Is Your SEM Consultant the Best One for You?

August 2, 2009

1.    He must know your business like it’s his own
One must know the problem to be able to give successful solutions. Your SEM consultant must show genuine interest in all aspects of your business, even those that “don’t have anything to do with marketing”.

Often, the most creative solutions are inspired by something trivial—like a particular segment in the production line or an interesting detail from the company’s history.

An effective SEM consultant should also be naturally interested to get to know how your frontline team works and how the team feels about your company. This way, he can assess if the problem needs an internal online marketing solution or an external search engine marketing solution.

It is vital that your SEM consultant understands your brand essence and your company values. If he consistently recommends “a shorter, faster way” of doing things, you might want to check if his methods are legitimate. The best search engines do not tolerate unethical SEM practices and they can—and will—penalize you if you go that route.

2.    He must know your niche market like he knows his TV remote
After agreeing on a specific market to pursue, your SEM consultant must work with you to get to know your market. The basic factors towards understanding a market include knowing:
·    How they use products in your category
·    What attitude they have towards your product, your competitors and other products/details that could be related to your brand, such as type of packaging (tube versus sachet)
·    What image of your brand and your competitors they have in their minds—to guide you towards communicating effectively

3.    He must help you make sense of research results

Besides market research, it is also important to do keyword research to help you determine the type of content that your website will offer. Your marketing consultant must be able to help you interpret the data (in this case, the list of potential keywords for your niche), and weed out the ones that you can maximize.

It is recommended to conduct periodic research and analysis with your SEM consultant. Successful marketing through any medium relies on how well you translate market understanding to communication materials.

In the case of search engine marketing, the success of your website relies heavily on your choice of keywords to optimize for. Keywords, like most elements of marketing, are not static. They evolve with your market. It is your responsibility to make sure that your SEM consultant stays on top of your changing market and recommend content revisions accordingly.
4.    He must be able to listen well
A good SEM consultant must be able to listen to you and your niche. He must be able to balance the needs of both market and brand. He must not take sides because the satisfaction of the market relies on how well a brand keeps its promise while the success of a brand relies on how well it satisfies the market.

The work of a good SEM consultant is to be able to help create a venue where your market can get to know your brand better and where the brand can tell your market how else it can address their needs.