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What Does Your Customer Really Want?

Discussion in 'Business & Tax Advice' started by BassTrackerBoats, Jan 15, 2015.

  1. BassTrackerBoats

    BassTrackerBoats Super Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    All too often, as SEO entities, we give the customer what they say they want as opposed to showing them what will benefit them. Many people do not really know what they want and that does not include our industry; it is a prevalent issue with many business owners when it comes to buying products or services.

    The onus is not on the business owners either as sometimes a seller is not 100% sure what is best for the business as they may not understand the business without doing proper due diligence and seeing the nuts and bolts of the operation.

    A few real life cases of businesses in which I have knowledge that may fool you as to what you think they are all about.

    1) The Bottled Water Business - I was in that business for several years starting as a sales person, rank a very large operation in South Florida, bought and sold companies and eventually working my way into an ownership position and being part of a group that took a company public. You would think that the business is all about selling water and making a profit from the commodity itself. You see the beverage body truck with a guy humping 5 gallon bottles and bringing them to homes and businesses and think that is the business. It is, but it is not what the owner is always focusing on.

    [​IMG]

    The real money is in the cooler rental as you pay once for a cooler and rent it out for 11+ years month after month. It actually pays for itself inside of 15 months so every month after that is pure as the driven snow profit. Most owners of bottled water companies are looking to get as many cooler rentals as possible and are not overly concerned about whether the client is using 4.8 bottles a month. In fact, the guy I worked for in South Florida, who was a big player, told me he could care less about selling water; just get coolers on the street and collect the rent. Water sales would come but that was not the focus.

    A commissioned sales person would get in the neighborhood of 50.00 for a cooler rental placement and 5.00 for a client with no cooler. As outsiders, we all think the business is all about selling water and it is most certainly not. When I would buy or sell a company, I would give zero value to the customer that was a "water only" account.

    2) A Fitness Club - On the surface, we only think about the club being a place to work out, and it is. From the ownership/management side, it is a monthly subscription service with fitness equipment and an atmosphere as the selling points. The goal of the club is to add to it's membership roles on a regular basis and the people that you encounter when you check one out to join are salespeople that have a background in fitness... not fitness people that have a background in sales. Their entire goal is to get you to sign up for a membership (subscription) and up-sell you one-on-one training.

    [​IMG]

    Sure, they want you to work out and get or keep yourself in shape but the thinking is that the membership numbers need to increase on a regular basis. I was hired by a large fitness group to rank their sites in their respective areas (40 some gyms) and was paid very well for the work. But I initially missed that their goal was NEW CLIENTS on a regular basis and not so much a "web presence". So I changed up their keywords to reflect that, made a stronger call to action on their site and they got what they really wanted - new clients signing up on a regular basis and an increased gross revenue on a daily basis. The owner loved it, the managers of each location loved it and the sales (fitness instructors) people loved it.

    Although I was told they wanted to rank in G for this and that, what they really wanted was new clients on a daily basis and once I understood that I was able to give them what they needed. On the surface, one does not see that business model generally.

    3) Minor League Baseball Team - In the mid 90's I was a part of a group that was trying to purchase a minor league baseball team... not MLB but a small minor league team down here in Florida. My investment (around 20K if I remember correctly) and involvement would have both been very small and the whole package was under 500K total. I just thought it would be cool to have my name on a business card for a baseball team that said, BassTrackerboats, Owner and was not overly concerned about a return. The one leading the group, a friend of mine, knew that and that was why I was invited to participate.

    [​IMG]

    Did I have any knowledge about how to run a baseball team? Of course not and neither did the other principles involved in the process. A Minor League team is nothing more than a theme restaurant... it could be a Chucky Cheese for that matter. The ownership is not overly concerned about wins and losses as much as he is about getting people in the ball park to sell them over priced beer, hot dogs and the like. In fact, the owners of the minor league teams a the level we were looking do not pay for any salaries of the players or the coaches. The size of the business is really under 30 people total in most cases and the lion's share of the efforts go into marketing the theme restaurant aspect, the advertising and getting local businesses to underwrite the promotions.

    It is really nothing more than a restaurant in the setting of a ballpark in all actuality but your average onlooker thinks it is a baseball business. Who would have thunk it?

    Lesson In all this Rhetoric - Learn what your client really needs and deliver that. Often the client may not know how to express what they need and if you investigate and ask the right questions, you can give them value for their dollar. Many many times what we see on the surface is not what is actually needed and, as professionals, we should be turning over rocks and looking in crevices to see what is best for the client.

    The may say one thing but really mean another and the sooner you find out the better provider you can be. In fact, in my opinion, if you are not looking to see what will really benefit your client you are doing a disservice and not providing a service to your client. Our efforts should turn into dollars for our clients and our vision should be what will make our clients money, not what will make us money.
     
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  2. rabbitking

    rabbitking Elite Member

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    Right on BTB! When I deal with my local ma and pa shop clients I skip all of the
    tech talk and start out by showing them what they need and how I can provide
    that for them.

    Generally they could care less about SEO metrics and so forth, but when you show
    them the bottom line increase and how ranking locally can help them, well that speaks
    to them. Same thing applies to a wide variety of industries.

    Good read...
     
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  3. LostConnection

    LostConnection Senior Member

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    Nice one mate.

    But all my clients want is some gentle care and my undivided love (which I divide between allmy clients, so that kinda makes me Hostgator of the love life, oversellinglike a badass). And yeah, not really, no.
     
  4. I-marketer

    I-marketer Regular Member

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    Thanks for your insights.
    It is a good approach to have a talk with client and find out as much as you can about his business. But I'm afraid many SEO providers don't get paid top dollar to afford such 'luxury'.
    However, for serious buck, this is a kind of approach you'd expect.
     
  5. BassTrackerBoats

    BassTrackerBoats Super Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    If one is taking money for services, any kind of money, it is proper to approach the client in that manner. Big or small. Anything less and we might as well as be folding shirts in a mall store.
     
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  6. Trepanated

    Trepanated Supreme Member

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    The reason they 'don't get paid top dollar to afford such 'luxury'' is because they don't do it in the first place.
     
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  7. Illini

    Illini Junior Member

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    Great thinking points, a couple things came to my mind. Regarding the milb team, back in the 90's that would have been a hell of an investment, as I'm sure you know milb teams have been producing very good profits recently, and I know Warren Buffett and a few other notable businessmen own milb teams.

    Like you said the tickets are always cheap and that's not where the money is at. The money is in everything but the game just like you said. The drinks/food and the merchandise is where the money is at. That's why they often market themselves heavily as an affordable family outing and things of that nature to get people into the park.

    On the topic of fitness centers a few years ago in my hometown a few of my friends worked at an LA Fitness, which is a big national chain which recently bought Ballys. From my time working out there as a member and from what they told me you are spot on. In membership sales there was always huge turnover because they constantly pushed you to sign up new members and the pay was almost all commission.

    My other friend worked the front desk, so a completely separate function from sales. But even these employees were tasked with calling on any member from any club in the country whose payment had lapsed. They would badger them non stop with calls from worked all over the country telling them they need to update their cards, and the workers were paid a commission for these "clear ups".

    I know this is a long post but what I'm getting at with this is that gyms bank on people signing up for subscriptions and not coming into the gym.

    Good post BTB lots of good discussion/thinking points!
     
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  8. TeKn1qu3z

    TeKn1qu3z Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Interesting POV on things. Thank you for providing real life scenarios that you have found yourself in.

    Reading this definitely helped me look at my existing clients from a different POV. Thanks for the read!
     
  9. BassTrackerBoats

    BassTrackerBoats Super Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    My wife is a member at LA Fitness and always complains about the lack of service now that they have our money. I've told her a dozen times those people are not looking to help her as much as they are of getting more subscriptions (memberships).

    Funny too, one of the KWs that I targeted was La Fitness Cityname(s) for my client too.

    That was a real nice contract that paid extremely well.
     
  10. dannyslimited

    dannyslimited Registered Member

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    I find asking questions and actually listening to there questions and concerns provide a wealth of information. Thanks BTB for this!
     
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  11. Arslan1

    Arslan1 Newbie

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    Good point mate.
     
  12. SkyrocketSEO

    SkyrocketSEO Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Ah, clients.... .
    YsztJS0.jpg
     
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  13. Illini

    Illini Junior Member

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    Yep, I actually still go to an LA Fitness and the service is awful, its because once you are signed up the sales people could not care less about you, and the front desk staff who should be helping you are always on the phone trying to make commission.
     
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  14. Avid Learner

    Avid Learner Regular Member

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    What types of measures do you show them to prove your services were responsible for bottom line increase. As you say, they probably care less about ranking or other SEO metrics.

    For instance, in the case of water business, you'd have to somehow tie it to increase in rentals. The problem is the owner needs a way to sort out those derived from his other organic business vs those derived from your service. He's probably not going to share all his revenue figures, but there needs to be a way to trace a sale.

    For a large enough client, I suppose a split-test approach could work (e.g. one geographic region on, the other off).
     
  15. BassTrackerBoats

    BassTrackerBoats Super Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    Bottled water business would not be hard - Joe prospect calls up to check prices/service, CSR says "How did you hear about us?".

    Guy says Google, saw your truck, a neighbor, radio ad or whatever.

    That information is tracked and if the owner of the bottled water company is seeing an increase in people saying "Google", he knows you are helping. I promise you that any decent owner/manager of a bottled water company is tracking where his new business is coming from... guaranteed that is happening.

    For the Fitness Center chain that I worked with, they started to get an increase in calls, emails and walkins over their previous months for new members. I added a "Free Trial" button to their sites in a prominent place and changed the contact form to force include a phone number as well as ranked them for a bunch of different buying KWs. Their new client numbers increased significantly over previous months. I actually had an office in one of the branches for some time so I got to see a lot of that first hand.

    The owners/managers will usually not give you, nor share with you any specifics, and they should not as that is proprietary information but you will hear if you are generating new business for them in the form of positive commentary from them and web analytics. Retrieving those analytics and sharing them with the check writer is part of the process of you reporting what you are doing for them; if you are fortunate you'll get to hear some of the revenue benefit they are getting and if there is no revenue benefit for them you will surely hear that.
     
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  16. tony_d

    tony_d Elite Member

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    Your generosity of spirit is virtuous.

    Thanks for sharing :)
     
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  17. PHPInjected

    PHPInjected Elite Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  18. King_James

    King_James Regular Member

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    Well, that's pretty much sums it up for most cases, lol. Great post BTB, thanks.
     
  19. PHPInjected

    PHPInjected Elite Member

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    Clients just want a clean service. Money paid, service at minimum delivered, but most expect a bit of over delivery. It is impossible to meet the expectations of every client. The apple will never be green enough, the car will never be clean enough, and the hex color will be off a shade. However, that is a very small portion of business, thankfully.
     
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