It’s Valentine’s Day, and what better day to give a big smooch to small businesses? Having worked exclusively with small businesses for the first nine years of my online marketing career, and with several small business owners in my family, I have a lot of appreciation for the hard work it takes to succeed. The fact that I’ve worked mostly with larger corporations over the past 18 months has only opened my eyes wider to what makes small businesses special.
So, with full respect to current and future clients who don’t qualify as “small,” here’s a Valentine’s Day note of appreciation for small businesses.
What I love about doing SEO with small businesses
1. Small business owners are often pressed for time, so they tend not to waste yours. When they’re engaged in a search marketing project, they often spend their energy and focus wisely.
2. Speaking of spending, they don’t have money to throw away. Why do I like this? Because they’re very focused on value and results. If you can take someone’s investment, whether it’s $500 or $5,000, and turn it into 3x, 5x, or 10x profit, you probably have a client for life. Which leads to point number three…
3. Small business clients are loyal. At my previous job, a retired couple was ready to shut down their home-based small business. After discussing options with them, the couple decided to spend less than $2,000 to upgrade their web site and make it more SEO-friendly. We went out and got some easy-to-find links, including the Yahoo Directory at $299. Within a matter of months, they received orders from customers in 15 different countries. They were so happy with our service that they remained a client even after moving 300 miles away.
4. Small business owners are quick. I’ve worked with big companies where it took weeks to get a single link changed on their web site. Small businesses tend to respond and act on recommendations much more quickly, making it easier to analyze the success of your project.
5. On a related note, small businesses are easier to work with because they don’t have layers upon layers of corporate gobbledygook. If you’re working with the Marketing Director, chances are s/he can go straight to the president/owner for a decision. No committees, no meetings, no delays.
6. Small businesses can take chances. When you don’t have shareholders to answer to and when the press isn’t watching every move you make, you have freedom. That can make SEO incredibly fun, especially when it starts to intersect with social media marketing. In my experience, small business owners are more willing to try new things where linkbait and viral marketing are concerned.
7. Small businesses are often more personally invested in SEO. A 25% increase in traffic or a 10% increase in conversions will often have a much more dramatic impact on a small business’s bottom line, maybe even its survival, than it would on a multi-million dollar corporation. It might mean the small business doesn’t have to fire an employee; maybe they can even add new people and grow the business. SEO success can make a difference to many small businesses.
I would love to write more, but there’s a box of chocolate-covered caramel on the desk that’s calling my name. As much as I love working with the bigger clients I’ve been working with recently, on this day I have to say:
Happy Valentine’s Day, small business owners!
Matt McGee is the SEO Manager for Marchex, Inc., a search and media company offering search marketing services through its TrafficLeader subsidiary. The Small Is Beautiful column appears on Thursdays at Search Engine Land.