A veteran in the WSI network, Jorge Contreras chatted to Francois Muscat about the early days of digital marketing and how far we have come.
Tell me a bit about yourself and what you did before starting your WSI business
Since I was a child, I wanted my own service-oriented, consultant business.
I studied Business Administration at Monterrey Tech and did a Masters of Arts in International Affairs with a marketing minor at Ohio University.
How long have you been with WSI?
From when I was at school and my father would ask me what I wanted to do, the answer was marketing! I liked the products, the advertising, the new inventions – which led to him asking me what I had invented.
Clicking on a banner ad for WSI led to the arrival of an old-school info-pack with brochures and a mini CD! When I started in 2002, digital marketing hadn’t even been invented yet. I was naturally excited about the concept because digital marketing promised to be a new dimension of marketing.
Twenty years later, and I still love what I do!
What is the biggest value you get from WSI?
When I was lecturing in the business faculty of the University, marketing and e-commerce were not related. Graduates were leaving with already outdated knowledge.
During the summer of 2003 I did my WSI training in Canada and was overwhelmed by the amount of learning I had to do. Considering that our clients didn’t even have an email with their own domain name, the technical information was only part of the knowledge I acquired. We were also taught how to sell, how to manage a project, and the importance of being on the cutting edge. WSI keeps franchisees up-to-date and the timing ensures that we are immediately relevant.
Who influenced you to start your own business?
My father knew of my lifelong dream and was very supportive both emotionally and financially when I had the opportunity to achieve the goal. The pressure started when I had to start selling something no one knew about yet. The threat of a regular job motivated me and I was willing and able to invest the time to make a success of the business.
Describe your typical work week
As an established WSI consultant, things have changed a lot since my days as a solopreneuer. Initially I worked 10 to 12 hours a day and did everything from the proposals to the filing and chasing up payments.
My typical week at the moment consists of 2 to 5 hours in meetings with my team and some key clients. The operational side of the business is in capable hands while I am more active in strategy.
Especially post Covid, a lot more of our work is done virtually and this allows more freedom to travel. For consistently superior deliverables, clear KPIs and processes are in place which makes it easy to manage the firm from afar.
What are the biggest obstacles that you have faced in running your business and how have you overcome them?
Convincing clients to pay for something they had never heard of before was a challenge. Working in the Mexican economy, where there is a lot of emphasis on lowering costs, added to the challenge. My persistence paid off. I never asked a client why they said no, but rather, “Can we try this or can we try that?” “Let me prove that this is going to pay off.” WSI is not the cheapest but I didn’t give up on proving that the value was more than the expense.
What are your best skills that you bring to the business?
I used to teach Spanish which is how I got comfortable speaking in public. Knowing how to communicate builds trust with clients. They see a confident speaker as a source of knowledge and a thought leader who can add value for them. When that happens, you attract clients through consulting and education. Companies start seeking you out - much easier than cold calling.
What goals have you set for the next five years?
To put my goal in context, in 2010 I was WSI’s second biggest contributor - a particularly good achievement considering the business earned Mexican pesos. But then I settled into a bit of a comfort zone.
Now, having renewed my franchise for another 10 years, I want to grow again. We have better systems processes and a great team which opens up the potential for bigger and more important projects in the future. We want to move from being a national franchise to an international company working with Latina and Hispanic companies in the US with five times the revenue in the next five years.
What advice would you give to a new WSI Internet Consultant?
See your WSI franchise as not just a business but as a life project because it’s a long-term investment and each year gets better and better.
What motivates you?
My motivation is providing for my family, travelling, and travelling with my family.
H2 What drink do you order at happy hour?
In summer, when I want to cool down, I’ll have a margarita with tequila. In winter, when I need to warm up, I’ll have a mandarita . This is a drink made with a shot of clear tequila, a shot of lime, and topped up with spicy sangrita.
If you could be anywhere other than here talking to me - right this minute, where would you be?
Enjoying a margarita at a WSI Global Convention!
The conventions are a perfect work-life balance. Being surrounded by friends like Francois and my family.
WSI consultants like Jorge Contreras make up the world’s largest digital marketing agency. For more information, contact us without delay.