Many owners and managers still don’t believe the Internet can be a valuable lead-generation and sales tool for their business-to-business company. Usually this is because they don’t currently get any leads this way, which may simply be because the company has little to no search presence. It seems obvious to say that you won’t get sales if you don’t have a visible web presence, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there looking for your company’s products or services. You have to meet your prospective customers where they are and many are online searching for products and services at all hours of the day. If all your sales today come via referrals today, it might mean that you are missing on an opportunity to double that business, not that no one is looking.
Consider SPEC Engineering, a client of ours that builds specialty process engineering plants. In the past, the majority of its sales came through referrals and traditional sales efforts such as conferences and trade shows, which have a long lead cycle. Then the owner decided to let us help him apply search marketing principles from a new venture to his core business, changing the way the company generated leads at a time when many of its big competitors lacked even a fully functioning website.
Working with web designers Fresh Tilled Soil (FTS), the company first developed a very professional looking and detailed website. We then worked with management to design and execute a strategy in partnership with the SEO group at FTS to get information out in front of searches around key products, product categories, services and geography. These searches might not have the volume of more popular consumer terms, but in many ways they are more important for prospective buyers. Our thorough plan required organizing and publishing more than 200 specialized pages of content designed to attract and convert targeted customers over a 6-12 month period. But the work paid off.
Recently, SPEC closed a $15M deal (one of the largest in their history) that originated from an organic web search around a key term that we had been working to optimize. The client was searching for expertise in this area and was very impressed with the company’s overall web presentation, enough so that they reached out to start a discussion. SEO worked for SPEC because the strategy was designed around the needs of the business—targeting industries with the fastest growth and the company’s strongest product lines—and by thinking about what a prospective customer might want. SPEC is not an Internet business, but the Internet now plays a huge part in how it markets and presents its business to prospective customers.
We continue to meet each month with management to review results and make changes based on what’s working and not working, trying to consistently innovate and expand our presence in fast growing and high value market segments. Search Engine Optimization is an ongoing commitment. As with any industry or marketing program, if you become complacent, the competition will eventually copy you and catch up.