When I started learning about SEO and the role it can play for any business, whether small or large, there was one quote that put it all into perspective. It was a business meeting that I was having with the owner of our company at the time and he said to me: “We have to find a way to position ourselves so people find us and not us going out finding people.”
Well, those words really inspired me to search for the answers to this, which ended up being search marketing. (no pun intended on the search comment, I swear!). Businesses have spent years spending countless dollars on acquisition going outbound. This is a VERY time consuming and resource intensive venture. Can you imagine the dollars you would have to spend hiring Telemarketers, Mass Mailers, Account Executives, etc. Yes, these are still very effective channels and you can still target and acquire customers this way, but, why not do it, with less resources, less dollars, etc.
Alright, I get it, I am preaching to the choir as fellow search marketers, you know this and understand it, intimately. But, as it turns out many small businesses are still relying on these traditional and old school outbound marketing tactics to acquire new customers. Any traditional channel that you can think of, SMBs are squeezing out every last drop. There is not only a lack of knowledge, but also of time and execution for an inbound style of customer acquisition.
If we put a little perspective on this, we can gain a little more understanding about how the Customer Acquisition model is changing and how positioning yourself to be found is more effective.
Imagine your a small business, put yourself in the shoes of an accounting firm. You have little to no understanding of marketing, sales and you are trying to target small business for accounting and bookkeeping services. What do you do? Well, there are a few options you can choose from:
- Hire telemarketers to generate leads
- Hire a Sales Executive to not only generate leads, but also close deals, etc.
- Go to Hoovers or Dunn and Bradstreet and buy a list. After which you need to put together a mass direct mailer. Keep in mind you would still need to import this data into some sort of CRM package AND on top of that, follow up. (yawn. been there. done that.)
- Buy tons of print media spots in magazines, newspapers, etc.
Think about all of the above strategies for a second and how much time, money or resources could be wasted with any and/or all of them. I have even seen and heard small business owners tell me that they are doing things like buying electronic signs in the thousands, to attract attention. While this is a fairly “inbound” technique, it is still very costly, for little to absolutely no gain. While, implementing PPC, this business could receive about as many visitors in one day for about ~$50. Even implementing some very simple Local SEO would help that business gain just as much traffic.
All of these very costly activities coupled with the fact that Search Marketing is not only more targeted but also more measurable is leading to that shift. Not only is it hitting the small business market, but also larger organizational strategies are changing. Focusing acquisition on inbound techniques, hiring more and expanding inhouse search marketing teams, etc.
Customer acquisition should really focus on the positioning of your organization to be found. Using SEO and PPC, this is VERY possible. Business on the web and in general is going to focus on this more and more in years to come. People SEARCH for products, services, etc. and any organization that does not adjust its customer acquisition strategy for this, is going to lose. Position yourself to be a winner.