Running With the Big Dogs:Survival of the Smallest in SEM Consulting Jessie Stricchiola, founder Alchemist Media, Inc. Search Engine Strategies San Jose 2006
So You’re Not a “Big Dog” in SEM Consulting There are a few tricks you can learn.
So You’re Not a “Big Dog” in SEM Consulting If you don’t have a large SEM operation, or a “recognized” name outside of the small SEM world, there is a good chance you are dealing with some of the following issues in your business development : • Reliance upon WOM “word of mouth” lead generation • Lack of Top-10 rankings for SEM-related terms • Limited cash flow/lack of marketing budget to spend on paid advertising – on the web, or elsewhere
SEM-CRM:A World Unto Itself Client relationship management in the SEM world is unique for many reasons. We are dealing with, among other things: • Expectation management within an ever-fluctuating SEM industry • Cost variation due to lack of commoditization of SEM- related services (not that this is a bad thing ) • CLIENT ISSUES – dealing with tech/design teams, external agencies, prior SEM engagements/expectations, EGO, all of the above
SEM-CRM:Major Components When you’re small, you have to work extra hard. Selecting and maintaining successful SEM client relationships includes the following components: • Client Selection & SalesProcess • Expectation Management • Communication
SEM-CRM:Client Selection Your client selection and selling process is the most important part of SEM-CRM. Remember, just because there is money dangling in front of you, does not a good SEM/Client relationship make. You want to choose partners, not battles. Consider: • Client’s understanding of the SEM industry • Prior SEM engagements • Development resources • Commitment & availability • Financial stability & accounting process
SEM-CRM:Prior SEM Engagements Your potential client’s track history with other SEM consultants/firms can tell a lot. • 1 Prior SEM – Likely making a wise business move • 2 Prior SEM’s – Not unheard of at this stage, ask what their experiences were • 3 Prior SEM’s – A red flag. What things went wrong? Are they consistent issues? • 4 Prior SEM’s – A BFRF (big freakin’ red flag). Proceed with caution!
SEM-CRM:Client Development Resources Whether or not you offer development services, your client will usually need to do *something* to support their campaign, such as copywriting, general site development, and reviewing SEM work before it goes live. Does your potential client have adequate resources to support this effort? • Internal Production – are teams aware of the SEM campaign, and their role within it? • Third Party Development (agencies) – are they aware, willing to participate, and is the client willing to incur additional development expense if necessary?
SEM-CRM:Client Commitment/Availability Can your potential client commit to providing you with the internal resources necessary to initiate and maintain an aggressive CPC/SEO campaign? These resources can include: • Constant supervision of site production process to ensure CPC/SEO compatibility • Availability of client team members on an as-needed basis to address project-related issues, ranging from site modifications to billing/invoicing
SEM-CRM:Client Accounting Process Negotiation of fees is one thing. Writing IOU’s at the start of a campaign is another. Don’t get sold short! Two simple, yet often overlooked action items to consider: • Inquire about client’s accounting process – is it Net 30? Net 60? • Determine whether you will have a direct accounting contact for payment – and if you are ok with the arrangement.
SEM-CRM:Communication & Expectations The more your clients know at the outset, the greater your chances for mutual success. Plan to cover the following topics in-depth: • What you will, won’t, and might do with regard to the web site during the course of the project • The risks involved with your SEO tactics, if any • Influential factors out of your control – now and in the future • What your expectations are of their team throughout the project • Consider incorporating these elements into Agreement
SEM-CRM:Intuitive Selection Factors Less quantifiable (but equally important) considerations when selecting and selling to clients – follow your gut with regard to: • Internal unity with regard to SEM efforts • Communication skills • EGO factors • Cultural fit
SEM-CRM:Conclusions • Pre-screen your clients – these are serious relationships. • Inform your potential client about every aspect of the project, from expectations to potential pitfalls. • Don’t rush for cash-flow reasons, the long-term results might be worse than sitting tight for a bit....
Running With the Big Dogs:Survival of the Smallest in SEM Consulting Jessie Stricchiola, founder Alchemist Media, Inc.Email: Jessie@AlchemistMedia.com Search Engine Strategies San Jose 2006