You’re probably a lot like me and hate cold calling!
To me, there’s nothing worse than the constant rejection and inefficiency of smiling and dialing.
There’s no getting around that fact that you’ll eventually need to get on the phone with someone to sell a client. However, there’s no rule saying phone calls need to be your initial touch point.
For this reason, I’ve compiled a list of inbound marketing strategies as alternatives to cold calling.
In this article you’ll learn how to get SEO clients without cold calling prospects ever again! So without further delay, let’s cover 7 different strategies that we’ve personally used to generate 1000s of passive sales leads to our business over the past 5 years…
Leverage Third Party Sites
As an SEO you may have already heard of the term, parasite SEO (authority jacking). If not, this phrase refers to a backlinking strategy that leverages the pre-existing authority of large Web 2.0 platforms to rank properties.
The strategy of leveraging third-party sites to generate leads works in a similar fashion.
There are various sites like Upwork and Fiverr that are already getting MILLIONS of visitors per month who are looking for digital marketing services.
Optimize a profile on these websites and offer your services. Now, you could choose to perform all your services on these platforms but then you’ll a) not fully own the client and b) have to pay a fee to the platform.
Instead, use the platforms to find clients but then push the client off the platform as soon as possible. You can do this a while after you’ve performed services and built a relationship or go straight for a conference call during initial conversation. However, this is technically against these platform’s policies so proceed with the utmost caution.
Video Audit Outreach
The more you can scan out low-quality leads and add upfront value the smoother your sales conversations will be.
Cold emails can be effective for schedule lost of phone conversations but oftentimes the prospect is still very cold.
I suggest adding some friction in the prospecting process by adding an additional step before jumping on call. Instead of pitching contacts on a phone call, suggest that you created a video outlining their digital marketing strategies and areas of improvement.
Send a 4-7 minute video audit to only the prospects that reply to your initial email with interest in receiving the video.
Further, embed this video on a landing page that has trust signals, process information, case studies/testimonials, and a link for the lead to schedule an appoint with you for a free consultation.
Not only does this add true value to the company upfront but you’ll notice the leads you do get on phone calls are warmed up.
Social Content Marketing
Very rarely do you see large agencies taking full advantage of social platforms. Not only is it much easier to be seen on social media, as opposed to search, but you can warm up prospects with free content before jumping on sales calls.
One way in which you can create content, solidifying your brand, and even prospect for local businesses at the same time, is through the use of interviews.
Outreach to past/current clients to see if they are willing to do a 15 minute interview with you.
Record the interview and promote the video on youtube. You’ll slowly build an audience of people in that industry and they’ll see you as an expert in the field by mere association with success.
You can even use this strategy even with cold prospects. Frame your discovery call as an “interview” to a) increase the likelihood of getting a yes (plays on people’s ego) b) have a much warmer conversation c) get free content to release to YouTube d) qualify businesses for your services and e) build a relationship with the prospect in which you can eventually pitch on your services.
Long-Tail Blog Content
It’s pretty difficult in today’s space to rank for high intent market searches on platforms like Google and Bing. For this reason, smaller agencies in populated areas need to get a bit more creating with their search marketing strategy.
Start by defining a single industry in which you want to serve or already have a lot of clients in. Then, find out what these owners are searching for earlier on in their buying cycles. These searches are usually information-based and may or may not involve marketing.
Create content around business process, sales, and financing for the industry you’re targeting and you’ll still generate good traffic to your website. These people can then be filtered through a marketing funnel in which you eventually move them towards your marketing services.
NOTE: don’t be discouraged by low search volumes. We suggest targeting keywords even if they show no search volume but are showing up in Google’s auto suggest feature. The fact is, Google’s (and third party tools) search volume readings are quite inaccurate at low numbers so don’t put too much wait on this. Second, the lifetime value of a customer to your business is significantly high in the world of marketing so even if an article only generates 1 customer in a year you’ll still get a great ROI on your time.
For me, networking events can still be quite intimidating. However, depending on the industry, these events are likely the best way to get in contact with the big businesses in your niche.
You can start with local meetups you find on the website, MeetUp.com. There’s likely dozens of local business centric workshops/events in your area this month alone.
Second, you can join your local chamber of commerce which will have regular events teaching businesses the essentials of building a company.
Lastly, you can take this strategy to the next level by going to large industry-specific conferences. Simply search for “your niche” “conference/event/workshop/magazine/association” and you’ll get an endless list of events you can infiltrate.
Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube ads give you an endless variety of options to target your ideal client.
Create the right offer, match your messaging to the audience, and effectively funnel them through marketing sequences, and you’ll have a lead generating machine.
It’s suggested to focus on a single niche industry in order to get the highest ROI with your funnel.
Define what information your industry needs by performing market research through the use of forums, groups, and conversations with potential/current/past customers. Based on this knowledge, create a quickly consumable, free offer to get businesses into your funnel.
Continue to add value over a period of time and provide opportunities for leads to reach out to you for services and consulting.
Contract for Agencies
This is not exactly a lead generation strategy but more so a business model that allows you to bypass working directly with local business owners.
Personally, I prefer working with agencies because we speak the same language.
Conversations with agency owners is like talking to a friend while talking with local businesses can sometimes be a hassle. Additionally, you don’t have to convince a marketer of the value of marketing… just your services.
Lastly, although your margins will decrease with this model, at least you’ll likely get access to multiple customer accounts just selling a single agency client (and proving your worth).
We’ve all have likely pounded our heads against a wall cold calling local businesses with little to no return.
A large portion of the marketing/sales community is gung-ho about putting in the hard work of cold calling but I’m of a different opinion.
As seen in this article, cold calls are not the only way to get local SEO clients!
Let us know your favorite alternative method in the comments below!