Agency Q&A: Winning New Customers – Gary Donson

Agency Q&A: Winning New Customers – Gary Donson
Key 'Takeaways' From This Post

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 –

  1. Winning new customers (published in February)
  2. The first steps – starting a new engagement (March)
  3. Building a close working relationship (April)
  4. 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 Gary Donson from Destiny Group

Gary DonsonGary Donson

Gary is the Sales and SEO Director of Destiny Group, which specializes in Joomla Website Design, SEO and Social Media marketing. Ongoing research and testing helps keep our clients ahead the curve!


How do you identify potential new customers?

The majority of our new clients come from referrals or our workshops and seminars. We conduct 2 workshops a month at a local restaurant which is open to the public. Topics range from Social Media to SEO to Online Business Solutions. This was a integral part of our growth for 2012.

What tools do you use to help you identify potential customers?

We currently use Zoho as a CRM and Mavenlink for Project Management. We have “Questionnaire Forms” on our website which we ask a client to complete when they are ready to begin a website or SEO project.

Which 3 channels are most effective at generating new leads?

  1. Referrals – we do not provide a direct incentive, the majority of our clients are just very happy with results.  Also our websites AND google results are seen by other businesses, when they see good results we have achieved they want the same.
  2. Workshops – Last year the promotion for these was exclusively through Facebook (events and promoted posts) and our internal email list.  This year we are adding Google+ to the mix as we are seeing more and more businesses embracing G+. Our time frame for a workshop is only an hour and we have a lot of info to get across in addition to answering the questions which are always numerous.  Involvement was limited to questions.  You can see our schedule and topics for this year here.
  3. Facebook – We use facebook to promote our Workshop Events and we also do promoted posts to insure our posts promoting the events are seen.  Every time we do an event in conjunction with  promoted post we get a big bump in “Talking About” and we always get more “Likes” – this has been successful because we are “talking about” learning internet marketing techniques and strategies which every small business wants to know.


What research do you conduct about a potential client before you meet them?

We evaluate their existing website (if they have one) and any Social Media sites they may have. Depending on the type of client we will also run a Local SEO Report through BrightLocal to get a feel for how much work the account will need.

What reports/data/information do you present to a potential client in a first meeting?

We do not generally present any reports at the initial meeting. Our main goal at the initial meeting is to:

  1.  Identify their online marketing needs
  2. Decide if the scope of their needs is within our core expertise
  3. Decide if we want them as a client
  4. Show them our current portfolio. After the initial meeting we will typically run a BL Local SEO Report and/or a Ranking report for their top 10 keywords.

What information/data makes potential customers sit up and take notice? (i.e. which part gets them ‘hooked’!)

When they see how many clients we have with Page 1 Google rankings AND when they see several examples of monthly traffic (Google Analytics) show a clear increasing monthly trend.

Our clients’ rate their ‘success’ online by the following metrics:

  1. Their primary keyword phrase on Page #1 – every client always has one keyword phrase they obsess over, even if it does not have a lot of traffic.  We are starting to use HitTail as a new tool, so far I like it!
  2. Overall traffic, especially compare to same time frame from the previous year if we have the history
  3. The % of traffic that comes from Google relative to Bing and Yahoo – clients are always surprised to see how dominating google is.
  4.  If they have a contact form – how many form completions they get each month.

What’s the most common objection you get from business owners & how do you overcome this?

The cost of our service is the #1 objection. Although we are very competitive many small business owners do not have a budget for website or SEO work. We overcome this by identifying the annual value of a new client and comparing that to the cost of our monthly packages.

What actions do you take to follow up with a customer after that initial meeting?

An immediate follow up email. A follow up phone call with one week and we add them to our email list so they will get our ongoing updates.  Fortunately we have been in the position of always having enough work to not have to chase business – however we should have a better strategy for the clients that do not sign.  For example sending them a (BL)report every 30 days showing their results or lack of.

How long does it typically take between pitching to a customer & them saying ‘yes’ to you?

If price is not an issue we will get an answer within 1 week or sooner. We have had several clients that decide at the first meeting to engage with us, which is always awesome!

What length of contract do you start with? (e.g. 3 months, 6 months, no contract?

Our managed solution is 12 months, all other packages have no time frame in the contract. Our contract packages include a website design or re-design so the perceived value is different.  7 out  of 10 clients are going with our Managed Solution because it is comprehensive and they do not need a chunk of money up front to get the project started.

sophie kemp
About the author
Sophie Kemp is BrightLocal's former Content and Community Strategist who helped us advise businesses on everything needed to deliver amazing local marketing.