Selling Local Search

Miriam Ellis is in the midst of creating an excellent series of interviews with local seo’s over at the SEO Igloo. I was humbled to be part of the group she is interviewing and I really enjoyed doing it. Thanks again for the invite Miriam.

In the introduction to the local seo interview series, Miriam listed a number of things that she felt a good local SEO should be able to do. Among them was to explain the value of the service without first having to turn the client into a local SEO. I thought this was very well put and made me realize that I haven’t really sat down and thought about my presentation as I contemplate opening my own shop.

So, I set down and penned it out. As someone who has done an awful lot of this kind of sales training, I often advise doing this as I believe more can be learned than can be taught.

Thought you might enjoy it… And if you find any pitfalls, I would love the feedback…

Set The Agenda

I would like to begin by giving you an overview of my philosophy on internet advertising, we’ll talk about that for a bit and then I’ll review some of the challenges and limitations that we are likely to face. After that, if it sounds like something you might be interested in… then we can start to talk about price and your budget for the project. Would that be ok?

My Philosphy

When people use the internet they are typically looking at websites… and they are using search engines to find those websites. In fact, people do 90% of their searching on 3 search engines: Google, Yahoo & MSN. (Reminder to self: Let the client hold the stats; they are engaging and can help build rapport).

When they search for a local business like yours that behavior changes just a little bit. According to this study from Comscore there are 6 engines that will bring 90% of the traffic. So, I think our time is best spent targeting these 6 sites, with a majority of that time devoted to Google and Yahoo. Does that make sense?

From there I want to focus on two things:

First, continually increase your visibility on these engines in your target area; this will bring you the most traffic.

And second, monitor and continually improve the cost-effectiveness of acquiring each customer; that will maximize your ROI.

Let’s talk about visibility first. Visibility to me means coming up on the first page of results when someone is searching for your type of business or your business name. And then trying to get closer to the top of the first page. There are 3 areas, each with their own strengths and weaknesses that we will focus on to bring traffic: (Show a page of search results… )Here – PPC, Here – Maps/Local, Here – Organic. Do you agree that if we focus on these 3 areas we can maximize the traffic you will receive?

googlelocalsearch.gif

I’ll talk about the challenges and limitations of these in just a bit… but before I do want to speak for just a minute about how to make this most effective for you in terms of cost.

The way to continually get the most bang for each dollar you spend in advertising is to focus on your conversion rate. The more of your visitors that actually contact you and spend money with you, the more cost effective your program is going to be. There are 3 ways to get an awesome conversion rate:

  1. Get really lucky.
  2. Understand the most important copy elements of a local ad and get really lucky.
  3. Understand the most important copy elements of a local ad and test.

To test the website, we will simply borrow a trick from the direct mail industry. In direct mail, what they do is to create two mailers, shuffle the deck, and mail them out. When you track the results, one will get a better return than the other. So, they kill the loser and try to create a new ad that will beat the previous winner. Then repeat.

With this approach you have the opportunity to continually increase the number of customers who contact you, while at the same time, reduce your cost of acquiring each one. Does that make sense?

The Next Step

Hopefully, I have now earned the right to ask them questions about their business to better understand what they need to accomplish. And then can review the differences in the way organic, ppc and local/maps/iyps can help meet them meet those business objectives given their most important keywords and target geography. And finally to make sure they understand the risk/reward/no guarantee aspects of internet marketing.

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6 Responses to Selling Local Search

  1. David Mihm says:

    Tim, yet another great post. It is just too hard to keep up with you these days so I have decided to give up blogging. (Just kidding! I’ve just been too busy but hope to return in March.)

    I love the way you are able to condense all this information into a short presentation. You’ve really got it nailed & I hope you will not mind if I borrow some of your talking points.

    One of the things that I struggle with is that I waste a lot of time with potential clients because I am not forceful enough in setting the agenda for the initial call or meeting…but that was because I didn’t really have one until now. It had been backwards, where it was a free-for-all with me asking clients about their business & it really should be the other way around–explain SEM first & then ask them what pieces of it apply to their business.

    Great post.

  2. MiriamEllis says:

    David -
    You made my jaw drop until I saw your ‘just kidding’. You’d better not give up blogging! I’ll tell mom if ya do!

    I confess, I have had issues with giving too much time to clients as well without getting down to brass tacks. Something I’ve noticed – not a happy trend – is that many of the potential clients who take up the most time before contract signing end up being the ones who decide not to go with you. That can be tough, particularly as we have never thought it right to bill for pre-contract consultation. It’s a puzzle.

    Tim, this is an absolutely fantastic post. I really applaud you in writing this and think you’ve got it right.

    One thing I’d point out is that I tend to ask questions about the client’s business FIRST, before I start talking about what we do. It helps me to tailor even my most initial words to them to their specific needs.

    Well done!
    Miriam

  3. David, thanks. As soon as I read Miram’s comment I realized what a challenge it was going to be. It is so complicated and there is so much to talk about it. This exercise really helped me. And it gives me something to build on.

    Miriam, I wouldn’t argue with your approach at all. And I’ve sold and trained people to sell that way exactly. I’m just starting to feel like asking people for their time is not much different from asking for their money. Value should be provided before asking for either. In the end, it might depend on who initiated the contact. Me or the client. That’s a big factor.

  4. MiriamEllis says:

    Yes, that’s an interesting point. I guess the small business owner in me says you need to do something for them before asking them to do something for you (pay you!).

    But, the danger here, especially for a one or two man shop is that you can waste unrecoverable time on non-profitable tasks that could have been otherwise spent talking to a likelier client or working on your own projects.

    It’s a puzzle, Tim, but it’s a good one to think about.

  5. You said: “To test the website, we will simply borrow a trick from the direct mail industry. In direct mail, what they do is to create two mailers, shuffle the deck, and mail them out. When you track the results, one will get a better return than the other. So, they kill the loser and try to create a new ad that will beat the previous winner. Then repeat.”

    Excellent point, well put.

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