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October 14, 2009

5

Search Engine Marketing: You’re Selling It Wrong

by Anthony Verre

ABC (Always Be Closing) Your SEM

Using the SEM Ripple Effect to Your Advantage

Using the SEM Ripple Effect to Your Advantage

The past couple weeks I’ve been thinking about how most groups, firms, and independents sell their SEM services. They are always talking about RESULTS.  You see it in slides. You hear it as you walk past conference rooms:

I’ve helped so-and-so double their website traffic in the last 6 months“, or “We’ve moved Client X to the first page of results for Keyword A and Keyword B“, and, finally, “We’ve increased lead generation and conversions 200% in the last year“.

The problem is simple. It’s something we’ve all known since high school physics: Newton’s 2nd Law of Motion: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction (i.e. the ripple). The way you’ve been selling your SEM is backwards; you’re expecting a reverse ripple of action.

The Traditional SEM Sell

Here’s how the majority have been selling search engine marketing services:

How-SEM-Traditionally-Pitched

No, I’m not implying there is an issue with results-based selling. The issue arises when that’s all you’re selling. Phantom numbers. Mysterious statistics of success.

There’s no doubt that your prospective is more than likely impressed with the numbers. Probably even made a face at you too that went something like this: *Raises eyebrow* and *Eyes-Get-A-Bit-Wider* –> *Pensive Facial Grab* and *Leaning Forward*

Right. It’s that last part that should worry you. That last part is what you don’t want to see: THIS PERSON THINKS YOU’VE JUST BULLSHIT THEM.

They don’t really believe you made those results happen and/or you did it once, with one client, and probably haven’t repeated it since. That’s how far results-based selling will get you: just far enough to get a “thanks for your time” and “we’ll talk this over and get back to you”.

It’s a weak footprint to leave behind. Every other agency/firm/group is doing the exact same thing: blowing hot-air results. And, what that leaves the decision-maker with is a battle over price, personality, and brand-fashionista-ism.

Company X charges $$$, promised incredible results, very nice guys and seemed knowledgeable, but haven’t heard of them around town. Company Y charges $$, also promised great results, nice too, and I’ve heard the name before. Budgets are tight: Company Y it is.

This method expects RESULTS to produce ACTION. And, in some cases, this method can be to your advantage, but we know from living our lives that ACTION produces RESULTS. So, why would the opposite be true when your pitching SEM?

How You Actually Should Be Selling SEM

Here’s how you should be selling search engine marketing services:

Create The True SEM Ripple Effect

Telling the prospective client what it is you do to produce results, is what sells your SEM services. Results, in any fashion, are always an aftershock, a ripple or after-effect, of any action. For better or worse.

Using this, in combination with a result, makes the logic simple to follow and the results tangible. You can imply the results are attainable and not just phantom numbers on a slide.

You make think this method leads to giving away the “secret sauce” and “demystifying” the SEM process, but it doesn’t.  You don’t have to give intimate details away at the pitch, you present a 30,000 ft. view of the process, stratifying larger tasks. In a marketplace that most people already think is related to the “dark arts” or “snake oil salesman”, this is an instant route to earning trust with the prospect, and retaining leverage as the authority.

The only pitfall here is the tendency to overwhelm with process. And, while on occasion this can work to your advantage, especially with prospects that are familiar with search engine marketing, in the end it may dizzy them up and leave them action-less.

The next time you walk into a pitch sell using ACTIONS, what you WILL DO to improve their online efforts. Then tell them the results. ABC, people. Always Be Closing.

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5 Comments
  1. Oct 25 2009

    Tony

    I think you make a good point here.

    However, I have a question. Why you haven’t shared these thoughts with me and the team? This is exactly the kind of constructive input I am looking for.

    Jim

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