I have spent this week in Cincinnati, speaking to Vistage groups.
While doing four, four-hour workshops back-to-back is exhausting and brain numbing, it is also one of my most favorite things to do.
You see, the business leaders who belong to Vistage are typically real go-getters. They know their own professional development is important and they attend every meeting engaged and ready to do some work.
Which, for a speaker, is incredibly rewarding because you get to spend four hours with 10-15 executives who will take your advice and run with it (and sometimes even hire you…we easily get two really qualified leads out of every engagement I do).
And not only that, but I learn as much from them as they do from me. I learn what issues and challenges they have in marketing and what things they’ve tried that don’t work.
It gives me lots of ideas to pursue for our clients, and it provides me the opportunity to tweak how we execute, based on what I learn in those meetings.
SEO + Content + Media Relations = New Business
In the workshop I did on Tuesday, we spent a lot of time talking about search engine optimization and it’s relation to, in particular, owned and earned media.
In the good ol’ days, the top leaders in an organization didn’t have to concern themselves with down and dirty tactic, such as SEO, but times…they have changed.
In fact, they’ve changed so much that one of the first things you should consider when developing your business plan to increase revenue or profits is SEO.
Because, after all, if no one can find you on the web, you—for all intents and purposes—do not exist.
Unfortunately, though, most business owners and marketers make the mistake of thinking about it as an individual silo as opposed to an integral part of the business development plan.
Build Your Prospect List
Who are your dream clients?
The first step to creating a business development plan is identifying your prospect list.
I recommend having at least 200 prospects on your list.
A client of ours has an evolving list of 200 CEOs whom he would like to meet and, as he does and begins to build a relationship, they come off the list and a new person is added.
His list—and yours, too—should include everyone and anyone you would like to work with, both in and outside of your verticals.
Once you’ve built your prospect list, it’s time to start identifying your client profiles. Creating the ideal client profile will help you avoid getting into business with those who may not be a good fit for your company (which is always very tempting, especially when they have money to spend).
The client profile should include:
- Company type;
- Industry sector;
- Competitive landscape;
- Size (number of employees);
- Assets and revenue; and
- Attitudes and culture.
Use SEO to Draw In Those Prospects
Once you’ve identified your prospects and ideal clients, it’s time to draw them in with the content you create, which is where SEO comes in.
- What are their pain points?
- What are they talking about?
As you do your due diligence and research, identify keywords they use in their content. Then, begin incorporating these into your content.
Here are a few ways you can use SEO to draw in prospects:
- Write blog posts that address their pain points and showcase your ability to help them. Make sure the content is SEO-friendly. Don’t let a meta description or alt text mistake cost you a prospective client.
- Participate in discussions related to your expertise and prospective clients around the web. There are plenty of these happening in LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, and even Twitter chats. As you’re answering questions and giving your input during these conversations, keep those important keywords top-of-mind. Incorporate them naturally into your contributions.
- Attend and speak at industry events. The organizations putting on the events will be creating content around their events and if they’re doing it right, they already have SEO in mind. By being a part of the event, your name will come up when prospective clients are doing their searches.
- Guest post on industry blogs that are already talking about and to your prospective clients. In addition to guest posting, you should also be commenting on the blogs and participating in the discussions.
Include SEM to Build Your List
Are you coordinating your search engine marketing and SEO efforts?
Paid advertising is a large part of new business development, and it should be aligned with SEO because they both rely heavily on keywords to drive traffic to your business.
The data you collect from your ads can help inform keyword phrases you’re using in your content.
If the messaging in your ads are not aligned with your established SEO, the disconnect can cost you new business.
You also may end paying for clicks that don’t convert to sales.
Use Earned Media to Establish Your Credibility
One of the most important parts of search engine optimization is link building.
Do you have high quality links coming to your website?
While links aren’t everything when it comes to SEO, they’re still incredibly important in establishing your website as an authority.
The relationships you build with your earned media strategy can lead to solid, authoritative links that lead back to your website.
When it comes to link building, quality can matter greatly over quantity.
A few high quality links from news outlets can contribute greatly to your site’s authority in the eyes of Google, bringing you higher in search results around the keywords you’re using to target your prospective clients.
When building your earned media strategy within your business development plan, keep SEO in mind.
The Key Is Communication and Harmony
Are you noticing a pattern emerge when it comes to new business development and SEO?
I mentioned in the beginning that the biggest mistake companies make is putting search engine optimization in a silo and not factoring it into their new business development plan.
As you can see, every part of your communications strategy influences SEO in one way or another, which is why it’s crucial to build it into your new business development plan, as well.
An effective, integrated marketing strategy produces results the kind of results that will get you rewarded by search engines.