The Perfect SEO Pitch

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Agency side, it’s not unusual to find yourself going up against a fellow SEO agency for new business. What factors will ensure you capture this new business opportunity and leave your competing agency in the metaphorical dust?

I recently read The Perfect Pitch by Jon Steel of WPP, and it’s got me thinking about how I sell my agency when presenting to potential clients. Namely, that it’s of the utmost importance to go in understanding (to whatever degree possible) what a client is looking for and customize your pitch to fit their needs.

Below are some of Steele’s main points:


Have at least 2 practice pitches before presenting to a new business opportunity. Steel even advocates writing scripts so Bobby knows he’s talking about the agency’s blue chip PPC experience while Amanda is confident in detailing Social Media opportunities. By practicing, everyone knows what to expect when the actual pitch occurs and no one will be re-hashing points others have already made.

Many Slides Does Not a Presentation Make.

In the past, I’ve worked at agencies with a long standard “This is How SEO works” presentation chalk-a-block full of text and ripped SEOmoz images. While it’s great to prove to the client “we know lots of stuff “ to follow that with “And now, we will have an SEO brain dump on you to prove we know lots of stuff” isn’t going to leave new business opportunity gasping for more (probably just overwhelmed).

Steel wants to make sure the presenter is the focus of the presentation, not the slides. He argues that in PowerPoint presentations the “bullet point dilutes thought,” and suggests the majority of text be deleted in favor of images. This way, the presenter is the focus of attention and not the words behind them, which appear by tacky transitions and are often accompanied by cheesy Clip Art.

Owning the Room.

Don’t be afraid to move furniture and reconstruct rooms to fit your needs. If the projection screen points to an awkward wall, ask to have it repositioned, if the chairs are uncomfortable ask for different ones. Organising the chairs “in the round” encourages audience participation while the typical speaker standing in front of the audience is less engaging.

Best Sellers May Not be the Most Senior People

Office politics often dictate who should meet and present to a client, but you may be loosing out on some of the best talent in your agency/department! Have the presentation given by those who present best, who appear naturally confident in front of an audience, who deal well under pressure and can think on their feet when the questions start rolling in. This may be a mid level PPC expert, and not the assumed Senior Search Marketing Consultant.

Encouraging and handling questions.

Make a list of popular questions clients ask with correct answers (“Our competitors have a blog, do we need one?” “If we had to pick PPC or SEO…”). Whether you prefer to handle questions at the end of a presentation or encourage them to be asked as they pop into clients heads – be careful not to go off on too far a tangent. This can kill the sense of direction of an otherwise strong pitch.

Thank You.

The next day, be sure to send a card or make a phone call which reiterates your agency’s core message from the day before. This is also an opportunity to address any concerns the client raised which perhaps couldn’t be answered during the pitch.

Ultimately, there are a million ways to customize a pitch for a client which this post barely skims the surface of. A pitch, like any good content, is about holding a conversation with the receiving end, not talking them to death with how well qualified your agency is.

Please let SEJ know what your tips are on how to improve an SEO pitch? If you’re an SEO client, what was it about your SEO agency that really grabbed your attention? Looking forward to your comments!

Chelsea Blacker

Chelsea Blacker

Chelsea Blacker is a London based search consultant currently working at Base One Search With a background in SEO & PPC cultivated at Promediacorp in... Read Full Bio
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18 thoughts on “The Perfect SEO Pitch

  1. The Perfect Pitch is a great book and I’d recommend it as a must read. I’m still amazed at how many people will pull out the latop/MSPPT even if it’s just a 1:1 meeting.

    Something else to consider when pitching is that you tend to get referred to the person you sound like. So, if it’s important to engage non-technical people that are the decision-makers or, at least, key influencers, don’t sound like a techie. Focus on the business benefits and not the nuts and bolts.


  2. I think these are some good tips, but I would have really enjoyed it if you went to some details about how to pitch for SEO, this article could really be applied to anything. Thanks !

    1. Jay, I do agree that many of these tips can be applied to pitches in a variety of fields. As Patricia says, it’s a bit of an industry standard to keep your “client documents” top secret. Which leads me to a tangent on ….. Evaluations!

      What is it about people not wanting to share their evaluations? You can’t pry an example of a client website evaluation from most SEOs. If you’ve seen a variety of SEO evaluations –may I ask, were they really all that different? Or pretty standard? Obviously, give as many details as possible.

  3. Hi Chelsea, good points!

    Jay, I would like to add that if you go into too much detail about SEO, people are likely to run with it, using your pitch as a roadmap, and taking on someone who will work for a song to implement it. The sad facts of life. It’s better to take your SEO-specific information as vague as possible, and concentrate on the results that can be expected.

  4. When we pitch a client we offer “best practices” examples vs. how they compare.

    We are supply the client with the latest as to why SEO/SEM matters.

    If you needs more specifics feel free to reach out to us.

  5. Hi Chelsea,

    Perfect points for pitching clients. i would also like to suggest to include your success stories for that particular niche or general client testimonials or their rankings.

    I m also believing that if you present some research behind success of their competitor’s site then it would be effective. what do u think on it ?

    1. Great points, def show off a bit by sharing some of your agency’s fabulous work on past clients in a similar area (and their excellent ROI as Ben says below). I totally agree on putting in a little bit of a competitive edge by showing how a new business opp’s competitor is performing better than them! Get ’em hungry for SEO!

  6. I think the most important aspect to selling SEO services is to focus on the client. Ask plenty of questions to demonstrate you have a genuine interest in their business with a particular emphasis on what the prospect is looking to achieve. This allows you to tailor your solution (assuming you offer a bespoke service!). The very worse thing you can do is go into a meeting and talk about nothing other than your agency, credentials, the Intricacies of SEO, etc. If the client if focused on their business objectives the only thing they will really care about is how you are going to help them achieve those goals.

    I also recommend focusing on ROI, not rankings. If the client spends X, they will get Y. If you sell your services based only on the promise of rankings you shouldn’t even be in the room pitching!

    1. Ben – thanx so much for your input, listening to a client should always be the first priority, instead of boring them with “how SEO works at our agency” for an hour. And ROI over rankings – nice thinking, they’ll def take that into account when selecting their SEO agency!

  7. Important thing: Don’t make yourself ridiculous.

    I’ve been looking for an SEO agency for one of our clients, a major fashion label active in ecommerce since a couple of years. The sales person of one agency finished with talking about how important it would be to not only setup an SEO campaign, but to invest in SEM as well.

    Naturally, our client already had an SEM campaign. This told me that the salesman didn’t even care enough to check for this, and I don’t deal with people who don’t care.

  8. As I think we discussed a little Chelsea I have to disagree with a lot of the points that were raised in the book, and some that you have re-iterated in this article.

    Having worked client side as well as agency, I can honnestly say that had any of the agencies that pitched to me started re-arrangin rooms, there would have been a big black mark against them, it would immidiately suggest to me that they were over confident.

    Additionally I don’t think that anyone who is experienced & confident eough to pitch should have to have two practice run throughs of their presentation. Unless you have never sat in front of a client before, most of what is discussed in a pitch should be second nature to you, and as long as you have familiarised yourself with their requirements and website, too much practice may only have the effect of making yoru presentation stilted.

    My best advice for any pitch would be to try and provide something original, no matter how small, and never underestimate your client, because you don’t know what SEO blog (or book about pitching?) they have read.

  9. Yes, this post looks quite nice! I agree with what Chelsea said, especially when it comes to “Best Sellers May Not be the Most Senior People”. Totally true! Keep up the good work, dear!

  10. Good to hear it from the other part of the equation, most SEO posts target SEO specialists working in agencies this might be one amongst few that target the sales team inside SEO agency

  11. “Best Sellers May Not be the Most Senior People” – absolutely right! When it comes to technologies i guess juniors have great ideas than seniors. And there is no such perfect SEO pitch unless you were able to target the market. – Robert