Giving Away the Farm: Proposal Development for New SEO Agencies
Posted by BrianChilds
There’s a huge difference between making money from selling SEO and actually making a living — or making a difference, for that matter. A new marketing agency will quickly discover that surviving on $1,000 contracts is challenging. It takes time to learn the client and their customers, and poorly written contracts can lead to scope creep and dissatisfied clients.
It’s common for agencies to look for ways to streamline operations to assist with scaling their business, but one area you don’t want to streamline is the proposal research process. I actually suggest going in the opposite direction: create proposals that give away the farm.
Details matter, both to you and your prospective client
I know what you’re thinking: Wait a minute! I don’t want to do a bunch of work for free!
I too am really sensitive to the idea that a prospective client may attempt to be exploitative. I think it’s a risk worth taking. Outlining the exact scope of services forces you to do in-depth research on your prospect’s website and business, to describe in detail what you’re going to deliver. Finding tools and processes to scale the research process is great, but don’t skip it. Detailing your findings builds trust, establishes your team as a high-quality service provider, and will likely make you stand out amongst a landscape of standard-language proposals.
Be exceptional. Here’s why I think this is particularly important for the proposal development process.
Avoid scope creep & unrealistic expectations
Just like the entrepreneur that doesn’t want to tell anyone their amazing idea without first obtaining an NDA, new SEO agencies may be inclined to obscure their deliverables in standard proposal language out of fear that their prospect will take their analysis and run. Generic proposal language is sometimes also used to reduce the time and effort involved in getting the contract out the door.
This may result in two unintended outcomes:
- Lack of specific deliverables can lead to contract scope creep.
- It can make you lazy and you end up walking into a minefield.
Companies that are willing to invest larger sums of money in SEO tend to have higher expectations, and this cuts both ways. Putting in the work to craft a detailed proposal not only shows that you actually care about their business, but it also helps manage the contract’s inevitable growth when you’re successful.
Misalignment of goals or timelines can sour a relationship quickly. Churn in your contracts is inevitable, but it’s much easier to increase your annual revenue by retaining a client for a few more months than trying to go out and find a replacement. Monetizing your work effectively and setting expectations is an excellent way to make sure the relationship is built on firm ground.
Trust is key
Trust is foundational to SEO: building trustworthy sites, creating valuable and trustworthy content, becoming a trusted resource for your community that’s worth linking to. Google rewards this kind of intent.
Trust is an ethos; as an SEO, you’re a trust champion. You can build trust with a prospect by being transparent and …read more
Source:: Moz Blog