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. 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. 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. 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.