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I often receive enquiries from businesses to develop an “SEO strategy” or a “social media strategy”.

That isn’t strange, really, as they are both services I offer. However, I learnt quickly to dig a little deeper before providing a proposal and committing to certain deliverables.

While I love them both, “SEO” and “social media” are popular buzzwords, and things that many businesses think they need.

And they may need them.

However what I learnt early on was to not provide what they think they need, but what they really need.

A quick conversation will usually uncover this. And often what most businesses really want is to attract more “cold” new business leads online.

That is a better goal to work with.

Because knowing that, and their target audiences, available resources, and budget, allows me to make tailored digital marketing recommendations.

Which may include SEO and social media.

I learnt again recently that there is value in digging further again.

A few months ago I went through the above process with a business that initially got in touch asking for an SEO and social media strategy.

Following our initial discussion, it became evident that a more well-rounded approach would be beneficial, leveraging a range of digital marketing tactics, including SEO, social media, Google Adwords and email marketing, coupled with some comprehensive digital reporting to understand the results and refine the ongoing marketing strategy.

Sounds good, huh?

We implemented this strategy (which was also recommended as a medium to long-term strategy) and even early on began to attract some good results, with growth in traffic, and slight increase in online enquiries (tracking online enquiries wasn’t previously installed, so measuring the difference here was a little grey).

But the client wasn’t happy.

An industry peer of theirs continued to rank higher than them for a particular search term.

The peer wasn’t a geographic competitor, and so hadn’t appeared in my assessment, and hadn’t been mentioned initially. But they really rubbed my client the wrong way.

Every improvement we made was marred by the appearance of this website in search results.

And from my assessment, they had a fairly solid strategy with a few years head start on my client. Making it difficult to catch up to, but not impossible, and not overnight.

We should have been happy with the results, but they weren’t, and unfortunately, it rubbed off onto me.

My silver lining?

I now know to ask clients what they really, really want…

Keep digging until you understand their base motivation.

It may not be something you can achieve, but it will most certainly provide an insight into what drives them, and whether you’re not you can achieve their goals.

And whether you are a good fit.

Image via Wikipedia.

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