Q: What are the typical internal challenges that marketers face when proposing a search campaign?
Rich: The most common challenge marketers face internally is convincing the budget committee of the value and need for search. One reason for this is that we are talking about an industry that is relatively new. Search engine marketing has only been an option for about ten years, while mainstream advertising started over 100 years ago.
Most upper level managers are used to approving advertising budgets for print, television or radio ads. They are familiar with the figures and with the objectives. This isnâ€™t the case for search marketing. When a brand manager or a marketing professional wants to promote their brand via search, frequently they must do some education as part of their budget request.
This is a challenge when someone in the marketing department must pitch the campaign outside of marketing. For smaller campaigns, the brand manager may have the leeway within their budget to devote a portion to search marketing. But for more extensive campaigns, more often the marketing manager has to go outside the department to get their budget approved. And Iâ€™ve found that typically the higher up the ladder you go the less familiar management is with search.
Q: How can marketers make the process easier and get buy-in?
Rich: One way to make the process easier is to separate the education piece from the buy-in request. If possible, have a brief introductory meeting that outlines what search marketing is and explains the different benefits of paid and organic campaigns.
It is difficult to try to educate an audience and sell at the same time. If you try to do both at the same meeting, youâ€™ll start by explaining what search is and then asking for budget approval â€“ itâ€™s tough to switch hats like that. Also, your management team will be in a different mindset if they know theyâ€™re attending an educational meeting rather than a pitch.
One thing you can say is, â€œIn three months Iâ€™ll probably be putting search in our budget. Letâ€™s set a time before that to explain search and why we want to do it.â€ Then at the next meeting you can remind them of the benefits of search and explain the budget request â€“ â€œHereâ€™s what we need and why.â€
Youâ€™ll want to emphasize that with successful Search Engine Marketing (SEM) your company can increase qualified website traffic; track meaningful market data about your target audience; establish a formidable competitive advantage online; increase sales and maximize ROI; acquire new customers; generate leads; and build brand awareness.
Q: What should marketers ask their search provider for?
Rich: This is an important question. Often search providers are asked to come in and pitch their capabilities and then follow up that meeting with a proposal.Â This is fine, but if marketers have to turn and sell this concept to get the budget, I think they can utilize us more in this process. You can either ask the vendor to attend the meetings, or you can ask them to provide industry-specific educational slides or information.
Q: What should marketers share with their search provider to help the process?
Rich: To borrow a line from the movie Jerry McGuire, â€œHelp me help you.â€ If you plan on using our presentation or proposal to make your budget request, share with us the points that you feel would have the most traction with your management team. You know your industry and your target market better than anyone. To help us help you pitch successfully, share with us the particulars of your industry so that we can frame the proposal in a way that is most meaningful to your management team. Then you can design an industry-specific pitch with language you use to talk about your products and services.
For example, in the banking industry the emphasis is on growth through the expansion of brick and mortar branches. Use that analogy when making your pitch for search marketing. Instead of showing how the phrase â€œmortgage loans in Alabamaâ€ does not yield results on Google, you can describe a customer driving down the street, not being able to find your branch because it is underground.
In the pharmaceutical industry, sales reps make presentations in physiciansâ€™ offices. You could describe an imaginary situation in which the sales team only has a list of 10 percent of the doctors and doesnâ€™t know about the other 90 percent. This means they will never be able to sell your treatment — the equivalent of not generating those leads and revenue online.
In the Direct-to-Consumer arena, shelf space is everything. For DTC we describe search as digital shelf space. Instead of saying that poor organic results have ranked your company on page 3 of Google, you can say, â€œOur product is on the bottom row, tucked behind three other products. We need to make sure our product has the same shelf space.â€
You should also share the â€œhot buttonsâ€ of your superiors. For example, your manager may be really excited and knowledgeable about television advertising. If thatâ€™s the case, let us know that and weâ€™ll provide you with compelling comparisons.
The final thing to share is whether your management team leans toward being numbers oriented or more interested in the big picture. For a number oriented audience, youâ€™ll want to prepare all the data and statistics of the search landscape. For others youâ€™ll want to pitch the concepts behind search. It depends on your group.
Q: What should marketers avoid?
Rich: Avoid putting yourself in an awkward position by educating your superiors before youâ€™re ready. Make sure that youâ€™re very comfortable with search marketing. If youâ€™re not well versed in search, you may not be able to anticipate or answer questions. If you are a search novice, have the vendor give you a complete presentation on the fundamentals of search. If youâ€™re more experienced, you might need a different kind of presentation. After that you can change from the student of search to the teacher.
Another thing to avoid, depending on your audience, is technical topics and jargon. Keep the focus on the basics and make the pitch more business-friendly rather than technical.
If you get too technical your audienceâ€™s eyes will glaze over and youâ€™ll lose them.
Finally, make the analysis about the benefits of search. Donâ€™t focus on how the search provider is going to implement the campaign. That is not whatâ€™s important. If you want to sell a Ferrari, donâ€™t tell the buyer how the engine was made — let them drive it around the racetrack! For a successful internal pitch, take the CEO around the racetrack, and let us build the car for you.
About Richard Ezzo
Rich is the Director of Business Development at Catalyst. He has seventeen years of experience in sales and marketing. Before joining Catalyst he worked as business development manager of a prominent national law firm and spent 10 years in sales and marketing roles within the financial services industry. He has a B.A. in Economics from SUNY Cortland.