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My Client Won’t Do – Whiteboard Friday

SEOmoz January 9, 2014 Comments Off

Posted by wilreynolds

One of the most common challenges for web marketers is dealing with clients (or bosses, etc.) who either ask the impossible of us or don’t think we’re worth their time and money. In today’s Whiteboard Friday (filmed during October’s CEO swap), Wil Reynolds offers up all the techniques and tips you need to win their favor, their support, their resources, and their business.

Whiteboard Friday – Wil Reynolds – My Company Won’t Do

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans. This is Wil Reynolds, the CEO of Moz, for this week at least [Note: This Whiteboard Friday was filmed during October's CEO Swap], and I want to talk about this quote that we all have said at some point, which is: “My client or boss won’t do.” I would like to help you get your boss or your client to do stuff so that you can then do awesome things. So I’m going to walk you guys through the way that we kind of do this at SEER.

We specifically had a client call us out and say, “Don’t want to build anything new. Challenge, game on. Can you guys take this stuff we’ve already done and not do anything new, don’t ask for anymore resources or assets, and create success for us?” We took that as a challenge. So we said, “You’re damn right we will.”

So this is what we did. First thing you do when you’re trying to get someone to adopt content marketing, inbound, whatever it is they’ve been saying no to, look at what they’ve already done. Start with their old assets. There are two ways you can go about finding these.

First, you can find them online. Super easy. Look at their old e-mail campaigns. What kind of things were they promoting in those e-mails? Are they consistently promoting in those e-mails? If you look over time, you’ll get an understanding for what it is they’re trying to promote. There’s usually some gold in there in terms of understanding the old assets that they had built and promoted in the past.

The other thing is use your Moz tools. Open Site Explorer, you can see what content they’ve built that has already taken off and gotten social shares and links on its own naturally, even if they didn’t promote it. Followerwonk. Who’s following them? So who is following them online that might work at some of their target trade publications that they’re interested in getting into or some of the other larger news outlets that they might be interested in?

New link notifications. Obviously, there’s just the Just Discovered Links beta. It is sitting there telling you that old stuff potentially gets new links. So what you’re not doing is asking to build anything new. You’re just starting off by finding out some of the things they’ve already done.

Continuing on that path. Marketers who sometimes can’t get things done in organizations love to build microsites, and then they leave and they go to some other company. No one in the company remembers that campaign that they put together on that Tumblr site or whatever site it may be.

So shout out to Annie Cushing who told me about Reverse Internet. Reverse Internet, simple tool. You go there, ReverseInternet.com, put in your domain. It will tell you other sub-domains that exist on that server. It’ll also tell you things like where else the Google Analytics code has been placed for that company. That will help you discover old assets that the company maybe had done at some point and is no longer supporting. The beauty is then you can find if they’ve got links or not, and then you can start to promote them or repurpose those links in some way.

Misspelled domains. So Allie O’Brien and I came up with this one for one of our clients. What we basically did is we went into Google Analytics and looked all the different, it’s not 100% “not provided” yet. But we took all the misspellings of their brand name as some of the individual keywords. What we were able to do is realize, “Oh, my God. These are the most popular misspellings of our domain. I wonder if anybody has ever linked, to the client, with the wrong domain? Not everybody checks their links.”

Sure enough, we found about 54 linking root domains where people had linked to the wrong site. Some of them were our friend, the girl with the backpack and the blonde that we see on every like landing page. Yeah, some of them were even to that.

So we found people that were trying to link to my client and just made the mistake of linking to the wrong site. They didn’t have to do anything. We found it for them and created value.

The last thing is Image Raider. Hannah from Distilled told me about this a long time ago. The beauty is that you can take things like the client’s logo. You can take custom images that they’ve procured. Image Raider will just tell you when somebody has copied them somewhere on the Web.

The beauty of that is now you’re finding people who have copied your stuff. Start a relationship, start a dialogue. Maybe they haven’t linked, maybe they have. Either way, go work with them, start a relationship or re-spark a relationship.

Finding things offline. So we have clients all the time that have done studies, and they’re sitting somewhere on a shelf that they’ve done and no one is using them for online. Yet they have talked about them in other places. We also find that clients have grants and scholarships and things like that that they’ve always been doing. They just don’t exist online.

That’s just a matter of asking clients some questions to uncover from them what have they been doing in their business, because they might not be doing inbound yet, but they have been doing some kind of marketing. As you unearth what they’ve done and ask those questions, you will inevitably find things that they’ve been doing.

You can always look at their subject matter experts. I’ve got to kind of go online for that with GPlusData.com. So GPlusData is a tool that basically you can sort by people’s followership on Google+. But you can do that by employer. If the employer is large enough, they won’t even know the people inside their own company who are really active on Google+ who have a lot of followers who can help to push and promote their old assets.

Obviously, as well here, we’ve got speaking. You want to know where people are speaking in the company if it’s like a B2B and they’re going out to different conferences and speaking. Easy way to say, “Oh, well you’re speaking at these events and these conferences. Let’s make sure we understand how to get some link value out of you going to those conferences.”

So now that you’ve kind of indexed the old assets, you’ve got to promote them somewhere. So what you can do is you can just look at the things you’ve promoted or the assets you’ve got. See if they’ve already got links. See if they’ve got social movement.

I did this for Starbucks. Not a client, but I took their domain and dropped it into Reverse Internet and found out that they had a Hawaii microsite that had built hundreds and hundreds of linking root domains, and somebody there just pulled it down. They didn’t say, “Hey, maybe we should actually try to redirect that somewhere. Maybe we should put content up.”

Also look at who’s commenting on your blog. It’s funny how we’ll often look out and try to create new relationships when we’re not looking at the people who already love us and comment on our blogs. So, if you’ve got assets that are making all this stuff happen, then you can just pay for links. I mean you can pay for exposure, because you’re not going to buy links. The beauty is that people have already linked, commented, and shared these things socially. So you already have proof that people actually like this stuff. You found it all.

So now what you can do is you can use networks like — not link networks — content exposure promotion networks, like Outbrain, Taboola. You can even use Twitter.

You can use newsletters in the industry. So often I don’t think that we will pay for exposure in a newsletter, because we’re thinking, “There are no links in the newsletter. Do they put an archive up and link to me with a followed link?” Wrong way of thinking about it.

If you have an asset that you know at one point people really liked, then you put it in the newsletter, it’s just going to get take again. But you’re going to put in a newsletter of a third party that’s in the industry and a trade pub. Those guys are always looking for money. Negotiate them down, put your asset in their newsletter, and you’ll be amazed at how all of a sudden you’re going to start to be building links off of this.

I’m going to talk about this for our Distilled friends at Distilled London. SEER invested about $10,000 in testing out some of these networks, and I want to share with you what we found. But I will tell you this. One infographic we had done for our client picked up almost 35 links in a month by spending about $100 on Taboola.

So now that you’ve gotten the old assets, you’ve promoted the new ones, in a larger organization, you’ve started to actually prove yourself. So now they’re willing to do some RCS. So it’s like “Great. Now we can actually pitch some new stuff. We’ve got a lot of things in the hopper.”

Your client is starting to see movement. They’re seeing links being built. There’s proof that you actually know what you’re talking about and that you’re creating opportunity.

Another thing about promoting assets is, once in a while, a client can’t talk about competitors on their site. So a tip from Rand, the Rand that’s in Philly right now running SEER, is optimizing a listing that talks about you positively that might be ranked somewhere on the first five or so and try to build links to that and move it up. So smart. It’s funny, I’ve known that guy for eight years and I think I’ve heard him say that before, but it just sunk in like two weeks ago. So I’m going to keep trying to trumpet that for Rand.

Now that you can pitch new stuff and do some RCS, you’ve got to think about who controls the purse strings? Who’s going to care the most about this? Because if all your pitches, especially in a larger enterprise, are going to a marketing manager, they may not always be able to get the buy-in, even though they agree with what you’re trying to do. So let’s make it easy for them.

See, this whole process is about making things easy for your marketing contact. Find their old stuff, promote their old stuff. Now, let’s make sure that for our new stuff, it’s going to resonate when they bring it up the food chain.

First thing, understand what the CEO and C-level execs are looking for. How do you do that? You’re not going to be able to call them up all the time. If they’re publicly traded, read their 10-K. It will tell you exactly what they believe the vision of the future is for their business. What’s going to happen in the next quarter? What’s going to happen in the next year? How are things looking year-over-year?

If you can take that information, now you know what the CEO, the CMO are thinking the future of the company is. So when you go to build RCS, maybe you should be building it on where they think the future is or where things are going to go. That information is just sitting there in their 10-K. Read the executive summary. It usually won’t take you more than five minutes. But it will make sure everything you pitch to your client has a high propensity to resonate as they bring it up the food chain, which will then get it funded so we can do fun stuff.

Brand people. If you have a client who’s undergone a re-branding recently, the way that we’ve been pitching this, specifically, for certain clients is they spend countless hours, countless hundreds of thousands of dollars to come up with a new logo and a new brand image. Then what I show those clients is that people, to the tune of thousands of times a month, are searching for their brand and the word “logo.”

Then I show them the image search results. Very often, shortly after a re-brand, it’s showing people the old brand. So what do you do? You help them build out pages on their site that actually reflect the new brand. Maybe it’s a story about the brand, maybe it’s multiple different versions of the logo.

Why? Because when somebody does a search for their brand, the last thing these people want to do after a spending a year working on their new brand is to let the old brand continue to perpetuate. So, of course, they’re going to say, “Oh, right. If you’re trying to help us make sure that no one uses the old logo and the old marketing, we would love to invest in that.” It’s a great way to use search to get connected with the brand people. Once the brand people and the marketing people love you, you’ll be amazed at how many things you can actually push through the funnel that are RCS-style concepts.

PR. PR folks are always, for the most part, looking for exposure. But I believe we can add a little bit of analysis to that. Looking at Twitter followers. Understanding using a tool like Twtrland. It will tell you what someone’s most popular tweets are. It will help you to get a feel for what they’re all about. Search for some of these folks in Google News.

Once you get an understanding for who their targets are and what they like to write about and what resonates best with their audience, you can help these guys get that much closer to the people they’re trying to reach. Super simple.

Last, but not least, something that we’ve actually found out is cutting people’s costs for their call centers is something that CFOs really like. Call centers are often looked at as nothing more than an expense. Not necessarily a place to get across a brand message, even though it can be. I think most businesses look at it as an expense and a big one.

So what we’re doing for a client, this isn’t even link-building or SEO. It’s just helping their business out. It’s to say every time somebody looks for an FAQ and calls you, it means the FAQ probably failed. So what we’re doing with one client is we’re actually helping them to analyze their FAQs and to see how many times they’re getting calls after somebody has viewed the FAQ.

The CFO is going to love us for that. So is the CMO, so is the CEO. Why? Because it’s just saving them money by using the Web, which is there and where most people go first to help people get the right answer.

All right. So we’ve found old assets. We’ve promoted new ones. We’ve now got ideas on how to pitch new stuff. Great.

The last step in any relationship is becoming a trusted adviser. The number one thing, if you track hours, you are making it very hard to become a trusted adviser. The reason being, I find that when a client hires you or you’re working in-house or wherever you’re working, when you go, “Oh, we’re out of time to help you with that thing you wanted,” you start feeling like an agency, not like a part of the team.

So whether you’re an agency or in-house, my recommendation is tracking hours and telling a client you’re going to stop certain things that they really want you to do because you’re out of hours is a bad idea if your goal is to become a trusted adviser. You can always get those dollars made up later in another project. Trust me, I’ve seen it work several times.

Internal documentation. So the other thing you want to do is you want to give them leave-behinds. Most people would say, “Well, you do that so that your brand is on the stuff and that people know about you.” Well, no. Make your work stand out so that people know about you.

I like internal documentation because it helps their team have processes to follow. Very often, in enterprises or large organizations, people say, “Every time we launch a new this, what are the steps that someone should do at a minimum every time?” That gives you an opportunity to create that thing that keeps your direct point of contact from getting that question every single time.

When you can, work onsite. I think either Tom or Will Critchlow were the first people to mention that to me. But it just makes a ton of sense. When you are around, your clients or your partners will bring you into meetings that you may have otherwise not been brought into, which gets you exposure to people who don’t necessarily always know the great work that you’re doing.

Training, and I don’t mean like charging people for training. Sometime this week, you might say, “This week we’re going to put off this thing that we were going to do because, instead, what we’re going to do is we’re going to work on training your team.” People love that. That’s an investment that you’re making in their team getting smarter, which means sometimes you might actually work yourself out of a job if you level up their team, and that’s okay because then you can become part of helping them hire the right replacements for you.

That’s how you become a trusted advisor versus just somebody selling a client on something. We’ve actually done this. We’ve helped clients hire and eventually replace us. What’s interesting is, as their company grows, very often they’ll come back to us to help bridge a gap until they can get budget for another hire, and that is completely okay.

Another thing is going to their conferences. So if you go to search conferences, MozCon, Distilled, whatever, that’s great. But when you’re trying to become a better advocate for your clients, you’ve got to walk a step in the shoes of their customer. How are you going to do that?

Ask them what conferences that they go to or that their team goes to and go to them. You may not need to sit in every session. You might not have to pay the big costs. But just go around the exhibit hall. See what kind of software is being sold. Keep an ear out. What kind of problems are the softwares out there solving? When you do all that, you’re going to understand their customer at a very, very, very deep level, which is how you become a trusted adviser.

I think when you combine all this stuff together, so you’re optimizing old assets, which marketers love, because you’re not asking them to spend any more time at work. You’re going to be able to do all of it yourself. You’re promoting these assets, which basically, especially if you use these kinds of outlets, they don’t have to do a lot of work. These sites already exist. You’ve just got to get a sign-off on insertion order. Boom. You’re rocking and rolling and helping them to build links.

You’re able to pitch your new stuff. You now have the CEO or the CFO or the CMO loving you because you understand where they’re going. Your internal marketing team is going to love you because every new idea you come to them with fits the vision of the company.

The brand people are going to love you because you’re helping to protect the logo that they’ve spent hours and hours on and all their new re-branded materials. You’re helping to protect that and prevent people from perpetuating their old stuff. The PR team loves you. The CFO loves you.

Now that all those people love you, you’re going to have an opportunity to become a trusted adviser to that organization. Just don’t screw it up. All you’ve got to do is act like you were one of them.

Don’t do things based off of hours. Create internal documentation that helps everybody get better. Work onsite when you can. Spend your time training them. It doesn’t mean you have to have new hours. It just might mean that you change something for a week or two.

You want to help them in hiring if that’s what they need. That’s okay. Be there to help them in that process. Go to their conferences and understand their clients’ needs. And you, my friends, will get a seat at the larger marketing table.

Thank you so much, and I guess I’ll be back in Philly next Friday. I hope I do this again soon. Thanks.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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