Advertising Search Marketing Services

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Search Optimization (Low-Rent)
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The wonderful image you see here is courtesy of Tim Bray and apart from being pretty funny, i wanted to post it in order to talk about how Search marketing services are advertised.

All i hear these days is "sorry, can't take on any more clients" and "anyone want a client?" - SEO/SEM's are snowed under with work and the ones i speak to about business regularly tell me they're drowning in clients!

But, that can't be the case for all right? So, how do members here get clients, how do you advertise? and more importantly, where do you advertise? I see a lot of advertising at places like Search Engine Watch but to me, although im sure advertising SEO services there makes some sense, and pays, im not 100% certain it's the best venue for such ads.

And if that's the case, where is the best venue?

Tell me about it! Come on, let's have it out, where, how, why and all the rest on SEM/SEO marketing....


Been thinking the same thing

I am hoping to move to canada which will not only mean changing country but I have been hoping to change career direction too (ie. go from being a meaningless techy cog to being my own boss). All my internet marketing and development freelance work up until now has been sporadic through word of mouth. Obviously in another company nobody will have heard of me so this is something I need to crack if I am going to be able to pay the mortgage :O)

I can see both sides of the SEW et al advertising, on the one hand people who arrive via those ads at least know what SEO/SEM is and therefore might have more realistic expectations of results and fees. On the other hand, the vast majority of people who need this stuff will not be the sort of people who hang out on those sorts of sites?

My plan up till now was going to be the traditional direct mail route. Knock up a couple of versions of a mailer, add in the unique to prospect stuff (industry, insights, other specifics), split test, rinse repeat. Be cool to see how the veterans did it and do it now :O)

Another thing I have been thinking about is what exactly are you selling. When you buy a drill what you really want is a hole in the wall. Many SEOs are selling #1 results or page 1 results, or better results, yada. This seems wrong to me - that is ego food? Doesn't the client really want sales? More/Better traffic leading to more and better targetted prospects, leading to better conversions, leading to more people clicking 'buy'. This makes me think that just selling SEO these days is a bit too specific and maybe in fact the best ones also deal with usability, sales copy and therefore conversion issues also. Otherwise all you can promise is a boost in traffic?

So I am thinking of pitching it as "more profit (more customers for a lower price)", who wouldn't want that? ...I will let you know in a few months ;O)

In general, I am not sure if

In general, I am not sure if "advertising" works very well for selling advertising - or SEO/SEM-services. There are too much of a trust element in this for it to work. Word of mouth, PR, direct marketing and direct sales seems to work much better. I have just hired another full time sales person for direct sales - not because we don't have more than enough work coming in, but because we want to grow more aggressivly. In a fast growing market you can either go with the flow and hope to get a fair share of the growth - or, as I do, gear up and aim at getting far more than your fair share :)

So, to me the key is to get the right sales people, plot the right PR stunts and invent the most effective direct marketing schemes. But, be ready to pay PREMIUM salleries and bonuses to the best sales people - cheasy low-life telemarketers won't be able to sell quality SEO/SEM services to high paying clients.

Another thought

I also thought of targetting web design and IT companies (already put some feelers out with my resume) to do whitelabel/outsourced work. I figure that way even though the margins are lower I don't need to spend all my time selling and providing account management time.

chris, you should be aware th

chris, you should be aware that web design and IT companies typically do not have the marketing budgets - only the development budgets. In my experience the big money is in the marketing budgets :)

Mikkel, agreed

I have been trying to find "we do it all" marketing companies like the one I work for now, don't seem to be any in winnipeg though. I figure if they currently don't get any or much of their clients marketing budget then I might be able to help them do that ;O)

Part of the problem I have found is changing the perceptions of clients who see web work as a cost to the business rather than an asset or investment. The same people who are willing to blow thousands on brochures nobody wants or a late night tv campaign on a sat channel nobody will ever see ..

Best Venue? in the SERPS

Beyond referrals being the best leads, most clients found us in Google, MSN, and me that's the best venue for "advertising". Rank high for some phrases and you can show them you know what you're doing....we do lots of other advertising (SES exhibits, large site link advertising, directory advertising, chamber meetings, phone book listings, and more)...but no other advertising compare to them finding us in the search engines.

anyone want a client?

Afraid that is the category I have lapsed into, and damned difficult it was to give them away too, many of these clients I actually liked!

Having now chosen to go down the "taking in advertising" approach to earning money, and finding it less stressful.

I can say though that referrals is undoubtedly how people still find me, and doing well in the serps for your own web site.

You have to put yourself in the position of the punter, it seems most rely on word of mouth, or playing with search engines themselves to see what is around.

Advertsing Brings Less Educated Clients

I can only imagine that anyone who calls a company that they saw advertised on a telephone pole or through email spam are completely uneducated about SEO and not the sort of clients professional SEOs would be interested in.

In today's market, a good approach would be to get to know a few of those hugely busy SEOs and let them know of your availability to help as necessary.

Build your network

We know what we are good at and we know what we are not good at. Some of the painful stuff has been in trying to jam square pegs in round holes and take on work that was not a core competency.

We now have a partner network of best of breed in complimentary services to the ones we offer so at least we have a short degree of separation and the adage of "what goes around comes around" applies. Many of our partners give and receive leads with no commercial messiness involved.

In a lot of cases the companies we turn away for work are not being turned away because we couldn't take on any more clients. Expectations of clients/suppliers/us have to fit and with certain minimum levels to make premium service a reality with suppliers we have to be careful not to get into a commercially unrealistic pitch.

There is also the issue of the site you will be working with. If it's a dog of a site then you are setting yourself up for a fall. We sent a nice prospective client away and told them to come back with a commerically viable site, because pay per click would not work if the site isn't up to the job. Who would they blame if ROI wasn't that great??

Some of the competition are loss leading their charging structure to gain market share, so they can be the "biggest", but ultimately delivering the service is what will differentiate the good from the great. Deep pockets are one thing....

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