Local advertisers depend on multiple channels to attract and connect with customers. As they face new challenges and opportunities, some parts of their marketing playbook are foundational. For many small businesses, one of those is SEM (search engine marketing). It drives great value for local companies that need help as advertising becomes more complex. If you think you don’t need to sell SEM to your advertisers, you’re missing out on revenue.

The reasons for objecting to selling SEM are valid but not without solutions. You’ll need to know how to position your company as an SEM expert and have an easy-to-use platform for proposals, orders, reporting and invoicing. So, let’s dig into why SEM is necessary for your third-party digital portfolio.

SEM Is a Key Driver for Local Business Customer Acquisition

Local consumers find search engines like Google and Bing to be their starting place when they need a product or have a problem. At least 61% of people say they search locally every day. Local ads also convert well, with 25.3% of clicks occurring on these when they are present in search results.

In addition to SEM as a driver of leads and new business on its own, it also pairs well with radio and TV ads. Radio ads can increase Google searches for the item or company by 29%. TV ads have a similar impact, with 75% of discovery searches after viewing including the brand name of the business.

Since SEM is so pivotal to small businesses, failing to offer it in your ad packages means you’re missing out on revenue. So, why are you avoiding it?

Selling SEM: Common Challenges for Media Sellers

Let’s be honest — SEM isn’t an easy digital tactic. It’s constantly changing. Multiple factors impact results, and spending can quickly accelerate, especially in competitive spaces. You may also find that your margins aren’t as attractive. Further, you may have witnessed too many campaigns go sideways, giving you every reason to sidestep selling SEM.

However, there is reason to reconsider. You just have to break down the barriers.


You’re Not an SEM SME

You don’t have to be a subject matter expert (SME) to sell SEM well. You need to know the basics and hone that knowledge over time. You’ll get there with training and practice. Your focus on selling to local advertisers is to illustrate how you can manage the end-to-end process. How you speak about SEM needs to put customers at ease and get them to trust in your method to get results.

It’s a combination of the right platform and growing your SEM acumen. We’ve put together a lot of SEM resources for media sellers to help you with the latter. (You’ll find them at the end of the post!)


SEM Is Too Complex to Execute and Demonstrate ROI

Using the platforms of the search engines to execute SEM campaigns can be a nightmare. It requires advanced knowledge and patience. That’s not where you should be spending your time. It’s easy to see why this option would turn off sellers.

However, there are alternatives when using a platform that blends self-service and ad ops technology. The right technology does a lot of the work for you. Based on inputs around categories, targeting and budget, it will:

  • Develop positive and negative keyword lists.
  • Create responsive text ads aligned with best practices.
  • Optimize around identified conversion points (e.g., phone calls) to direct budget dollars to the top-converting keywords and text ads.

Such a platform can also provide a dashboard with detailed keyword reporting and consolidated results to share with advertisers. The pressure is off you when it comes to execution. Scaling is also simple. You won’t have to do any manual monitoring with feature-rich technology.


SEM’s Margins Are Lower Than Those of Other Tactics

SEM is often shorter on revenue than other options are. However, those numbers can grow over time as your advertisers continue to launch ads. Additionally, as part of a larger digital campaign, you’ll see balanced revenue. What’s important is to ensure it’s not the sole tactic.

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Advertiser Budgets Are Too Small

You may dismiss proposing SEM because your advertiser’s budget is too small. In your assessment of their goals and the money they are willing to invest, you may need to clarify that a few hundred dollars a month isn’t sufficient for SEM. Instead, encourage them to build a bigger budget for a more sustainable campaign that can deliver results.

Remind your advertiser that with SEM, they can reach customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey, from research to consideration to decision. Don’t just start a campaign on a small budget that won’t produce. That will quickly turn your client against SEM. It’s better to wait until a sufficient budget is available and test than to start prematurely and flounder.

Sell SEM to Advertisers with a Little Help

No matter what your objections are to selling SEM, you can resolve them and boost revenue. Adding SEM to an integrated campaign enables you to capture more ad budget from customers. The key to success is the right resources and technology.

Below are several SEM posts from our library to assist you.

SEM Metrics That Matter to Local Advertisers

The SEM Checklist for Digital Sellers

SEO vs. SEM: Educating Your Advertisers on the Differences and Why Both Matter