally, I wouldn't get involved.

They're going bankrupt, which you know, and this usually brings with it attendant drama, personal issues as people lose economic stability, and company dissolution. While they may take your beta project, it's still offering something of value to a company that has no real need for it or use.

My feeling is that devaluation is not worth beta testing and the potential perception that your project was (although new) already associated with a company going under very quickly upon use of your service.

As a Buddhist business owner and developer, it helps to look at things if not from a spiritual perspective, then from a moral and ethical one sometimes. Would I want to be involved with a company going under even if they're willing to test something for me? Not at all. You're not doing anything dishonest, but you're devaluing your work, potential results, and risking possible labeling, abandoning potential profits and risk misperception of value. Why risk these things if not necessary?

Personally, if you were asking me (and you are, albeit indirectly), I'd advise against it, keep your "core" and belief in your business untainted and just find others to offer the service to in beta in exchange for references and testimonials and potential referrals. We've done this for smaller web-services companies and there are certainly many others out there who'd be open to testing out new services for lowered overhead costs. It's all in how you approach them and package the deal; but never devalue what you do or offer to others, especially when it's business.Once you set that precedent it's harder to undo it or the feelings the act creates.

Just my opinon.


We've had our web design agency for the last six years, and I can tell you that when we first started (we're a husband and wife business), I never looked at Upwork or Guru or whatever because the idea of providing highly-skilled, very technical work on professional standards for what would amount to below minimum wage just wasn't palatable to me. I feel those sites are degrading, dehumanizing, commodtize what we do and give false impressions to small business owners that quality, professional-level work can be gained for pennies on the dollar. It's like doing your own dental work or trying to drive a self-built car on the interstate.

I'd recommend you print up a stack of high quality business cards and/or brochures and simply go to industrial parks and office parks and go door to door and just introduce yourself. Be prepared to answer questions of all kinds: why you can't fix their jacked-up Wix site, what is SEO, "I thought all websites were free," and so on. I've met them all: from people debating what a website actually is, to people asking me to teach them how to become developers for free, to drunks who got other drunks to build sites for them at pubs in exchange for beers.

But "hitting the pavement" is still one of the best and more economical ways to get out there and promote your business. But as I said, be prepared in advance to answer every type of question possible, discuss pricing packages, hosting, fixing broken sites, etcetera.


Well..I can tell you how we at Sudden Impact Web Design do it. We're a husband and wife, family-owned and operated digital marketing agency. We don't have a fortune to put into huge marketing efforts. But we do, however, have me (blush, blush), and I used to be a reporter and freelancer and learned to hustle at a young age.

One of the things we did when we first started was go online and print up a huge stack of postcards, coupons, business cards, and drive around to local area industrial parks, office parks, neighborhoods with shops in them; and simply go door to door introducing ourselves and giving out cards. No hard-sell or pressure, just casual, polite introductions and a card. Did most of the cards end up in the trash? Probably. But the cards that received calls back (to us) got the best service and best returns on investment they ever dreamt of. Those efforts got us referrals upon referrals. And when that well runs dry every once in a while, we can simply "wash and repeat."

Now, yes, a professional online presence that employs smart SEO, Google Analytics, Google Adwords, Facebook ads, regular blogging, active social media...all of that will get you more leads and referrals as well but nothing beats returns on time like physically going out and kissing babies and shaking hands, except giving presentations before large professional organizations.

Hope that helps. If you'd like more, just give me a ring. Good luck.


Are you kidding me? You bet I have ideas. I also have strategies that you could employ and ways you can more effectively manage your salon to reduce overhead, cut redundancy, save money on taking payments, get more leads and referrals coming in as well.

If it were our family salon, I'd have people coming in daily or I'd go to my grave fighting for it.

Of course I have ideas on how to market, and I have all the love in the world for hair stylists because you're a service professional at heart just as many of us here on Clarity are.

But without knowing more about your salon: your demographics, whether or not you do weaves or clip-ons and extensions, your marketing budget (or lack thereof), whether or not you're online, what your resources are, and how driven you are, it's tough to essentially deliver a free blanket plan for your to put into effect.

I could write out a list of strategies you could put into place, write out a long list of practices to employ, write out a list of things you should do daily, but I don't know if you can do do them, want to do them, would be good at doing them, or if they'd necessarily even help because I don't know much about your unique situation.

If your salon is upscale, word of mouth and catering to each and every client with personal care is vital. Offer complimentary services in every way possible. Do you need a liquor license to serve cocktails? Some upscale mens salons offer drinks, video games, and are practically sports bars. I've been to barber shops that treated me like royalty...offering movies, video games, snacks, to run errands for me, all while having my beard trimmed. Needless to say, I wanted to go there often. So without knowing more or going to work for you for free (I'm only half-kidding here), my initial suggestion would be to double-down on personalized, customized customer care and offer as many complimentary services as possible and develop a classy, high-end website that allows for online booking, online payment, has stylist portfolios, their portfolios, maybe videos of them working and interviews.

Hope that helps. If you would like more, let me know. And best of luck with your salon.


I've worked for non-profits many times over, directed non-profits, freelanced through them, and started my own (and been audited multiple times as well) non-profit.

One of the biggest mistakes non-profits make is expecting quality results for free, through volunteers, who, while they may have hearts of gold, don't have the vested interest in an NPO's success that a paid employee does. I can't tell you how many volunteers for different non-profits I've met who are misused, love what they do but feel misunderstood by their Board.

But to address your question directly, if you already have an online presence, you've "jumped the gun." Because the developer you'd work with would have to probably restructure messaging, branding, with blogging, SEO, and everything that goes into successful promotion.

Personally, for $10 per hour, I wouldn't trust results, either, because that person would a) always be looking for a higher-paying position or work to augment that income and need to survive, and not be too excited about doing the work knowing they could go to a local fast food restaurant or day labor facility and make more and possibly get health benefits as well. Freelance sites post people who are desperate for work, and need money to buy food. That's why they accept work for lower-than-professional pay wages. It would be like me paying someone $10 to help promote my business...and then being surprised that we didn't garner satisfactory results. You get what you pay for in most cases. My dentist charges what he's worth, as does my mechanic, my CPA, our lawyer, and so on. Why would a professional work for minimum wage or close to that if they're any good?

I would suggest re-examining why the pay must be so low and expectations higher. If pay must be low, whatever you'd get back at ten bucks per hour would be a blessing. I would petition the Board for respectable, professional level wages, work with a local agency (which would obviously balk at $10 per hour), try to do it myself if necessary, wait until more funds are available and budgeted, or simply wait until more prepared to launch.

We once got a phone call from a local area woman stating she wanted to start her own non-profit helping other non-profits with their internet marketing. Since she herself didn't build sites or program or design, she wanted someone to build their company site with the promise to potentially refer future work. Her budget was $200 total for a professional online presence. She didn't know what SEO was, didn't care, didn't want eCommerce because she saw no need for it, wasn't interested in blogging because it was "too much" work. When we tried to advise her to raise her budget for better quality results she simply hung up. Needless to say, her non-profit never launched successfully.

Give more to get more, expect more in return.

Best of luck to you.


Prices will vary considerably based on what you want accomplished; the breadth and scope of the project undertaking, people involved, whether it's ongoing (which is always desirable as it garners more results, hence more returns on investment), or a single "one off" effort, if there's training needed, ongoing maintenance required, and actually more than that. And prices will also vary depending upon level of professionalism and overall quality: a professional with 15 years' experience can (and in my opinion, should) charge more than someone who's just starting out and may be inexperienced.

One way to estimate cost is to work out in specific detail what you would like back in return for your investment. So if you stated you want more traffic to a site, I'd ask you what type of traffic do you want? Do you want stay-at-home mothers to patronize your site or corporate attorneys, chefs or CPAs? Any professional with real-world SEO experience can be as specific as you may want. The less targeted your goal, the less targeted your results will be and more scattered...and the less legitimate leads you'll get from a campaign.

What's your budget for a) hiring the SEO/SEM/Social Media expert and b) what's your budget for paying for that professional's budget? This is something non-developers or business owners new to SEO and internet marketing seldom consider. Or is it all one lump sum? Advertising on Facebook can vary from Google Ads, Bing will probably be cheaper but deliver different results from Yahoo, and so on. And all of those advertisers charge different rates and use different metrics to measure and quantify results.

So, without getting too "techie" (if I haven't already done so), I would budget (at least) what I would to place an ad in a local newspaper for several months or what it would cost to place an ad in a local area weekly, or what you'd expect to pay to join a local Chamber of Commerce - with the caveat that a professional web developer with a background in SEO/SEM and social should be able to deliver great return on investment and in more varied ways across the board So whomever you'd work with, you'd want to make sure they can inform and/or train you enough to be able to value and understand what they're doing and how their delivering value to you, make sure they understand branding, content marketing, have testimonials and professional memberships, use contracts, and ask lots of questions. You'd want to build an ongoing partnership with the person to get the best results.

Hope that helps. Let me know if you'd like more details on anything touched on.


By going out into the real world.

Let me tell you, I used to be a doubt-riddled business owner, having started two businesses, overcoming quite a number of hurdles, dealing with every type of lunacy and drama you can think of.

But, when I went out to networking meetings (which usually are a huge waste of time and energy), started teaching workshops, met other entrepreneurs, it gave me confidence because I realized that a) my issues were hardly unique and b) I knew more than I'd ever thought compared to most other people in the general public who won't read, won't go to seminars or workshops, and never start businesses. Loneliness can be overcome by being humble, offering to volunteer where possible and applicable (where you're not being taken advantage of), and building friendships, strategic alliances with complimentary services, and remembering "what brought you to the dance."

Does that help?


Listen, I get phone calls and e-mails like this at least once or twice per day. I want to embrace the caller, but honestly, these types of calls and questions, while well intentioned I'm sure, can take up huge amounts of time and effort (and as you indicate) pay nothing and statistically most startups and new businesses flop within their first five years.

You need to complete a business plan. If you can't complete a business plan because you don't know what to add or put into the spaces, you need to read (at least) several books on how businesses start and function. I would read at least two or three business books by people who have started businesses.

Businesses need to have multiple ways to generate revenue or they fail and take homes and cars and families with them. Having an "idea" is not a business. You need to have multiple ways to promote your "idea" into a business and find ways to find out if it's even realistic.

It's unfair for you (and some would even say unethical) to expect a developer/programmer/coder to work for you for free, spend who knows how many hours picking your brain trying to understand your concept, figure out how it would make money, who other competitors are (because I can assure you this "idea" already exists and is being executed as I type this sipping my morning Earl Grey) and then how to responsibly execute the idea as an app or site, while getting nothing but a smile or handshake in return. And even if you can get someone to do this for free - the results will be in question, because who's going to do their best work for you for free?

You have a responsibility as a thinking, feeling, cognizant biped to bust open a few business books, finish a business plan if you have not already done so, meet with a few local business owners who are doing similar work, and figure out how this idea would generate real profit you can pay bills with before speaking with a developer. Don't worry about someone taking your idea; because it's a) unstructured, b) not making any money, c) is already being done. You may have a unique spin on some kind of idea or practice but you should go to www.score.org, read a few sample business plans, read some related articles and do alot more studying and preparation before engaging a professional to help you build a castle in the air.

Sorry if I'm a bit brusque-sounding in this response, but from the business owner's perspective, your question puts the workload on someone else where it's clear so much more discovery needs to be done on your part, and I personally don't encourage people who aren't developers contacting web developers/programmers/coders asking for free help defining a concept.

You'd never call a local dentist and ask him or her to look at a tooth for free. You wouldn't expect a chef to prepare a meal for you for free. You wouldn't ask a mechanic to repair a car for free because you have a dream of driving cross-country. So, it's unfair (and unrealistic) to expect a coder/programmer/developer to spend untold hours on an idea for free.


First of all, starting a business on revenue generated from affiliate sales or incidental revenue is going to be minor and not enough to scale much less build a business. Unless you're a "solo-preneur" you'll need some additional form of revenue if you intend to add to the software-as-service website after it's launched.

Also, you need to determine a) if you have a budget allocated for completion of this project, and you would be able to estimate this based on completing a business plan (if you have not already done so), and then calling several agencies for estimates. Expect to pay (at least five grand to get it off the ground).

As a developer, I used eCommerce daily, and would be interested in a related service that could measure factors such as tracking visitor peregrinations through my site and what drove them to place one order over another, for example, Most other data I get through the eCommerce provider.

So I would say that one of the reason's it's difficult to come up with some of these factors is not yet know enough about the business model itself. You can't determine size of a market without first identifying specifically what it is, and how that may change. You'd need to try a trial run, talk to some similar ventures, (especially similar ones that are local so you can meet them personally).

I have no issue with all the jargon you're using, but I do not agree with the sentiment that traditional business references won't help. You need a business plan if you have not already completed one. The next step is narrowing in on target audience; you're coming up with numbers and estimations based on theory and not on actual product launch and tests - and this can be fatal for any kind of launch where presumptions dominate over exact data.

I think once you narrow this in more, focus on niche market(s), find some ways to test your concept (so you can get what's called proof of concept), figure out how you are going to finance this while it's struggling for its first years, figure out how to scale and measure ROI, you might have something to work with.

I would go to Score.org, and look up some different business plans, business model mock-ups, find references to software as service, then I'd look up similar businesses on Manta, Dunn & Bradstreet, or other corporate intelligence sites, look for similar entities (most of which flopped statistically) and look for local businesses that are similar in practice or intent and break bread with them. There's simply not enough meat on the bones for me to speculate on possible income streams; it's like going in front of investors and explaining to them how big a market share is and how much it generates annually and then that your business will exploit that market share. You need to explain how, why it's different and unique, how you'll compete, and what your revenue sources will be and show some kind of sustained profit through at least 1 to 2 years before they'll part with a nickel. So by the same token you have to assume the onus of conducting more due diligence.


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