If you are a freelancer looking to win business from a potential SEO client, it is important to be fully prepared before your meeting. You need to create the right impression and avoid irritating the client by avoiding obvious questions that you could have found out with a little research. So, before the meeting, make sure that you learn everything you can about the company.
Thoroughly researching the organization will also help you develop a strategy that is tailored to their needs and requirements. Find out potential weaknesses in their online marketing strategy that you can use to form the basis of your presentation.
Use the client’s branded and generic keywords to find out what’s being said about the client’s business/industry. Google the client to see if they have any online reputation management issues. Research the client thoroughly across social networks and use social media tools to find out just how active they are on social media.
For example, let’s say the business name of your SEO client is: “Plato’s Hairdressing Salon“. So, we do a quick Google search for “Plato’s Hairdressing Salon”, making sure you enclose the business name in quotations marks. In addition, type in generic keywords such as “hair dressing salon golders green”, or “hair dressing salon northwest london” to find out information about the client’s industry within a particular location.
You only need to search within a specific radius of the company’s location. Note that if it is a local business, the Google search modifier will bring up web pages with this exact phrase in it, also reflecting your computer IP location (providing geocentric information and feedback that is crucial for local small businesses).
Google is going to produce as much relevant data as it can find about this business online. The majority of search results that will come up when performing these searches for business owners are local review and business directory sites.
Before you meet with or have a detailed conversation with the client, be sure to:
You’ll find that for some clients, online reputation management is an issue they didn’t even know they had to deal with. Most service-based businesses have found it to be a big “eye-opener” that not only do so many of these community-review sites exist, but they also are amazed that there is also usually some type of ongoing conversation or review dialogue on their business already posted.
The purpose of your meeting is not only to formalize your relationship, but to also assess the potential client and for them to assess you. It is something you should not take lightly. Handle this right, and they will be with you for years. For your part, try to be as open, transparent and as honest as possible.
Try to include all of the following talking points as much as possible. This will ensure that the client knows exactly who you are, what you offer and what to expect from you:
This allows you to establish rapport and create an emotional connection with the client. Tell the story of how you got started with SEO and why. Tell the story of your business in an engaging way that will resonate with the client.
This point is especially important because it sets the context of the entire professional relationship. After considering the full picture, you should have some idea how hard it is going to be for the clients to ranking number 1 for their desired keyword. Be honest and let them know. As always, under-promise and over-deliver.
Remember that social media has changed the game as far as SEO is concerned, and a lot of things that would taken several months can now take weeks through an effective branding campaign on social media that is aimed at the client’s target audience.
Show the client that you understand what their main priorities are. This will show the clients that you listen and take their priorities seriously. It also shows that you are on the same page as the potential client. It is absolutely necessary that you clarify these points before you start doing any work
The last step in creating the client relationship is to communicate to clients in clear language exactly what you can do for them. This is where you get the opportunity to sell your expertise and services and close the deal. It is also an opportunity to define your brand and how you stand out from your competitors. Be as thorough, honest and as detailed as possible. The client will respect you for that.
Don’t provide any specific guarantees about results but do guarantee specific ethical tactics. Remember: always under-promise but over-deliver. It doesn’t mean however that you should hold back or be modest in anyway. Go through the full spectrum of services and how each aspect of your service will help the client fulfill their goals. While it may be tempting to promise guaranteed #1 rankings like many other SEOs, don’t fall into this trap.
With social media, your client’s website doesn’t need to be number one on Google to be successful. It might help when it comes to informational or research queries, but in 2013, ranking on the top of page 1 of Google is no longer a big deal.
Make sure that you explain the benefit and importance of building a powerful brand. Some clients still believe social media is just a fad, and many business owners will scoff at the mention of branding. They need to be educated on its benefits. If they are not aware, let them know social media is not an option for them but an absolute necessity if they want to remain competitive in business.
Educate the client about social media and the potential impact of having a strong online presence on the business. At this point you will have done all of your research, and you know everything there is to know about the client’s online reputation and their social media presence.
Emphasize the importance of branding and reputation management to Google rankings, and how Search differs from how it was just a few years ago. Feel free to promise specific tactics, but don’t over reach. Again, under-promise and over-deliver.
Let the clients know exactly how you will approach the project. Leave nothing out. Make them aware of the meticulous attention to detail you will be paying to the project. Before wrapping up with potential clients, let them know what your next steps will be if they choose to hire you. Don’t ask them if they will hire you, but instead move forward like they already have. Tell them that you will send them the paperwork and what your initial first steps will be. Don’t be overbearing but make it easier for them to go along with your plan than to reject your services.
Clients often come in different varieties: There are those clients who are already knowledgeable about SEO and social media, and will want to know everything you’re going to do for them in meticulous detail. These clients are very detail-oriented, and the key to effective communication and building rapport with them is to make sure you keep them informed about nearly every aspect of your work.
For these type of clients, you can use technical terms and industry jargon when communicating with them. You also need to show them that you are up-to-date with what is happening in the SEO world, and what Google and Bing are up to. Some of these types of clients have been burned by unethical SEOs in the past, and you’ll need to handle them with kid gloves and communicate with them regularly.
The other types of clients will be content with simply knowing the basics of what you‘re doing and why, and they’re more focused on projecting and documenting outcomes. These are clients who are content, and even prefer a summary of what you’re doing, and are more interested in results.
Regardless of your client type, sharpen your presentation skills to best help them understand the social SEO concepts you need to convey to them.