Should you become industry specific of industry agnostic in offering local search client services?


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Insights for Consultants: Getting Started With Local SEO with Phil Rozek

Grade.us is honored to publish this fantastic interview conducted by Carmen Rane Hudson with LSF's Local Search Expert Phil Rozek - founder of Local Visibility System. In the interview, Phil offers great insights for consultants & agencies who want to launch a new Local SEO business or who want to improve the one they already have.

In this interview, Carmen asked Phil some great questions including:

What's the best piece of advice you'd offer to someone starting out as a consultant or agency providing local SEO, local search and marketing services?

How do you find and acquire clients for your business? What's been your most effective channel, networking event, or strategy?

What's the best value proposition or selling point for agencies pitching local search and marketing services?

What are the most important metrics you track?

For someone who is starting out as a local search consultant or agency, would you recommend they become industry specific when service clients or industry agnostic?

You can read the entire interview here.

I have also included a poll in this thread. I'm curious to hear from other experts whether they recommend becoming industry specific of industry agnostic when offering local search services to clients?

Let us know why in this thread!


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Cherie Dickey

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I think being industry specific limits our ability to grow professionally to a point. You become more well rounded in your overall knowledge being industry agnostic. Different professions have different marketing needs, and different challenges to learn from as you troubleshoot them.
 
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I think being industry specific limits our ability to grow professionally to a point. You become more well rounded in your overall knowledge being industry agnostic. Different professions have different marketing needs, and different challenges to learn from as you troubleshoot them.

Thanks for the reply, Cherie!

I think it's an interesting question. I think if you're passionate about a specific industry, doing what you love should always triumph over just the paycheck (unless you're passionate about a paycheck).

I understand the risk you mention as well about limiting yourself. I've worked for B2B software companies that have a specific set of challenges. While there are principles that work across industries, I'm definitely more suited working with companies that have an audience of other businesses.

I'd be curious to hear if others think they've limited themselves working with a certain type of client or if their passion for that industry has left them without regrets and thankful for making that choice (naturally it's different for everyone).

I personally like/prefer B2B, but could see B2C being an interesting avenue/option down the line.
 

Tim Colling

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So far, I have "specialized" primarily in one niche (services that are typically provided to the elderly and their families, such as home healthcare, assisted living, hospice etc). However, I have to admit that I'm drawn to that niche because I have a lot of experience working in that niche before selling my company and turning to full-time SEO work.
 

JoyHawkins

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I am a huge fan of being an industry agnostic because I agree with Cherie - it's very easy to get really limited when you work with a specific niche and miss a lot of major things that are impacting other industries in the Local Search world. I guess it comes down to your goal. If you want to be known as the "Expert that deals with lawyers" then it's better to go niche. If you're wanting to be known as the Expert of Local Search, I'd vote for working with many different industries.

Personally, I love puzzles and challenges and get bored working with the same industry all the time.
 

JoyHawkins

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Also, I love the quote from @Phil Rozek in the interview that says "You're not going to be worth that much when you start out". I used to see this constantly in the agency world. You'd have some new SEO person that starts and after 3-9 months they want to be making what the 4-6 year employees are making. Sometimes I wish there was more of an industry scale that I could point to so that people would have more reasonable expectations.
 

Cherie Dickey

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I got my start in a very industry specific field, and I still work there full time. I enjoy the work that I do for them very much, and I absolutely love my team. But there is just so much more to learn. I hate when I look at a hotel listing and wonder why the appointment feature is the way it is...but I don't have time to research that question I have properly, and probably will not until I'm given an opportunity to actually work on something that requires me to. But - that's probably personal preference and personality. Part of what got me into this is my need to understand, so to speak. For me, I get bored after I've mastered something, and when I see something new it's like I've just seen a squirrel, hahaa!

I think if you're passionate about a specific industry, doing what you love should always triumph over just the paycheck
I agree with this. It all depends on what you are passionate about. For me, I want to know all of the things! lol

One advantage to going niche is that it may make it possible to sell your business at some point.
I would think being more well rounded would make the business more attractive to more buyers... the number of folks who would be interested in purchasing your business, AND be specialized like that is a much smaller demographic.
 

Phil Rozek

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Thanks, @BenFisher! Yeah, that questionnaire has helped me dodge many a bullet. It also tells me how people found me, and why they wanted to contact me, specifically.

It's a minor pain for people to fill out, but good clients appreciate the "measure twice, cut once" approach.
 
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Just as an addendum: I'd have saved everyone a lot of reading if I didn't say anything, and just provided a link to what my hero, Mike Rowe, said:

Not specific to SEO, but much better-put.

I have such mixed feelings about what he said. He's not wrong. Passion is malleable. There's a big part of success that's about putting yourself in a position to take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself.

But it's also a little bleak. In reference to his comment about wanting to be an astronaut (or an NBA player, or a famous actor), there's something to be said about finding a passion that's somewhat realistic. But ultimately, it's a lot less likely for you to be successful at something you're passionate about without hard work.

p.s. Mike Rowe has the most incredible timbre in his voice.
 

Dan Foland

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I've worked at both types of agencies. A general digital marketing agency that had all types of clients, and an agency that only works in a single industry.

Both have their benefits and drawbacks. It's nice working in a single niche because it allows me to know what works and what doesn't.

IMO I disagree a bit with Cherie & Joy. Though, like Joy mentioned it totally depends on your goals. Niche specific gives me the abilty to dig much deeper. When issues arise I can dig in from an industry perspective and find a solution that will benefit most/all clients.

It's also great having so much more relative data. If i'm seeing an issues for a client I can compare the data between others in the same industry.
 

sjr4x4

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I'm growing tired of my niche. Although the clients are all lovely, I grow tired of seeing, saying, and explaining the same things over and over. Sites from new industries challenge and enlighten.

Couldn't agree more. Niche is the place to learn your craft and make a living, but it's far more fun moving into new areas. Lawyers has been a new one for me, which really sharpens your focus, particularly with content! But I'll always be a directory anorak when I see a daft Quora question.
 

Tim Colling

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One advantage to going niche is that it may make it possible to sell your business at some point.

Niche specialization is comforting because it allows you to be confident and it makes it slightly easier to attract new clients. However, I do plan to someday sell my firm, so your point is compelling to me, @Rich Owings.
 

mborgelt

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Great insight Phil!

I really like the piece on qualifying clients. Choosing the right client usually results in a lot less stress and a much better relationship over time.

I agree with Joy it really depends on your goals. Each decision has its challenges. If you are an expert you might be painting yourself into a corner when it comes to growth and if you are agnostic prospects will assess your ability to be an expert in their space.

This question is a lot like the Mac v. PC debate to me. Why not both?

As you get more clients in a niche, establish yourself as more of an authority but don't be afraid to take on clients in new markets.
 

Tim Colling

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As you get more clients in a niche, establish yourself as more of an authority but don't be afraid to take on clients in new markets.

That sound like the most effective route from a theoretical standpoint. It's not always easy to do that in real life.

I'm working through this right now with my firm. We have only one website and at the moment is is very focused on our primary niche. Heck, even our domain name is niche-centric (eldersell.com).

I have been thinking a lot about this lately, because we are beginning to attract new clients who are not specifically in our niche or who are only just barely related to our niche. We recently did a project for a client who provides both live instructor-led, classroom-based training classes AND online learning-based classes.

It was (for us) a big project and also our first LifterLMS project and also our first WooCommerce project. It was very interesting to branch out into those technology applications. The client's training class topics happen to be in the field of RCFE Administrator certifications, so it was still related to elder care and healthcare, our original niche, but only marginally related.
 
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