This blog post is part of an insightful series of interviews we are conducting with successful & well regarded web designers, SEOs and agency owners.
The ‘Agency Q&A’ series explores the relationship life-cycle between an SEO Agency and it’s clients. The series examines 4 key stages of this life-cycle -
- Winning new customers (published in February)
- The first steps – starting a new engagement (March)
- Building a close working relationship (April)
- Retaining & up-selling customers (May)
In the series we interview 4 SEOs & agency bosses* to gain an insight into their strategy and approach to handling client relationships & growing their agencies. We will publish 1 interview each week for the next 16 weeks and these will all be available from the ‘Agency Q&A’ section.
*All answers are the words of the interviewees and any opinions expressed are those of the interviewee and not necessarily of BrightLocal.
This Q&A interview is conducted with Laura Betterly from Yada Yada marketing
“Laura Betterly runs boutique marketing agency Yada Yada Marketing and is published by Ryan Deiss with her product for local marketers, Mobile Local Fusion. Her company is Google certified for PPC and she is also an excellent SEO ranking herself and clients for competitive terms.”
How do you identify potential new customers?
When we started, we just took different verticals like dentists, restaurants, etc. in our local area and contacted them.There are many agencies that cater only to one vertical. The advantage of doing that is you will quickly become expert in that arena. There’s also a confidence level that prospective clients do get when you are the marketing expert for “dentists” or “auto mechanics”.
It is also my belief that it is smart to go after industries that have a larger marketing budget like dentist’s, plastic surgeons, etc. You see, let’s say for argument sake a cosmetic dentist that the new patient value is $4000 on average. He’s a pretty good dentist and can pretty much expect to see that patient annually. In order to gain that new patient, it stands to reason that he will be willing to spend a significant amount in order to gain that patient. When you take a look at the cost of new patient acquisition and you can of course go over that with him, in almost every case using Google plus local and local SEO, his cost’s will actually go down as opposed to using Yellow Pages and newspaper advertising. Additionally, if you take the same program to a restaurant where their average sale is let’s say $25 including drinks person, they won’t have the same budget. Even if each new customer visits him twice a month, he will still have less of a budget on an individual basis to go after his new customers. And that’s not saying you shouldn’t market to restaurants, I’m just saying go for the lowest hanging fruit and for businesses that do spend money on their marketing.
There’s nothing to say that you can’t start out with verticals and if you get a lead from another type of business that you can’t take it on. But if you’re relatively new in the space, it might be smarter for you to know one particular industry extremely well as opposed to many different industries not so well.
What tools do you use to help you identify potential customers?
When we get a potential customer, we will run some reports so we can gauge the market. This also gives us enough information so we can decide if we want to take them on as a client or not. When looking for a new client, most important thing is that I like them. If they’re new and need only a little bit of handholding, that’s fine.
Remember, the client/agency relationship is one that requires a lot of communication. Many of our clients end up becoming personal friends and as many of you know, a client that has an issue will call you on the weekend or at night if their e-mail is down or something is going on that you need to know immediately. This is a service business, so we have to be available when it’s important. It just makes life much easier if the person on the other end that is calling you on nights and weekends is someone you actually like and care about.
Which 3 channels are most effective at generating new leads?
- Google–having yourself optimized so you show up as the authority in your local area is huge..
- Meet-ups–will allow you to personally meet other business people in your local area. These people will get to know you and is a great source of leads. We hold our own meet-ups and attend some outside ones too. In my meet-up I will usually show people exactly how to claim their listing and optimize—90% of these people will not want to do themselves, they will then know I can do it for them and ask for help. The others who do it themselves would have never been clients anyway. And with regard to other meet-ups, there are many business associations, networking groups, Chamber of Commerce’s, etc. This is much better than cold calling because if someone is going to one of these events, they have an interest in growing their business. Go to meetup.com and just check out the groups that are getting together in your city this week—there is a growing amount of networking groups around.
- Social Media–Facebook, Google+ Local with your own fan page and using promoted posts is another great source of leads.
What research do you conduct about a potential client before you meet them?
I run a BrightLocal SEO CheckUp report for local. I make sure that I put my logo on the report and attach it to an email with a summary.
This puts me in a position that I can talk intelligently with them on what we can do to help them.
What reports/data/information do you present to a potential client in a first meeting?
It really depends. I do always give them the local SEO report and check to see that they have reviews–and if some are negative point that out.
I have a 60 plus question interview I’ll do with them to get them talking about what is going on with their business. This gives me insight on what we can do to help.
**You can download Laura’s question online at Yada Yada – download questionnaire now (thanks Laura! – Myles)
What information/data makes potential customers sit up and take notice? (i.e. which part gets them ‘hooked’!)
I think case studies do the trick more times than not, but I think I personally close as well as I do because I don’t talk so much about myself as much as I listen to them and what’s going on with them.
Being armed with a good understanding (with the initial reports we do) of what the customer has web wise and combining that with listening to the answers to the evaluation we do almost always get them to reach back to me and ask what do I have to do to get started so I never really end up selling.
**See examples of Laura’s case studies here.
What’s the most common objection you get from business owners & how do you overcome this?
I don’t have the money.
Well, sometimes the client isn’t qualified and you might want to sign him up–Other times, they are spending on ineffective things (like the Yellow Pages). In that case we get them to repurpose their budget to things we know will work.
Why should I sign up with you vs all the other guys who have knocked on my door in the last six weeks?
Well, in that case, I just show them our stats–case studies, etc. (Being certified by Google for PPC doesn’t hurt either as well as our A rating with the BBB) In fact, the BBB is a great credibility tool not to mention a great citation.
What actions do you take to follow up with a customer after that initial meeting?
I’m in a better position than most. I have more work than I need so I don’t have to promote the way I used to when we were starting. That said, if I don’t hear back, I might write or call them again to follow up if we are slow. Otherwise, I just add them to my newsletter that goes out a few times a month and when they are ready, they’ll reach back.
How long does it typically take between pitching to a customer & them saying ‘yes’ to you?
Usually 24-48 hours
What length of contract do you start with? (e.g. 3 months, 6 months, no contract?
No contract although I do let them know the estimated time frame to get the result they are looking for.