February 24, 2015

Hello partners!  I hope you are keeping warm with all the crazy weather going on.  I know that here in Florida, I am glad the Florida winter appears to be over, since that was a long couple of days. LOL.  I wanted to get an update out to you because over the next couple of weeks I am going to be very busy. I’ll be meeting my sisters at my dad’s place in South Carolina to (hopefully) complete going through dad’s house and get it ready to go on the market. My dad passed away just before Thanksgiving and my mom passed away about 3 years ago, so there is a lot to go through.

justincaseJust a note, possibly for you or your parents. As my sisters and I were going through much of dad’s stuff, we found a file folder in his desk labeled “Just In Case”. What the heck? In that folder, he had written a brief note that if we were reading this, then it was because he had been called to go meet up with my mom and his Creator, and he hoped this would be helpful. After that was a spreadsheet, completely up to date, listing all his account numbers, username and passwords for each and every account he had; ie, utility companies, bank accounts, investment accounts, life insurance policies, mortgage info, everything, even his newspaper subscriptions and a copy of his will. What an incredibly useful labor of love that saved us all a ton of time. This might be something to think about as an additional gift for your family and heirs.

And then a few days after returning from that, I will be attending the Channel Partners Conference in Las Vegas, meeting with the carriers and their upper management, finding out about new product offerings and learning new stuff.  A good time will be had by all, I am sure.

VAR Transition

As mentioned in my previous newsletter, I have been encouraging you to let me know if you are interested in transitioning to become a VAR partner of mine instead of just a Cognigen or Commission River lead agent. As of this morning, I have completed the few people who indicated an interest in this but I am surprised at the large number of people that I did not hear from about this. If you haven’t do so yet, please email me indicating your interest in doing this.  Since I do not have access to your information, I will (and have so far, for the ones who have indicated interest) setup the VAR account and have the system send you the welcome email. You need to go into your new VAR account asap and put in your address and such.

This will work the same way as your old agency but if any leads close with your new VAR account, then you will be receiving TWO commission checks every month — one from your old account and one from your new one. There is really not a cost effective way to merge those accounts, unfortunately.

There are many benefits to doing this, where topping that list is the fact that you are no longer required to sell a Commission River product annually in order to maintain your agency. Of course I hope you will generate leads that will close for the benefit of both of us but I currently do not have or enforce any quotas. In addition, if you can establish a track record of creating leads every month that result in sales, with the VAR program I have control over the commission split percentages (where I had no such control for Commission River agents), where I am more than happy to bump up your percentage of the split if you are regularly producing leads that result in sales.

You WILL need to change your web sites for this change. In the line in the target URL where it currently says “?cogid=oldagentid“, you will change that to read “?telid=newvarid“.  In fact, after you make that change, you may want to go to your site and create a test lead to make sure it is working correctly. (Please label it as “test” so I can identify it and delete it).

MarketingWhat Is Your Marketing Plan?

Do you have a marketing plan?  The old saying is that if you fail to plan, you can plan to fail, and there really is no middle ground here, it is absolutely one or the other.  And if your marketing plan is purely trying to get ranked in Google with SEO techniques, you have a very long row to hoe because that landscape is changing rapidly.

Of course with SEO you need to be ranking for the right keywords, where that in itself is more than 2-3 minutes with your favorite keyword tool.  You want to choose keywords that are relevant to what you are offering but not keywords with so much competition to where you won’t get ranked or even noticed by Google prior to the second coming, but keywords with at least enough search volume to make it worth your while to be ranked for those keywords.

Url addressInbound links from RELEVANT and HIGH RANKING or AUTHORITY sites are clearly the best thing you can do. It would be better for you to have 1 link from a site like this, say www.att.com instead of 1000 links from dogfoodtoday.com just because of the relevancy factor.  Add new content to your sites frequently, even if its just a well written and relevant 300 word article in the BLOG or NEWS section of your site, since Google is unimpressed with stagnant sites that have no change month after month and year after year.

Create your own link sites on high ranking (and FREE) sites like Tumblr, Reddit and such. Keep them updated with  relevant content on a frequent basis, even every week or couple of weeks. You should be able to write a relevant, unique 300+ word article quickly, or there are places online to get that written for you for under $5. Have each article target a different keyword in the anchor text or sometimes just even use your site’s URL for the anchor text; ie, NATURAL linking. Spread them out over time, since Google knows it is totally UNNATURAL to get 500 or 5000 new links in a couple days, rather than drip-feeding those links over the course of a month. Fiverr.com can be great source for getting quality links but be sure to read the description of the service, since 500 links all from Korea will not gain you as much authority as 5 relevant and high ranking sites from the US.

Social media is hot these days and Google is taking more and more notice of “social signals” to determine what is hot and relevant in today’s searches. Create a Facebook fan page for your site and be sure to LIKE it and have links from it to your main site. There are a ton of social media sites these days, all of them free, only requiring some sweat equity on your part to get that link. Keep those sites updated on a regular basis with new content and new relevant anchor text in your links.

hotWhat Are Today’s Hot Product Offerings?

In the target market we are going after, I think T1 will continue to be hot but the competition is heating up to the point where I am not sure I would make T1 a focal point anymore. The cable companies are ruining it for everyone, where Joe Average Consumer does not understand nor will take the time to understand that cable is a “best efforts” offering whereas T1 is contractually guaranteed. All Joe sees is that cable is about one-third the price and he really cannot see beyond that in most cases, nor is he willing to listen to an explanation of it.  In short, I would not totally ignore T1 but again I would not make it a focal point of a marketing campaign.

Fixed wireless is luke-warm but based on the limited number of locations where decent fixed wireless is a good deal, I don’t think I would make that a focal point of a marketing campaign either. DSL has been dead for years, it just hasn’t had the good graces to roll over and officially die yet.

Ethernet is hot and continues to be hot. And it’s not just for the major metro areas either anymore. Fiber Ethernet is obviously and readily available in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, etc, but it is no longer limited to large cities; ie, I have current fiber Ethernet customers in Jefferson City TX (population 2055), Wiggins MS (population 4517), and more, and at extremely competitive pricing too.

verticalsLooking for some verticals or specific markets?  Let me provide two of them here. Is there a company near you that has a lot of offices across the US?  Let them know what you can do for them. I am currently the “telecom go-to guy” for two such companies with offices across the US with at least one office in almost every state. Working with the corporate IT department at the headquarters office of those companies, they have come to realize that with a quick email to me saying they have a contract expiring in somecity and what are the best options, I can turn that around in a heartbeat to show them their best and most cost effective options. It saves the corporate IT department a TON of time to not have to do that research and they are loving the relationship they have with me in that regard. I also keep them posted on when the contract for somecity is nearing expiration so they can be proactive about renewing or switching to a carrier that might be more cost effective today than it was 3 years ago.

thinkoutsideOr how about being a WISP (Wireless Internet Service Provider)? I have multiple customers who are providing wifi for areas where DSL/cable is not available, or if it is, it blows, where the residents of the area are more than happy to pay for good wireless service. In one case, I have a customer with a 300 MB Ethernet circuit who is wirelessly serving almost 1000 residents of a Florida condo community with wifi and VOIP, and it is insanely profitable for him (even on his $6k/month circuit), as well as less than HALF the price of what cable service would cost each resident. He has actually approached me about expanding his service into other areas.  For new WISPs starting up, several of my current WISP customers are more than happy to provide a “free initial phone consultation” and an ongoing consulting (paid) relationship to help get them off the ground and avoid the pitfalls that they themselves encountered when they were getting off the ground.