How We Got Our First SEO Clients In Hong Kong

This is in response to a question asked by David Schlosberg of Futuredontics/1800dentist. 

When someone asks a question like this I think “Should I really share this information? After all, I’d be helping my competitors…” and then I think “Ah, what the heck.”

MWI has been in business since 1999. The idea to open an international office in Hong Kong came about in 2012. I moved to Hong Kong to open the office in June, 2013. But when I landed on the ground, I already had two clients signed up, and more were ready to go. Here is how we found our first SEO clients in Hong Kong, and have been landing them since then.

1. Speaking. Prior to moving to Hong Kong I came in March, 2013 and attended the first expo of the Asia Self Storage Association. Because MWI has been involved in the self storage industry since 2007 and we’ve built a lot of self storage websites and done the marketing for them, I contacted the association and asked if I could present at their conference. They obliged, I presented, and as a result of that presentation I signed up MWI’s first two clients in Asia. I presented again the next year, and that relationship has spawned client relationships in Singapore and Australia as well.

In addition to speaking at the self storage association, I’ve presented at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the American Chamber of Commerce, General Assembly, Founders Institute, the Arab Women Leadership Forum in Dubai, and tomorrow I fly to Singapore for CommunicAsia2015. Full list of speaking engagements past and present here.

2. SEO. It would be ironic if an SEO firm wasn’t generating leads through SEO, right? We didn’t start focusing on SEO immediately, because we were busy with other things, but once we started focusing on it we were able to generate SEO results within two months. We get a regular flow of leads from SEO to this day, although we could certainly do better on this front.

3. Referrals. Wil Reynolds of SEER Interactive often talks about how he grew his firm to 100 employees and $10M in revenue without hiring a single salesperson. He did this by keeping his clients happy and getting referrals from them. That’s part of why we focus on customer service and are constantly trying to get better at it. We also focus on it because it’s the right thing to do and it makes everyone happy. And it works.

4. Events. This is a new one for us. We recently launched the free DigiMeet event series in Hong Kong. They’re held at Garage Society on the first Tuesday of each month. We invite three expert panelists, and the entire event is Q&A. No presentations, no fluff, just questions, and answers. Each event focuses on a different topic. The first one was digital marketing on a budget. Tomorrow’s event will focus on social marketing for business in Asia. Our first event had over 70 attendees (140+ wanted to attend, but the space doesn’t fit that many). We’re hoping for that many again tomorrow evening. We’re also going to start filming the events starting tomorrow, and we’ll be giving out prizes. Both will extend the reach of the event. The event will help those who attend or watch online to gain information and skills to help them in their jobs and businesses, but it’s also additional exposure for MWI. I’ll let you know how it goes.

5. SlideShare content marketing. An easy content marketing resource is sharing presentations on SlideShare. The MWI Hong Kong SlideShare channel only has 42 followers, but when I posted Digital Marketing For Tech Companies on May 21st, SlideShare promoted it on their homepage, tweeted it out, etc., and that presentation has now been seen 4,734 times as of this writing. And it’s not the first time that has happened. SlideShare is an under recognized gem for content marketing.

6. Infographics. We’re working right now on a series of infographics to help companies in Hong Kong and Asia to understand SEO in these markets. I’m hopeful these will bear fruit for years to come. If I had been more on top of things we would have gotten these out the door two years ago.

7. Writing. The big one for us in the US is my writing on Forbes, Entrepreneur, and elsewhere. Here in Asia I write for ClickZ, the South China Morning Post, and others. But my writing hasn’t attracted as much attention here in Asia as it has in the US. I think part of it is that businesses just aren’t looking for digital marketing here like they are in the US. But I believe it’s only a matter of time, and as they search more for it here, I’ll already be there. Despite it not being as successful here as it is in the US, it’s still well worth it, that is, it definitely generates leads, just not as many as in the US.

8. Cold calling. It’s not the best, but sometimes it works. We’ve tried it. Not sure if we’ll keep doing it.

We’re working on other initiatives as well like our email newsletter and video blogging, and experimenting with LinkedIn B2B marketing and Twitter promoted posts. There are probably 10 other things we’re trying out or that we’ve done that I’m forgetting, but these are the ones that pop to mind. What aren’t we doing that we should be working on?


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Hi! I'm Josh Steimle, and I started MWI from my apartment while a college student in 1999. I'm responsible for MWI's overall strategy and marketing. I'm also the author of CMOs at Work (Apress, 2016) and a frequent contributor to Forbes, Mashable, Entrepreneur, and other publications. Read more of what I'm writing on my blog.

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