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#1 Black_Knight

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 12:09 PM

In recent discussions we've discussed the definitions of SEO (thread), and the fact that different companies and individuals have differing definitions of what is or is not included in SEO. We have also discussed the names or titles we may use to define our services (thread).

In that latter discussion, we got to an area that is rarely discussed in detail: How to price, package and market SEO services. Sometimes this almost seems like a taboo subject. Is it?

I have observed that (certainly with the bigger deals) a client will often consider many proposals and select just one. The obvious conclusion therefore is that the majority of deals are won or lost at the proposal stage.

Just recently, a client that I provide consultancy to asked me to assist them in selecting an SEO provider for one of their domains. Looking through just the short-listed proposals, it was apparent that each was trying to sell a 'package' and that not a single one of the proposals had truly grasped and adapted to the brief.

I thought it may help kick-start this discussion to go through the key factors in the proposals and selection process, illustrating where the contract was won and lost in this case.

Each of the proposals in this specific case included the selection of 20 keyword phrases, creation of optimized pages designed to fit into the existing site, Directory submission, Pay-per-Click campaign set-up and management, and Pay-for-Inclusion submission to Inktomi, Altavista and FAST.

Already, the first two things that prevented the client from immediately saying "This proposal is great!" were apparent.

First, all of the companies had missed a vital piece of the brief: That the client already handled PPC campaigns in-house happily, successfuly and effectively. None of the proposals should have included PPC at all, and if they were to do so, they should have pitched it at a company already knowing about and competent in the art of using PPC.

Secondly, all of the companies vying for the contract were telling the client what they offered, without showing that they were even aware of, never mind focussed upon, the issues of what the client actually wanted.

Considering the diversity in SEO possibilities, the proposals were remarkably similar. Each seemed to follow a model, and none stood out as something different.

The next concern with all of the proposals was that each asked for a considerable set-up fee, with only one of the proposals acknowledging that the client had used SEO extensively on a number of domains before, and therefore already knew about keywords, etc, having already done all that research.

Each of the proposals charged well over £1,000 for the creation of the optimized pages, and yet each also charged for the same pages again on a monthly basis, based upon the ranking performance. If the pages were not designed to rank in the top ten, then what was the value of paying for them to be created at all?

Either charge for optimized pages based on monthly performance (pay for performance) or charge for the work of creating the pages and that's fair ... but to try to have it both ways? This really did stand out in all of the proposals, and seemed to the client as an unfair system. Does anyone really want to be perceived as 'pulling a fast one' right at the proposal stage? The companies were lucky that they'd all done that, because if just one of the proposals had not, that proposal would have won the contract. End of story.

For the optimization competence, only one of the companies was known to me by reputation, and that was the only one that I found in the top 30 results (UK only pages filter active) of Google for any of the related searches I tested. True, they were also the most expensive, but not by much, and there'd be no point in hiring a company that can't do the work just because they were cheaper than the one that could.

In the end, one of the companies has been selected to renegotiate with, to get a proposal which meets the original brief this time, without the PPC and PFI which the client themselves can handle perfectly well. The others are all out of the running, and unlikely to even be considered for future domains and campaigns.

Not one of these professional proposals managed to sell the SEO services successfully, and indeed, only one of them didn't actually put the client off altogether.

Food for thought?

How do you market your services? Do you push the package deals or be careful to tailor every aspect to the client's needs?

#2 Guest_PhilC_*

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 02:40 PM

Actually, the pricing topic does come up very frequently in forums - or it used to - when people who are just getting started in SEO want to know what to charge. The problem is that people are reluctant to state publically what they charge, possibly because they don't want people to think they are too cheap. What don't appear are actual figures that indivdual SEOs charge.

I am surprised that each of the 'contestants' offered the same sort of deal (£nnnn for creating the 20 pages, plus £nnn per page per month of successful top rankings) because there are all sorts of arrangements. It's a bit of a coincidence that they all offered the same. I only offer one arrangement - a fixed amount per month to promote the website - that's it. A company I briefly worked for offers the same thing I offer, plus 5p per traffic.

The idea of charging for the work and then charging again for success - on a continuing basis - seems wrong to me. It should either be a continual charge for success or a charge for making the pages and sticking with them until they are successful. Perhaps a higher charge per page but only the successful ones would be charged for might be ok. But that would mean sometimes working for nothing when some pages never make it, so a fixed amount up front would be necessary.

I am curious to know what search terms you used to check each contender's "optimization competence".

It would be interesting to know what pricing models people use.

Phil.

#3 Advisor

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 02:59 PM

This is a subject very near and dear to my heart as I've spent a lot of time learning about writing proposals to win bids.

There are many things at play regarding proposals, and it doesn't surprise me in the least that the SEO proposals Ammon looked at were not very good. I'm assuming that the companies involved were fairly small, and therefore have never learned how to create a proper proposal that gets results. It took me many years of studying the process to get something that I feel works very well (and it sucks when other SEO companies request a fake bid and steal it from me!).

Some reasons why a proposal may not be effective or good are as follows: (Note that most of these are things I've gone through at one time or another in my quest for creating the perfect proposal)

[list]
[list]
[list]

As to why the proposals weren't tailored to the RFP in question, for those that do have a proposal down pat, and RFP can really put a crimp in things. Having to answer specific things you don't usually answer can make a half hour process turn into a few hour process. Unless you're sure you're going to get the job and it's worth a decent amount of money, it's not often worth the time.

Basically, we get a lot of lookee-lookers in this biz. If you spend too much time on a proposal or give out too much information, you can be easily screwed.

I have more info on this, but have to start picking up kids and all that fun stuff...

Jill

#4 Black_Knight

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 03:00 PM

I am curious to know what search terms you used to check each contender's "optimization competence".


I made a lot of searches using a mix of competitive and less-competitive ones, using the phrases they'd targeted themselves and with words in their domain names. I also narrowed it to purely UK only results. I can't give the exact phrases used because it might cause people to guess (rightly or wrongly) the companies involved, and I don't believe that would be productive.

I did check for the obvious such as "web site promotion", "web promotion", "website promotions", "web positioning", "search engine optimisation", "search engine positioning", "search engine promotion" and dozens of other variations, counting those as the competitive ones. The majority were 3 word phrases.

Believe me, one of the companies was well positioned in almost all phrases and the others were nowhere, despite few differences in pricing. That spoke volumes about comparative value for money.

As to why the proposals weren't tailored to the RFP in question, for those that do have a proposal down pat, and RFP can really put a crimp in things.


Yes, that's certainly the feel of them. Don't misunderstand, they were (mostly) well worded proposals with a good sales pitch for taking to a company just starting to be interested in SEO.

Unfortunately, the proposals were (IMO) unsuited for the client, not only because they missed the brief of the RFP (Request for Proposal), but also because they were not worded for a company that already had experience of SEO.

The proposals simply missed the specifics and stuck to a template written for a totally different target audience. That is not at all uncommon at any level of SEO.

I'm assuming that the companies involved were fairly small, and therefore have never learned how to create a proper proposal that gets results.


While I can see why you'd assume that, and I'd probably do the same myself if I hadn't seen them first hand, it is not so. The companies include some well established firms in SEO since the mid-Nineties and one of the best known in the UK, indeed, that one is a global player.

The problem was the oldest one of all - the companies were selling a package built for their convenience, even though it failed to meet the specific needs of the client. Only one of the companies even has the chance to make another attempt - and they'll now be competing against a firm I recommended my clients contact with an RFP.

#5 sanity

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 03:49 PM

Food for thought?

How do you market your services?  Do you push the package deals or be careful to tailor every aspect to the client's needs?


Great thread Ammon.

I started out as a web developer but over time found I started doing more and more for my clients (seo, email campaigns, competitor reviews etc) so I decided to promote seo services on my site.

Initially I did price them as packages. There were a couple of reasons for this one of the main being in Australia most don't know what seo is let alone what sort of $$ are involved. Quite quickly I discovered this was not a great choice. (As an aside I always tailor design estimate to clients needs). Seo is really one of those areas where you need to tailor your proposal to the client's requirements. I've noticed it's always a lot easier for me if I've also done the design - as the site is SE friendly from scratch - if that's not the case there's always issues and considerations that you must take into account that hence affect pricing.

It was actually after I read a piece on your site that I decided to remove the packages all together. So thanks. :) I actually now need to redo all the content on my site (new years job) but I must say I'm far happier without the packages and prices up there.

So keep this thread going it'll help give me ideas for my new approach. :wink:

#6 peter_d

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 04:47 PM

I did check for the obvious such as "web site promotion", "web promotion", "website promotions", "web positioning", "search engine optimisation", "search engine positioning", "search engine promotion" and dozens of other variations, counting those as the competitive ones. The majority were 3 word phrases.  

Believe me, one of the companies was well positioned in almost all phrases and the others were nowhere, despite few differences in pricing. That spoke volumes about comparative value for money.  


Hmmm...is that a good method of evaluation? It might also indicate the company does no real work, but does spend a lot of time optimizing their own site. One (large, prominent, rich) seo firm I'm thinking of don't appear anywhere in the top 30. As we all know, it's pretty easy to optimise a site of your own, it's another thing entirely to optimise client sites, particularly those of the corporate variety.

Good thread, though. The pricing and conditions is a difficult one, and one I continue to wrestle with, as it's so difficult to quantify benefits and results. Service comparisons are virtually impossible. As a result, I think a lot is taken on trust. Jill does a particularly good job at establishing this.

#7 sanity

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 05:51 PM

As a result, I think a lot is taken on trust. Jill does a particularly good job at establishing this.


I think this is probably quite true and a good strategy by Jill. :wink:

#8 Black_Knight

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 06:17 PM

It might also indicate the company does no real work, but does spend a lot of time optimizing their own site. One (large, prominent, rich) seo firm I'm thinking of don't appear anywhere in the top 30.


The reason for the company getting me to consult on the selection was so that I could evaluate the proposal for quality regarding proposed methods. Since all of the proposals short-listed included 'optimized pages' I felt that checking how well they performed such a task for their own needs was a fair test of validation.

It was actually after I read a piece on your site that I decided to remove the packages all together. So thanks. :)


Wow, that's really good to know, Sophie. I write some of these articles and never know whether they make much impact for anyone, so knowing it helped you rethink something you were unhappy with is really great to hear.

For anyone interested, I think the article in question is Pricing Services in Web Promotion and Search Engine Optimisation, which is a piece I wrote about my own pricing policies, and how I chose them.

I charge by the hour for my services. This suits my role as a consultant, and my rate of £100 per hour is both reasonable, and more importantly, offers excellent value to my clients. I believe that I offer greater value for money than any of my competitors.


Of course, SEO is just one of the skills I bring to my clients (though often a very important one), so perhaps that makes the difference. I don't guarantee SERPs positions - I guarantee ROI. There's only one type of metrics I use and that's bottom-line figures such as increased sales, increased profits, and decreasing marketing expenditure. I find that my clients find that both refreshing and reassuring.

I suppose that is a good example of the power of using metrics and ideas that your clients already understand.

#9 sanity

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 06:38 PM

Of course, SEO is just one of the skills I bring to my clients (though often a very important one), so perhaps that makes the difference. I don't guarantee SERPs positions - I guarantee ROI. There's only one type of metrics I use and that's bottom-line figures such as increased sales, increased profits, and decreasing marketing expenditure. I find that my clients find that both refreshing and reassuring.


I think your spot on there Ammon. I'm tending to gravitate towards clients that come to me for more than just a website or just seo. I'm wanting to work with them to create a site and a promotion strategy that achieves their goals, whether they be sales, leads, newsletter signups or whatever.

For a lot of this work you can't give a packaged based price. It really is consulting. I tend to estimate the work up front on an hourly rate but explain that it's based on the information provided and may change if the specs change or additional information is forthcoming. This is where the trust issue really comes into it. They need to trust you won't overchanrge and that you've got their best interests at heart.

If you really want the best for your clients I feel this approach works. For me my clients' success is my success and they know it so we're all happy.

#10 peter_d

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 06:43 PM

I guarantee ROI. There's only one type of metrics I use and that's bottom-line figures such as increased sales, increased profits, and decreasing marketing expenditure.


Very impressive (note to self: steal Ammons idea). I take it you pick and choose your clients, though?

#11 Black_Knight

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 07:46 PM

I take it you pick and choose your clients, though?


I do pick and choose, Peter, but that isn't essential to making the model work. It is actually easier than you'd imagine to provide that kind of ROI.

Start with the easiest - If I take on a client who already uses PPC I'm certain that I can enable them to gain greater numbers of better-targeted (conversion-wise) referrals for less. If I charge for training, and for providing a reference document to back up what they learn, they'll easily make back that investment in my fees within 2 months on average.

With an ecommerce site I could lower their marketing costs (as I did in the PPC example), I can improve marketing results without a corresponding rise in costs, I can generate more overall sales per month, I can seek to help them decrease overheads and thus increase profits from the same volume of sales, I can help them develop new revenue streams ... the possible ways in which I can generate bottom-line ROI are almost endless. It's therefore generally a cinch to charge £2,000 for 20 hours of my time, and be assured that they'll get £10,000 value back as a direct result.

Without getting too specific, I took on a client that one could classify loosely as a shopping portal some months ago. They'd been around for a couple of years, and had a good product overall, but were being out-marketed by their competition.

They had a dynamic site, with a default TITLE for all pages, and a limited budget. With just 15 hours of consultation, and remote consultation at that, via telephone and email, I was able to put measures in place that doubled their traffic within 3 months (and its still rising at the moment). In advertising alone, they are making an extra £4k per month right now I believe, and that should increase further still as the full effects continue to spread out. The same applies to their ecommerce, with revenues having doubled.

Another less dramatic example was that of a client who sold a single product line of household electronic appliances. It wasn't microwave ovens, but for the sake of illustration, lets say it was. They had good prices, knew their strengths, so I knew that traffic would convert well if the right prospects were brought there.

They had a good webmaster, but one who didn't know about SEO stuff. Ten hours of consulting was easy and within 3 months they were selling an extra 15 microwaves each week as a pure result of increased referrals from Google alone, and the PPC referrals on top was even more effective. I believe that they too got their ten-fold ROI before 4 months had fully elapsed.

That's real ROI and it certainly sells. Moreover, I get great client referrals, and that saves me from ever spending a penny on marketing or advertising. I keep my prices low (well, £100 is low considering the returns) because it makes hiring me an easy decision, and because I factor in the client referrals. Each job I take gains me at least 3 new referrals on average, and that's worth plenty.

#12 peter_d

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 08:14 PM

Nice one, Ammon. I do admire your style :)

#13 Web Diversity

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 09:04 PM

Like Ammon we have tried to move away from the "package" deals and more towards ROI.

I'm even thinking of changing the strapline of the company from

Don't let your web site kill your business

to

We'll live or die on your ROI

effectively meaning that for as long as our clients make good returns on their money they will continue to hire us.

As such we have ended up with no end of "pricing models" which vary according to the objectives of the clients and other factors like :

[list]Is it a dynamic site?
Will we have unrestricted access to their site to allow us to carry out any on the page work?
Do the clients have any metric analysis in place, if not will they buy one from us? If not will we have access to their logs to provide reports for their benefit and ours?
How competitive is the arena they operate in? (People see that as a "you want to charge me more because I work in the widget arena" when actually we want to charge less for the less competitive arenas because results are generally easier to get)
Who has been playing with the site before? (What damage needs to be repaired) This could be the client themselves or other companies.
Who is responsible for writing the copy?
How quickly do they need results? (Dictates how much PFI is needed)[list]

When I first set the company up I quoted anything that moved. Now I tend to be able to spot a tire kicker from 100 yards away and seldom get involved in beauty parades. Most of the RFP's that we have seen have been amateur in their construction and we haven't wanted to get involved because unfortunately the clients have had a little knowledge and that is often more dangerous than no knowledge at all. No knowledge is a dangerous thing if the company quoting are charlatans and cheats.

But to be honest if price is the factor that matters to the client, and nothing else, then I'll decline the business 100% of the time. It's not that I don't need the money, just I want to work with clients that are more concerned with what they will get than what we will get.

One of our PPC clients made over £4000 profit over a 7 day period for one of the campaigns we were running for them. We made around £50 profit on the campaign results. Good ROI for him huh?

#14 sanity

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 09:10 PM

Excellent post Jim. Thanks for your insights.

But to be honest if price is the factor that matters to the client, and nothing else, then I'll decline the business 100% of the time. It's not that I don't need the money, just I want to work with clients that are more concerned with what they will get than what we will get.

This is something I can really relate to and am trying to work on.

Thanks again. 8)
Sophie

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 09:28 PM

Some of the people who need the most help are mom n pop operations who have no idea how to write an RFP, what is involved in SEO or what the costs/benefits are likely to be. In cases like these a package price is (IMO) the easiest thing to offer if you are going to keep your prices for these customers low and still make a profit.

For larger customers we prepare an individual quotation based on what our research into their website reveals, but still get some surprises during the actual process which have to be anticipated in the pricing.

#16 Guest_PhilC_*

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 09:39 PM

Ok. I give in. What's an RPF?

Phil.

#17 sanity

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 09:41 PM

Request For Proposal daahling. :wink:

#18 Guest_PhilC_*

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 09:54 PM

Is that what RFP means, or is it an actual Request For Proposal....<cough>....daaaalink :)

#19 sanity

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 09:57 PM

:rofl: You're quick. :wink:

#20 Guest_PhilC_*

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 10:08 PM

Quick? Who've you been talking to? Who's been spreading nasty rumours?

I used to be quick, but now I last a good minute and half - at least!

:oops:

#21 Web Diversity

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Posted 18 December 2002 - 04:25 AM

Mel said :

Some of the people who need the most help are mom n pop operations who have no idea how to write an RFP


I totally agree, which is why we have flexible pricing, to accomodate everyone. It's really important to "talk their language" so when it comes to putting proposals together you can't really boilerplate it, but as Jill pointed out the process of quoting for decent business can soon become a 3 hour + deal so we are very selective regarding which business we will pitch for.

#22 JimZim

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Posted 18 December 2002 - 04:32 AM

Can't believe I missed this thread when it came out. I have been trying to "establish" myself firm enough to actually ask just these "tough" questions. Obviously, as was well pointed out, SEO's starting out definitely have a tough time in both the pricing arena as well as the proposal side of the business.

Thanks for all of your input, and candidness (ahem, except for Phil, the Minute and a half man!) :cry:

I have a few questions based upon the thread:

Jill, You mentioned getting burned up by fake bids. I can imagine. How do you spot them when they come in? Are there any tell tale signs, things we newbie/wannabes can look out for?

Peter D and BK, would it be better if an SEO simply advertised or added to their proposals, KWP's that they had actually Optimized for and had "proof" of their results?

BK, just curious how you go about asking or obtaining the ROI information from your clients down the road after you have done your work? Is there some sort of follow up plan that you adhere to that you use to ask for the information?

Jim B, nice list! Would you mind if I made some applicable alterations and used it as a Scoping Guide of my very own? <please!>

Thanks, all. Good, very good stuff.

#23 Web Diversity

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Posted 18 December 2002 - 04:55 AM

James,

I'd have no problem if you did that. It's not a definitive list by any stretch of the imagination.

It's just some of the early "croppers" we encountered were as a result of these hot spots.

You'd be amazed at how many people will say something like "you can't touch my site, you can't use doorway pages, you can't check my logs, I won't change any of the content and I want to be top 5 on yahoo for the keyword "X" inside a few weeks, and by the way I have a budget of $50 for everything"

I built into my sales pitch that although we might be good, it may be better to hire David Copperfield or another magician.

Under promise and over-deliver and NEVER prostitute yourself for business, it will never be worth it, word will spread that you do cheap work and you will get (as Ammon mentioned way back in the thread) 3 recommendations for each bit of business...... all expecting the same deal, same price etc.

#24 Black_Knight

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Posted 18 December 2002 - 06:18 AM

Peter D and BK, would it be better if an SEO simply advertised or added to their proposals, KWP's that they had actually Optimized for and had "proof" of their results?


It's better than nothing, James, but can you tell me what a #1 slot on Altavista is worth in real money for a given search phrase? Is #1 for "plumbing supplies" worth as much as #3 for "whirlpool baths" in real terms, for all companies, factoring in click-through volumes, conversion rates and profit margins?

KeyWord Positions are a rough indication of how well optimised a page is for rank, but say little about the end-value. We're still into metrics that we have to guess translations to. By using metrics we already have a shared language in - money, (or sign-ups, customers, subscriptions, etc) it simply becomes both easier and more 'real' to the client.

BK, just curious how you go about asking or obtaining the ROI information from your clients down the road after you have done your work? Is there some sort of follow up plan that you adhere to that you use to ask for the information?


I follow-up closely with all my clients, James. In doing so, I can suggest further campaigns and improvements with the benefit of them knowing what it has been worth to them so far.

The thing is though that because they are used to talking ROI with me right from the first proposals, they volunteer the information without hesitation. They know that those are the metrics I count and use.

#25 Web Diversity

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Posted 18 December 2002 - 06:33 AM

Black Knight wrote :

The thing is though that because they are used to talking ROI with me right from the first proposals, they volunteer the information without hesitation. They know that those are the metrics I count and use.


Definately. I also make a point of explaining that no matter how much money they make, what we charge them will be what we said we would charge them.

I know plenty of companies that ended up out of business because they saw their customers creaming it and tried to get greedy by putting the squeeze on them.

The good thing also is that we normally include what we charge in the calculations of the ROI to give them a true bottom line figure. As long as you add value you should never be afraid of that one.

#26 JimZim

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Posted 18 December 2002 - 06:38 AM

It's better than nothing, James, but can you tell me what a #1 slot on Altavista is worth in real money for a given search phrase?  Is #1 for "plumbing supplies" worth as much as #3 for "whirlpool baths" in real terms, for all companies, factoring in click-through volumes, conversion rates and profit margins?


Uhm, NO!

But I can totally see your point, and I think that really helps my mind set when I think about conversations with future prospective clients. I guess I was thinking more one dimensionally in that the SEO could at least show the prospect that they had the ability to get the KWP ranked decently.

#27 Advisor

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Posted 18 December 2002 - 08:11 AM

Jill, You mentioned getting burned up by fake bids. I can imagine. How do you spot them when they come in? Are there any tell tale signs, things we newbie/wannabes can look out for?

Nah, they're really hard to spot. Some signs might be things like using a Yahoo/Hotmail email address and/or not wanting to discuss things on the phone. Plus, wanting a proposal really, really quickly. I'm pretty sure I got scammed by one of those.

After my year or more of perfecting my proposal, right now I don't use it much. For awhile, when the MarketingSherpa report first came out (1st edition), I was one of the few with a top grade and I was putting out a couple of proposals a week. Problem was, I was bidding against the same 2 or 3 top SEO firms, many of which I couldn't compete with on manpower and scope of services. I never measured how many proposals converted to clients, but it was a smaller percentage than I would have liked (although it was probably just as well as it was plenty of work). By the time I stopped having to do weekly proposals, I had gotten the procedure down to a half hour or less, and still had it tailored very well to the particular client's needs. In fact, I had many calls after I sent it out saying that my proposal was the best one they received in that respect as it spoke directly to the client. Still, even those people didn't always convert for various reasons.

I've also found that many times clients are just looking around. Window shopping, if you will. They want to learn more about SEO and what's wrong with their site, and are thinking they might want to do it for their site. But they're never really committed to it in their minds. The clients that I convert are those that know for sure they want SEO and they want it NOW! They're ready to buy and the proposal is only a formality in many cases. (Something to show the boss to convince him/her that I know what I'm talking about.)

As I said, right now I don't do proposals. I'm so busy that I'm strictly doing paid evaluations that include a proposal. I've taken some elements from the proposal (like the pricing), but the basic structure is different. Since it's paid-for, it's totally geared to the client, the site is fully evaluated and everything that needs to be done is nicely laid out. If they have the time and inclination, they could do things for themselves (and many do). I also give them a price for how much to have me (and my team) do the work.

Doing things this way has been great, because all the preliminary research is done and out of the way, so if they convert to clients, it's a snap to get to work and do what needs to be done. Plus, the price of the report comes right off their full SEO costs so if they're sure they want to do SEO, there's no risk. Sometimes they find it's much more work (or too many changes to their site) than they're comfortable with. But the good thing is they find that out before shelling out the big bucks to me. No matter how many times I explain exactly what I'll be doing to their site, i.e., fundamentally changing it, some just don't get it. The information in the report really hits home for them.

Hope this helps!

Jill

#28 enigma

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Posted 19 December 2002 - 04:56 AM

Now this is an interesting thread - except I now feel extremely humble and a little depressed. So a bottle of JD is a little on the cheap side?

#29 Black_Knight

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Posted 21 December 2002 - 06:31 PM

On the cheap side? Yes, but there again, you can't get that same pleasure from slamming a cheque down your neck. ;)

#30 nuts

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 01:59 PM

Coming in a little late on this one, here's a really dumb question:

Where do you FIND these people who are actually willing to pay for SEO?

I had 1 paying client years ago, back when you could still spam the SE's -- everybody since just wants to pay peanuts for a keywords meta tag, and they won't believe me when I tell them that's obsolete.

Of course, I do live at the end of a dirt road in a poor (but beautiful) agricultural district on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. A few years ago, in the web hosting business, I had a reseller who lived in Boston -- she would sell a site at the post office, the supermarket, wherever. For me, it's 99% virtual and long distance -- and hard to get taken seriously when you can't walk in the door with a winning grin and a firm handshake.

#31 Web Diversity

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 02:30 PM

Mike,

Very few of my clients are local. Quite a few are overseas.

Yes a firm hand shake and smile would be good, but as much as anything it's all about "feel good factor".

Where do we find them? Well, to be honest they find us. It's a combination of forums, SEO work on our own site (although nowhere near as much as we'd ike), WOM, face to face networking locally, writing articles for other sites in exchange for links. Lay a decent enough trail to you and they will find you in droves.

Hope that helps.

#32 Black_Knight

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 09:23 PM

Face-to-face meetings are still the cornerstone of most business. A great deal of business agreements begin with a handshake, and when you rule those out, its a harder game.

For someone just starting, or wanting to start, on finding the good, reliable and serious clients then start local if you can. Find one good local business and serve them well, letting them know that you'd like them to tell their friends what they think of your services. Networking (in the real-world sense) is very powerful in marketing.

Find your local chamber of commerce, business centers, business advisory services, and naturally, business incubators. Either network yourself in or at least make them a deal for referrals. Personal introductions are a thousand times better than inquiries via email.

I take very few of the jobs that come to me from my websites. This is partly because I have plenty of work coming from direct referrals (one satisfied business telling other businesses that they deal with what a good job I did for them). The other reason that I take so few of the jobs that come via website contact is that so many of them prove to be either flakey ideas that will never sell, companies that don't really have the resources to pay me and hope that they'll be able to palm me off with excuses until the work is done, or just plain simple time-wasters.

I've never had a problem with a direct referral, partly because they realise that they'll be accountable - after all, I'm already known and respected by one of the other companies they have dealings with (the one that referred me to them).

#33 Web Diversity

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 04:18 AM

Ammon,

You mention time wasters there. I prefer to call them tire kickers.

But if someone approaches you with a lame idea and wants a price etc. at what point can you establish they are wasting your time, and more importantly how do you let them down lightly without causing offence?

I've heard a few companies say they price the deal so high that if the client says sure and stumps up the cash then they'd do it regardless, but I just think your setting yourself up for a fall.

Completely seperate issue, but I wanted to know what people thought about monthly contracts. I've got a client who "because of our accounting set-up" pay me on a monthly basis, and so far it's proving to be a pain, mainly because every month I am chasing their accounts team.

Thoughts?

#34 enigma

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 05:05 AM

Had a similar challenge with an accounts dept. Solution, set up an SLA for support and get 'em to pay a month in advance. No pay, no work. I did this with a big client and managed to fix a rolling yearly contract with up-front 6-monthly payments. You may not be so lucky if it's a cash flow issue with them but it doesn't hurt to have a quiet work with your contact there ;)

#35 JimZim

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 05:10 AM

[size=11]Of course, there is the flipside of this tale: I have received a $1000 retainer from a company that I have done web development for in the past (to the tune of around $6K, so not a small fry). Their purpose for paying me the retainer was for some SEO work. I have made certain requests of them for content and access to either the directories, or at least copies of files, etc. To date, nothing has come my way. I sort of feel guilty, but hey, I'd do the work if they were willing to work with me!

Go figure. And yes, Enigma, I am AWAKE!


#36 enigma

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 05:19 AM

Hiya, James. On the ol' powders, eh. That tickled me: '...I am AWAKE'. I'm surviving on far too little sleep. Trouble is, you get an idea and all the lights start flashing in your head. How the hell can you sleep :!:

Just about to ring the local paper and do a bit of commercial symbiosis: copy v promo. Wish me luck.

#37 MakeMeTop

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 10:01 PM

>monthly contracts...

A bind if they are overseas, Jim - but we use direct debits and standing orders for most of these in the UK. Saves a lot of hair pulling.

#38 JimZim

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 11:38 PM

>monthly contracts...

A bind if they are overseas, Jim - but we use direct debits and standing orders for most of these in the UK. Saves a lot of hair pulling.


[size=11]
Hmm, that's actually kind of cool. I'd be interested in knowing how long it takes you to get something like that set up. I ask because whenever I get what we call "Direct Deposit" set up for my paycheck to go straight to the bank, it takes like 2 to 3 weeks (WHY I could never say. Maybe just beauracracy?!)
:shock: :shock: :shock:
Enigma, someone has hijacked you account and put up a picture of a long haired lover type! (j/k! looks sparkling, mate!)


#39 markymark

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 10:16 AM

But if someone approaches you with a lame idea and wants a price etc. at what point can you establish they are wasting your time, and more importantly how do you let them down lightly without causing offence?


My approach is to do one of two things - either tell them that we have a client in the same business and therefore cannot take on another one or tell them that we are not taking on new clients at the moment. These both work well.

At what point can you establish they are wasting your time ?

Usually from the first email or first phone call. It's pretty easy to tell those that can't really afford it or have a very bad business idea. Football shirts for dogs, anyone ?

#40 MakeMeTop

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 12:11 PM

My approach is to say that we already have a client in this area and then refer them to a competitor :wink:



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