This is the fifth installment of Get Optimized second series. On this post, we asked our collaborators to take on the challenge of marketing a local product. We gave them a specific budget that can be squeezed for the marketing. The trick is to provide efficient and scalable marketing strategy for a “kapeng barako” (Baraco Coffee) business.
In case you haven’t meet our collaborators, here they are:
Here are the 4 questions that we already published:
1. Creative link building without the use of content (See the profiles of our collaborators in this post)
2. Link building strategy with content
3. The future of guest blogging
4. Google Penguin 2.0 discussion
The 5th question:
The small business client challenge. A client sells a “kapeng barako” of his own and wants to reach new heights by doing business online. He only has a 300$ – 400$ budget per month for the workload. Share your game plan (Actionable points).
Here are their answers:
There are a lot of variables still undefined with this question such as
- Target Market – Location, etc.
- Product Specification – Is it the raw Kapeng Barako or the Kapeng Barako coffee?
- Clear Goals – Branding? Sales?
The reason I pointed the above elements because they will define the strategy on how to go about the campaign of a “Kapeng Barako” business. Every variable will make the campaign different.
Okay, let’s assume that the following variables are defined.
- Target Market – Philippines, Coffee lovers
- Product – Packed Kapeng Barako coffee
- Goal – Generate Sales Online/Branding
Things to Do:
- Usual drill. Do research about Kapeng Barako – health benefits, how is it being grown, clubs, etc.
- Identify the target market – demographics, psychographics and media consumption online.
- Create a mini-site. WordPress is your best option. Make sure the website is EASY TO USE.
- Create a Facebook Fan Page, Twitter and Google+ Local Pages.
- Define shipping and order handling methods with the business owner. Paypal or Bank wire is fine.
- Stipulate usual shipping handling, TOS and online transactions on the website/pages.
- Focus on generating initial quality content pages to the website and social media pages.
- Discuss product promo sampling and contests.
- Setup your editorial calendar
- Post weekly content on the mini-site.
- Setup monitoring tools Google Analytics, Topsy, TweetDeck, and Google Alerts.
- Be active on Social Media.
- Search or Target Coffee Lover Clubs via Google and/or Facebook search. Ask owner to be a member.
- Come up with compelling stories/trivia, graphics/articles about coffee.
- Curate content about caffeine related topics beneficial to the product.
- Focus on increase on membership, followers and engagement.
- Facebook sponsored post is as low as 2 pesos per like, you might want to spend $100 for that just to grow a base membership if you are a bit lazy.
- Run a promo like “Php 25 pesos per pack goes to Coffee farmers in Batangas”, for example on all selected verticals. Seek the business owner’s nod. Use the Facebook Promo code functionality.
- Interview the business owner and its farmers, cover their lives via article posted on the website. Ask the business owner to handle this content generation as much as possible. Take photos/videos via smart mobile phones if there is no DSLR camera available.
- Post weekly content on the mini-site.
- Start penetrating forums like pinoyexchange and other Filipino related communities.
- Engage some Pinoy coffee lover bloggers via Facebook groups. You can send them coffee samples for review.
- Send a monthly report to the owner.
The aforementioned gives you a run through of the action plans that can be your activity line-up for a period of time, subject to tweaking based on data gathered on the 1st three months. The $300-$400 per month should not be a hurdle as long as it is clear to the owner that the activities you are going to do are on a weekly/monthly basis. Of course, the higher the budget, the more monthly deliverables you need to provide.
Assuming this is a 3 month engagement, the following can be done:
- Do a series of post (including infographic, photos, presentation, video, webinar) about the benefits of this coffee product, the owner’s story, and starting a coffee shop business.
- Give samples to foodie bloggers and ask them to write about it. Include a discount coupon for an exclusive gift pack purchase. Commission will be given to the blogger.
- Promote the blog made by bloggers about the brand.
- Campaign the special offer through social media using different campaign images everyday for variety and using different fascination triggers to test which one sparks more interest.
- Feature endorsement and testimonials from early buyers and coffee shops who embraced the brand.
- Do a coffee quotes theme good for a month that can be shared on a daily basis. It can also include quotes from coffee lovers.
image credit – littlecakesandme
- Research the market, competition and the product itself, taking note of the unique selling or value proposition of the product.
- Create a PR and Communication Plan
- Set-up a website highlighting the USP/UVP of the product. And optimize the website for local search.
- Claim, optimize and verify the Google+ Local listing
- Establish social presence in Facebook and Google+
- Use PPC to gain insights on the target market and use the insights to improve the website for organic search
That’s pretty small. I’ll be brutally honest in this interview, what I’ll probably tell the client is to acquire our consulting services instead. We cannot allocate our manpower to do their SEO hands-on for them because of their limited budget even if we wanted to help them out in their business.
In any case, our consulting services will include training, lessons in our SEO school, outlining their SEO strategy from bottom-up. In any case, I think the keyword “kapeng barako” does not have a tough competition even in the local Google search engine so they’ll be good to go with simply consulting with us. We’re quite strict with underselling our SEO services.
I would suggest they use searchfuse and get some insights on how to optimize their website for “kapeng barako” keywords, right?!
On a serious note, I don’t think there is a lot you can do with the given budget. But for the purpose of the challenge, hmmm, let’s see. Maybe I could ask the client to set up a blog and get someone to write for it and get an SEO entry level for link acquisition for the ongoing work. On the other hand, I would suggest they hire an SEO consultant for a month or two initially, to audit, recommend, benchmark, set KPI and provide a task list for the ongoing activity.
Here is the plan, assuming it’s a 12-month plan for 400 USD Monthly:
- Initial Work – one cost for the two months’ work.
- 800 USD – SEO Consultant for a website audit, keyword research, recommendation, as well as setting up a benchmark and KPI, and a list of activities for the link building and content writer to work on.
- 4000 USD – ongoing work (10 months).
- Content Creation/Blogging to generate landing pages that promote “Kapeng Barako”.
- Link Acquisition through content marketing and traditional link building.
- Rinse and Repeat.
This reminds me of my very first SEO project in 2004, I did for free to a web design and development freelance client of mine. It was successful and the site generated a lot of leads. My second SEO client was for $200. It was also very successful that the owner of the site earned more and used the earnings to go into a less demanding business but with a larger investment. The site helped him create capital and he closed his old business. Then prices steadily went up. And now that I am working in an agency, the clients are no longer the mom and pops I used to work with, the businesses are no longer targeting small local markets but international markets, multiple languages, multiple products, multiple stakeholders, tougher competition with strong brand name recall, million dollar PPC budgets and there are just to many moving parts where SEO budgets normally have a 5-digit month price.
So could I still do SEO projects with a small budget like how I did in my initial freelance clients in the past? Actually I still can with those same type of clients. Can I spend less than $400 with the larger companies I am currently doing SEO on today? Probably not but we can still make the most out of it.
Now this goes into a deeper question:
Can I spend $400 or less on SEO for a very large client?
Yes I can, but would it be really effective? It really depends on the current situation of the site. Now what would I do with the $400? Sorry to disappoint you but I have no definite answer for that. Whenever we do SEO, we generally look at onpage and offpage strategies. And on the onpage site, we further break that down into content and the coding/server settings side. We evaluate the current state of things, do an audit and come up with a strategy. And a part of the strategy is also determining what gives the greatest gain for the least amount of effort. And we sort out all of these and order them based on some priority criteria. So the result of this initial strategizing would determine how to spend the $400. Often these very big companies may have tons on links already that a simply title tag change makes a site go straight to the #1 position. Some large B2B companies are not that popular to the common online population and only popular in a small niche industry so they do not have tons of links, and if their onpage area is really solid, then maybe the $400 would be best spent on some type of content marketing piece by stretching the relevance of the topic, that would be more appealing to masses to get the most out of it.
Can I spend $400 or less on a very small client who is going against top guns in a competitive industry?
Again, yes I can, but would it really be effective? Again it also depends on the situation but I would normally perceive these types of clients would be able to best spend $400 or less budget on optimizing for a very long tail term that the larger companies are not necessarily targeting. Then concentrate on the marketing message, what are the key differentiators, the barriers to entry, the unique selling proposition, then landing page optimization. Why? Because with such a small budget and targeting a very long tail keyword, for every organic traffic that comes in, you want it to convert as much as possible, thus that marketing message should really be strong enough that users would really consider the product or service being promoted even if they are the underdog.
It actually depends on the business’ goals and target market. Are they targeting resellers? Are they supplying their products to coffee shops? Are they planning to setup an ecommerce site to sell their products? Or do they have a local store where people can buy their products? Primarily, who are they selling to?
It will be easier to develop a strategy in which they can fit their marketing budget, when you know what their targets are.
There are so many things that you can do with that amount of monthly marketing budget:
- Optimize their website for local search (and get citations) – if they are targeting local consumers and if they have an offline store.
- Develop a content asset that’s specifically targeted to their consumers or based on keyword data (like interactive FAQs, how-to’s, recipes, etc…) and start promoting via social media, paid channels, placements from other food blogs, etc… – if they are aiming to build brand awareness.
- Organize or launch a contest (with their products included as a prize – along with the cash prize).
- Do a blogger outreach, where you can send sample products to food bloggers and ask if they’ll be interested to do a review of the product.
If the business has a strong unique value proposition (and offers a great product or somehow active with their offline campaigns, such as events), then pitching to local news sites to get coverage would also be a viable approach to pursue.
Since the challenge has limited information, I’ll just provide separate answers for this challenge.
Consideration: Let’s consider that the owner of Kapeng Barako business have separate budget for website design and development.
Fast Break: PPC, nuff said. Why? Technically, the competition of the possible targeted keywords and related terms have low to no competition at all. Moreover, the CPC is not that expensive.
Pros: Instant results (traffic)
Cons: Short term (depends on the monthly budget)
Local SEO and Business Listings Optimization:
- Budget: $300-$400
- Product/Service: Kapeng Barako / Coffee
Additional information needed:
- Target Location:
- Target Audience:
- Existing Offline Efforts:
- Value Proposition:
- Goals (in numbers) and Expectations:
- Open for Other Opportunities?:
There’s a possibility that this campaign is owned by a Filipino/Filipina and he/she wants to market it outside the Philippines, to simplify this case, I’ll just set the target location to Philippines.
First thing you need to know is the goals and future plans of the business owner. Does he/she have plans to offer products other than Kapeng Barako? How about coffee shakes, instant coffees, coffee flavored cakes, ice cream, how about donuts? If he/she has plans, add it in your content plan.
Map a good content plan that covers almost everything about kapeng barako or coffee. To name a few, these are the things that you can consider in your theme (categories):
- Health Facts
- Coffee Mix Recipes
- Cook/prepare Foods with Coffee
- Business Opportunities
- Coffee Variations
- Coffee Addiction
- Humor and Facts
- The list can be endless…
Make sure that almost every content compliment or nested with the topics within the other categories. In SEO, this is called as interlinking. So, why we have to do that? Because not all of the people who are looking for a black coffee are only interested in black coffee, there’s a possibility that they want to put up a coffee business and they are looking for a supplier. Agree? There’s a possibility that people who looks for coffee mix recipes are also interested in pastries and might want to add coffee in his/her spice list. People want to have a one-stop-shop. Agree again? Good SEO = User Experience = Win-win Situation.
Spend 70% of the time knowing your client and his/her business model and spend 30% on execution. Know the ins and outs of the business, know the behavior of the target market, and execute with a good attitude towards business development. To all SEOs who are reading this answer, please note that it is essential that you work on someone else’s campaign like you are part of the company, rather than knowing which site to link to
Create two separate campaigns for end-client (B2C: people who wants to buy Kapeng Barako for consumption) and business owners (B2B: for business opportunities). Write contents for two separate purposes; write contents for consumers and separate contents to get businesses on board.
Spend your time to humans and not engines. Spend time developing your online engagement or WoM (Word of Mouth). A person who loves coffee can be found in forums, discussions, answer sites, and personal blogs. Allocate time for those marketing avenues, people loves to talk in almost real-time so make sure to monitor those conversations. Another way to keep track of the conversation is through Google Alerts. Use it to monitor if someone is going to mention your name or the brand that you are representing.
SEO, where to start?
Start working on their local presence through select directories and citation sites. This will help search engines to know if you are active engaging, attracting, and providing solutions to your target market. Sites/blogs were given a significant value through their local signatures, take advantage of it.
To cut it short, read the blogs or talk to any of the 3J’s – Jayson Bagio (SEO- seoteky.com), Jason Acidre (SEO- kaiserthesage.com), or Jason Cruz (SMM- jsncruz.com). I’m pretty sure you can see almost everything that you wanted to check out on SEO and Social Media stuffs.
I want to say thank you to the 8 collaborators of this work. Sir Benj Arriola, Ms. Janette Toral, Sheila Dela Pena, Jason Acidre, Sean Si, Gary Viray, Jon Edward Santillan and Gary Lacanilao.
For people who are reading this series, this is a month long work for these people so don’t forget to say thank you on the comment section if you feel that you have learned something new.
3 more questions left for Get Optimized 2 followers
Publisher’s note: I feel terrible asking this question to our 8 collaborators, I fell short on giving more details about the challenge. I admit it, I was on a rush building the questions But still this part of the post is the most epic part of this series. Please bear with me