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What are the Consequences of a Weak or Incomplete Search Engine Marketing Plan?

Mar 31, 2008
Sarah and her husband Sam run a construction supply company. They have put their life savings into their store and have stocked it with a deep and wide inventory of tools and supplies. Great care and planning went into their layout and merchandising and it is an impressive store.

From a business model perspective their business should be booming. The demographics are good, the location good with a local and regional prospect base that creates steady demand. Things should be good but they aren't.

Unfortunately Sarah and Sam have seen their income level off and even slowly decline. At first they rationalized that they were still building their business; the old 'it will take three years to make a profit' ploy. Baloney. Three years? How about 20 years?

But Sarah and Sam did their homework. They even have in their office a business plan they made before opening their store. They work 60 hours a week, remain upbeat, treat their employees well, pay all their taxes and remain optimistic that things will improve.

Sam and Sarah's problem is they have a regional business that is only marketed locally. Each and every day there are prospects in their regional marketplace that need what Sarah and Sam have to offer but do not know Sarah and Sam are there.

These prospects end up buying from competitors or going out of the region.

Lately Sarah and Sam have been noticing their take home pay is shrinking. Even though each work 60 hours a week they are finding that they are having trouble making personal ends meet and in fact have increased their credit card debt.

Sarah and Sam did everything right and they should be benefiting from their efforts but at this point they can only see more of the same. In their early forties, Sarah and Sam are horrified about the possibility of working for the next 20 plus years just to pay their bills; they certainly did not start their business anticipating that it would only break even.

Sarah and Sam had an initial marketing plan that was a good initially but was never updated or upgraded. Each day they stress and strain over the few customers that do walk into their store.

Sam actually is a pretty good 'closer' and of the real prospects they encounter Sam closes one out of two for a pretty good closing ratio.

The problem is they just don't have enough prospects so they have to work harder for everything they get. The sad part is they are in a niche market or "space" with great potential not only locally but regionally, but they are only getting local prospects.

Several months back they became a bit desperate and started placing ads on TV and in the newspaper. They 'think' they got some business off the ads but aren't sure because they didn't find out how the prospect heard about them. Lesson number one in marketing is if you can't measure it, it doesn't exist.

If you ask Sarah about her marketing plan she will pull up their website on her laptop and proudly show it off.

It is a nice site; good graphics that are well laid out with clear and intuitive page designs. Sarah said that since they were in the construction "look and feel" business it was critical they have a slick, graphically well designed site. And they do.

But Google and Yahoo don't measure graphics and design. The fact that the website and marketing collateral is weak and ineffective has not occurred to them yet. They are both proud and defensive over what they have created.

What they assumed was a good web strategy in actuality is nothing more than posting a static website. A simple keyword string test shows that they are not on the search engines and cannot be easily found on the web; hence the almost total dependence on walk in and drive by traffic. And newspaper ads.

Instead of strategizing on how to capture market share they have ended up simply reacting to the marketplace.

And so there they go, day after day, weekend after weekend, month after month. If they make a bigger sale they feel that things are at a tipping point and ready to go their way.

But they have seen slight sales spikes come and go before. They cannot understand that maybe their plan isn't working or working as well as it should.

It's not that Sarah and Sam are bad people or stupid people. In fact, in their industry they are competent and do 95% of their business as well as anyone in their industry.

Except for one thing: Sarah and Sam forgot to upgrade and update their search engine marketing plan.
About the Author
Jack Deal is the owner of JD Deal Marketing Consulting, Monterey and Santa Cruz, CA. Related articles may be found at http://www.jddeal.com/blog/marketing http://www.freeandinquiringmind.typepad.com
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