How To Market Your Search Engine Agency - Part 1

You're in the marketing business; therefore you should be an expert at marketing your own business! True, but it can be a struggle to keep a regular pipeline of sales leads.

This is one of the most important issues when developing and growing your business. To get these leads, you must be able to reach your target market.

Develop a Marketing Plan and Strategy

It's important that you take time to develop an organized marketing strategy. This should become part of your marketing plan.

The plan should outline exactly what you're going to do to reach your target audience. There are many marketing options open to you. The key is to decide what ones meet your needs as a search marketer. Your marketing plan should always be tied to your sales and revenue goals.

Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing is the old way of doing things, or so we search engine marketers think! It's been my experience that regardless of how skilled an online marketer you are, you need to have a mix of traditional and online to reach your target market.

It's important to keep your pipeline full from a variety of sources. If you're going to depend on online leads, you need to either become active online or have a large paid search budget.

Attending trade shows has been the most effective traditional marketing effort we've been involved with. If your business is growing and you have some budget to play with, then invest in some good quality collateral you can feature in your booth. Be prepared for spend about $20,000 for a decent quality booth and collateral. I took out a loan to pay for our first trade show trip and it's been worth every cent.

If you can only afford the cheaper option of booth space and a banner with your company's name on it -- don't do it. Wait until you can do it right. Many of the big players in the industry go to the shows and they all have great looking booths. You don't want to stand out as the poor man's SEO.

We've attended SES shows, adTech, and local shows. To date our most profitable show has been SES New York. We're headed back to New York this spring with our booth. I'm hoping for even greater success with the new emphasis by SES on bringing decision makers to the show.

Remember: you need to get your name in front of a potential prospect at least five times before they remember you, so get creative. Buy a guerilla marketing guide at your local bookstore for some cost effective ideas on promoting your business.

Online Marketing

Online marketing seems like the obvious way to market your business. After all, we're all experts in our field and -- as we often tell our clients -- high rankings and visibility will drive business to us, right? Well, perhaps not! This space is very competitive and the leads are, largely, not targeted.

Tactics for online marketing include search engine optimization, pay-per-click, online publicity, as well as e-mail and newsletter campaigns. I've found that the leads from organic search for the industry trophy terms such as "search engine optimization" or "search engine optimization services" have been hit and miss.

They are often "tire kickers" who are looking for information, not necessarily good prospects. We've closed some good clients from the Web, but the closure rate is low and these won't sustain your business as it grows and overhead increases.

Grow Your Brand

Incidentally, our highest traffic driving search term is now our own brand name. It has taken us four years of hard graft to get there.

Obviously, I'd prefer people came looking for us by name after having heard good things about us. They are usually better qualified leads. This is where your offline efforts start to pay off driving more visitors to your brand.

Next week we'll look at other ways to market your search engine agency, including networking, referrals, and partnering, as well as marketing yourself as an industry expert.

Click here to tell me your successes in marketing your agency.

Join us for SES London February 19-21 and for training classes on February 22.

About the author

Fionn Downhill is the CEO of Elixir Interactive, a digital marketing agency that helps companies build and grow their customer relationships online. After building up a specialist agency in search engine optimization and paid search, Elixir Interactive expanded its digital marketing services in May 2008 to include social media optimization, reputation management, e-mail marketing, mobile marketing and user-experience design..

Elixir Interactive strives to leverage its experience in search to help clients create, optimize and distribute targeted content that reaches the right audience in the right place at the right time. By combining the intelligence gathered from search with the power of the social community, Elixir Interactive can help its clients better understand their customers, extend the reach of their brand, manage their online reputation and create compelling user experiences that truly connect with the target audience..

Fionn previously worked with organizations such as British Airways and Price Waterhouse. Fionn is involved in the advancement of search marketing and is a strong advocate for best business practices in the industry.

She is the Chair and a founding member of the SEMPO Institute, which was launched to provide first class training for the search engine marketing industry worldwide. Fionn is an established author and frequent speaker on search marketing. In March 2007, Fionn was elected to the SEMPO board of directors.