In private consultations with some Search Engine Optimizers I am always amazed at how many people feel it's necessary to hype things up in order to sell their search engine placement services.
Selling hype or setting unrealistic expectations is one of the LEAST intelligent things you can do to build long term client relationships. Instead of scrambling to outdo the next self proclaimed SEO guy's claims, why not try something more in the nature of a soft sell.
By teaching your prospective clients the truth about the SEO process actually will:Enhance your reputation as a professionalDiffuse those competitors who ONLY sell hypeIncrease new salesGenerate increased referral businessEstablish long term client relationshipsEstablish tremendous client loyaltyFirmly establish YOUR CREDIBILITY in both the community as well as the industry as a professional who knows how to get results.
In other words, teach people the TRUTH about the process and you'll already gain some immediate advantages because you are educating the prospect by offering them some facts but even more important, something that is EASY to believe. Something that blows away old misconceptions.
Most people are tired of hearing a lot of sales hype.
Try de-mystifying the SEO process and help your prospects to understand what search engine optimization (SEO) can do for their business. It's really just a simple, old-fashioned principle.
More SE visibility = more success for the client More client
success = more referral business for you
Most of the time, your clients will sell your services better than you can ever sell yourself.
Every time you help someone achieve success, it is literally impossible for your business not to benefit as well. Okay, here are some real simple tips:
A. Educate your prospect by telling them the truth.
Try using some of the following points when speaking to your prospects:Explain to your prospect, that your job is not just building a web site. Designing a web site is relatively easy, but this is only 50% of the job. Explain that your effort continues long after the launch of the site.Teach them about a few of the ways your service differs from the traditional Web developer. Your true objective entails more than just concept or design.Your skill is positioning their web site squarely in front of their ideal target audience. Once you get them positioned for maximum exposure, it's your aim to keep them there, right in the limelight.If you're presenting to a group of 2 or more, ask them the name of their favorite search engine. Don't be surprised by their reply but 98% of the time, they'll name one of the MAJOR search engines. This is a great way to begin teaching them something they may have never heard before.Since there are only a "handful" of search engines that everyone uses (the major ones), this is where we place our best promotional efforts. You can demonstrate where their traffic will come from if other clients give you permission to use a couple of their reports as samples.
Ask your prospect, "Did you know that "HITS" are irrelevant?
"That's right, hits do not matter because a HIT is NOT a visitor." You can then explain that each HIT is really an action from the server. In other words, a hit occurs for each and every element downloaded. The number of HITS to a site, are nearly always larger numbers, but this does NOT mean you had any great number of visitors. Teach them about the importance of unique visitor sessions.
Why is this important?
In explaining this difference between a HIT and a VISITOR, you have taught your prospect a truth that could work against the next competitor who comes along behind you and only talks about HITS (which is what many do).
Why do so many competitors talk all about HITS?
Simply because they are BIG numbers which sound impressive particularly if you have no intention of providing the customer with detailed reporting. Teach your prospect the truth, that the important numbers to watch are the actual visitor session counts, not just hits.
Help your client to understand what it is you do.
Does your prospect see your "behind the scenes" service as VITAL? If not, they need some understanding! Explain, "the reason" that business owners hire you, is to ensure their web site is built and launched properly the very first time".
Explain that "Business owners are usually too busy running their business, to worry about all of the requirements of publishing and positioning a web site for targeted traffic and monitoring the results." Help them to understand that you ARE their watchdog for online success. You have come to realize that the more success you bring to them, the more your business grows. You are in this for the long term!
B. Talk to them about the components of success:
Let them know that when you work with their web content, you need some freedom to work with them and provide input. Explain that the best success formula is often a cross between re-writing their content especially for high search engine placement COMBINED with copywriting that is written for the human brain.
It's a combination of having a highly visible web site that also employs techniques that compel their visitors to respond. Explain why this second aspect is so important by saying something like, "Your business does not really begin, until we get your visitor to take action and respond to what they see.
Talk to them about your ability to research their keyword phrases from real time results. Explain to them that you must determine which search phrases will genuinely pull the most targeted traffic into their pages. Tell them you will be asking them for a list of suggested keywords to start. Explain that ultimately you will be analyzing those words and through research, you'll actually find the highest performing phrases with the lowest competition.
You can let them know that the reason your pages score well with major search engines is because you build honest, content-rich pages without the use of any types of tricks, gimmicks or spam.
The strategies you employ are based on using phrases that are first researched and then proven to be currently in usage by consumers within their specific market.
C. Stop trying so hard to sell SEO and learn to dialogue.
Learn to "dialogue" with your prospects in a two-way communication. This is most often successful if you are the one asking the questions. Remember that whoever is asking the questions, is really the one who is controlling and directing the conversation.
Ask questions about from where the prospect would like to take business. Try asking questions like, "Would you be willing to take business from a specific location?" Ask lots of specific questions. If they are only interested in a regional presence, then begin painting a picture in their mind of where they could be getting new business from.
Remember to ask questions about your prospect's distribution of product and services. Demonstrate that you are not just interested in building, positioning and monitoring the site.you are also interested in all aspects of the business such as how they intend to handle distribution. Such conversations not only lead to enhancing client rapport, but will end up triggering new optimization strategies in your mind.
D. Make the most of your newest successes.
Your prospects become your customers and in a short time, they begin telling stories about their success on the web. Don't forget to make the most of these opportunities, after all you've made the effort and promoted your client well, you deserve the credit.
You have demonstrated that your SEO strategies not only work, but in many cases, your efforts will have delivered a dramatic increase in business. Always ask your client's permission first, but they're usually more than happy to distribute your brochure or business cards. This is usually the start to a wonderful trend in ongoing referral business. Always remember to thank your clients for every new referral they send your way.
Ask your clients if they would mind taking the occasional reference call. All you really need are just a few of your client's names and numbers. A list of these satisfied names and numbers can be offered to new prospects. You can be sure this is just one more thing that not a lot of your competitors will be doing.
Search Engine Optimization is one of the biggest missing links in this whole web development industry. It's safe to say that building a web site without a plan for search engine optimization, is the single most expensive lesson that any dot com business has ever had to learn in the last few years. It's only good wisdom that you teach both your prospects and your clients these things up front and early. The results will be a long lasting client relationship where your client wins, your client's customer wins and YOU win too!
E. Enjoy the tremendous lift of knowing that you really are making a difference for your clients.
For thousands of business owners, the investment in solid SEO strategies, are the single missing link to their success. Take action today by employing SEO strategies for your clients and give them the outstanding results they deserve. Remember that success breeds success and when you do an extraordinary job for your client, it was YOUR SEO skills that made the difference. There is tremendous satisfaction in that too!
About The Author
John Alexander is the Co-Director of Training of Search Engine Workshops with Robin Nobles. Together, they teach 2-day beginner, 3-day advanced, and 5-day all-inclusive "hands on" search engine marketing workshops (http://www.searchengineworkshops.com) in locations across the globe. John also teaches online search engine marketing courses through http://www.onlinewebtraining.com, and he's a member of Wordtracker's official question support team. John is author of the e-book Wordtracker Magic (http://www.wordtracker-magic.com)