I frequently volunteer my time to teach Sales and Marketing workshops for SCORE of Spokane, and there are a few marketing misconceptions that I encounter again and again, particularly about SEO. It’s no wonder, given how many unsolicited emails and phone calls business owners receive on a weekly basis from people pedaling SEO services. When a client of ours recently shared that an SEO agent from “Company X” told her that “SEO is always a better investment than video,” it compelled me to share some of the concepts that I’ve been teaching at SCORE.
You may be familiar with the concept of a sales funnel, which usually looks something like this:
At Rogue Heart Media, we interpret the sales funnel through a marketing method lens, i.e. the method in which we generate those leads, prospects, and customers:
SEO is an important part of the top tier of the sales funnel, because it enables leads to find you online when they search for the products or services that you offer. But as the saying goes, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” SEO is exactly that: one tool of many that you need to use to have a strong marketing strategy. Most often the companies that sell SEO services (perhaps especially those that spam you from India) only have a hammer, and they insist on pounding any real or perceived marketing problems hard with their single tool. SEO does little or nothing for qualifying (generating prospects), and it’s only one of many methods of broadcasting. So, as important as SEO is, it’s only one piece of the puzzle.
Most marketing strategies should include some broadcasting, which is anything that blasts your business name out there and creates brand recognition. It will bring traffic to your door and your website (or whatever you use as a sales portal). After that, you should have marketing methods in place for qualifying leads.
Qualifying entails communicating your unique selling points so that leads can measure you against your competition. They are qualifying you as much as you should be qualifying them. Video can serve as a qualifying tool or a broadcasting tool, but at Rogue Heart Media we focus mostly of creating story-driven “qualifying” videos, such as videos that authentically convey who you are, articulate your passion for your craft, the trust of your clients, and the quality of your product or service. Video is a very compelling medium, and is one of the best things you can do to qualify your business to a potential client on the Web. There are other methods to qualify as well, such as the copy on your site, your contact form, in-person consultations, etc.
The final piece of the sales funnel is client management… or building loyalty. If you can turn your clients into fans, you’ll likely garner referrals and repeat business.
Every business is different, and how they utilize the sales funnel varies. Some companies like Tesla Motors allocate minimal budget for broadcasting, as CEO Elon Musk chooses to invest primarily in R&D and stealing Apple employees, and as a result Tesla relies on finding qualified leads and referrals from strong client management. Other businesses like Go Daddy invest millions in broadcasting, like their questionable Super Bowl ads, when investing more in their user interface and customer service might be advisable. For most of us, we need a balance, and we need to understand the current state and needs of our company.
So, what about Company X’s claim that SEO is always a better investment than video? No single marketing form is innately better than another, the right choice is going to depend on your industry, your place in the market, and what the current weaknesses are is in your sales funnel. Is your website getting lots of quality views from unique local IP Addresses? If not, SEO is a good idea.
Side note: Real SEO work means they have a login to your website, they are making technical changes to make sure your site is built with best practices, and they are authoring relevant content. If someone doesn’t have access to your site but claims they can do SEO for your site, all they can do is create backlinks, which will almost certainly have no bearing on your Google placement, nor will it increase traffic that leads to conversions.
If you are getting lots of hits to your website but still want to generate more leads, you may want to look at another form of broadcasting other than SEO, like direct mail (EDDM). Or perhaps instead of broadcasting widely, you should focus on target marketing, such as targeted social media ads. For example, if you want to target business professionals in Spokane you can have your ad only go to people that like GSI and EWI of Spokane. If you are getting the ideal number of views online and/or phone calls from potential leads, then assess whether you are effectively converting the majority of them into customers. If not, why? You may need to work on qualifying your clients. People generally shop based on price unless you can convince them you are worth the higher price. Perhaps a video would help you in that case.
Are you a Tesla, a GoDaddy, or is your business pretty balanced? Take a moment to think about where weaknesses may exist in your sales funnel. Often times you can intuitively tell how you are performing on qualifying and client management, but sometimes it can be difficult to measure how your broadcasting is working. There are free analytics tools for your website that can help you evaluate that piece of your marketing quite easily. If you need help with that step, I offer SEO/Marketing audits at no charge.
Interestingly, I visited the site of Company X (a real company I’m choosing not to call out by name), and they had a tool to evaluate the SEO performance of your website, so I entered our domain name here at Rogue Heart Media. We got a score of 36%. I found that a bit shocking because we use a couple of the nationally recognized SEO evaluation tools and we usually get a B+ or an A. For giggles, I put in marthastewart.com (with Martha’s contact info off the site so she would get emailed a report. I’m sure she will like to know how her site is doing) and they got a 77%. Martha Stewart! There are less than 2,500 sites on the internet that get more traffic than marthastewart.com, and it still got a C+. Somehow, I think their rating system is rigged to make you think that you need SEO help more than you really do. What do you think?
SEO is the most misunderstood, oversold, and misrepresented service I have ever seen, hands down. So I just can’t say it enough: when you sit down to work on your marketing plan, you want someone there who understands the tech, genuinely wants to see you grow your business, and isn’t just going to sell you snake oil. Talk to someone who will assess the big picture with you. We hope you’ll give us a call.
Contact Rob about a free SEO audit at firstname.lastname@example.org.