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How to Attract Clients by Doing Nothing

Anyone who has ever attempted to run a website will be familiar with the Helpful SEO Email: “Dear. I hope this finds you well. I came across your website and I must admit I am impressed. But I can get you to the top of Google search! Email us today!!! Have a great day!”

At first you feel chuffed, almost as much as when you received your first email from a Nigerian prince wanting to hand over his grandfather’s fortune to, of all people, you. But after a few of these missives, some of which are starting to sound faintly menacing: “You haven’t answered our email of two minutes ago…” you begin to think, hang on. Do I even want to be on top of Google with these people?

“I came across your website …” is not the way Swedish entrepreneur Fredrik Norrbin, founder of SEO Ibérica [LINK], attracts his clients. In fact you could say he uses the opposite method: By doing nothing. Oh, and by putting in hundreds of hours maneuvering his own company to the top of the SEO heap, after spending thousands of hours perfecting SEO…

“Fortunately I don’t have to chase after customers. They find me – by searching for a company that can help them with SEO!” smiles Norrbin, running his fingers through his Casual Friday hair.

“I find that around 15 is the ideal number of clients,” he says. “Any more than that, it means you must take time and effort away from one in order to give to another. I prefer to spend more time on each client.  And it seems I have found my client niche: Providing SEO services to international companies who want to get into Spain, and Spanish companies who want to make inroads into other countries in Europe. I probably meet half of my clients face-to-face, the rest only online. And yes, I can accommodate a wide range of budgets.”

Talking of budget, it looks like the people who decorated the shared office community Norrbin is part of didn’t exactly scrimp on the funds. Rather than a collection of techie offices, the large, elegant rooms look more like dining rooms from the height of the Art Nouveau movement, with intricate floral patterned floor tiles, velvet drapes under soaring ceilings, and stained-glass windows overlooking El Sindicat.

The people sharing the space come from Spain, Sweden, Denmark, France, Britain and even the USA; a real mixture of nationalities reflecting the cosmopolitan nature of the small-but-big city that Palma has become.

“Yes, one of the many, many great things about Mallorca is that it is so international,” Norrbin, who came here with his family in 2012, says.

“When my wife Linda and I talked about where we should go for our ‘year off’ when our youngest daughter was born (in Sweden news dads as well as mums get 16 months’ parental leave) we agreed that it had to be a place where people spoke English.  And it had to have good weather! I had been keen on Australia or New Zealand, but in the end we thought that would be too far to go with a baby. Linda had already been to Mallorca and loved it. So – here we are!”

Norrbin laughs when he recalls how pleasantly surprised he had been when he arrived in Palma for the first time.

“I had thought Mallorca was just sun and sangria, face-down drunk in Magaluf-tourist type of thing. But that turned out to be just a tiny part of the lovely, friendly and beautiful Mallorca. Palma is a great city all year round. And the place is filled with so much vitality. That was also unexpected.”

But rather than sitting back on the balcony whiling away his paternity leave, Norrbin soon found his old work habit rearing its insistent head.

“I gave myself six months to get my company off the ground,” Norrbin, who is so entrepreneurial that even when he was an employee, he acted like an entrepreneur, says.  

“I had already worked extensively with SEO back in Sweden, starting in 2002 when Google started taking over the search engine market.”

“I started for an SEO company around the same time as online shopping really kicked off, and became sales manager after just over a year, at the age of 22. I helped the company growing from 16 staff to about 50 in one year. By then I was ready for new experiences.”

“After that, I worked in several tech-based companies, staying about two years in each until I felt I couldn’t learn any more.”

But now he has been running his own company for seven years. What about the two year “rule”?

“Oh no, I love Mallorca. My wife and children too. The Swedish school is great – each class has on average 15 students, so the teachers are allowed to do what they are supposed to – teach! And for me professionally as well, the place is ideal – I find that there’s a new type of inhabitant on the island who is more tech-aware. The economy is not revolving solely around tourism and property anymore.”

And the infamous bureaucracy of Spain?

“I didn’t encounter any of that, fortunately. I hired a gestoria (private agency dealing with legal documents, setting up companies etc.), the Norwegian Anne Reese and I cannot praise her enough. The process of becoming an autonomio (self-employed resident) was fast and completely painless. However, there are a couple of things I wish I had done differently. One, I should have learnt Spanish, properly, before I came here. As it is, I need an interpreter for important meetings. And two: As strange as it sounds, I wish things hadn’t been so easy in the beginning.”

“When I decided to start the company, I contacted 10 Swedish companies on the island, and three of them became my customers right away. I suppose I expected everything to be just as easy from then on, so I didn’t make the effort to follow the momentum. The next two or three years actually became a bit of a struggle because of that,” Norrbin says.

The struggle seems to be behind him now, though. Back in our own office with its decidedly non-Art Nouveau ballroom vibe, we do a quick search, and sure enough, there it is: SEO Ibérica. Right at the top.

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