Why Search Engine Marketing Companies Cannot Help Every Business

Earlier this week a prospect called KoMarketing Associates. They were frustrated that they could not find a search engine marketing firm interested in their small business. They could not understand why so many companies had no interest helping a new company get their SEM strategy started.

When I explained to the caller that KoMarketing Associates works primarily with B2B companies and organizations, I was met with the following reply:

From the caller: “If no one is willing to take on a customer like me who can’t afford thousands of dollars for SEO, maybe I’ll start my own company and take [all of those] customers!”

Before I could offer a referral or information, they had to hang up. The explanation being that they had to keep hammering on the phone to find a potential solution.

There is a range of reasons why search engine marketing companies cannot help certain businesses. Here’s a short list of potential reasons.

  • Market Specialization – Because search engine marketing (SEO & SEM) has become a much more accepted marketing practice, almost every industry and business has their own unique opportunity and unique challenges. As a result, SEM professionals often specialize their skills to better suit a particular market.

    For example, SEO’s working in the pharmaceutical industry have specific regulatory requirements. In the B2B market, lead quality and lead analysis are often a greater focus in search marketing campaigns than general branding strategy.

  • Core Competencies – Search engine marketers will not have experience in all technologies and marketing competencies; directly and indirectly related to SEO. Technology example: If a website is built on the Java platform, you would want to work with an SEO experienced in Java.

    Less obvious skill requirements might include copywriting, site usability, and public relations experience. Every business faces unique marketing challenges – from technical to strategic – thus requiring different experience from their search engine marketing partner.

  • SEM Goals & Expectations – Understanding a prospects’ business objectives and being able to tailor an appropriate solution is critical to the success of a search engine marketing program. As a simple example, company’s heavily invested in a single keyword ranking may not be able to support traffic goals even if a ranking is attained.

    Market and keyword discovery is critical. Historical website traffic reporting patterns and keyword projections will allow search marketers to make reasonable estimates on conversion rates and revenue.

    In a past evaluation, it was realized that the cost per conversion would be too high for company’s budget appetite, based on initial keyword research and making projections using estimated click rates and conversion rates.

  • Prospect Readiness – In some circumstances (like the one referenced at the start of this post), the prospect is not really ready to begin a search engine marketing program; doesn’t necessarily mean because of budget.

    Search engine marketing is rapidly becoming an integral component of a comprehensive online marketing program. If a prospect has not developed their marketing plan – from target markets and competitive advantage to content development and sales strategies – it might not make sense to engage in an SEM campaign.

    Achieving visibility for keywords (or gaining prominence in social media) does not happen without a (comprehensive) plan of action behind it, particularly for new websites.

  • The Intangibles – Like any professional services organization, good search engine marketing firms expect to develop positive relationships with their clients. Personalities, organizational methodology, communication preferences, and even value systems are some of the intangible reasons professional organizations will work together (or not work together).

Finding the right match in a search engine marketing partner does not happen with one phone call or a quick glance at a web page. Interviews, strategy discussion/discovery, and reference checks (particularly for the prospect) are important to ensure that a reasonable expectation for success can be made.

It’s too bad the caller did not have time to ask for more information or listen for advice. Hopefully they find the right company for their search engine marketing strategy but it’s equally important to realize that not every search engine marketing firm will be the right fit for them as well.

“Working with KoMarketing was more like a partnership as supposed to just another consulting project. We learned a lot from KoMarketing, while excelling in all aspects of SEO for our website. If your looking for a hard working, dedicated team, KoMarketing is a partnership you won’t regret.”

— Alexis Karlin, Digital Marketing Specialist, Neolane (Acquired by Adobe)

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