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August 13, 2010Is cheap a dirty word?

I was recently lucky enough to have a conversation with an entrepreneur who runs a hotel booking website. I talked to him about my own personal experience booking expensive hotels in central London (hey, you do it a lot when you’re single) and I told him that I wanted the best possible quality at the lowest possible price. That’s the type of consumer I am. So it’ll come to you as no surprise that I googled “cheap 5 star hotels”. But why? Have you ever seen a single 5* hotel that advertises the fact that it’s cheap?

The fact is, what people search for — and what gets them to convert — often isn’t the sort of language you want to use in your copy. Sure, you may want the passing trade, but it’s bad for your brand. Googling aside, I wouldn’t want to stay in a luxury hotel that advertises itself as cheap. It’s not just a dilemma, it’s a paradox. So what do you do?

Am I a cheap copywriter?

I try to pitch on both price and quality. In other words, I do more for less. But the fact is the majority of the people who are searching for a good copywriter aren’t that bothered about price. If they’ve got enough money to hire a copywriter, they want the best. That’s because most business-savvy people realise that great copy is able to make them a lot more money in the long run as it increases traffic and conversion rates. In fact, I can think of few consultants who’ll give you a better ROI than a great copywriter. They’re the clients I want.

So there’s no point describing myself as cheap. I’m currently on page 4 of Google for “freelance copywriter” — and on the front page for”freelance copywriter London”. Yet I get very little traffic from these searches. My main organic search traffic comes from “copywriting and branding” — people looking to hire a copywriter who produces personality, not just words.

Am I targeting the right keywords?

I worked hard to get myself onto the front page for “Freelance Copywriter London” expecting it’d earn me the most traffic and, more importantly, the most conversions. But it turns out that the majority of customers across the world don’t care where their copywriter is. He’s just a guy at a desk and that can be in New York, Sydney or Outer Mongolia. So long as the copy’s good the client doesn’t care.

My point is this: sometimes, the obvious keyword isn’t the right one.

Thousands of people may be searching for a service that’s cheap. But you can’t pitch to them. Still more may be looking for a service that’s the best in the world, while you’re trying to pitch your services to local clients. As ever, research is the key to good SEO, combined with a constant quest to update and improve by tweaking copy to match current trends and continually blogging, ensuring an ever-increasing number of keyword-rich landing pages with which to snare potential customers. But here’s the snag:

“London Cheap Hotel” gets 165,000 searches per month. “Best London Hotel[s]” attracts just over 60,000.

The question is, whose business do you want?

I don’t advertise myself as being “cheap” because I don’t want to attract cheapskates — people who quibble over hours worked and whether or not I’ll give them a discount, when I’m already offering a service that’s 1/3rd cheaper than a London agency. Sometimes, volume isn’t everything. If the smaller number of people searching for “the best” have more money to spend than the majority searching for “the cheapest” — it’s in your interest to be the best, because you’ll earn more money.

  • Unfortunately, that’s where SEO can’t help. SEO is all about volume.
  • Market research is all about finding out how much your customers have in their wallets.
  • SEO isn’t a silver bullet — and sometimes, chasing the popular searches is bad for your business.
  • It’s better to have one person willing to spend £1000 than ten people willing to spend £50.

Proper research isn’t just finding the most popular search term for your site. It’s discovering who’ll spend the most. Sometimes, it’s better to cater to the cash-ready minority than the skinflint minority. SEO won’t tell you that.

In other words, it’s time to go deeper. Look at what earns you the most money — not what gets you the most hits.

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This entry was posted on Friday, August 13th, 2010 at 2:26 pm and is filed under Blog, Branding. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One comment

  1. [...] people baulk at this idea. They see it as the equivalent of going downmarket. But the truth is, I’m not a “cheap” copywriter. Look around. My prices are [...]

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