You know people want and need SEO…
So why are you having such a hard time getting SEO leads?
In my experience, it’s probably one of three problems:
1. You’re a wandering generality instead of a meaningful specific;
2. You don’t know how to talk to your SEO leads;
3. You don’t know how to find SEO leads.
We’re going old school here.
This is a collection of offline, battle-tested strategies that will make it easy to define who you want to work with, how to talk to them in a way that makes them want to work with you, and how to actually find those people.
And you won’t need any fancy ad funnels or evergreen webinars.
You won’t even need to rank your own website.
(That said, ranking your own website isn’t a bad idea.)
SEO Leads: 4 Offline Steps to Get More Paying Clients in Person
1. Niche Down and Define Your Ideal Client
What is a niche?
It’s the segment of the market you serve, kind of like your own little corner of the world—a place in the market that’s unequivocally and indisputably yours.
Most experts tell you to “choose” a niche. This is bad advice. If a niche exists, someone is probably already in it.
(Sounds like trying to rank for a good keyword, doesn’t it?)
Instead, you should create a niche.
Let’s look at some examples you already know:
- Celebrated Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, according to the Atlantic, “writes genre fiction—formulaic, conventional, with an emphasis on plot. But it is a genre that he has invented himself.” Murakami’s books exist in 50 different languages and have sold millions of times over.
- Singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, whose 2007 single “Love Song” you might remember for being a coy “screw you” with a smile and a wink, created her own sound, which the Seattle Times reports as a “slightly edgy, stompy piano-based pop rock.” Her debut album “Little Voice” has since earned platinum status.
- Films like “Pulp Fiction,” “Star Wars” and “The Blair Witch Project” all crafted their own genres and niches in the market…and these movies are still selling and have become part of our everyday vocabulary.
In other words, creating a niche helps you sell more. This means your SEO leads will be more targeted and ready to buy from you because you solve their specific problem.
Create a Niche with Your Unique Qualifications
Look at your unique combination of skills and background to find your ideal SEO client.
Played tennis in college? Then you serve companies who sell tennis-related products and services.
Studied abroad in Paris? Perfect—you could do SEO for English-speaking tour companies that send people to la Ville Lumière.
Spend your spare time designing games? You serve indie game-makers. (And which kind? Board games, video games, app-makers, something else?)
If you work with wineries and sommeliers in the Willamette Valley, then you do not work with salon owners in Boise, and you definitely don’t work with real estate agents in Dallas.
Seth Godin calls this the minimum viable audience.
When you identify your minimum viable audience, you become the go-to person for those people. Those are your SEO leads.
2. Learn Your Ideal Client’s Language
Make selling easy by learning how to talk to your ideal client.
For example, I call myself a “marketing coach for coaches, course creators and service-based entrepreneurs.”
I say “service-based entrepreneur” because my ideal client doesn’t call themself a “consultant,” even though that’s essentially what they are. They prefer “entrepreneur.”
When you use the same language as your ideal client, you signal that you get them.
Your focus, then, should be on learning how to talk to your ideal client.
- How do they describe themselves?
- How do they talk about their problems?
- What business language do they use? “Leads” or “potential customers?” “Client” or “customer” (or “patient”)?
- Do they believe SEO is possible for them? What limiting beliefs do they have around SEO?
- Are they struggling with SEO and need your help? Or are they not even convinced SEO could work for them?
- What do they want?
- How do they talk about money?
As you study their language, identify their three biggest pain points or struggles.
Then construct a 30-(or fewer)-second elevator pitch that positions you as the person to solve their problems.
“I use SEO to help [ideal client] X, Y, and Z so that [thing they desire most].”
An example could be:
“I use SEO to help large animal vets find more clients, create partnerships with zoos, and raise awareness for anti-game initiatives so that they can spend more time with their families and spend less time chasing down patients.”
(Don’t actually use that—I have no clue what a large animal vet really wants.)
Once you have your pitch, you need to craft an offer tailored to those pain points. Test and tweak it until it’s an obvious yes.
3. Find and Meet New SEO Leads
As a general rule, people are more likely to buy from you if they meet you in person.
We call this the know/like/trust factor—people will do business with those they know, like and trust.
These strategies will put you in front of real-life, potential leads (so you can charm them with your winning smile).
These can be either your own or someone else’s. They definitely don’t have to be exactly related to your target client (it’s possible there are no large animal vet meetups in your city), but they should run corollary (like a meetup for vets in general).
Live Events + Conferences
These should be paid conferences where you can find your target market (i.e. not SEO conferences).
Some conferences will let you run a workshop—and giving a masterclass on what you do and how it can help attendees can be a great way to meet SEO leads.
You can also host workshops and events in your town. Book a public space, a room in a co-working office, or use someone’s home and serve dinner.
We’ve talked about link bait and great content on the Monitor Backlinks blog before, and you should adopt this content marketing mindset. You have to take your hot date out a few times before you ask for their hand in marriage.
You can incentivize referrals from your personal network by offering commissions for every client who signs on.
Every community has “connectors”—the social butterfly from high school who’s on a first-name basis with the mailperson, the local bakery owner, and the valet at the fancy hotel downtown.
Find these connectors in your community and tell them about your meetup, live event or commissions.
Much like how influencer marketing can be a powerful SEO strategy, knowing your community’s connectors—offline influencers, if you will—can net you plenty of new leads.
4. Close Your SEO Leads
For starters, don’t sell in front of a room—this might lead to negative group behaviors (and it can be embarrassing if nobody buys). Offer a free phone consultation instead.
Obviously, you need to come prepared with that offer you’ve tested.
Finally, recognize that not every SEO lead is ready to buy…but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay top of mind.
Collect their email address and nurture them via email. Send them case studies and testimonials from other clients like them. And use their feedback to tweak your language and your offer.
If you’re really struggling with sales, I recommend hiring a business coach who specializes in sales or getting some training in sales.
All the Stuff You Don’t Need
The strategies I outlined above are all grassroots—they’re as simple as defining who you serve, learning what makes them tick, and meeting them in real life.
(Basically, everything you had to do before the internet.)
Because you’re an SEO and you’re in this stuff, you might be tempted by the automation and the technology. But the truth is you don’t need any of that.
You do not need:
- Facebook ad funnels;
- Thousands of social media followers;
- Automated, evergreen webinars;
- Sales pages and order forms;
- Expert branding or a $10,000 website.
You don’t even need to waste time knocking on doors.
But here’s what you do need:
- A clearly defined niche;
- An offer you’ve tested;
- A way to regularly meet SEO leads in person (a workshop you host every month or a meetup you attend weekly);
- A way to follow up with SEO leads who weren’t ready to hire you right now.
And that’s it!
No bells and whistles. Just simple, tried-and-true, offline methods for getting face-to-face with the right SEO leads.
That’s how you grow your SEO business.