Marketing SEO Services to Human vs Machine

I don't really sell SEO services because they are time consuming and I am bad at pricing them.

Today I chatted with one of my friends about marketing their SEO firm. Many SEO firms spend thousands or tens of thousands of dollars renting links each month, but otherwise remain somewhat anonymous.

Small Sale Steps:
With advertising they may rank great and get in front of a target audience, but after the audience finds the site it might make sense if there is an added step between finding a site and buy services. If you sell quality services they are usually going to cost a good sum of money. It is a huge leap of faith for a person to sign on from finding you in the search results.
Research Notorious Salesmen:
This added step could further sell the client on you and prequalify them to meet what you are looking for in a client. I pretended I was interested in signing up for Cory Rudl's mentorship program because I wanted to see how they sold it.

There are lots of issues that make the mentorship program not appealing to me, but do you know how they did the sales calls?

They were not sold to me as sales pitches. They were sold as interviews to see if I was qualified for the program.

The whole time they were reminding me that they only wanted success stories. They were not willing to take me on unless I was serious. My first interview was to prequalify me for a second interview. The second interviewer normally is not available for a week or two, but surprise surprise they just happened to be available 15 minutes after my first interview was over. Why? They wanted to convert what they thought was a hot lead.

Remove Doubt:
They reminded me the for common things that held people back:

  • time - a reminder that it takes time to see results and people should not be willing to give up quickly. Also a reminder that I would need to invest many hours of time into the program to see successful results. I would need to have time set aside.

  • money - they reminded me that I could take out loans, but that usually credit cards made it easier to get started right away. As a new unproven business is easier to get credit from credit card company than to apply for a loan.
  • knowledge - That is what the mentorship was supposed to provide me.
  • fear - It is an uncertain world. Some people fear success. Some people fear failure. By making the mentorship program seem overtly logical by addressing the above concerns they wanted to reinforce that I was making a good choice and there was no reason for fear.

Of course when I backed off when it came time to enter my credit card details they became even more aggressive in the hard sales pitch techniques. I said I had to talk to a friend and they said that I should respect my own thoughts and opinions. They said that I should put my own future and my business in my own hands. I agreed with them and that is why I told them to let me think about it for a while.

People buying SEO services likely share some of the concerns as people buying a marketing mentorship program. There are also a few others, but some of the most common questions might be easily packagable as downloadable PDF. To prospects sometimes the format of information can matter as much or more than the actual contents of the container.

Things that are under $100 (and especially things that are under $50) can be an impulse buy. The right kind of SEO client is typically not the kind who is doing impulse buying.

Anonymity Problems:
The web makes it easy to research about a person or business, but most of the time the people turn up as anonymous. Most websites have some degree of fraud to them.

Competitive Research:
Most internet marketing techniques are fairly transparent.

  • Look at competing sites. How do they market on their sites.

  • Look at competign backlinks. How do they market via links.
  • Use Alexa. If you can afford it collect more data via HitWise.
  • Create seed sites in various industries. Have an auto insurance site that you market on AdWords or Overture.
  • Ask questions to friendly competitors.
  • Call or have a friend call other competitors as a prospective lead.
  • Ask for proposal documents.

Doing some of those might help show you where others are doing well, and then again the might do well in spite of, not because some of the action. Then maybe there are additional things you could do that most firms are not.

Being Human:
Some things firms could do to bridge the credibility gap beyond what algorithms say:

  • Write a bunch of articles and publish them on various sites.

  • Get interviewed by others.
  • Give away something.
  • Act your size. A large corporate account might bring in a ton of money, but they may suck up most your resources and have a ton of red tape.
  • Do not be afraid to put a personality into what you do.
  • Look for clients with common interests. Maybe there is some pent up demand in the local area?
  • Lots of other ideas. My friend came up with a great one, but I don't want to share it because its his idea. Hopefully he gives it a shot. :)

[disclaimer: I might be out to lunch here, but the intent of the post is to help...]

Published: April 24, 2005 by Aaron Wall in marketing


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