The perception towards SEO consultation had been deteriorated by the practice of the so called “spammers” and marketers who are only after for the price/benefits/rewards they can get from the consultation. This is frustrating to all consultants who actually providing value to their clients given that the issue may affect the view of their clients towards their services.
However, there are still lots of consultants who spend time in assessing and developing clients’ management decision and today’s inbound marketing system.
Let me ask him few questions about SEO consultation.
Who is John Doherty? Can you please describe your daily tasks? How many hours do you spend in a day for managing Distilled New York?
I’m a regular guy working in online marketing and trying to make a difference in the community and the world. In my personal life I’m a cyclist, rock climber, and traveler living in Brooklyn currently though I’ve lived in many different places. At Distilled I’m a senior consultant and I lead one of the teams in the New York office directly while also overseeing the office. I also try to write when I have time. I’m quite busy
Overseeing Distilled New York takes probably 6-8 hours per week, between meetings and helping with sales from time to time. I’m lucky to have Pete, our amazing finance/get-things-done guy, and Ron Garrett, our amazing client development exec, who take care of a lot of the details that I’m bad at!
How do you select the right clients for your business?
We select clients very carefully at Distilled. We are lucky to enjoy a very healthy sales pipeline. Other than meeting our minimum monthly retainer for consulting, the things we look for in clients are:
- Able and willing to think creatively about marketing;
- Willing to take chances;
- View us as a partner, not an outsourced solution;
- Have available resources to make changes on their site and a willingness to invest in marketing.
How do you consider pricing as one of your top selecting factors for consultancy? Does it matter if the client has a low budget?
Consultancies have an interesting time when it comes to pricing. Obviously, you can only make as much money as you are able to scale to with people. Every person can only bring in a finite amount of billable work, so to grow revenue you have to grow the size of the company, which adds to overhead. As far as potential clients, we do not work with anyone not able to afford our minimum monthly retainer. We’re more than happy to refer them to other agencies or individual consultants who take smaller retainers than we do.
What are the questions you commonly ask to your clients during your first meeting with them?
I love asking clients the following questions:
- What is your business model?
- What is a “conversion” for you?
- What are your goals for this year in regards to sales?
- What would make this project a “success” in your eyes?
- How do you like to communicate with your agency?
- What’s the biggest frustration you have in your job right now?
- What does your boss care about, and how can I help you look awesome in their eyes?
I ask these questions because it gives you very concrete things to report on, and the consulting part of the job is covered by asking them what their boss cares about. Their boss is usually the one controlling budgets as well, so doing great work and speaking their language is the key to bigger budgets in the future.
How do you respond to the unexpected changes that can happen during consultation? (For instance, the client decided to stop getting your services.)
It’s always a shame when this sort of thing happens, but it does. Depending on their reason for stopping, we’ll often try to save the project by having a heart-to-heart with them about why they want to stop. Sometimes it’s because a new boss is coming in and wants their old agency or something like that. We always try to leave any project, even one that ends early, on a positive note if possible.
Give me 10 qualities a person must possess to become a search consultant.
10 is a lot, but here are the ones we look for:
- Good communication skills
- Friendliness to clients/others
- Technical skills are nice, but not necessary
Ultimately, we’re looking for people who are in line with our manifesto – http://www.distilled.net/manifesto/. At the end of the day, we think we can teach good marketing to anyone who is smart and hard working.
What will be your initial steps if for instance you only have a low capital to start your own consulting firm?
I’d invest in building relationships with other consultants and agencies to start generating leads for new clients. I’d publish case studies on my site of work that I’ve done. I’d engage on websites that might have my target market, like Moz. Finally, I’d start blogging and putting out thought leadership content.
All of this is done cheaply (little to no budget), yet requires time. At the beginning time invested is worth more than money invested, in my opinion.
How do you obtain or get more clients for your business?
Distilled gets most of our leads either through conferences or word-of-mouth from current or previous clients. We’re a Moz Recommended company, so we get a lot of well-qualified leads from there as well. Finally, we often get new clients through the online marketing conferences we run throughout the year.
Where do you see yourself and Distilled in the next few years?
This is a great question. I see Distilled still growing and branching out into new services offerings as the world of SEO gets smaller and Google cuts off important keyword data. We’re currently looking at building out more robust Analytics, CRO, and video marketing offerings than what we’ve offered before.
Personally, what I’ll be doing is a great question. Eventually I’d love to be a head of marketing at a company, and whether that is at Distilled or another company remains to be seen. But I’ve been at Distilled for over two years and loved every second of it, so anything is possible! I also run a side project called HireGun which I’m trying to build, so that could turn into something bigger than what it is currently.