How to find a full-on SEO / marketing partnership? - Existing business, niche market

2 replies
Hi,

I've spent the last four hours or so reading all of the SEO recommendation threads. A lot of repeats of what I saw throughout the Internet:
  • SEO is a slow process
  • no one wants to work for free (of course!)
  • You get what you pay for
  • very few actual recommendations!


All that being said, can anyone tried to throw me a bone here. I'm really hopeful that someone can give us some useful advice, as the jobs of my employees/partners who are like family depend in part on us improving our marketing. In short: We suck at marketing but provide a wonderful service. So that's the good news.

Were trying to find an SEO recommendation or marketing firm to work with.

About us:
We have a brick-and-mortar Mandarin school in China that also is launching a niche membership site. We have been in business for eight years. We've never had a dissatisfied customer. Seriously. Were great at what we do, we just don't know how to market. The business provides full packages learning programs in China, including tours, as well as some online learning. Good margins.

Content creation is fairly easy in terms of creating blog posts and free learning materials that will attract our niche market. We had a site that ranked well for years but has been hit pretty hard by panda/Penguin. (I used to do our own as SEO, but it was outsourced for expediency purposes -- not because I'm lazy, but because I'm disabled have trouble interacting with the computer outside of voice recognition -- thanks Uncle Sam!) We have full-time employees that can produce content and can probably produce another revenue generating product.

When we did rank well, we converted very poorly. We got rankings at the expensive of conversion. So we hope to find someone to work with that could handle both SEO and marketing aspects. You can tell from what we do that it's a relatively small market, but with a good growth rate, and good margins to share.

Basically, for the last few years we were shelling out money for SEO and PPC that got progressively worse and was basically money just down the drain including our ad words spend.

So getting to the point... How can we go about finding a partner? Ideally we want to find someone that can work on some kind of lower-rate plus commission bonuses. I've read what the well respected Mike Anthony and Mike Friedman have said, and I realize most people don't want to work for free. But were obviously very reticent to shell out money in the hope that someone can do something. We've done that too many times over the years. In the education and tourism industry there have historically been agents that take a commission, including online-- so you can't tell me that no one does it. So I guess what were looking for something along the lines of a "super agent" but for the whole business. In short, a marketing partner.

Realizing that SEO/PPC and marketing should be more of a long-term strategy, where looking for some credit long-term partnership. We don't expect anyone to work for free of course, but want to find some win-win strategy that minimizes our cash outlay.

Come on board members! :-) How can we go about finding this person/company? Does anyone have specific recommendations or could pass along this to anyone in your network?
#business #existing #find #fullon #market #marketing #niche #partnership #partnerships #seo
  • Profile picture of the author lotsofsnow
    That is great that you need a marketing partner.

    If I would like to learn Chinese, would you allow me to take 3 month free lessons and then make up my mind whether you are any good or not - I guess not. But that is what you kind of expect.

    Developing a marketing strategy and putting it into practice takes some serious work. Ifyou want somebody to do that work for free you will not get a professional.

    You get what you pay for. If you need a marketing partner and do not start with trust you only will get somebody that cannot be trusted.

    If you try to build a business on SEO you are basically doomed from the start by the way. SEO should never be the main source of traffic.

    If your product is good you should be able to hire a professional and then you will learn that SEO is only a small portion of any real business.

    Don't get me wrong, you can get a lot of nice traffic via Search engines but if your whole business depends on it it's not very smart.

    Anyhow, long story short, you should post your request here:
    Wanted - Members Looking To Hire You
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    Call Center Fuel - High Volume Data
    Delivering the highest quality leads in virtually all consumer verticals.

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    • Profile picture of the author LearningChinese
      Who said anything about working for free? Honestly, I didn't come here to butt heads with anyone when they felt incensed at the merest suggestion of an alternative arrangement..

      There's a whole sub industry of pay for her performance and pay per action is there not? I'm just suggesting changing the KPI (the thing that we measure) from results in Google to revenue. Don't you think that's more of a win-win situation long-term?

      The problem with pay for performance SEO is that there's an incentive to look for the short term gain at the expense of the website. I'm just trying to align interests after having been burnt in the past.

      Since you love analogies though, let's run with it. There's no such thing as a lawyer or tax accountant who works on a contingency basis right? (Except that both of mine do) Even in the big-league advertising industries people still get paid based on ROI until their top of the heap and can demand otherwise. Headhunters, real estate agents, and all kinds of salesmen even up through the myriad of MBA classmates that have taken jobs selling industrial controls and whatnot. The list goes on and on. And of course in our industry that's basically the standard. They're called educational travel agents. (Some of which operate primarily online)

      And seriously, no one is suggesting someone work full-time for three months like you said in your analogy. That's been a bit disingenuous. However, I'll still run with that one. We have, in the past, had customers that we have done a substantial amount of work prior to the arrival (the majority of the admin work and stress) setting up visas, accommodations, airport pickup etc. Upon arrival they decide that they want to do a bit of shopping around. We gladly showed them where the other schools were. In every case they returned. Our return policies were set up on a sliding scale such that people could still drop and get most of their money back well into the courses that we provided. While it was a bit of a hassle, I knew that was part of alleviating the stress that the customer has to go through. After all, they are flying halfway around the world to come see us.

      A large part of our industry hinges on SEO of course because our market is so dispersed if you must know. (The majority of local clients come through word-of-mouth.) That and agencies some of which operate online and get paid on a commission basis. It ranges into the hundred of dollars per head, so I'm not going to apologize for suggesting something that is worthwhile as if I'm trying to get over on somebody. For the right fitting individual/company this is a decent opportunity.

      Let's run with another analogy: many of the same SEO experts if they were hired internally full-time as you are alluding to would have KPI's and performance targets they would be expected to meet. I'm friends with one now. (By the way she suggested I go out asking for this type of arrangement) I challenge any of them to say that there'd be able to hang around for many months without meeting those targets. While it's not exactly fair to demand guaranteed results in SEO/marketing, the flipside of that is that it's not simple people to pony up with nothing but the hope that things might go their way, especially when a lot of people wouldn't try that with an employer.

      I know that there are professionals as you mentioned that can be selective about their clientele. I'm happy for them. Is not prepared to dish out a shed load of money when I bear the downside risk. In return, I'm looking for someone that is going to look for some upside benefit so that we are both in it together. Seriously, I don't see what's offensive about it. I pay the expenses and we provided damn good service. Aren't there are marketers here that go out looking for products to sell? This is a product to sell.

      Back in 2006 when I got my website up to PR five on my own hard work and I started engaging with SEO companies, I ran into "experts" that I'd later see on forums like these asking for advice on how to obtain clients. Many of the people had lower PR rank than I did, and still you can see many of the people who have a weak social media presence only claiming themselves as experts even if they're just a reseller of services and even if they aren't ranking well themselves Honestly, this forum is full of them. (No offense to anybody here if you're up-and-coming that's just the way you are right now. You have to sell yourself I get that.) There's also the "professionals" that me, my competitors, and colleagues fell for for that took our highly ranking websites and decimated them over time.

      Saying things like "you get what you pay for" and "if there's no trust then there is no relationship" is either misunderstanding or kind of reverse psychological ploy. My post count is low but I've lurked for years here and elsewhere and have had employees on here. There's a whole lot of people that portend to be a professional by feigning indignation and putting up front of confidence. And all this I don't mean to take away from those true professionals, but at the same token I'm just here looking for an alternative arrangement that wants to share in real businesses profits. It would be disingenuous for me to post to the hiring people thread because that's not exactly what I'm looking for, nor is it a traditional JV nor affiliate offering.

      Again, I'm looking for those that can recommend a SEO/marketing professional or company that is amenable to changing the KPI from Google results to overall revenue. I'm not looking for free I'm just trying to minimize our down inside and return to offering a bit of upside to the opposing party. That's win-win and it's aligning interests even if it's not what everyone does. And since you mention trust and all that is my firm belief that two parties that can come together with an open mind and work out an alternative solution often come up with a win-win solution. If this doesn't appeal to you - -I hold nothing against you.But If you know someone I'd appreciate your advice in this regard.
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