Marketing Pilgrim's "Search Marketing" Channel

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SEO Gets Its Own Rock Song

You know you’ve been in the SEO industry too long, when you decide to perform a rock song about the topic.

It’s definitely time to get out, if you find yourself tapping your foot and singing along to the lyrics. :-)

Increasing Your Marketing Agency’s Revenues by Saying "No" to Clients

[The following is part of the continuing series of advice for marketing agencies. Andy Beal offers various business coaching services]

I know what you’re thinking. You’ve read the title of this article and you think Andy Beal must have lost his mind. How in the world can you increase the size of your marketing firm by actually saying “no” to a client? Isn’t that counter-productive, you’re asking? Surely you need to find ways to say “yes” to your clients, so you can get their business and grow your agency. Well, spare me ten minutes of your time, and I’ll show you why saying “no” to a client is often good for business.

Not All “Yeses” are Created Equal

In the past seven years of growing search marketing firms, I’ve said “yes” to clients more often than I can remember. When you’re growing a business — especially if cash-flow is tight — agreeing to the requests, or demands, of a client appears to be the only way you’ll ever get to the “big bucks”. While early in my career, I made the mistake of saying yes too many times, over the past couple of years, I’ve learned that saying “no” is more lucrative.

Saying “No” to Prospective Clients

How excited do you get when you’re negotiating that final contract with a prospective client and you’re accountant is willing you on to get the business in the door and on the books? Just like animals can smell fear, prospective clients can smell your desperation to get their business.

Unless you’ve done a phenomenal job of building the value of your agency’s services, its expertise, and benefits to the prospective client, the chances are high that you’ll be asked for a discount or some additional services for free before the client signs. Argh! You’re so close, you’ve made the investment in trying to win this account — your time on the phone, the pretty proposal, the face-to-face meetings — and if you’ll just reduce the price of the campaign from $5,000 a month to $3,500 a month, the client will sign today. What to do?

Well, here’s what most agencies do. They cave in. They say “yes” to the discount, or say “yes” to the extra workload, at the same fee. What they didn’t do, and what will surely come back to haunt them, is they didn’t say “no”.

Now, I’m not advocating being rude or arrogant at this stage. There’s the right way and the wrong way to say no, but you shouldn’t necessarily say yes either. You see, by simply agreeing to the clients demands, you’ve handicapped your business in two ways:

  • You’ve reduced the perceived value of your service. By dropping your fee from $5,000 to $3,500 a month, you’ve planted the seed in the client’s mind that your original price was inflated — perhaps they’ll think you were trying to gouge them.
  • You’ve established to the client that everything else is negotiable. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve reduced the price of a campaign and then found that client to be the most demanding and the most difficult to work with. Everything becomes negotiable from that point on — deliverable schedules, reports, results — the client now knows you’re likely inflating everything from pricing to timelines and will be on the lookout for opportunities to get more from you.

Hopefully, the above is resonating with you thus far. But, you’re probably asking, “How do I say no without losing the deal?” Let’s take a look.

SponsoredReviews Launching Paid Blogger Review Service

360 Enterprises, Inc. – the parent of our sponsor Text Link Brokers – is getting ready to launch SponsoredReviews, a marketplace where bloggers can charge a fee for a review and advertisers can search a database of publishers.

It appears they’ve sat back and watched the reaction to both PayPerPost.com and ReviewMe.com and taken the best parts of each service. I’m particularly glad to see they’ll be selective in which bloggers can join the service and will require full disclosure.

What might help set them apart is a lower transaction fee than others and allowing bloggers to negotiate pricing with advertisers.

I’m still on the fence on whether I approve of directly buying reviews from bloggers. I’ll probably stay there for a while – after all, some could suggest that I’m covering this story because TLB is a sponsor, even though they didn’t actually pay me for this post.

Whizbang Technology Not Enough to Help Microsoft Compete with Google

The Mercury News takes an in-depth look at the lack of ROI Microsoft is getting from its investment into web technologies, especially search.

Despite introducing a bunch of new products, including a new search experience, online video and Virtual Earth, Microsoft just can’t seem to keep up with Google’s explosive growth.

The result: The number of visitors to Microsoft’s sites has not budged, while the amount of time they have spent there has dropped. Advertising sales have fallen. Meanwhile Google’s traffic and advertising have continued to surge.

I’ve long said that the race is no longer about technology, but brand perception and user experience. Google has done such a great job of capturing mind share that it will be hard for a company such as Microsoft – with their perception of being a controlling company – to ever topple them in the minds of the consumer.

Google Domain Parking Arbitrage

Richard Ball has a great write up concerning Google’s Adsense for Domains program and potential abuses. He is concerned that certain keywords being bid on through Adwords are producing garbage traffic.

A whopping 72% of clicks for a single exact match keyword originated from the searchportal.information.com domain. Investigating this domain, it turns out to be owned by a company called Oversee.net that owns DomainSponsor, a parked domain operation.

What Richard seems to miss is why the traffic is garbage. It’s because Information.com is one of the largest arbitrage 1.0 operations around. The reason it doesn’t convert is because Information.com bids on long tail search words for cheap and then send the clicks to ads targeted at the high paying general search terms. Terms which may be related, but are not actually what the user was searching for.

Maturation of Paid Search Means the End of the Free Lunch

There’s certainly been a lot of noise being generated by medium-sized companies, complaining they’re no longer getting the same ROI from paid search – especially from Google AdWords.

I’ve been taking a look at the trends and believe this is simply the continuing maturation of the paid search channel. Here’s how it’s developed thus far.

  • Stage 1 – Medium and Large companies spend huge amounts of money on banner ads. Small companies can’t compete, so they start experimenting with paid search and get great ROI with little effort.
  • Stage 2 – Medium companies start experimenting with paid search. Their campaigns are not very targeted but they’re able to get great ROI with little effort, so they start pumping in more money. Meanwhile, the small guys find that they can no longer compete for generic keywords, so start targeting the “long tail” and find there are great returns to be had from more targeted keywords.

Exclusive – Yahoo Using Dirty Tactics to Switch Google & Firefox Users?

UPDATE: Here’s the official word from Yahoo spokesperson Terrell Karlsten. They’re claiming they don’t upgrade users to IE7 and their reasons for switching your settings? Everyone else does it.

Yahoo! Messenger’s update process does not download IE7 to a user’s computer. As part of the Yahoo! Messenger update process, people have the choice to download Yahoo! Toolbar, set Yahoo.com as their homepage and set Yahoo! Search as their search engine. This is an industry-wide practice….IE7 is not bundled into the Yahoo! Messenger update process.

UPDATE 2: Jarrod’s added a comment that suggests that IE7 was not added as part of the download, as he first described to us. All other aspects described below are known to be accurate, including changing the default browser to IE, changing the default homepage to Yahoo and changing the default search engine to Yahoo. The post has been updated.