4 New Rules for SEO Success in 2013

February 26th, 2013

Measuring SEO success by your ranking position for your favorite keywords means failing behind the curve.

With users’ behaviors and Google’s algorithms rapidly and constantly changing, measuring SEO success by your ranking position for your favorite keywords means falling behind the curve. Here are the most meaningful metrics for SEO for 2013.

1. Focus on Your Keyword Portfolio, Not Rankings

Search engine users are getting smarter and more specific. Today, over 70 percent of searches online contain three or more words in the search query. Furthermore, Google reported that over 20 percent of search queries are completely new queries that had never been searched before! The long tail is where the growth is happening, and your strategy needs to be built around this growth.

Focusing on “fat head” keywords is an unbalanced strategy with diminishing returns. Marketers need to focus on increasing the number of keywords sending search traffic rather than improving a specific keyword position. This is known as your keyword portfolio.

2. Create Problem-Solving Content

Creating great content isn’t rocket science. If you have trouble coming up with ideas, or you think your industry is too boring, focus instead on solving a customer’s problem. This can be done easily by utilizing your organization’s intellectual property to create how-to guides, white papers, or research studies. If you’re in business, then you’re solving problems! Combine people, processes, and software to scale content marketing.

3. Publish Content on Quality Sources

Last year’s Penguin update eliminated the value of content published on untrusted websites. This includes low-quality websites, content farms and many “free” PR websites. Showing up in Google search is a lot like getting a job–it’s your references that make the difference. Concentrate on earning references from high quality and trusted industry websites. Industry organizations and online communities are where you should be publishing content on a regular basis.

4. Distribute and Promote Content through Social Media

Social media is an extremely efficient channel for distributing and promoting your content. This includes content that you publish on your website, as well as content that you publish on highly trusted third-party websites. Social media channels enable you to reach millions instantly, as well as stay on the radar of search engine algorithms for topics related to your content. Google and Bing have both admitted to using social signals in their ranking algorithms, so social media engagement is a must-do for digital marketers.

Never before have SEO and inbound marketing had more potential for digital marketers. When executed effectively, these strategies will drive leads, attract customers, and grow your brand’s community.

Credit for this post belongs to Aaron Aders.

Aaron Aders is co-founder and chief strategy officer of Indianapolis-based Slingshot SEO, a national leader in online marketing, planning, and execution. Aders steers the strategic vision behind software and business processes. @SlingshotSEO

For more information on Staffing M & A or a quick and accurate complimentary Valuation of your business or a confidential discussion, contact:

Bob Cohen at 416-229-6462 or Sam Sacco at 910-509-0691. We can also be reached at bob@racohenconsulting.com or sam@racohenconsulting.com.

Sam and Bob have successfully completed over 140 staffing industry transactions. Visit our website for more articles and information at: www.racohenconsulting.com

We hope you found this post informative.

Prospecting for new Clients!

February 25th, 2013

As you know, in Staffing and other industries, prospecting must come to occupy a primary place on your sales reps’ to-do lists if they’re to be successful. Here are nine techniques to pass along that’ll bring in a steady stream of qualified prospects.

  1. Make a commitment to being prospect-driven. Chances are some of your salespeople only take prospecting seriously during periods when sales are down. It’s then soon forgotten once the orders begin coming in. The goal must be to focus on uncovering prospective customers year round.
  2. Focus on finding the right prospects. Prospects must come before prospecting. It’s easy for salespeople to spend a lot of time chasing would-be prospects who have no interest in what they’re selling. The key is spending time determining exactly who fits the profile of your best customers and building a prospect list around that profile.
  3. Cultivate continuously. A major mistake is making prospecting an event, rather than a process. Prospecting is not an impulsive quick fix. It involves more than making a call and, if there’s a negative response, crossing the name off the list. The purpose of continuous cultivation is to build a relationship with a prospect, something some salespeople find difficult when the initial contact is negative.
  4. Look at former customers. Many former customers may be ready to buy again or try a new product or service. Try to mix in former customers when you’re planning your prospecting calls. Former customers may also be an invaluable source of new leads.
  5. Recognize resistance to change. Prospects have a natural resistance to change. They follow the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it philosophy,” which makes it difficult to open new accounts. When prospects raise objections, listen carefully. Ask for clarification. By asking the prospect to go into more detail about the objection, you’ll be in a better position to overcome it.
  6. Give prospecting the same priority as meetings with important customers. Salespeople who don’t call on qualified prospects in their territories are leaving the door open for competitors to do so. Once competitors get an opening with prospects in your territory and start making inroads, they may start converting your long-term customers, too.
  7. Take a close look at the competition. Are your competitors failing in areas that may be your strengths? Have there been any changes in your competitors’ staff or product line that may give you an opportunity? Companies in transition provide a great opportunity for salespeople who act quickly and creatively.
  8. Resist hitting a comfort level. Some salespeople become content with their lifestyle. They hit their own glass ceiling, calling on favorite customers and looking for an acceptable amount of new business — but not too hard. The entrepreneurial salesperson is never satisfied, always thinking and trying to grow and improve business.
  9. Try to learn what the prospect does and his or her objectives. Who are the customers and competitors? Get information with web searches, annual reports, people who work at the prospect’s company and press releases.

Source: John R. Graham, President, Graham & Associates, Quincy, MA.

 For more information or a complimentary confidential discussion on any Staffing M & A subject, contact: Bob Cohen at 416-229-6462 or Sam Sacco at 910-509-0691.

 We can also be reached at bob@racohenconsulting.com or sam@racohenconsulting.com.

Sam and Bob have successfully completed over 135 staffing industry transactions. Visit our website for more articles and information at:    www.racohenconsulting.com

Do you want to buy a Business? Part 2

February 18th, 2013

Part 2- Buying Considerations Continued

In Part 1- we began the discussion on Buying Considerations by asking you to consider:

1. What are your goals in acquiring?

2. What are your acquisition criteria?

3. How will your acquisitions be funded?

Are you looking for top-shelf well run companies or distressed properties? What resources are you better equipped to offer, financial, operational or human? This may influence the type of business you can integrate most successfully.

4. In choosing an acquisition target buyers often look to create value for themselves by:

  • Lowering unit costs through economies of scale and better cost management

If you would like to read Part 1 in its entirety please go to www.racohenconsulting.com go to Resources you will see a hyperlink to our current post (Blog) and the bottom right of that page has all our previous Blog posts.

Continuing on with our questions to help you determine which opportunities will best fit your growth needs.

5.  What do you need to see in a target opportunity?

All of these factors listed below would be nice to have, but it’s important to prioritize as companies like people are rarely perfect:

  • Strategic fit
  • Compatible culture
  • Talented management
  • Sustainable growth
  • High Gross and Operating Margins
  • Operating focus, single or blended 

6.  How will you identify target firms to acquire?

  • Use industry directories to develop a target list
  • Call or write to this target contact list
  • Ask your Staff to identify their best independent local competitors
  • Contact respected industry M & A Advisors & Intermediaries
  • Engage an intermediary to bring you suitable targets

7.  What will you buy:  assets, stock, either? What are the income / capital gains tax issues for you as they relate to each of these acquisition structures?

8.  What deal structure best suits your needs?

  • % of cash on closing?
  • Will you use notes? What interest rate will you offer?
  • Earn outs? If so, for how long? How will you structure upsides and downsides?
  • Will you use Stock?

9. Who will be on your acquisition assessment team?

  • Internal staff members
  • Outside experts /advisors

 10.  Who will negotiate your transactions? Are you aware of?

  • Current deal pricing?
  • Various deal structures?
  • Tax consequences for buyer and seller?
  • How best to negotiate with a future employee of your firm?
  • How to work with the seller’s professional advisors? 

For smooth sailing during the transaction these are areas that should be thought through in advance. Many deals are lost due to inflexibility on one or both sides of a transaction. You rarely will get a seller to agree to everything you want (if they did, you’d be suspicious). So decide what you really need and pick your fights around vital issues with high value for you.

11. What will you require for Due Diligence?

You’re Financial/Legal and if you choose a Business advisor should be able to assist you in developing an appropriate list of items to examine and review. Some items would include:

  • A complete set of financial statements for the last 3 years
  • Tax returns covering the same period
  • Most recent month’s Balance Sheet
  • Property Leases
  • Equipment Leases
  • Staff personnel records-Organization chart
  • Description of all Employee Benefit plans
  • Detailed Accounts Receivables Listing-Bad Debt History
  • Schedules of furniture, office equipment, computer hardware/software, telephones
  • Budgets for current and future years
  • A variety of schedules detailing assignments/projects with clients
  • Reports from outside Accountants/Auditors

12. What is your timetable?

How will you integrate the acquired businesses?

  • Fully with your brand name
  • Partially as a (your brand) company, i.e. ABC a Mega firm Company
  • Autonomously as an entity appearing to be independent

Integration is usually the most critical area for a successful acquisition.  Blending cultures is often the key to a successful transition. It will be addressed in a future post.

For more information on Staffing M & A or a quick and accurate complimentary Valuation of your business or a confidential discussion, contact:

Bob Cohen at 416-229-6462 or Sam Sacco at 910-509-0691. We can also be reached at bob@racohenconsulting.com or sam@racohenconsulting.com.

Sam and Bob have successfully completed over 140 staffing industry transactions. Visit our website for more articles and information at:  www.racohenconsulting.com

 

Strong Growth Forecast for 2013

January 28th, 2013

Long-time Staffing Industry Observer and respected Commentator Jeffrey Silber of BMO Capital Markets – US Equity Research News tells us that his group is projecting a 6%-8% increase in temp usage for 2013 and 2014. While this is slower than the (9%) growth the industry experienced in 2012, it still represents solid growth.

The staffing market and economy both face uncertainty, whenever business people perceive uncertainty they tend to be reticent to make significant expense commitments (like hiring more direct staff, more contractors/temps will be used) until the dust clears and there is more clarity. The uncertainty is caused by several factors including the political/economic landscape in the US and Europe, the costs of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; (PPACA) and the growth of real GDP and the general direction of the economy.

New Unemployment claims are down well below the cautionary 400,000 mark according to Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) Reports. Employment in most States is growing and contractor/temp wages have softened a bit which is a two-edged sword; while, it is easier to find needed workers it is harder to maintain higher margins as the supply strengthens.

For more information on Staffing M & A or a quick and accurate complimentary Valuation of your business or a confidential discussion, contact:

Bob Cohen at 416-229-6462 or Sam Sacco at 910-509-0691. We can also be reached at bob@racohenconsulting.com or sam@racohenconsulting.com.

Sam and Bob have successfully completed over 140 staffing industry transactions. Visit our website for more articles and information at: www.racohenconsulting.com

5 Steps for Integrating Companies Successfully!

October 9th, 2012

Over the 18 month course of an average transition, there is extensive organizational “bruising” with unaddressed people, culture and process problems. Many companies drift toward improvised solutions and makeshift answers, relying on a crisis management style that keeps anxieties high and morale depressed, a recipe for sales collapse and executive flight.

It is possible to alleviate the stress of blending two distinct entities. One of the first steps is to anticipate likely scenarios instead of hoping that they don’t come up. Do not simply hope that there is a chance for success – instead, leave nothing to chance.

Establish Clear Direction

Usually a key executive receives the job of operationalizing the deal. He or she should focus on developing a 24-month strategy and vision for going forward. The first instinct is to cut away redundancy, deal with overlaps and release surplus employees. Instead, focus on engaging both organizations and evaluating core processes for synergies. You’ll have your chance to reduce one-time and recurring costs.

Make a Solid Plan & Process to Implement

Engineering the integration of core processes is the most important planning you’ll do. Often the buyer comes in and simply institutes their policies and procedures by fiat. This top-down model fails to unlock synergies from the ground up. It is counter intuitive to allow synergies to emerge rather than getting everyone on the same page, fast. But it is a critical phase that releases the true value of the deal. With new processes identified, link the new structure and budget to them, not the other way around.

Engage, Engage, Engage

People are not processes. It’s tempting to put them into a mass category and feed them platitudes, coffee mugs with slogans and t-shirts about teamwork, but your people are watching to see if your words match your actions. If you act incongruently, they will cease listening. They are the team that will carry out and implement the new vision. If they’re on board, you’ll see things move smoothly; if they’re not, resistance, balking and negative talk can torpedo your efforts. Engage them on every level.

Leverage Predictable Dynamics and Timing

Two IT departments or two marketing departments are not going to get along well, there is too much competition. Recognize the realities of the situation and develop strategies for leveraging heightened competition and an expanded knowledge base. Anticipate reactions at each stage of the merger and you’ll be way ahead. Shock gives way to uncertainty which gives way to acceptance and new development challenges.

 Lead with Courage & Persistence

Leading this initiative, you’re in the cross hairs. Supporting policies and procedures have to be developed to reinforce direction, structure and processes. Many voices, interest groups and individuals will attempt to influence your judgment. Managing an M&A transaction is the time when you tap into your leadership potential and rise to the challenge. Nothing less will do. Especially when it means the difference between success and failure. 

Our thanks to Merger Coach for many of the concepts expressed in this article.

For more information on Staffing M & A or a complimentary confidential discussion, contact:

Bob Cohen at 416-229-6462 or Sam Sacco at 910-509-0691.

We can also be reached at bob@racohenconsulting.com or sam@racohenconsulting.com.

Sam and Bob have successfully completed over 135 staffing industry transactions. Visit our website for more articles and information at: www.racohenconsulting.com

 

 

 

6 Interesting Sales Factoids

September 17th, 2012

If you are involved with selling to new or existing customers here are some interesting statistics that have held virtually constant for 3-4 decades now.

  • 80% of all sales are made after the fifth call
  • 48% of all sales people give up after the first call
  • 25% of all sales people give up after the second call
  • 12% of all sales people give up after the third call
  • 5% of all sales people give up after the fourth call
  • 10% of all sales people keep calling after the fifth call

 And to those persistent 10%  of all salespeople, go 80% of all sales.

 Why do we expect that prospects should buy from us after meeting us a few times? Then we give up if they don’t buy right away, thinking we are wasting our time and theirs.

 When you are buying something, wouldn’t you want to know that the sales person was committed enough to you and the business you can give them, to come back consistently and show some patience to earn your confidence and trust?

 To show some reliability and determination, to earn your business. Would they value it as much if they didn’t have to earn it by gaining your trust? There a lesson here, don’t give up so soon, hang in there for the rewards you seek.

For more information on Staffing M & A or a complimentary confidential discussion, contact: Bob Cohen at 416-229-6462 or Sam Sacco at 910-509-0691.

 We can also be reached at bob@racohenconsulting.com or sam@racohenconsulting.com.

 Sam and Bob have successfully completed over 135 staffing industry transactions. Visit our website for more articles and information at:

www.racohenconsulting.com

 

5 Growth Strategies for your Business

September 10th, 2012

Here are a few tried and true strategies to help your business grow.

Each will require an action plan to implement in order to achieve your goals, however, it doesn’t have to be elaborate, it just has to be measured at regular time periods to see if you are on target and if not, to help the person (s) that are responsible for taking those steps that are holding the plan back.

1.  Expand what you are presently offering in your present location.

2.  Introduce new lines or sectors of business in your present location. It could be a speciality or niche you can develop and be known for in your industry.

3.  Expand geographically-take what you are doing to new, nearby locations, preferably send a trusted and valued employee from your present operation to get it started properly, in your style and culture.

4.  Acquire smaller culturally adaptable firms to expand at your present location or to open new territories for your business.

5.  Merge or sell to a larger firm who has already made the investment to expand their infrastructure as long as they do business in a way you and your staff will be comfortable with implementing.

Clearly, there are a lot of ways to grow your business; here are just a few suggestions. Enjoy the growth!

For more information on Staffing M & A or a complimentary confidential discussion, contact:

Bob Cohen at 416-229-6462  or  Sam Sacco at 910-509-0691.

 We can also be reached at bob@racohenconsulting.com or sam@racohenconsulting.com.

Sam and Bob have successfully completed over 135 staffing industry transactions.

Visit our website and check out the Resources Tab  for more Blog posts, articles  and archived Newsletters:   www.racohenconsulting.com

 

 

DO YOU WANT TO BUY A BUSINESS? Part 1 Buying Considerations

February 11th, 2012

Buying a business can be full of challenges, but it is often the quickest way to grow your company.

In fact, many of the great businesses we see today became dominant players in their field through acquisitions. Most acquisitions are driven by the desire to increase shareholder value. Yes, bigger is usually better or at least more valuable. Before you set out on the acquisition trail it is important to have a flexible but clear strategy for your acquisitions. You need to know what fits. What you are looking for in a target firm?

Buying Considerations

 Companies acquire for a broad variety of reasons. Some acquire to:

  • Increase market share
  • Create economies of scale
  • Offer new services
  • Generate new sources of revenue and profits
  • Acquire management
  • Bring in fresh ideas 
  • Enter new markets

 When you look at building or buying, the fastest and often easiest path is by buying, provided you have access to capital at reasonable costs and the ability to effectively intergrate the acquired business. 

The challenge in making acquisitions work is managing each step of the process carefully. This often works best when clear-cut goals are thought out and presented to your current employees, many of whom will perceive these decisions as affecting their future opportunities. It is worth taking the time to get key employees to buy into the larger future you are creating.  Clearly defined objectives can also serve as a guideline at several stages of the process. 

 There are a number of areas you need to review prior to seeking acquisition targets. The answers to the following questions can save your firm valuable time and resources. These core issues can serve as a template for your acquisition opportunities. 

1.  What are your goals in acquiring?

  • Expand in existing markets
  • Open new markets
  • Increase market share
  • Spread infrastructure costs
  • Reduce or eliminate competition in a particular market

 2. What are your acquisition criteria?

  • What is the annual sales range of your targets?
  • What are the financial performance goals you seek (e.g. Gross Margin / EBIT / average bill rates / sales history growth rates, etc.)?
  • What geographical markets do you want?
  • What sector(s) of the industry are you looking for?

3. How will your acquisitions be funded?

  • Internally
  • Borrowed, if so, are funds approved and in place
  • Private Equity / Venture Capital

 Are you looking for top-shelf well run companies or distressed properties? What resources are you better equipped to offer, financial, operational or human? This may influence the type of business you can integrate most successfully.

4. In choosing an acquisition target buyers often look to create value for themselves by:

  • Lowering unit costs through economies of scale and better cost management
    • Increasing market power by spreading its’ brand over a wider base
    • Entering new geographic or industry markets
    • Offering existing customers additional services
    • Creating synergies so 2+2 equals at least 5
    • Gaining new technology
    • Expanding their customer base
    • Acquiring management talent

 In Part 2 we will explore additional Buying Considerations and take stock of what are answers to these questions have told us about ourselves and the best types of businesses for each of us to seek for acquisition.

For more information or a complimentary confidential discussion on any Staffing M & A subject, contact: Bob Cohen at 416-229-6462 or Sam Sacco at 910-509-0691.

 We can also be reached at bob@racohenconsulting.com or sam@racohenconsulting.com.

Sam and Bob have successfully completed over 135 staffing industry transactions. Visit our website for more articles and information at:    www.racohenconsulting.com