Local SEO programs for $250

Eric Rohrback

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I'm trying to compare services and find what is appropriate to offer for a $250 price point. Does anyone have any thoughts on what services you might offer while keeping within that price? I'm trying to layout what I could do, but I don't want to give away too much and I don't want to leave the client short on work... kind of an conundrum...

Can anyone offer any advice?
 
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Linda Buquet

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Hmmm, surprised by the question.

When I read the title I thought for sure it was going to be about how do you compete with these companies that quote such a low price. Not what can we do for that low of a price.

All I can think of is a complete audit with report and recommendations.

Or maybe a citation blast which we all know won't help much if their Place page is out of whack and site is not well optimized.
 

Eric Rohrback

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Yeah, that's the thing. Basically trying to figure out how to come back with a smaller package when someone says "well company X has all these things for $250" and I just want some opinions on what would actually be reasonable to offer for that same price point. Clearly I don't want to get myself upside-down with doing more work than I would make, but I also don't want to give them almost nothing for that cost.
 

Laustin1878

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I think even site audit may be too generous at that price point. I've spoken to a number of different people/firms who offer site audits and the lowest I've seen was $350. The more trusted and knowledgeable folk don't touch audits for under $800 and that is on the absolute low side.

What about adding their business or optimizing their listings (if already created) to the big 3 local pages, 2 or 3 quality citations or seed NAP sites, for more distribution and basic on-page evaluation of their home page or a few internal pages?

You can document your work to validate the time spent on the project, will likely help them in areas they may not be familiar in and hopefully allow them to rank a little better locally.

Building value in your service offerings is important IMO. Getting people to understand that at the end of the day it is still marketing, which reads, no guarantees is the most difficult part. At least you would be providing something that can have an impact while saving the client's pocket.

*Edit* getting into a pissing match and price war usually starts to hurt after 2 or 3 rounds so be careful. I would focus more on building value then going back and forth. You typically get what you pay for, I don't see this as anything different.
 

Laustin1878

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Did you mean $350? I think you can go on and on and the discussion would go back and forth.

Finding the most beneficial practices with the time you are allotting to do this at said price point is where you need to be thinking. Doing your best to cater to as many clients as possible is great but not always that easy to do. In local, I feel the cheaper you are, the more clients you appeal to. At the same time, you are sacrificing something, usually time which winds up costing you, the service provider, money. The lower your hourly wage, the further you can stretch that $250. You do give yourself a better chance to show a positive ROI charging lower prices which ultimately makes the client happy.

What is your hourly wage? (not looking for what you charge, just food for thought) How many hours of work are you willing to do within that $250? Is it recurring monthly or just one time? I believe I answered this as if it's a one time thing. Can you provide anything tangible? Can you show results at that price point? Are you giving yourself enough time to show results?

Just a few questions that come to mind when trying to sort this kind of thing out. Not sure if this is any help or not...lol
 

Laustin1878

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While I agree with you overall Linda, someone has to cater to the little people right? Does this mean that the smaller companies with shallow pockets don't deserve to have their hat in the ring?

I agree, everyone has a price. Everyone assigns value to their time and to their service. I for one, am for the little people. While I need to be able to cover my time spent on a project, I understand that not everyone can afford to pay for the best. With a low price tag, you are limiting your success. At the same time, you may have nothing to lose as a small business. This isn't a testament that I suck at what I do, I just know that I want to help a small business and understand that not everyone has money.

This goes back to building value in your service offerings. If you can build enough value, you can charge certain prices. You have had much success and made a nice living I'm sure charging your prices. Sometimes that is a large nut for smaller businesses. If you can deliver some value, manage your time the right way, you can get away with charging $250.

Lets hear it for the little people!! :D
 

Linda Buquet

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While I agree with you overall Linda, someone has to cater to the little people right?...

I agree, everyone has a price. Everyone assigns value to their time and to their service. I for one, am for the little people. While I need to be able to cover my time spent on a project, I understand that not everyone can afford to pay for the best...

If you can deliver some value, manage your time the right way, you can get away with charging $250.

Lets hear it for the little people!! :D
I was basing my reply on this comment "trying to figure out how to come back with a smaller package when someone says "well company X has all these things for $250"

So was sterotyping the "price shopper", not just the really little guy that can't afford more.

I'm all for the little guy...

But I say... Leave them to the newbie consultants that don't yet know how to value their time and build value into their offering!

Sorry but I just know too many consultants who are NOT making a living at this business even though they are highly skilled and know more than most.

See this post for important insights:
If You Aren't Making Money as a Local SEO Consultant You Aren't Alone

But it depends on you and where you want to spend your time. If you have things automated and can churn out something like just citation building, you can maybe do enough volume to make it work.

However f you know how to attract the right type of clients, the ones that can afford your expertise. And if you know how to package your offering and present it in a way that makes them say yes - then you can afford to pass on the lower end clients.

My 2 cents...
 

Marie Ysais

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Are you talking about small low competitive cities or towns? In some of our smaller cities or low competitive areas it is possible to offer small packages around that price point for maintenance. Includes a small amount of back links and a monthly report. For 5 keywords. Something like that..but for that small of a price not a package that moves them to the first page. If you must offer something at that price point.

BUT if a client says, X company offers such and such prices I tell them to go to X company and then come back after they don't get the results.
 

Linda Buquet

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BUT if a client says, X company offers such and such prices I tell them to go to X company and then come back after they don't get the results.
Marie we SO think alike! :)

I take it a little further and sometimes say something like the following...

(Now I'm going to abbreviate and it may not come out sounding right but when I say it, it sounds very sincere and caring and does not come off sounding cocky or manipulative, like the short version here might.)

"John if you aren't comfortable with my pricing I totally understand. I'm pretty selective about who I work with and realize that the level of service I offer is not a good match for everyone. If you can't afford 3500 right now, then I really don't want to stretch your budget.

If that company is offering to do the same thing I do for 250, then you should go for it! I'll be around down the road if you ever need me. Some of my best clients come to me after trying someone else and realizing in SEO as in life, you get normally get what you pay for.

Call if you need me down the road. I wish you the very best... pause"


What do they usually say next???

"No, wait, I wasn't saying I don't want to work with you, just letting you know what the other guy offered or just trying to see if you can match their price. But no, I still want to work with you." ;)

Sometimes, if I feel uncertainty or reluctance I will even say again.

"But you sounded like you are on such a tight budget, I think maybe you should wait. I'd like to have you read more about me, see some of the results I've gotten for other Dentists, take time and do your due diligence. I want you to feel comfortable with this decision, so I'm thinking maybe we should wait."

What did I just do? Instead of "selling them" or "offering a deal" or trying to "close them" which is what any sales rep would do. I do the exact opposite! I am a consultant who only cares what's best for them, and if they aren't comfortable, then I don't think we should move forward.

It changes the dynamic. Instead of me selling them, and them feeling untrusting and defensive of their pocketbook... now they are chasing me saying "No, no, I'm totally ready. I WANT to do this now!"

This type of low key consulting approach works for me in a very high percentage of cases. At one point I was doing 20K a month in this business and never ever offered a deal or "closed" or "chased" anyone. Never even had time to do follow up. Either they saw it and it made sense for them and they said "Let's do it" or not. Or sometimes they ended up trying someone else and came back 3 months later.
 

Laustin1878

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I love hearing real life instances. I think a lot can be learned from them. Thank you for sharing Linda.

I think this is a non-defensive way of telling a client to put up or shut up. Nice approach.
 

johncrenshaw

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I wouldn't do it at all. I would discourage any SEO consultant from trying to snag $250/mo clients.

When I started doing this I thought, well, why not snag those clients and do a little simple, basic work for those who don't have much to spend. Boy that was a terrible idea. I realized a few things that caused me to change that:


  1. It devalues the service for everyone. The reason you get people asking for a $250/month SEO package is because they don't understand why it should cost more. That's in large part due to companies all over the place selling a $250/month package. It doesn't actually matter than it doesn't provide much value, people are wishful thinkers and many will just assume they picked the wrong provider rather than up their budget.
  2. Every new client means more "support tasks": Accounting, project management, checking your email when a client sends you something at 9pm on a saturday, simple lost productivity due to switching gears when you get a phone call or email you have to respond to, etc. This stuff adds up quickly. We have projects where we've spent 10+ hrs a month on reporting and project management. Now those are much more complex but the point is, $250 isn't really $250 when you factor in everything else. You've even got taxes on top of that and even more taxes if you have employees.
  3. As a result of tracking calls, form submissions, following up with revenue numbers from the client, I realized the value I was providing was enormously larger than a few hundred a month. I wasn't tracking that info before because it can cost more than a few hundred just to put together the relevant reports and analyze the data. Once I started doing that my head exploded. Do not undervalue your service; there are already too many people out there doing so.
  4. There are FAR too many prospects out there willing to pay $1500, $3000, $5000+ per month for quality work. I realized I wasn't closing those clients because I wasn't giving them enough reason to go with me so I spent a bunch of time on marketing materials, perfecting my sales pitch, meeting and talking with other successful SEOs about what they were doing and how they were selling, etc. I can tell you that changing my sales pitch took me from roughly $400/mo average to about $1200, practically overnight.
  5. Most people can afford it, they just haven't been shown that it's worth the cost, so you should sell on ROI, not on cost. If a business truly can't afford $1,000/month in total advertising spend, then it's a hobby not a business.

I regularly close deals at $1,000/month competing against someone offering $250-400/month.
 
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For local companies on small budgets I offer consultation meetings at $250 per hour. Typically these are 1 hour meetings where we review their site in my conference room with a large display. I let them bring anyone from their team. Typically it only takes 5-10 min to find some issues or ideas that they can execute themselves. Sometimes they have specific questions they want answered or techniques they are trying to execute. Here are some typical items:


  • Search for "company name" + "local phone" + "city" and telling them to clean up their NAP citations.
  • Providing a list of Top 10 citation websites for them to add their information and info on how to find other citation sources.
  • Show them how to boost and target posts in Facebook
  • Show them their website in an "SEO" text browser. Explaining the importance of Title / Meta / H1 tags, etc..

Currently I have 8 clients in this program. Some have started on this program then became retainer clients. Others have stayed in the program for years. The advantage this program gives me is I am billing at a high hourly rate and I have no responsibility for execution or results.

I always offer a 100% guarantee and have never had a client not pay. What I have found is that many people have been burnt before on fales SEO / Internet marketing promises and this lowers the barrier to entry and allows them to experience my expertise risk free.
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks so much John. Totally agree!

And you touched on a very important reason 250 a month is a bad idea,
if the service you offer is related to local rankings.

We know how complicated the algo is. We know how hard it is to rank.
And we REALLY know how buggy and problematic Google local can be.

If you are just doing a piece of the puzzle for 250 you'll have them complain about not ranking even though they aren't paying you to do all the other stuff that it takes to rank.

Plus you'll be going down the rabbit hole dealing with maintenance problems, like dupes or Google changing their address or other problems that come up.
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks Jamie, I posted above while you were posting so didn't see your reply til now.

Great, great insights. Makes so much sense to do it like that if you are dealing with local businesses in your own area. Really smart.

You could do same thing online remotely with TeamViewer or GoToMeeting or something as well.
 

Laustin1878

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John, great story. How did you wind up building value in your SEO offerings? What did you learn about your sales pitch that made you change and ultimately working better for you?

Jamie, very good idea and awesome approach. Are your consultations one time occurrences or do you conduct them monthly for one client? It is more lucrative to have a client paying monthly than one time unless you have a constant stream of clients. Are you able to keep a stream of people coming through on this plan? Have you followed up with any of the consult clients to see if they followed through?

I'm a big fan of shifting the accountability on the client more than myself. Yes, as a service provider, you need to deliver but it's becoming more difficult to keep current with Google on all SEO fronts. I am always open to learning ways to provide value but not be stressed with the outcome.

Thanks for your contributions here.
 

johncrenshaw

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John, great story. How did you wind up building value in your SEO offerings? What did you learn about your sales pitch that made you change and ultimately working better for you?
As far as value goes:

There's probably a ton of value there already. Before we were only tracking rankings, so I shifted to measuring what's actually happening. That was a game changer. I believe companies that only focus on where their clients are ranking are missing the larger, more important picture, and that is how much business is being generated online.

Additionally, we do other things besides just SEO, including PPC, conversion rate optimization, copywriting, & blogging. So, even if a client is ranked just about as well as they can be, we can start CRO or add PPC into the mix, which generates more billable time for us and more revenue for the client. We can also do website design and that can have a pretty major impact as well (we saw conversions increase 500% overnight from a recent redesign).

On the sales pitch:

I learned to pitch to ROI, not to cost. I used to walk into a meeting and talk about everything we were going to do, why it was important, and how much it was going to cost.

Now I walk into a meeting (with some intel from the client) and talk about what they're generating online now and based on some really rough calculations, what they might generate afterwards.

If you tell me something costs $10,000, I might not even think about it. But if you show me how I can make $100,000, I'll give you $50k before you've even finished speaking.

Obviously the prospect has to trust you so quality marketing materials, case studies, references, a polished and practiced presentation, etc are all key here. If you can work with big name companies prospects will recognize, I'd even consider doing that for free just for the social proof.
 
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Are your consultations one time occurrences or do you conduct them monthly for one client?
They are all monthly with no contract. However sometime we meet more then once a month and sometimes it is less frequent then every month. I am fairly loose with this program as them come to my office and pay me per hour.

It is more lucrative to have a client paying monthly than one time unless you have a constant stream of clients.
For me it is a combination of the two. I don't know why you would want to do it only one with at the exclusion of the other.

Are you able to keep a stream of people coming through on this plan?
No, it is a word of mouth plan and somthing I off to clients who are either skeptical of committing to a larger monthly retainer or can't afford it.

Have you followed up with any of the consult clients to see if they followed through?
Absolutely, usually the first thing we discuss in the next meeting is how well they executed their to do list from the meeting before. If they were to busy and I know they have budget it is an opportunity for me to turn them into a retainer client.
 

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