Thursday, January 24, 2008

Some People Just Don't Get It

The other day I wrote about my furnace repair guy who had an instinctive understanding of how to monitor and measure his marketing activities. It might have sounded like an overstatement to say that he was better at this than some marketing pros. Not really.

Just after the furnace fun I put an ad on Craigslist looking for somebody to do SEO work. The ad explained what we were looking for in a couple of paragraphs, how we'd want to relationship to work between us, an SEO person, and our clients, and requested that people in a specific geographic area only respond.

Five minutes later I got my first response: someone sending me his graphic design portfolio, with an LA phone number. (LA was not the location specified.)

His work wasn't bad... but I wasn't looking for a graphic designer, and he apparently hadn't read the ad. (The response came so quickly that I wondered if he had some method of monitoring Craigslist postings and sending automated replies.)

Then I got something from somebody else, in the wrong place, that instead of telling me anything about him, said basically "Why did you specify that location in the ad?" (Um, because I want someone in that location?)

Last night I got something from a company in India, and this morning I got something from somebody with a Yahoo address that told me about his or her SEO work, but did not have a link to their site, a name, anything.

People who do SEO are, one would presume, marketing oriented people. Wouldn't you think they'd have some idea how to present themselves?

Here are the basic, Marketing 101 rules that they broke.

  • When you're pitching for business, have a name on your email. If the "From" field reads "Big Honking SEO Company," I don't feel like I'm hearing from a person, I feel like I'm talking to an autoresponder, and I don't want to do that.
  • If I mention specific things I need someone to do, tell me about how you do them, have done them, and are prepared to do them again. A sentence or two would be fine.
  • Give me some option besides contacting you. A link to your site, a portfolio, or your blog would do it. Let me find out more about you.
  • If I say "Houston area only" and you're in California, Idaho, or Bangalore, don't reply. Or, if you do, tell me why: "I'm in Los Angeles, but I work with clients all over the country, and I'm sure I can help you" is actually enough to tell me that you at least read the ad. "I'm in Miami, but I have some clients in Houston and visit once a month, and I'm sure I'd be able to work with you long distance." Just let me know that you heard what I said, you understood it, and you have some reason to think that maybe I'll be interested anyway. If you ignore what I say, what's going to happen when a client tells us what they need?

This is not complicated stuff. I just want to know that you heard me, you understood me, and that you are responding to what I asked. But it's very important. If you can't comprehend what I asked you and reply appropriately, do you think I want you with a mile ofmy clients?

And these are people who are supposed to be providing marketing services. Scary. I'd rather have the furnace guy take a crash course in SEO and put him to work on it; knowledge can be acquired, but the ability to listen and think is usually either there, or not.

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