How To Be A Lot More Productive – Eat That Frog

1 Comment » Written on April 14th, 2010 by
Categories: Business

Building a PPC business from scratch is hard work. There are many demands on your time, so managing your time effectively is key to success.

Successful people tend to use their time more effectively than others. They are not gifted, and there is no mystery to how they do it, they just tend to organize themselves in a deliberate, calculated manner. Time management skills can be learned and copied.

I’ve just finished a good little book on time management called “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy. To those who have read time management books, the content will be familiar, but if you haven’t given much thought to how you manage and plan your time, then it’s a good place to start. Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People is another good read on this topic.

“Eat That Frog” does become a little repetitious in places, so I’ll summarize the main points. If you feel that you waste time, or could create more value by planning your day better, give these methods a try.

1. Focus Single-Mindedly On Your Most Important Task

What is the one task you do today that is the most valuable? We all have multiple demands on out time. Tasks build up constantly, and there isn’t enough time to do them all.

Decide which tasks are the most important – in terms of adding the most value, or have severe consequence if they are not done – and do those tasks first.

We procrastinate longest on such tasks, so it’s a good idea to take action on them as soon as possible. Leave the low-value, easy asks until after you’ve finished the high value tasks.

2. Set Clear Goals

Decide exactly what you want.

Sounds obvious, right. However, a lot of people “make busy”. They work for eight-ten hours a day, but only have a vague idea of where they’re heading in terms of their overall goal.

A long time perspective is important. If you set long terms goals, it makes it easier to make short term decisions. Each short term decision should take you one step close to the long term goal.

Set goals for the day. The week. For the year. Make a list of all the tasks you need to achieve your goal, and prioritize them. More on prioritization in step 7.

3. Plan On Paper

A day can be planned in ten minutes.

Without such planning, you can waste hours procrastinating or completing low-value or irrelevant tasks, so taking a few minutes to plan your day is time well spent.

It is important to write your plan down, as writing a list makes tasks more concrete in your mind. It is very difficult to keep a long list of tasks in your head.

So work from a list. Each task that comes up, add it to the list. Make the list the night before, so you mind can get to work on it while you sleep. Plan your coming week at the end of the each week. Also do it at the end of each month. Tick off the items on the list as you go. Steady, visible progress helps propels you forward.

4. Apply the 80/20 Rule

20% of your tasks will account for the 80% of your value. One task you do could be more valuable than all other tasks combined. Do you know what that task is?

You can probably identify it without having to think about it.

5. Consider The Consequences

What are the consequences of not completing a task?

The tasks with the highest consequences of not completing them are probably the most important in terms of providing value.

6. Practice Creative Procrastination

Everyone procrastinates. So allow yourself to procrastinate on the small, unimportant tasks, after you’ve completed your important high value tasks.

7. The A, B, C, D, E Method

Write your tasks down and categorize them A, B, C, D and E.

  • A is high value task. A high value task has serious consequences if it is not done.
  • If you have multiple A tasks, mark them a1, a2, a3 etc.
  • B task is a task you should do, but it’s not critical. Answering an email, etc. Don’t start a B task while there is an A task pending completion.
  • C task is something that would be nice to do, but there are no consequences if you don’t do it i.e. a lunch meeting
  • D task is something you can delegate to someone else. Do so.
  • E task is something you can eliminate altogether, because it makes no difference. You may be doing this task out of habit.

After you’ve applied this method, your list will be up to date, prioritized and clear.

8. Focus On Building Your Core, High Value Skills

There is no-one who does things quite the way you do. There are things that you can do that are unique, and you can make yourself very valuable by focusing on those unique skills that create the most value.

What are your strengths? You might be great at sales, or management, or fine tuning PPC campaigns. Make a list of your skills and grade them, strongest to weakest. Decide which skill, if you did it to an excellent standard, would create the most value?

Focus on improving those skills.

9. The Law Of Three

This point seemed rather arbitrary, but it does have the ring of truth about it.

There are most likely three key tasks that present the most value. Everything else can likely be delegated, outsourced, re-scheduled or eliminated.

10. Have Everything You Need Before You Begin

A chef who has everything placed neatly in front of her doesn’t need to go riffling through cupboards for ingredients. Doing so would affect her productivity. Chefs are encouraged to keep their working tables clear, and good chefs are constantly cleaning and tidying.

Make sure you have a clear workspace, conducive to work, with everything you need right in front of you.

11. Break A Task Down Into Actions

A jo2urney of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Break large tasks down into single actions. Then do each action.

12. Identify Your Key Constraints

Identify the key constraints that prevent you completing your task. What holds you back from achieving the most value? What are the limiting factors?

Dedicate your energy to overcoming those constraints. A constraint might be a person, procedural, of financial.

13. Put Pressure On Yourself

If you had to leave tomorrow for a month, unexpectedly, what task would you do? Set deadlines for all your tasks and race against the clock. Make it a game. Resolve to beat your own deadlines. Develop a sense of steady urgency.

14. Ignore Technological Distractions

Twitter. Email. Text messages. Blogging. Facebook.

These tools can be a major roadblock to productivity. They interrupt your flow. They prevent you doing the tasks that are hard. They can be exercises in “busy-iness”

Make a time for them, and ignore them for the rest of the day, until your value producing tasks are finished.

15. Use A Calendar

Set aside a specific time to do a certain task. Set aside segments to do certain tasks in pre-prepared time slots. Get a planner, like Calender software, where you can see each hour. Slot something from your list into each time slot.

16. Concentrate Your Resources

Focus on single handling. If you pick up a task, do it to completion. We can waste a lot of time flipping between tasks as we have to figure out where we left off.

Multi-tasking is over-rated.

What are your best time-management tips? Please share đŸ™‚

Thinking Of Starting A PPC Service Business?

6 Comments Written on March 25th, 2010 by
Categories: Business

Thinking of setting up a business providing PPC campaign management services?

Let’s presume you’ve got your PPC chops, have built up some practical experience and are now looking to make money out of your skills.

Let’s take a look at how to go about it.

Size Of The Industry

SEM spending is estimated to be worth $18 billion by 2011.

Most activity, in terms of spend, in the professional search marketing space is in PPC, as opposed to SEO. The PPC concept is easy to grasp, implement and measure, and as more and more advertising spending shifts online, it will undoubtedly find it’s way into PPC.

Is Running A Business Really What You Want To Do?

It seems a strange question, but there is a big difference between knowing how to do PPC and setting up a business to sell that service to clients.

When you start a business, you typically have to perform most of the varied business functions yourself. That means writing proposals, attending conferences, pitching presentations, cold-calling, selling and networking. All of these activities cost time and money and none of it is guaranteed to pay off. Once you do land work, you need to run the campaigns whilst searching for the next customer.

That’s the reality of most service-based start-ups. Your hourly wage must reflect that you are likely going to spend 50% of your time working on prospecting, learning, networking, and dealing with administrative issues. Ask yourself if you’d like to “do it all”, or would you be happier selling your skills to a business that is already established, so you can focus exclusively on PPC?

Most inhouse PPC managers with three years experience earn between $30-70K. If you have five or more years experience, that figure shifts up a gear, typically ranging from 50K to, in some cases, $200K (rare – but some people are doing that, and above).

When you’re doing your break even calculations – more on this shortly – keep these figures in mind. The effort involved in running your own business must pay off in relation to what you can earn somewhere else, unless monetary reward is not your sole aim. And an in-house job can gain you experience, help you build your network, and help gain exposure for your expertise.

Cash Flow & Break Even Point

If you’ve decided that your suited to running your own business, the first thing to do is run a few numbers.

One of the most important aspects of start-up bsuiness is cash flow.

Do you have sufficient cash reserves to live on while you’re waiting for your first client to pay up? Cash flow can kill a small business, even those businesses which have a a lot of prospective work in the pipeline. The bills will come in, and your clients may not have paid you yet. Without access to a line of credit or savings, cash flow issues can take you out very quickly. It’s a good rule of thumb to assume you’ll make a loss, or break even, in the first year, so make sure your finances can cope.

Next, you need a break-even analysis. A break-even analysis shows you the amount of revenue you’ll need to bring in to cover your expenses, before you make a profit.

  • What are your fixed costs? i.e rent, insurance,power and other set expenses and overheads.
  • What is your estimated variable costs? i.e. costs that will vary due to volume sold, such as staffing numbers
  • What is you the sales revenue required to cover all your costs?

A simple equation like this will show you how many sales you need to make in order to run your business successfully. It will also give you an idea of what you need to charge for your services.

It should only take you a few hours to make the numbers work, or to see that they don’t stack up. If they do work, then you can go ahead and form a business plan. If you can’t make the numbers work, then you’ve saved yourself a lot of time, money and effort creating a business that can’t possibly survive.

It doesn’t sound like much fun, I know, but business really does come down to a set of numbers. You either sell something for more than it costs to produce, or you don’t.


Try searching for PPC management services. As you can see, the world isn’t short of providers!

In an industry with such a low barrier to entry, how will you stand out from all the rest? You’ll need to give prospective clients a good reason why your service is better than the others on offer. How do you intend to match or better the credentials of established operators? How can you differentiate your service? Can you do it by geography? Price? Service levels? Performance? Focus on a business vertical / niche where you have established expertise?

Think about how you can pitch your services so they demonstrate real value to a client. If they can do PPC  in-house, they will – so you can’t just sell the benefits of PPC in general- , you need to give them great reasons to outsource to you. What advantage do you provide over doing the work inhouse?

Pricing Your Services

One strategy often used by those starting out is to undercut everyone else. Whilst it can be useful to get a cash flow going, there are problems with this approach.

Once you hook someone into a low price, they’ll come to expect it. And then they may ask for discounts too! A better way is to give someone a low price, but make sure they know this is a discounted price on your usual service. Why would you give someone a low price? This can be a useful tactic for building good references, recommendations and a client history. The advantage to you is that you gain marketing collateral and professional experience, and get paid.

Long-term under pricing isn’t a great strategy unless, like WalMart, you can do a lot of volume with low overhead by dictating the terms of the supply chain. But you are not WalMart (or Google), and you don’t have that pricing power. This creates problems in itself, especially for the start-up PPC business, as you need a management structure and personnel do deal with high volumes. If you can do high volumes at good prices, great! Ask yourself how you’ll manage to scale quickly – in terms of taking on extra staff and moving to bigger premises- if this happens. But beware that some of the easiest set and forget PPC models have a high churn rate, and Google has done beta tests that aim to service the low end of the market via automated technologies.

You also can’t price too far above the market, unless you’re bringing something truly unique to the market that clients can’t get elsewhere – additional exposure on other key properties, press coverage, organic search traffic, a strong focus on improving conversion rates, a business model where you absorb most the risk but keep a bigger share of the profits, etc.

Take a long hard look at the existing PPC service market and try to imagine what is not there. Could reporting be better? Could you add value by focusing on achieving increased conversion i.e. getting involved more deeply with a clients business strategy? Could you specialize in one particular market, like say travel, and become very well known in that market segment?

Often, larger PPC management campaigns are based on a percentage client spend, with some form of retainer for reporting. If you do get paid a percent of spend, it helps to focus where the click volume is decent and clicks are expensive. Legal and hotels are typically far more lucrative than a local shoe repair shop. đŸ˜‰

Smaller campaigns tend to be a fixed price for establishment, with on-going retainers. When deciding on how to price, look at what your competition are doing, and consult industry research and surveys. While recurring income sounds compelling (we always add up the income before thinking of the costs), if you under-price the cost of maintaining the relationship (as well as the PPC account) then that passive income can easily start flowing in the wrong direction, and end up as a passive expense. A well executed one off deal can be far more lucrative than an under-priced ongoing relationship. If a relationship consistently loses money consider firing the client and spending more time improving the performance on your best accounts.

Your Turn:

What are some of the business lessons you learned the hard way? If you were to start a PPC consulting business from scratch today what would you do differently than you did when you first started?