I’ve been involved in marketing for a long time. I actually started reading books about marketing when I was in my teens, because I always knew that one day I wanted to own my own business and I knew that without marketing I wouldn’t be successful. So I went to the library (remember those things?), which was the only place you could find these types of books without buying them.
I remember checking out a handful of marketing books and being really excited about them. I have a weird habit of needing many books just to learn a subject. I feel like I learn more, but in reality I go from book to book and rarely finish one. Strange habit.
A few years later I eventually got into automotive sales, which is what my grandfather had done for almost 50 years. He had his own dealership and I hung around there quite a bit as a kid. He seemed to enjoy it so I decided to give it a shot. I went through 40 hours of sales training before realizing that I didn’t want to sell Ford vehicles (tried for 3 months). I ended up going next door to the Chevy dealership that was twice the size (at least) and paid very well. It also had better sales training and a lot of cool perks. I went through another 50+ hours of sales training while also listening to my sales training CD’s by Joe Verde. I was a sponge. If I wasn’t learning I felt like I was losing out on too much knowledge. I loved it.
What I didn’t love was dealing with humans. Yep, that part was always awkward for me. Many of these “ups” were very cold (just looking) and I hated dealing with the SUPER SALES managers that thought they could close everybody that walked onto the dealership. I even challenged many of them to go and close them. The best any of them could do was to take a test drive, which I then had to do…then if I couldn’t close them from there I had to deal with the asshole manager again. Such a clown show. I would challenge them again and they ALWAYS failed and got mad. I nearly came to blows with one guy, which is a reason I left the Ford dealership. He was a joke, like so many “super salesmen”.
I’m just not a sales person in the end. So now that I’m getting back into client SEO on my own, without a way to have clients brought to me with deals already agreed to, it’s tough. I have had to start all over again. Over the past few months I’ve had to go through many videos, books, etc., as well as documenting strategies so that I could test out processes and build systems to make this stuff easier.
Now I have a cold email strategy that brings me a lot of warm leads. From there I give them a video analysis and ask them to schedule a call. If they get to that point they are now a hot lead. I simply discuss the analysis over the phone and remind them of their issues and why they’re failing. I’m not selling, I’m pointing out the realities of their current struggles. I can help in almost every case.
The issue here is: are they actually qualified?
- Can they actually afford my services?
- Will they balk at the price and attempt to haggle? If so they need to be removed from my pipeline, in most cases. Low paying customers expect everything. They are a headache in most cases.
- Are their websites actually in need of SEO?
- Is the website penalized by Google?
There’s a lot of questions to be asked, which is a part of the system I’ve created. Email > Analysis > Phone Call (or email if they prefer) to Qualify > Proposal > Close > On-boarding
I have various email campaigns that I work on, but there’s one that is super easy and probably something I will hire a VA to work on soon. I will test other methods over time. For now, while I build up my client list, this seems to work for me.
Delivering is the easy part. I’ve never had an issue here if the website and service/product wasn’t junk, but there’s still things you have to be worried about. If the website has technical issues and they expect fast rankings, this can come back and bite you in the butt. I make sure I get a good idea of what’s going on prior to the proposal. ALWAYS do your due diligence before writing the proposal!
Cold calling is not for me, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be doing it in the future. In fact, I may simply hire someone in-house (or outsource) that knows about SEO and create a script to help get to the point of qualifying the lead and then closing on a proposal.
Lumpy mail is something I’ve actually done in the past, about 10+ years ago, but it’s something that seems to still be working.
Of course, FB advertising is most likely effective as well if you can find a great way to create a tripwire/offer to get a foot in the door.
One other thing I’m having to learn more about is CRM’s. Oddly enough, back in 2004 one of my first PHP projects was to build a little CRM for my own company, or what I thought would turn into one. It was a pain in the ass and I learned about vTiger CRM. It was a cool CRM and worked for what we wanted. But we never really used it and I’m not very organized anyway, unfortunately. At least compared to some people I know.
Now I’m trying to figure out a simple, yet effective way to organize leads. I’m currently using Streak CRM for Gmail, but I still don’t get it. It’s actually a pain in the butt so far, but I’m sure I’m doing something wrong… seems way too easy to fail that hard. If anyone knows of a solid CRM for this stuff that would be great!
Another thing is knowing your target audience when cold emailing. A lot of people talk about “finding your niche.” This is really the best advice I could give anyone starting fresh. Now I don’t agree with niching down so hard that you’re a Plumbing SEO guy or something along those lines. That doesn’t always work for everyone. Some people simply play the number’s game and some focus on a certain market or demographic, if you will. Either way, you need to understand that audience you are targeting.
This will help you for keyword research, outreach models or processes, phone calls, etc. Know what they’re dealing with so you know what you’ll be dealing with.
I know a lot of people use free SEO audit forms like MySiteAudit or whatever it’s called. I’d say give it a shot. I signed up for a free trial to test it out but it expired before I got the chance to actually try it, within a few days. Very weird. But it may be a great way to get some warm leads.
One thing I do know is that you need to have more ways of finding clients than one. It will help bring in fresh leads each month, and if one source dries up you still have the other sources.