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Matt strikes a blow for the little fella ( I work with mostly SMBs myself actually)....

SearchEngineLand - As small businesses continue to migrate online to find customers, if that article is the kind of information they find about SEO and search marketing, we’re in deep trouble. We need small businesses to understand what we do and to succeed when we do it for them, for our own benefit as much as theirs.
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from St0n3y 2419 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Good stuff Matt. I know I struggle between wanting to help small businesses but not finding it lucritive for sustainable growth. It’s often hard to come up with an "affordable" service that doesn’t cut out so much that success is near impossible. Of course, if anyone has any ideas I’m all ears.

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from theGypsy 2419 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Ha haha... yeah, work on cutting the overhead BIG TIME.... I have always worked with SMBs, even as a consultant in the B&M world. There isn’t the big bucks or the glamour, but I live a meagre life and do enjoy working closely with owners (over corp red tape).  I enjoy the intimacy. I shall never get rich this way, but fortunately I don’t want to be... just a country boy with his dog (snakes, lizards, spiders) and his little cabin in the country :0)<font size="2">  </font>

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from Lani 2418 Days ago #
Votes: 2

I liked the article,  few points to expand on however.<div></div><div></div><div>"Oh, but there’s no money in small business" and "Small business owners are too busy to be good clients"</div><div></div><div></div><div>These are perhaps the two worst statements any business should state, in-fact, it should be stricken from every sales manual in-house. If I sold my services with these beliefs, I’d seriously have to be locked up. I have a good mix of small to medium businesses in my portfolio, interestingly enough three years ago, the medium businesses where small. That is what SEO is about, it isn’t about ranking up a clients website, it’s about assisting businesses in their growth. I prefer to believe that in signing up a small business client, I am assisting in expanding their business to be larger and more profitable. The more profitable that business is, the more money I will make. I signed on a very small one-store business right here in Las Vegas, within two years, this business now owns three retail stores on the west coast, with additional expansions ahead of us.  </div><div></div><div></div><div>The big clients eventually disappear - an expansion to your points</div><div></div><div></div><div>I started in sales at 21 years of age, and one of the best advice that led me to place top in radio for 16 US  markets was "never put all your eggs in one basket". My entire list of clients comprised of 70% small business, 20% medium and 10% large. In any industry the first budget to be cut during any diversion in marketing is the advertising budget - radio was usually the first. So when beer industry decided to alter their local and national expenses on radio, it hit big, but it didn’t alter my income so greatly that I was left hungry, it did however pull down my sales competitors by a great margin enabling me to pull to the first place for the year. </div><div></div><div></div><div>If you depend too greatly on big business, especially now with the economic factors that are facing the US - I strongly predict you will not survive. For myself, I have enough healthy small to medium businesses that - I will survive. A current large client of mine is considering some cutbacks in staff to assist through the economic factors, in my last meeting this client turns to me and says "You have no worries, without you - we have no company." Again, this client signed on 5 years ago as a small business - it’s now one of my largest billing clients to date with expansions throughout the US and Canada.</div>

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from seofactor 2418 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@Gypsy - A man after my own heart. I cater only to small business. It’s a mix of compassion, and time restraints. After a while I decided that I don’t want to work with big businesses. As for the money though? I do just fine. I have a full time right now, which causes me to turn clients away. I could quite, gain one more client, and have a ton more time on my hands. the money is there, you just have to work smarter. I like my full time though. I’m surrounded by people that make me think. Full time freelance is cool, but I miss humans sometimes. So, snakes, lizards and spiders huh? I used to have 2 geckos, a ball python, and would often breed tarantulas. Ever try to mate 2 cobalt blues? Turns out ranking number one in Google for "cell phone" is easier, so i went with SEO instead. :)

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from CurtMonash 2418 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I’m happier serving the less than biggest companies in what I do, which is strategic consulting and other tech analyst work.  The heart of my business is pre-revenue up through $100 million, as opposed to the 1990s, when most of my business came from the biggest software companies around.   It’s just easier and more pleasant to deal with outfits where one person wears multiple hats.As for HOW to serve these guys -- probably, there will have to be a lot tighter integration with the website design business than there is for bigger outfits.  Ditto niche offerings that are repeatable among multiple customers -- of course, that requires some creativity to avoid the drawbacks of sameness.Curt Monash

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from g1smd 2418 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I chatted at a conference a couple of years ago to someone who only deals in multi-million dollar SEO contracts for hundreds of thousands of pages.The timescales involved, talking about meetings to discuss the planning of the meeeting that was going to discuss the strategy of the planning of the meeting about the ....   stretched on for months and sometimes more than a year.  I couldn’t handle that.If there were management changes in the meantime, sometimes they would have to start again, almost from the beginning.The other point was that they often spent 50 000 just putting up an initial pitch for the work. That’s a whole other world.  

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from voasi 2418 Days ago #
Votes: 1

After reading that report recently that said 2008 is really going to be the turning point for small business to come on the internet train, I started thinking more and more to making packages catering to SMBs.This year, we’re working hard developing strategic small business offerings that add value on their end while making us a profit.  It can be done, but you have to be focused on the plan, as well as sales side.  The education process with local SMBs need to happen.

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from MattMcGee 2418 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Wow, what a great discussion this is - thanks, gang. I was a little afraid of the reaction to that article. I agree 100% that it can be very personally satisfying to work with small biz owners and not have to suffer the red tape that comes with Big Business. Thx for the Sphinn, gypsy. I removed my name from the headline since that’s against the guidelines. :-)

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from Frogger 2418 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Couldn’t agree more Matt. Our whole company has been developed around the SME market from the start and we have no intention to go for the larger clients. If you are sensible and keep your processes slick and communication at a high level there is no reason why you can’t build a successful search marketing business with the SME market.It is also a much more rewarding industry to work with in our humble opinion!!In fact your blog post inspired me to write my own blog post on the topic! :)

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from iBrian 2418 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I think it’s business model dependent - if you look at the big names left in SEO, they chase the corporate contracts which individually are worth more than perhaps hundreds of small SME contracts. The maths simply works better.However, it’s also worth insulating yourself against the 80:20 rule, where 20% of clients provide 80% revenues, by keeping options open on small businesses.The big problem I have with SME’s is that they are often looking for the cheapest service, rather than the best investment. When clients are looking at cost, rather than returns, you don’t have the best clients.As ever, think about your company business model and work with that - but don’t think small just because it’s comfortable.2c.

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from incrediblehelp 2418 Days ago #
Votes: 1

This might be the best thing to take away for the small SEO companies or individual consultant out there:"Your big clients will eventually disappear"

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from katethomas 2417 Days ago #
Votes: 1

As a consultant you have to know what keeps you juiced each day to go to work. For me, it’s the long-standing relationships that I have with my small business clients and my ability to see the positive changes that I have made in their businesses over time. There are small business owners who are willing to invest in quality work. By focusing on a niche market that we can serve well because of our expertise, we’ve createed a network of clients that supports us on a level that works for us. Being very clear about what type of clients you can (and cannot) serve well helps to save a lot of headaches when working with small businesses. We turn down work that is not a good match for our skill sets. I wish we had done this right from the start in 1995, but as the saying goes: you pay your tuition in the school of life one way or another.

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from FionnD 2417 Days ago #
Votes: 0

We dealt almost exclusively with small business in our first two years.  They grew but we did’nt.  We needed a lot of clients to pay the bills and a lot of clients meant a lot of work.  As SEO became more complex and the cost of doing SEO got higher and higher it became very difficult to survive only handling small business.  That was my experience.  What seems a small amount of money can be a fortune to a small business and they expect a lot for it.  We now deal with small (not start ups) and medium sized busienss and its a much more viable mix.  We tried the big clients Ihated it. I hated the red tape the corrpoate politics, 6 months to decide  on their keywords.  We never signed another fortune 500 works for me. 

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from muskoka 2416 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Good Day! You folks are soo on it!;) Small business IS the backbone of the Canadian Economy..I would suggest that to be the case for the US and other countries too. Just look at the number of new biz start ups...mind boggling..AND..they ALL need websites!The small business will grow and so too will your billings if you stick with it, get creative and learn new skills to complement your SEO. I am just a little speck on the SEO landscape  but growing. I found that developing my business into new areas was a perfect fit for small business clients. My SMB clients SEO used to say well why can’t you be my webdesigner, developer, webmaster. Then I realized wait a minute I am lining the pockets of webmasters with every suggestion I make. SO! I learned HTML and CSS and began designing websites THEN I realized this could really work BUT ONLY if I targeted small businesses. I could offer very affordable pricing for original hand website design and redesign with SEO built in.  Granted you won’t get rich but I think over time you can earn a comfortable living, never have to advertize because of word of mouth referrals and client testimonials. Yes, in the main SMB tends to be totally not web savvy. heck, some can barely operate e-mail BUT they know they need a website---they have seen the comparative selling costs per unit on the web, printed mailings and so on. They KNOW that a website is useless if nobody can find them. In fact, Google is the SMB’s BEST FRIEND. Organic search is the entrepreneurial tool that any small business person can access. The SEO industry-no make that us as a collective NEED to provide the link! and guess what? When Mr. Googlebot rewards your little SMB with a david vs goliath result cause the lil guy has a great product and you charged very little-I can tell you that the personal satisfaction is a buzz and inevitably new billings result!Thanks for reading my thoughts.

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from muskoka 2416 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Good day Again! Newsweek article=$$$$opportunity!!!!!!!!!Listen, I just read his article-go read it-this is a great opportunity. I say we including the SEL mavins put together a proposal and say basically hey listen you have been victimized by what we try and warn people about but there are many of us who do a great job for SMB. How about we offer you a reasonable priced and well defined targeted program . We’ll do it for free to start but in 3 months or whenever we get the agreed upon targets you pay us AND write another article? let’s goooooooo come onnnnn somebody answer. :))regards

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