I believe there are numerous ways to sell SEO service across a diverse set of partly interested parties who can’t seem to embrace the whole idea of search engine marketing.
Clients don’t necessarily mean those who are paying us to do something. They could also be found within the office we are working at. As Shari Thurow, one of my favorite ClickZ writers summed up the three types of clients as,
1. Web Developers and other IT staff
2. Journalists and Public Relations Professionals
3. Decision Makers or the Executives
These people can be our colleagues that even when the project is done, the feeling of apathy towards bruised ego or under appreciation of job can linger for a longer period.
Sometimes those who have the knowledge, albeit limited, are those who contradict ideas, veto an SEO budget or feel annoyed when their work receives less appreciation. The ones who need to learn are naturally the easier ones to please. While I have never been into a verbal tussle with any web designer in the office, its possibility could be less likely as they only execute orders from Art Directors or the Creative Director himself. But who knows?
Real World Clients
Aaron Wall detailed this by compiling possible scenarios in dealing with different types of clients. I previously touched a bit on a few of these client types. It’s easy to agree that the unwillingness to pay for a specific SEO project can be traced into the following:
1. Lack of knowledge how the SEO process is done
2. Lack of trust in the vendor
3. Lack of money
If Aaron calls them “toxic clients”, in reference to those clients who hard to deal with, I’d like to call them as “risky clients”. Their lack of support can be detrimental to the performance of an SEO campaign and can dent a vendor’s reputation.
Doing a Pay for Performance Job
In many instances, clients propose a pay for performance type of service. We’ll never get paid until their rankings zoom up to the top and traffic balloon to unprecedented heights. On all of those cases I rejected those proposals. As much as we don’t guarantee rankings, the optimization job has been done and it could take four more months to perform as hoped and expected.
Aaron suggests that it’s not necessary to say no to all those pay for performance proposals. After all, it’s understandable that clients also have to be accountable for the money spent on something that’s not guaranteed at all.
Instead, he mentions that related sites, large brands and small niche players are the ones to bet on pay for performance. Otherwise, it’s safe to say “it’s not going to work” for new sites crowding an intensely competitive industry and sites that have insufficient content.
Looking for good quality clients? One must be perceived as an expert in order to earn respect from the community. Aaron has tips to become one:
1. Participate in active parts of the web
2. Be seen as an expert
3. Submit articles to WebProNews
4. Go to conferences
5. and more tips at Aaron’s blog
After all, establishing a good relationship with client requires more than just SEO and negotiation skills.