One of the interesting and sometimes challenging things about working in the search marketing business is dealing with the amount of mis-information and lack of understanding about SEO and marketing in general.
When you have an abundance of new business inquires and don’t need to do much outreach through inside or outside sales, it’s a very different situation than a newer company trying to get into the SEO market and build up a base of clients.
With more established companies that have a good reputation in the marketplace and an established client base, less time is spent evangelizing the notion of marketing via search than helping prospective clients understand how their unique online marketing problems can be solved.
As a result, a company that is in “evangelizing” mode communicates differently and tends to be more focused with prospects on the fundamentals and basic concepts of search marketing. I’s more about, “Do you know what a search engine is?” compared to, “What percentage increase of cost per acquisition (lead/sale) on organic rankings are you looking for?”. As companies mature, it’s important to remember the need to educate.
When I hear from a prospective client looking for SEO services that says, “We don’t get much business from our web site, so we don’t believe site optimization has any chance of delivering a return on investment”, I have to step back and hold back the reactionary response, “Of course you’re not getting business from your web site. No one can find it!” response, and be a bit more educational.
It’s important to ask, “Why do you want to optimize your site in the first place?” and find out how they arrived at the decision that SEO was going to save their marketing. When the reply is, “To increase leads or sales.”, then a logical follow up would be, “Great, how do you measure that?. If the prospect replies with, “We don’t.” or who doesn’t have a well-defined method of tracking ROI from their web marketing, then that’s the red flag you have to watch for. It’s also an opportunity that helps you frame how to communicate and educate the prospect/client.
A more productive approach would be to back up the market opportunity with hard facts about the vertical market in terms of maturity, consumer demand, competition and the marketing needs of the company as well as how search could be integrated with the company’s other marketing activities.
If an organization does not make decisions based on those kinds of facts, but instead, shoots from the hip with comments like the one above, then they have bigger marketing problems to solve at the strategic level before diving into specific tactics like SEO.