“Selling” Lead Generation With SEO As Your Prospect-Acquisition Method

August 6, 2008

So I just did a Google search on “lead generation” and noticed my lead-gen firm is ranking #16 and this blog is floating towards the top of page 5…  anyhow somewhere on page 7 I saw a firm called Admire Group and the approach their site takes really intrigued me.  First of all, its nice and simple, which I love.  Secondly, they really presented “lead generation” as the clear service they are selling… and SEO is merely the way they generate traffic and interested prospects.

I’ve been running an SEO agency for 5 years now, and I’ve just realized in the past 6 months that what I’m really selling is lead generation, not SEO.  Sure I always knew that the leads (results) were what kept my clients – as opposed to rankings (the means to the ends or results)… but I’ve always thought of my firm as an SEO agency.  Well screw that.  We’re now a lead generation firm.  Now someone just needs to find some time redo the website a bit…  Perhaps I’ll use my backup instead?

So back to Admire Group.  I love their approach.  They basically boil their service offering down to four simple steps, and walk you through the process.  They are:

  1. Hi, we’re a lead generation firm.
  2. We use “search engine maximization” so that the prospects find you, not visa versa
  3. We then optimize the landing pages to produce better conversion rates
  4. We do this by building “microsites” …that presumably saves them time and trouble versus overhauling a client’s main website.

I love how this isn’t overcrowded.

So this appears to be a relatively new phenomenon, as many firms that may have thought of themselves as SEO firms are now viewing themselves as either e-commerce consultants or lead generation specialists today.  Count me in.

Why the change?

Several reasons, as I see it

1) SEO has negative connotations. Sure, most of us are good (most?)… but search engines tolerate SEOs at best, and there are so many snakeoil salesmen out there that give the industry a bad rap.  Check out Aaron Wall’s post about this:

Pick a Smart Professional Label

Google can not keep growing their revenues at an acceptable rate without beating the value out of others. If you are new to the SEO field and want to excel online, call yourself something other than an SEO. Using the label SEO invites arbitrary monitoring and punishment, and there are too many plastic personalities in this field willing to dime out a friend in exchange for a wooden nickel.
from: http://www.seobook.com/to-google-you-are-a-spammer

2) Clients have evolved. While hopefully most SEOs worth their salt have long since realized rankings for specific keywords are virtually meaningless – since they fluctuate so often and are now subject to personalized and geo-based algorithm variations – and that traffic and conversions are what really matter… well truth is most buyers are just starting to get this.  SEO is still a nice buzzword, but its allure as “cool” is wearing off as businesses start to look at the real ROI, which is most easily measured in the contribution of search traffic to the top and bottom lines.

Still Not Perfect…

While SEO has negative connotations, so does “Lead Generation”.  In fact, the word “lead” means dramatically different things to different people.  To me, its an opt-in, “they contacted us” type of inquiry where all we are doing is giving a price to someone who specifically wants to work with us.  That sort of lead can convert at 20-50%.  To others, a “lead” is a name and phone number on a list of 50,000 others that is five years old and consists of people who are no more targeted for a given offering than the general public.  I hate this word “lead”, as I have to explain how our leads are actually good things and not what others might associate the word with.

Anyhow, perhaps its not so much SEO firms switching over to lead generation, as it is lead-gen firms realizing the power and effectiveness of SEO?

Okay I’m about to call it quits here as this is a terribly incoherent post and its 11:00pm and I need to go home…  I’ll leave you though with one other link, here is another firm’s presentation of SEO-based lead generation program.  Again, I like the simplicity… I just get a slight uneasy “infomercial product” vibe… maybe b/c of the single-page approach.

3 Responses to ““Selling” Lead Generation With SEO As Your Prospect-Acquisition Method”

  1. AdMire Group Says:

    Hi Jon,
    I took a look at my analytics today and noticed that i was getting some referrals form your site. So i came on by to check out how we were linked? I would like to say thank you for the complements on our work. It is nice to have a peer (competitor) notice your work and blog about it!

  2. […] regard to SEO or Search Engine Optimization having negative connotations. My boss describes this SEO phenomena on his blog. The fact is, most of the negative stereotypes are based on situations where […]

  3. Robert Adler Says:

    Very good write up. It’s good to see that you’re at least looking into Lead Generation. A few of us have been doing it with some SEO results as well. However, you’re from Maryland too – maybe we should do lunch some time, heh.

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