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The Full and Complete Guide to Starting your Offline Business Part 3 [A Case Study]

Discussion in 'Offline Marketing' started by Winchester, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. Winchester

    Winchester BANNED BANNED

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    Other Parts:
    http://www.blackhatworld.com/blackhat-seo/offline-marketing/367193-full-complete-guide-starting-your-offline-business.html
    http://www.blackhatworld.com/blackhat-seo/offline-marketing/375141-full-complete-guide-starting-your-offline-business-part-2-a.html#post3500141

    Some people have been asking a lot of side questions on how I deal with my clients so rather then answer questions I'm going to give you an over-arching case study of one of my clients I picked in the summer (unfortunately not a freelance client but rather a client of the technology firm where I manage an SEO department as I continue to try and branch out on my own - this is the year)

    Anyway, what you have to understand, is in Canada, dentistry and healthcare are titans, and are often set up as chains just like fast food company. Their money comes from either government run healthcare or private healthcare (if its something government healthcare doesn't cover). So these accounts are lucrative and the competition is rough. We know that last year a competitor spent a $250,000 advertising budget trying to capture markets that we dominated. We have gotten better results with a spendable budget of less than $5000 over 5 months, allowing the company to maximize profit and client satisfaction.

    So for those of you that run Internet Marketing, SEO or Online Reputation Management as an actual business, here is my approach that will this year be landing my boss a yearly revenue of $450,000+ (of which I will be seeing far to little of.)

    We are going to cover:

    -The Research
    -My Steps for Ranking a Client
    -The Challenge of Online Reputation Management
    -Legal Loopholes
    (- I was going to talk about client reporting but this is covered enough in Part 1 of this series)


    The Results

    When we first picked up this client you could only find them on Google by searching their name, and their reputation had been dragged through the mud, primarily by competitors now 5 months later here is where we stand:

    [​IMG]
    Comparison from when we got the client to now in traffic

    [​IMG]
    Examination of Growth last month (remember when we started NONE of these keywords ranked

    [​IMG]
    My Client ranking #5 for their competitors NAME as the keyword

    Step 1: Research your Client

    When I start out with any client, I try and establish a general knowledge of the business, at the end of the day no matter how savvy you think you are a business owner will always have a unique insight into what their clients are searching to find them. I ask 5 simple questions and ask for 5 answers to each:

    Code:
    1. What are 5 keywords you want to rank well for
    2. What are 5 questions your business is the answer too
    3. What are your 5 top competitors
    4. Which 5 markets (sometimes as small as regions in a city) you want to focus on and see growth in
    5. What are 5 mistakes your business has made that risk your reputation
    
    With these questions I am able to establish a few things:

    1. I know exactly which keywords the client has an attachment to, if I show better SERP rankings in these words I have a much higher chance to retain this client.

    2. I know what 5 varying mindsets of clients are when they are in search of this business. This is crucial clients who are in a searching mindset will always convert better. I don't want to increase traffic, I want to increase conversions, the more focused or desperate a client is when they land the better it is. At the end of the day if I don't make my client more money I HAVE FAILED even if I triple their visits.

    3. Always, always, always know what you are up against, run backlink checks and various metrics on your competitor, even try calling them see if you can find out if they have an SEO, look at their site and try and see where their rankings and conversions come from.

    4. Once again this is the location my client cares about, if I can keep a clients growth desires prior to using my best judgement on other keywords and locations then anything I do is icing on the cake that keeps the client happy and thus paying.

    5. If I am going to handle a clients reputation, I need to know when they have fucked up. I need to know what I can and can't say legally. I need to know what was done to correct these mistakes and I need to know how to approach a re-assurance of our customers.

    Important: Be sure to also ask your client if their are any legal or professional restrictions to how they can advertise. This is very important and something we'll touch on later

    Step 2: Research Your Market

    Now armed with the knowledge of where and what our client wants to excel at we take to Google Keyword Tool to research this market place.

    We are going to create a list of 10 keywords to work on:

    5 of which are the ones our client wanted
    5 of which are our focused search keywords

    This way the client is happy not only in their SERP results but also with the increase traffic and conversions that our knowledge is going to bring in.

    When you go into Google Keyword Tool put in their 5 keywords plus any ones you can think of. In my case I am dealing with a dentistry chain so I also searched for some local keywords. You are going to want to order your search by "local monthly searches and look for one's that are labelled low to medium first, (be sure and hover over the low/medium to see the actual number). You are looking for some gems here in hopes that local monthly searches on a medium or low competition keyword will be close to that of a high one allowing you to maximize your campaign.

    [​IMG]

    In the case above the medium keywords (ratings 0.49 and 0.52) have fairly close traffic to the high competition keyword with a rating of 0.84 (remember these are out of 1.00). Since it would be easier and more cost effective to rank well in both the medium words rather than the high word and it will actually bring in MORE traffic.

    Sometimes you won't find these gems and that's ok, you may have to duke it out in only high competition words, but using a ratio method to compare the competition to the traffic you can find out which words best to target.

    Step 3: Ranking The Keywords

    In order to rank my keywords I started with a strongbase:

    -1000 links a day low quality rotational (day 1 = keyword 1, day 2 = keyword 2, so on and so on) loaded into drip indexer

    -Bought 15 high quality .edu

    -Pushed links on LSI Articles through high quality blog network

    -and finally switched to monthly 10 keyword white-hat SEO plan

    This work has been growing over 5 months and has secured us promising positions in these competitive keywords.

    Ultimately the client sees on average 20-30 new clients a month from these programs, of that nearly 50% stay on as returning customers. Giving them significant growth over time.

    On some keywords we also used Google Adwords to help clinch an aggressive play while our natural results grew. In a highly competitive niche like this someone is always watching the rankings, and we've seen competitors respond very shortly with aggressive ads of their own. We've even used Google adwords to make competitors believe we are going after another keyword (by listing multiple ads) only to use it as a point of distraction.

    Step 4: Dealing with Online Reputation

    Dealing with online reputation is possibly one of the most challenging things you can face as you deal with a vast number of individuals being able to voice opinions, many of which you can not remove.

    Your reputation on the internet is primarily on three fronts:

    1. Review Sites (Yelp, Google places, Niche Review Sites [i.e. Ratemds.com], or Individual Review Sites)

    2. Web-Forums (Review Forums, Niche Forums, Local Forums [I.e. city/town forums)

    3. Peer-to-Peer (you can't control it except with ads of positive exposure that make a large enough social impact [i.e. competitions])

    First things first, we have to establish two things:

    1. Where are these conversations happening

    2 Where can we create these conversations.

    To solve the first problem we head over to Google Alerts and set up some keywords, in my case I used the name of the lead dentist and the name of the dental chain:

    [​IMG]

    I put my settings to "everything" and "as it happens" so that I can get news either positive or negative and re-act to it right away. The mind set here is to avoid mob mentality. 1 Negative post is bad, 3 Negative posts is worse, but 3 Negative posts without any positive one in between is the worst situation, as it creates a negative mindset and its fair easier for people to just hop on the band-wagon and make negative assumptions.

    In my case I had four primary websites to deal with:

    1. Google Places
    2. Yelp
    3. RateMDs
    4. A local city Mum's forum

    When it came to numbers 1 & 2 there is not much wiggle room as it is nearly impossible to remove negative reviews.

    One tricky tactic I personally came up with try and clear out Yelp and Google Places reviews is outlined here http://www.blackhatworld.com/blackhat-seo/black-hat-seo/395156-how-rid-negative-yelp-reviews.html#post3725483.

    Other than trying to clean the slate if you are heavily drowned in bad reviews the only other (legal) thing you can do is to utilize http://www.blackhatworld.com/blackhat-seo/making-money/379410-22-letters-xx-xxx-part-2-how-make-thousands-passive-income-managing-reviews.html to maximize positive reviews while snuffing out as many negative ones as possible.

    Now when it comes to forums it is a whole other ball game, you have to research the forum, understand the demographic and understand what they like and don't like about your client.

    In my case this was a mothers forum, 20-40 year old say at home mum's focused on gossip (a book and wine club but online) and their primary catch phrase was "That's not a place I'd take my kids" in this particular demographic that is the most damning statement you can hear.

    After some further research I realized they in particular had a problem with "Dr. XXXX" luckily he was not the only doctor at this practice. So I decided to shift the attention to the other doctor (who was a 30 year old female herself).

    Here's what I did to do this:

    Code:
    -Made 5 accounts on the forum over a period of two months, racked up a varying number of legitimate posts on random topics
    
    -Collect testimony about the doctor from actual patients and had them sign a release
    
    -Rented out advertising space on that forum
    
    -Created a thread with one of the accounts and posted the review began by saying "Saw this dentist from the ad on this site and decided to give her a try"
    
    -Over the next 3 weeks I replied from the other 4 accounts with testimonials I had collected
    
    With in two months the client was receiving 10 - 20 hits a day from this advertisement and they were converting at roughly 1 every other week. While it was our lowest ROI from an advertisement the important thing however is positive reviews came in from other actual clients and the negative reputation of the other doctor (who still worked their and some referred clients even had appointments with) was now a thing of the past.

    Laws and Legal Loopholes

    Most clients in professional industry are bound by various legalities and professional practice regulations that you as their service provider will have to work with in.

    Here is an example of one such problem I faced and the way to get around it. While the problems in your industry may differ this is to help you think outside the box

    Problem: Client is prohibited from ever referring to themselves as "The Best Dentist", "#1 Dentist" or Top Dentist" by any means under provincial practice law. (We, as their advertiser, could also not do it on any property they owned including Google Adwords).

    Solution:: To get around this a third party review site was created. Under the ownership of a friend of mine who agreed to own it in exchange for his Google Adsense being placed on the site. The site would allow anyone to submit reviews (viewable only after admin moderation - the sites disclaimer said the admin was under no obligation to moderate reviews) which would then place the local dentists in order by rank. A Google Adword campaign was set up so this website would appear for searches like "Best Dentist in X" and "Top Dentist in X"


    Conclusion
    This should give you plenty of insight into how I fully set up and deal with my clients, and the other two entries in this series have discussed pitch and pricing.

    This officially ends the series "The Full and Complete Guide to Starting your Offline Business" and I will now be focusing on threads that help to utilize psychology and sales practices to help you better client acquisitions, customer conversion and sales.

    Take Care
    Winchester
     
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  2. trustedfire9

    trustedfire9 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    bookmarked , +3rep for this .
     
  3. mohitjmehta

    mohitjmehta BANNED BANNED

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    IMHO all 3 parts must be moved to jr vip area
     
  4. christianbed

    christianbed Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Thanked and repped Winchester...much success in breaking out on your own in 2012.
     
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  5. DaBlackHat

    DaBlackHat Junior Member

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    Thanks
    perfect info
     
  6. Winchester

    Winchester BANNED BANNED

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    Thanks all; glad you've enjoyed the series
     
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  7. Wings[SENSE]

    Wings[SENSE] Regular Member

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    Thanks a lot Winchester!! +reps and bookmarked :)



    :rolleyes:
     
  8. Winchester

    Winchester BANNED BANNED

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    Happy to help Wings, feel free to ask any questions when you get a chance to read it :)
     
  9. meathead1234

    meathead1234 Moderator Staff Member Moderator Premium Member

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    Out of interest, if a client is hiring YOU for SEO, why would you ask them what keywords they want to rank for as your first question? The whole point of them hiring you is you tell THEM what you're going to rank for and why. Most offline businesses owners won't even know what a keyword is (in my experience).

    When I'm brokering, I only work on MY terms. As soon as you start doing things that are going to be degrading to the project (e.g. targeting keywords they "like") just to keep the client happy, it's going to be a downward spiral and a constant struggle to keep them happy. You've got to retain power in the relationship and actually make them think they are getting value for money.
     
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  10. Winchester

    Winchester BANNED BANNED

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    When it comes to corporate SEO clients love to think they know better than you how their business runs. They also have keywords that they enjoy for competitive or personal reasons.

    By asking these questions I establish not only where their views of this campaign are, but also what their perception and desired perception of their business are. (My background is in psychology)

    We do tell the client upfront that we will do what we believe is best for their business and will not use these keywords if they don't benefit their business.

    The other thing they outline is how people in this industry may perceive the business; while it doesn't help to much in dentistry, I found that in another client case (corporate transport) asking these question brought up phrases, keywords and concepts I would never have understood or found.

    The idea is not to pander to a client, but rather to understand that they are a valuable source of information and knowledge about their industry. I like to draw it out in ways that make sense to me.
     
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  11. meathead1234

    meathead1234 Moderator Staff Member Moderator Premium Member

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    That's an interesting approach. How do you deal with clients who then turn it all around and think they know more than you? By giving them open questions, it gives them a chance to counter.

    I'm young, so when dealing with clients, it's important for me to retain a position of authority. If I started letting them think they could do it themselves, then they'll negotiate down, or just use the classic "I've been in this business 30 years, and you're just a kid, I think I understand blah blah blah more than you".

    I guess your approach would work too with certain clients - but with a service that's relatively specialised, I think you need to be telling THEM what to target.

    You wouldn't get your accountant asking you of "5 places you can optimise tax" - that's what you pay them for :)
     
  12. Winchester

    Winchester BANNED BANNED

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    True, this may actually draw out something I took for granted, when it comes to talking I have no issue with it I'm quick to the response and know usually what a person needs to hear.

    I let the client know through out our conversation my knowledge of psychology and marketing, how well I understand business and how clients make purchasing decisions, etc

    I inform them these questions are to build a better understanding of not only their business but their own perception of their business; I want them to know that their views and opinions are being heard. I identify them as an expert in their field and tell them that their insights are the data I work with that makes me an expert in mind.

    A back up I didnt mention here is I always research the industry and their demographic before going into a meeting. Ive had the advantage of working with many clients before and will happily get into a discussion with them on not only their target market but their points of exposure and selling points - normally if a client is aggressive in the point "what could you know your just a young kid" they back down at the moment I step on to their field. It is important to let your client be heard but the moment they push normally stepping up works - clients who don't have faith in a young kid, would NEVER want to be called out by one.

    If at that point they continue to push I respectfully decline their business and end our meeting - in my time with this company I've turned down 3 clients, as a freelancer only 1. At the end of the day being selective in my clients is a safety net. You will always spend more trying to please an unpleaseable client and you run the risk of your own reputation being sullied. Better to end it up front. Legally if they have never had your service any claims about it could be pinned as defamation.

    I view the authority principle from the part of going into these meetings that we are equals in authority, I would never do dentistry, and they would never do marketing. If they push, you puff up your chest with facts, push again you show your insight into their field, if they push again walk they are not the person you want as a service based client.

    Hope that answers it a little clearer, I know what I talk about human relations I make a lot of assumptions on peoples knowledge
     
  13. jazzc

    jazzc Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    In my experience, corporate clients already have a list of keywords. They 've worked with other people/agencies before, so they tend to have an idea.

    I usually let them spit out as many keywords as they like and then I suggest which one should be of focus and explain clearly why. In the end, they can choose whatever they like, it 's their business and if they can't make the best decisions, well...
     
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  14. Winchester

    Winchester BANNED BANNED

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    Thanks Jazzc,

    A very valid point!
     
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  15. cecle

    cecle Regular Member

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    Incredible set of posts, repped!
     
  16. albaniax

    albaniax Elite Member

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    wow Winchetser, what's up with you, lately your threads are gold worth and especially this one is very informative for me.

    But why do you continue to work at that company?
    Or do you already have the plans to start s.th. on yourself soon?

    Get what you can get out of that company, and ASAP start your own :)
     
  17. Winchester

    Winchester BANNED BANNED

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    I have my own business on the side, but it will take time to acquire and grow; I want to make sure that my personal clients come at least close to the same level of profit I was getting from the job at that company - as I do have bills to pay.
     
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  18. Alaric

    Alaric Newbie

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    Very great read. Between your post, takictals and 7878 I've decided to take action and try some free lancing. I'm still learning too!
    Thanks for the post
     
  19. Winchester

    Winchester BANNED BANNED

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    Thanks Alaric,

    Glad to know it helped!
     
  20. Mav91890

    Mav91890 Registered Member

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    Hey Winchester one question!

    I have always wondered this. I have a local biz going on similar to yours, just not as successful. I have wondered, why wouldnt potential clients just use adwords to get ranked for their select keywords?