Friend and colleague, Matt McGee, recently published a very fine piece on getting started in SEO. For business owners new to the discipline of search engine optimization, Matt offers very good advice with the voice of experience. And, while this was the main focus of his piece, it is Matt's comment about hiring SEOs that is generating some of the liveliest feedback on his blog. Matt advises:

Don't hire anyone who contacts you first. SEO is very much in demand these days. The best and most trusted companies don't need to spam you with offers of free web site analyses. Delete those emails right away.

Responses have ranged from readers explaining that they feel it's important to research and contact businesses that might be a good match for their services, to asking why SEO is any different from any other industry that might contact potential clients, to suggesting that only a prestigious SEO like Matt would be doing well enough to comfortably give this kind of advice. As it happens, I support what Matt has said, and I'd like to explain why.

cold calling seo

Why Business Owners Shouldn't Hire Web Services Providers Who Contact Them

I'm broadening my statement to include any type of web service: SEO, website design, SEM, Local SEM, PPC...you name it. If you own a business and are seeking to establish a presence or increase your visibility on the web, I would never advise you to hire a provider who contacts you first, whether via phone or email. Why not?

- Well, it's not because someone new to SEO, SEM, website design, etc. doesn't have any talent or skill. Most assuredly not.

- And it's not because cold calling or cold emailing automatically equates with spam or crooked business practices.

- And it's not even because unsolicited marketing is something that annoys so many of us.

Rather, these are my 3 reasons why hiring a web services provider who contacts you is probably not your best bet for success.

1. It's my contention, and this is borne out by the experience of so many folks I know in this business, that the majority of established web services providers' work comes through referrals from satisfied clients or colleagues or directly via searches on the web for the desired services. One of the commentors on Matt's blog suggested that cold calling is fine because the SEO may be 'hungry' (eager for work and ready to do a good job). My feeling is that hunger is only possible in the absence of established experience.

Established SEOs, Web Designers, Usability Experts, SEMs have to turn down work all the time because there is more demand than they can fulfill. I would say that a hungry SEO is one who has simply yet to establish a satisfied clientele that will refer their own friends, family and associates to him, or who has yet to establish good search engine rankings of his own that bring visitors to his website where the first contact can be made by the client. Only time is going to amass the experience a web services provider needs to be the best bet for a client. When you hire someone to strengthen your presence on the web, your business' success is in their hands and I would advise that you will be better off with a firm with a track record of real past success.

2. It's important to consider additional scenarios besides the lone and hungry SEO who is cold calling business owners. Telephone marketing can also be the province of very large web services companies who have the staff to run their fingers through the YP calling every business in sight in hopes of picking up contracts. When I think about the welfare of the client, I'm not happy with this scenario either.

In my experience, business owners (especially small business owners) will be best served by forming a long term relationship with a web designer, webmaster, SEO, etc., who will know them by name and come to know their business like the back of their hand. Can you really hope to succeed on the web when you start out as an 'account', being treated like a number by a company too large to ever know you by name? I wouldn't bet on it.

I've seen one too many small business owners get burned by $9.99 website builder companies and generic PPC management offers. This scenario stands in sharp contrast to the lucky business owner who manages to hire somebody like Matt McGee to start working for the success of her business. Genuine rapport and a personal investment will develop between provider and owner and I am convinced that the business owner is going to be far better off working with someone whose chief concern is client well being rather than whether his boss will fire him tomorrow for not picking up enough new accounts.

3. I saved this for last, because I see this as applicable much of the time, but surely not all of the time. There are a heck of a lot of rotten spammers and scammers out there who very much do contact business owners with the intention of rooking them. That's just the truth and I've seen it happen. The bad guys can't rely on a hard-won reputation for providing quality services. Rather, they rely on the naivety of business owners who don't know the difference between valuable services and ripoff deals.

I will never forget a personal experience with a small business owner - a client who came to us many years ago for website design for his handmade wood toy company. We built him a small, functional, simple little site, solidly grounded in good onpage SEO practices, properly optimized for the keywords that were important to him. For one reason or another, the client lost touch with us, only to show up 6 months later pleading for help.

He had given his credit card number to an 'SEO company' who had contacted him, guaranteeing him top 10 Google rankings. Instead, they had stuffed his meta tags, turned his copy into utter nonsense and desecrated his code and run up unapproved charges on his card...and continued to charge his credit card after he had told them they were very much fired. We went in and did damage control on the site, but I still wish the owner had thought to contact us first before handing over the keys to these crooks. Really frustrating.

When a stranger calls or emails you offering you something, please remember that you have no idea who this person is, where they are or what they are up to. I'd love to live in a world where I could trust everyone's word at face value, but that's just not the way things are. The health of your business' web presence is far too important to automatically trust to a person who falls from the sky into your life. If you needed to take the most important person in your life to an exceptional restaurant for an incredibly special occasion, chances are, you'd ask your friends for recommendations on the very best eating place in town. Surely, your success on the web deserves equal thought and care.

The bottom line here is that you should ask your circle of friends and colleagues for referrals when it's time to hire an SEO, a website designer or marketer. You should visit multiple websites, look at testimonials for credibility, read blogs, visit top industry forums and social media sites to see who is spoken well of and plan to have a real heart-to-heart talk with the person or team you're considering hiring to see if you can really work with them. If you own the business, the effort needs to be on your part to make that first connection, based upon your research and good sense.

It's No Shame To Be New

So where does this leave those new to the various web-based work fields? How are you supposed to build up this circle of colleagues who will gladly refer to you, this valued pool of clients who so love what you did for them that they will recommend you to their best friend, this mass of web citations that refer to you as an expert and a good guy?

My advice here is simple. You already know a lot of people. Palore recently estimated that only 1/2 of the small businesses in America currently have websites. This means that some of your friends who run businesses almost assuredly have no website, have never engaged in SEO, Local Search Marketing, PPC or any other web-based efforts. These people can be your first clients, pro bono or at a very modest fee that is commensurate with your present lack of experience. Don't quit your day job until your aunt refers you to her hairdresser...someone you don't know but who is about to become your client via referral. When you reach this stage, when you've started to build up that gorgeous page of totally legitimate testimonials from business owners in whose lives you've made a real difference, you are headed for success.

And, while you're working for little or no money, make the smart move of identifying where the very best conversations are happening in your industry. Start participating. Ask questions. Offer help when you can. Don't try to wear bigger boots than you actually own. There is absolutely no shame in being new and there is a ton of room in all the web-based specialties for hard-working, decent, honest, committed people who want to acquire skills and put them to use for others.

I found Matt McGee's article to be an excellent starting point for thought and discussion, not just about getting started on the web as a business owner, but getting started as the owner of a web services business. Like any other industry in the world, achieving success and maintaining it is going to take time and a lot of hard work. There will be cases and places in which advertising, marketing and maybe even contacting interesting businesses now and again may be indicated, but solidity will best be built on establishing a name for yourself in the business world that makes clients come to you. Think of how proud you will feel achieving this. It's a worthy goal!

--------------------- Flickr Photo Credit
October 23, 2009





Miriam Ellis is the co-owner of Solas Web Design and CopyLocal, providing SEO-based website design, Local SEO and professional copywriting for small-to-medium North American businesses. She is the Local SEO Associate in the Q&A Forum at SEOmoz, a moderator at Cre8asite Forums and an annual participant in David Mihm's Local Search Ranking Factors report. When she and her husband are not working on the web, they're farming organically and working on increased sustainability or roaming about in nature having the time of their lives.






Comments(30)

I really believe that most cold callers are more calling for SEM/PPC than SEO. FOr the most part they are barely capable and are just a middle man to the undereducated.

Thought provoking article. A qualified SEO should have the ability to practice what they preach and concentrate 100% on their own techniques to drive business their way.

One comment, what would be your view on an SEO using Paid Search as an advertising medium to promote their services?

I disagree. It is like saying that all Banks who contact customers for selling new loans are crooks.

Cold Contacting a business and providing them with a portfolio and the services a company offers is very much a honest practice as giving away fliers of a supermarket in the streets...

An article worth reading. I have an years exp in SEO but I have never gone around bothering clients for work. Whatever work I have done till now, has been from recommendations.
And the kind of SEO Experts I have come across till now, i would love to show them this article. especially this piece of wisdom, "Don't try to wear bigger boots than you actually own".

If a SEO guy does call a org, it is the organizations duty to verify his credentials, portfolio & then go ahead and take the call. otherwise, it is them who will loose a lot of money, credibility & in turn get a website with degraded quality.

Greetings, Ian,
That's a very good question. Because I tend to be an organic-focused gal, my own sense about SEO is that SEOs should be able to gain visibility organically...but I would have to say that PPC might one of those areas in which advertising might be indicated, as I've mentioned above. I guess it depends on how broadly you are trying to compete. In some cases, you might need to advertise to do this, whereas in others, you might be smarter to find a nice focus for which you can compete well with organic SEO practices. I'd say it's horses for courses when it comes to PPC, Ian. Thanks for leaving a comment and I'm glad you found this post thought-provoking.
Miriam

Greetings, TheAnand,
I do understand your point of view, and some of the comments on Matt's blog expressed this same view, as I've mentioned. Remember though, that services like SEO are supposed to be web-based, and if you're having to rely on leafleting or telephoning people, you aren't really using the web the way you are supposedly urging your clients to do. There's something a bit odd about that. I respect your opinion, but don't find I agree with it. Thank you for taking the time to comment here!


Hello, Kittu K,
I appreciated your comment. Our work phone number is constantly plagued with ridiculous automated spam from companies trying to sell us insurance, warn us that non-existent warranties on our car is about to expire, and etc. These tactics don't build trust in my book. If I want insurance, I'll look for. Similarly, we receive nonsensical emails trying to sell our website design/SEO company website design and SEO services! Hello! Some of these practices really have the ability to give the industry a poor name and this is on one end of the spectrum of questionable marketing techniques. I've tried to show this side of things as well as the scenario of the new SEO which is different, but needs to be held to the same thoughtful standards of good business practices, I believe. It sounds like, from experience, you agree. Thanks for taking the time to say so.
Miriam

Until new SEOs can order a package of Instant Referrals or Instant Referring Customers from the Acme company (ala Wile E. Coyote), cold calling remains a very responsible and respectable way of building an SEO business.

Provided you do it right.

People in the SEO community who put down cold-calling SEOs reveal just how little they truly understand what it takes to build a business.

It's not all about which Web designers you know. It's about BUILDING A BUSINESS.

My clients are always telling me about the cold calls the get from SEO vendors. I haven't lost one yet to a cold caller, but I think this is a great read for clients.

Miriam,

This an excellent posting and extremely timely. I work for an established company that provides excellent SEO and SEM programs and I run into clients that have been "burned" all the time. The #3 reason you cite is the most common. Just today, I met with a prospective new client that told he had worked with one of those companies that promises to make you #1 on Google. Not only did they not deliver on this promise, but they messed up his tags, spend over $750.00 per month on buying terrible PPC keywords, but they also did all kinds of ridiculous outbound and inbound linking, that was completely irrelevant to his core business.

I agree that there's nothing inherently wrong with businesses that cold call, but anyone who promises to make you number one on Google, is being naive at best, and unethical at worse. Unfortunately it's the later.

I meet with all clients face-to-face and provide references and show them actual results.

These companies that are dishonest and make promises they can't deliver on, ruin it for the honest SEO folks.

Thank you again for an excellent posting.

The flip side of this is being a provider that cold calls: you have to determine if it's worth the time. If you get one consult for every 100 contacts, I'd say you're better off doing true networking. You'll build richer relationships and the referral mechanism you're talking about will come into play. :)

Hello Michael,
It's nice to see you here. I'm afraid I'm failing to see your point regarding the hypothetical situation of SEOs being able to order instant referrals as the overall message in the above piece is that one needs to work towards these things. If one could order these things instantly, the point would be moot.

I can't speak for Matt, but as a woman who has built up a small web design company from scratch, I actually know a few things about building a business and I am speaking here from my own experience and from the stories others in the web services industries have shared with me. We started out working for peanuts for people we knew until we had built up the experience and good reputation to be able to begin charging a living wage for what we do and counting on referrals and visibility to bring the modest number of clients to us that we need to earn a living over the course of each fiscal year. My company is small and our goals have been achievable. In my experience, this is the best path for startups to take, whatever industry they are in, but it sounds like your experience has been different.

Your viewpoint that SEOs who are down on cold calling don't know anything about building a business doesn't ring true with me, Michael, but I appreciate you expressing your opinion.

Miriam

Greetings, Colleen -
Thank you. After a few bad experiences with crooked business people approaching and deceiving past clients of ours who then came back to us for help, we've tried to remember to tell any new client to always run offers they receive by us first, even though our contract with them may have ended. We don't want past good work to be undone! It sounds like you've had a good track record with this so far. That's great!


Hello SEOpro -
It's great that this post came across for you at such a timely moment. Thanks for letting me know that. Yes, the scenario you have described sounds all too familiar. I only have to look at the fact that we get at least 20 emails a week offering us SEO services, most of them in bizarre language, to see how prevalent this type of spamming must be. Train the clients to hit delete! Good luck to you with your new prospective client.

Hi Susan -
That's a great point you've made. Yes, the massive waste of time. From the few people I know who work in stressful sales jobs, you pitch and pitch and pitch in hopes of getting just one person to listen...let alone say 'yes' to an offer. Your point has only further clarified for me how much nicer it is to build visibility and have folks come to you :)

Miriam

I'm disappointed at this obviously self-serving post from a company who must be able to maintain its own desired growth pace through referrals.

The reality is that all businesses must conduct outreach efforts to grow exponentially into large businesses; organic growth rarely enables small companies to grow quickly. And there is absolutely an ongoing land grab that benefits the fast movers.

There are some efforts that are better than others--for example, inviting to a free webinar or seminar to learn more about concepts or even the firm's specific services.

Having an agency of our size with over 150 marketing professionals available across multiple disciplines does, however, point out that a single-focus SEO firm may be very good for internet-only businesses that are not going to have budgets for anything more. But larger firms should still consider working with multidisciplinary firms that can coordinate Search, Display, Email, Social, Video and all sorts of offline efforts.

Greetings David,

You and I are in perfect agreement that large firms may benefit from working with large, multidisciplinary companies (like yours). My experience is in the small business arena (the typical focus of the pieces here at Search Engine Guide) and this is what has formed my opinion that most small businesses will be lost working with the type of large companies who are going to create mass telephone marketing campaigns but charge so little that a typical small business can afford to hire them. Do you agree/disagree with this?

As a side note, I'm very curious to know, with such a big company, how well do you, personally, get to know each of your clients? In a business model of your scope, does it matter to you whether or not you are one-on-one with clients? What I have seen is that small businesses tend to get treated like numbers with big companies and that this neither educates nor satisfies them. Perhaps your firm manages both to be small-business-budget compatible and exceptionally attentive to individual clients, in which case, I sincerely congratulate you.

I'm rather puzzled as to why you feel this post is self-serving. You'll have to clarify for me how advising business owners to do their own research is serving me or my company, which isn't mentioned in this piece or associated with Search Engine Guide. I think you have some valuable comments to contribute here, David, and I sense that you are speaking from your own voice of experience, but you lost me on that one. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

Cheers!
Miriam

Interesting article - you sure have "ruffled some feathers". By the way, I had an extremely hard time finding your website, even knowing where you are located and the surrounding areas. If you're an SEO expert, that was pretty disappointing to see. If you can't optimize your own site for Google searches, I'm curious as to how you can do it for your clients...?? In a quick view of your client portfolio, I searched for many of the very industries each of your clients are in. Sad to say, I didn't find many of them on the first page of Google. Hmmmmm.....

Finally, I also agree that the "put down" of companies that are growing is very self-serving. I'm curious - did you "build" your company through only referrals? Have you never "cold called" anyone?

Unfortunately I must disagree with this post, I have been doing SEO for almost 20 years and have a great reputation and a great product. My sales people cold call and all of my 300+ clients are very happy. I have taught SEO for about 8 years to webmasters, Did an elearning site for Dell and helped overstock.com finally stop spending money on all the TV commercials. so while cold calling and email have a bad reputation both allow qualified companies to contact people and sell products that are very worthwhile, my customers would read this and say, "Well, I got cold called but my profits are up and so are my leads.

You know, the advice is good for SEO freelancers but not for the company who wants to increase their SEO business. However, the key takeaways from this article could be -

1. Go with the SEO reputation
2. Make sure that SEO is not hungry for business
3. Beware of spamming from SEO experts.

Thanks, everyone, for the comments!

It's very interesting to look at the strong split in opinions here in the comments. Your comments have all been very interesting to read.

Shawn - Just so you know, my company doesn't sell SEO as a standalone service. I don't consider myself an SEO expert. In fact (and this is rather timely), a respected business men's association is publishing a series of interviews with me this month and they wanted to link to me with the exact words you mention "SEO expert". I specifically asked them not to, and explained that I view people like Aaron Wall as true experts in this discipline. This is why, in writing the above piece, I expanded my categorization to include Local SEO, website design, etc. Many of our clients come to us through our website, many come from referrals, and I did want to take a moment to explain to you that, if you take a gander at my site, you'll see that we don't offer SEO as a unique service; rather, its disciplines are incorporated into the work we do. You seemed upset about this, and I hope my explanation helps you to better understand where I'm coming from in this discussion.

Thanks again, all, for contributing your experiences and good ideas to this post!

Miriam,

Great post and an appropriate followup to Matt's post. I am the sales guy at our small firm and throughout my sales career I have avoided cold calling as much as possible because I feel that there are better uses of my time. So I think the point to make here is may not to ban cold calling but to temper your expectations. Don't expect to get business from that prospect until that cold call have become a very, very warm call. Honestly though, does anyone really like to cold call? Why not find better things to do and network the old fashioned way, especially since this is the way the small businesses who are unaware of the advantages of SEO are doing it.

Your wooden toy client anecdote really spoke to me as I am also a small business owner who makes custom furniture and to have someone take advantage of my baby would break my heart. So the real tip is treat your customer's business like your own business.

Miriam,

As you know I was one of those who objected to Matt's point about cold-callers. I have to take issue with a couple of your points.

"if you're having to rely on leafleting or telephoning people, you aren't really using the web the way you are supposedly urging your clients to do. There's something a bit odd about that."

At the same time, you mention in your article that 50% (likely more) of small businesses don't have websites. We're not always dealing with the web-savvy clientele, hence the need to reach out through more traditional means. Isn't it better to save them from having to first experience the $9.99 site builder horror before coming to us to fix their mess?

Secondly, I find it hard to believe that as a fan of small businesses you would really object to our type of cold calling. We don't "run our fingers down the phone book", and I certainly don't have a large sales team with lots of free time. Here's an example of our approach: Recently I saw a full-page back cover ad in a local paper from an HVAC company near to where I live. The owner had taken the time to write a personal letter to the neighbourhood, which I enjoyed. I visited their website and found a tiny, poorly designed site with JS navigation. Since I know a bit about the HVAC industry, am a 5th generation small biz owner and love all small biz success stories I reached out to the owner to explain that his JS nav and iframe design was not likely to help him reach his full potential.

Should I have waited for someone he knows to refer him to another one of the thousands of crap web design outfits that plague our city, or should I have contacted him with a personalized message addressing his specific needs?

That's how we roll with cold-calling. In life you come across businesses you want to endorse, and the best endorsement I can offer is our marketing service.

I think you are right on. I began in this business (SEO) 15 years ago and have made a second career out of it in my lifetime now. It all began with a first client who I did some traditional marketing for pro bono a year earlier. I asked him to do me a favor and hire me to make his site have a presence on the search engines. He did. He is still a client today and dominates his target terms. We are still working on stuff every month!

Long story short. He told someone at a business luncheon what I did and they called me to see if i could do it for them. 15 years later this process has continued at a rate of 3-5 clients a year. We've (its me and two other people now) reached 52 clients, offer a boutique service that kicks ass SEO wise every time, given a patient, thoughtful process.

Some people build their business through speaking, seminars, traditional marketing methods - and as always cold calling is at the bottom of the totem pole - as far as i am concerned. it is an abuse of a communication tool. It takes the control away from the receiver. There are plenty of crafty sales tactics that can be quite effective but there are plenty of other much more honorable ways to build a business IMHO.

Start by joining your local chamber of commerce and offer a presentation to the membership where in the presentation you offer a free web site analysis. Then go build some relationships. Go for a bunch of small companies instead of the big fish. it hardly hurts when you lose one of many. It can finish you if the big fish swims away!

Cold calling is part of an overall client acquisition strategy and should not be looked on as in any way the wrong thing to do.

I have run a number of businesses and had to cold call to get the first clients. I would target a specific industry and then focus down on the clients within that niche.

Don't mistake cold calling with telephone calls trying to get you to switch your phone operator. These people have not been trained well (if at all) and offer no benefits of the services they are supposed to be offering.

A good cold call, done by a knowledgable sales person should have specific benefits based on the clients requirements. This can only be done by getting to the core of the clients "problem".

I would guess that you have a split in opinion here between non-sales orientated people and people who understand the process.

Some of the above comments about not needing to cold call are rubbish. It's the hardest job in the company and takes a special person to do it. Personally I am a fairly reserved person and not that out-going. But I am repsonsible for all of the client acquisition and retention. Why? Because I know what I'm talking about and passionate enough to engage clienst after the "we're not interested". Sales people don't have to be stereo-typically out-going, arrogant individuals - quite the opposite IMO.

Like any other cold call. I tend to get find them a bit annoying and usually I just don't have the time to listen to what they have to say. So, sorry no business from me this way!

Great post. I totally agree with not hiring cold callers for your web job. I'll share a situation here: I applied for a job last week, the listing clearly stated that they need SEO/SEM specialist. Within an hour they replied back setting up for an interview. I went dreaming about the job (they did offer a good pay). To my horror they started talking about cold calling. A little confused I said, I am here for the SEO/SEM position. And I just could not believe my ears when I heard that this is the position - I have to sell SEO/SEM services on the phone, get clients to sign up. I simply left the place as soon as I could.

I still cannot belive that such companies do exist. Gosh..what a horrible experience.

OK. So, what you are saying is uneducated businesses are taken in by unethical companies that telemarket. Cold calling is a legit and great way to grow a business. Telemarketing is not and in some cases illegal. This is not about SEO, it is about anyone who answers the phone and is convinced to give someone their personal informatin without due dilegence. It is called the stupid factor. We get those calls all the time...so what is different about SEO. As I teach a class on the Art of Fearless Cold Calling, I also have advise on how to help a business know if anyone offering any business service is legit - including me. Type in the company name in your search and add the word 'scam' or 'lawsuit' and you will see the buzz about them if they are bad. Next, visit the Better Business Bureau Online to see if the company is ranked and the complaints. One other thing I do, I tell potential clients about Alexa. If an SEO company is ranked at 20,000,000 and their clients are ranked low, well, they are not doing their job. Hope this helps sort out the forest thru the SEO trees.

Thanks, again, to all of you who have just left your comments on this topic. So far, we have 7 comments supporting cold calling and 10 that don't support cold calling. That's quite a split! Clearly, many of you in the SEO industry rely on cold calling as part of your business model but more of you strongly feel this is not the way to go.

Maybe the real lesson here is that SEOs (and related web services providers) run their businesses in very different ways and that one man's meat is another man's poison. As for me, I'm sticking by my original feelings on this, but I'm glad we've had this discussion and find nearly all of the arguments presented here compelling. I hope everyone is benefiting from the conversation. I really do appreciate all of your comments

Miriam

I must admit, when I looked at the title I did not think I would agree with this blog. But, I completely agree.

The first point about not being able to trust a business that is calling for SEO prospecting because they should have the work makes sense. SEO is a very long process and some marketing firms only do it for their establishes customers because they do not have the time.

Also, using a large firm that has many clients can have a negative affect on SEO. In order to perform SEO effectively, you must understand every aspect of the clients' business in order to optimize properly. If keywords, for example, were just thrown together based off of the optimizers assumptions about a client's business, it would be a waste. Also, SEO is an ongoing process. If you simply do it once, in 6 months you may not be anywhere in googles first 5 pages. Large companies do not have the time to focus on and upkeep SEO.

Scamming can easily happen in SEO because it does not involve meeting with the client and getting work approved. They simply take over you site. I feel horrible for the people that have become victims to this. Ask for examples and testimonials before working with a small SEO or web development firm.

Great blog!

Miriam: You are my friend, I respect you, and I admire your work, and your commentary. I have to disagree on your original premise. I do agree with the comment you made on October 29; "SEO's run their businesses in very different ways and one man's meat is another man's poison"

We actually touched on this subject a while back at cre8asiteforums.

I sold business to business services for decades. At the start I had to cold call. After a period I obtained referrals. They were "sort of wonderful" in that it cut out selling aspect. But on the other hand I had no control over the quality of the referral. Frankly, at that time I wanted bigger business.

A larger SEO full service firm should "smart call" not cold call. The callers should have certain targets in mind. They should have some knowledge about the business type, the business size, the existing website and/or what others in that industry are doing.

At this stage of the industry there are far less SEO's/web designers than the need for the service. Operating off of referrals is nice and its possible.

As time goes on that opportunity will diminish. I'd suggest its time for existing SEO's/design firms look to expand their opportunities with "smart calls".

On the other hand, the SMB operator is foolish if they don't compare services. That is critical. If an SMB is looking for these services they better interview at least 3 service providers. It might take some time, but it is well worth it in terms of "purchasing the services".

Dave

Hey, Dave!
It's a treat to see you here, my friend. Your description of smart calling has a ring of appeal, for sure, Dave, and looking to the future of a changed business-scape is certainly wise. That being said, have you seen anyone applying your business methods in the SEO/web services field in a way of which you approve? I have not. Every week, I delete at least 3 emails offering to SEO one of my private projects which dominates the SERPs for its main and related terms...yet, the emails continue to come in, offering to get me 'top 10 rankings', '#1 rankings', etc. for this site. It's obvious whoever sends out this stuff doesn't even bother to spend 3 seconds looking at the site or checking rankings, even as the barest overture to contacting me.

In point of fact, I have yet to receive a single appealing web-services-related offer by phone or by email for any of my websites, over the years. Rather, I find myself inundated with nonsense...and this has to be the opposite of what you have in mind when you are speaking of smart calls. You are advocating research, and I can certainly respect that, but I'm not seeing it happen in real life.

What I'd like to see is your research tied to a more appealing type of networking than the cold call or cold email. I want relationships that are going to be important to start in a more authentic way. What does this mean? Does it mean you have to hang out where birders or bicyclists or Baptists hang out if you want to meet them and start serving their businesses? Maybe it does. Or maybe that's too much to ask? The answer to that is going to be different for any company, I'd expect, but for me, at least, it's going to have to go beyond strangers contacting me to have real-life appeal. And so far, all I've seen are the lackluster efforts of strangers.

You've brought up a meaningful point here regarding the work that would go into a client acquisition effort prior to ever contacting the client. I'm just pushing for a little bit more.

It's great to see you here, Dave, and I really appreciate your thoughtful comment.
Miriam

Disagree strongly with this article. In fact, it smacks of a bit of elitism regarding the superiority of one marketing method versus another. Outbound calling, direct marketing etc is just another tool in a marketer's toolkit. The best way to combat the scammers out there is to do due diligence by requesting solid references and some online poking around.

Cold calling is hard enough already without these types of articles disparaging those who may not have a choice but to cold call.

Ed Yang

Comments closed after 30 days to combat spam.


Search Engine Guide > Miriam Ellis > Should You Hire An SEO Who Cold Calls You?