When I first started at DTC, people frequently asked me “Who are your ideal clients?” And I always answered “Everyone”.  The fact of the matter is that is blatantly untrue.  It was a hard lesson  for me to learn, that there were people and companies who were ready to invest in search marketing, but who were quite simply not a good fit.  When you spend your life in business development, turning down potential revenue is much harder than it sounds.  That said, it has become a crucial part of my role to protect the interest of our potential clients and our own business.

So – who is a bad fit for search marketing? 

1)      You Just Invented a Brand-New-Never-Before-Heard-Of Product or Service

We’ve had several folks contact us who have come up with a concept that is truly amazing, and an ideal solution for a particular problem.  But – if a searcher doesn’t know said product/ service exists, they won’t be searching for it.  Try a broader marketing approach to get your name out there – PR, social media, cold calls, networking, TV and radio, etc.

2)      You Just Want to Rank #1

Rankings for various search terms are the key indicator of the success of a campaign for many companies.  The problem is, ranking high in Google doesn’t necessarily mean anything.  What matters is that your traffic is increasing, and more importantly converting. If the goal is purely based on seeing your own name when you enter a search term, the investment you make will be hard to validate long-term.

3)      Your Operations Cannot Handle an Influx in Sales

This sounds basic, right? However, if you’re at or near capacity for the number of knick-knacks you can make, service calls you can attend, phone calls you can handle, don’t make this investment. If you are a small company, making and selling widgets, make sure you have the capabilities to manufacture your product at the same rate you can sell it.  The easiest way to lose a client forever is to sell them something you either never deliver, or take a longer amount of time than expected to deliver.

4)      Your Website is a Mess

No matter how much SEO you do, if your website is not user-friendly, easily-navigated, and appealing, there will be no positive ROI.  You need a solid structure and fresh, unique content.  We can drive people to your site all day, but if they don’t know what to do when they get there, it is just a waste of money.  Commit to investing in the website first, then in driving people to it.

5)      You are a Non-Profit with the Singular Goal to Increase Donations

You do amazing work that helps society in a way that most of us cannot and do not.  That said, there just aren’t many search queries for “Where can I donate tons of cash I don’t want?” People don’t search to find place to donate often – they know them.  They know someone they are helping.  Have a great, easily-navigated website for when they visit you; make it easy for them to be involved, hire a PR company, utilize social media.  But the positive ROI we want to provide is incredibly difficult to reach when the goal is only adding donations.  If, however, your goal is to have a broader exposure, provide information on your organization and cause, a search marketing campaign could be ideal.

6)      Online Marketing is 100% of Your Sales and Marketing Budget

Many of our clients invest the bulk of their marketing budgets in online marketing.  That said, it should never be all of it. Relying on Google is a tough game, because the rules are constantly changing.  Make sure you also hire someone to answer the phone, utilize other marketing tactics, ask for referrals, and network to build your brand up.  The most successful campaigns always include multiple pieces.

7)      You’re Hoping to “Trick” Google

If you plan to trick Google, go against their guidelines, or otherwise manipulate the system, save your cash.  It may take some time, but they will find you, they may black-list you, and any gains you might have gotten from the internet will be gone.

8)      It’s Your Last Ditch Effort to Save Your Company

While PPC can have a very quick result when you turn a campaign on, the best results come months into an SEO or PPC campaign, when there is extensive data and research to base strategies on.  If you are worried you are about to go out of business, invest into other areas of growing the company back up. Don’t start your marketing campaigns until you have some stable ground beneath you.

If you’ve reached this point of the blog, and realized, “I’m not any of these”, it might be a good time to call a search marketing expert.  The vast majority of businesses can benefit exponentially from search marketing.  Be careful to choose a partner who has your best interests in mind, understands your goals, and has enough brass to tell you if they aren’t a good fit.  It’s still the hardest thing I’ve had to say, but it’s ensured that we’ve been able to make strong, lasting impacts for our clients.