This blog post is the first 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 (starting this week)
- 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 Brian Childers from foxxr.com
Brian is the CEO of Foxxr, a highly successful internet marketing company founded in Capitola, California in 2008 offering Web Design, Local Search / SEO and Live Local Workshops.
How do you identify potential new customers?
I read the free community paper (Good Times in Santa Cruz) and I make it a habit to look for businesses that are already advertising. I’ll take a look at their online presence and website optimization tactics.Additionally, I ask most folks I encounter that own a business “how is your business doing online?”, toss out a few online local search stats and exchange cards. If they own a business and can fog a mirror, I am interested.
What tools do you use to help you identify potential customers?
Easy Peezy..The Google+ wizard of course! I love the unclaimed profiles feature. It is such a perfect place to start. A few other productivity tools to ensure I don’t miss a beat are Gmail Apps, Rapportive, Connected HQ, Hootsuite, Feedly and Ace of Sales.
Which 3 channels are most effective at generating new leads?
- Our number 1 source and favorite channel is referrals. I have made it a practice to ask for referrals at about every 3 touch points. This could be through email, phone calls, or face time. The trick is just to ask…tactfully.
- Another great channel of leads are the workshops we host at our office. We have not charged for them yet and don’t intend to as long as they bring in new business – which they have at the rate of about one new client per workshop.
- Finally, we host a Marketing Roundtable Meetup Group that meets once a month. With 370 members, I find it to be a valuable resource for both new clients and vendors.
What research do you conduct about a potential client before you meet them?
I carry with me a laminated copy of the Local Search Ranking Factors and point out a few areas where they can improve.
Most folks take one look at that and realize that they need to hire a professional.
What reports/data/information do you present to a potential client in a first meeting?
We have a reporting process that we follow with every customer. The three essentials before a meeting are the Hubspot Marketing Grader, BrightLocal’s Local SEO Check-up and Google+ Wizard.Our reporting process during the development project is:
- Hubspot Marketing Grader Report
- Local SEO Check-up
- Google+ Competitor Analysis (Google+ Local Wizard)
- Local Ranking Report (weekly)
What information/data makes potential customers sit up and take notice? (i.e. which part gets them ‘hooked’!)
The Local Search Ranking Factors. If anybody thinks that they could take all of that on without hiring a professional, they have way too much time on their hands.
What’s the most common objection you get from business owners & how do you overcome this?
Almost always price. I will bend a little, but we offer a valuable service at a reasonable rate. If they aren’t willing to invest or try to talk us down in price, my experience is that they will be difficult to work with and not contribute towards the project anyway. I’ll just move on. I explain that if they want a brochure site and are not interested in getting ranked, it’s like getting a car without an engine. It may look nice, but will it get you anywhere?
What actions do you take to follow up with a customer after that initial meeting?
I go to the bank and deposit their check! Well, most of the time.If they need to mull it over, I’ll follow-up within a day via phone and email. If I clearly demonstrated my expertise and benefits of a complete web development project that will help get their company to page one, I’ll parlay that by occasionally throwing some relevant stats their way until they are ready to get started.
How long does it typically take between pitching to a customer & them saying ‘yes’ to you?
Within 30 days. I stay engaged with prospects by sharing fresh stories that may help create a sense of urgency. I want them to know that they are on my mind.
I rely on Feedly for my industry related news and information.
What length of contract do you start with? (e.g. 3 months, 6 months, no contract?
I try to set a timetable of at least four months to see revenue generating results. The big “Ah Ha” moment when it comes to keeping the customer engaged is to encourage them to participate in generating fresh content and to provide them with a copy writer if needed. People like to hear stories from the salt mines. Real stories about how they have helped others with their products or services. Help them produce it and then optimize it. Organic rankings have the best residual effect.