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Reconsider Sending an SEO RFP

Writing by Nick Stamoulis in SEO

A few days ago Brick Marketing received an SEO RFP from a big public company and I have to admit I was a little proud! The fact that we even made it on this company’s radar is a sign that we’re going about things the right way with regards to our own marketing efforts. However, sometimes I wonder if our efforts are leading prospects to think we’re a bigger SEO company than we actually are. As a ten person SEO company we certainly have more in-house capabilities and bandwidth than a solitary SEO consultant, but Brick Marketing isn’t a massive SEO firm with dozens of SEO specialists and a whole sales team that spend their days responding to SEO RFPs. And, quite frankly, getting this SEO RFP done right before the holidays, when everyone is working on a tight schedule to get projects done before taking vacation time, is pretty much impossible. We just don’t have the time to drop everything and answer this SEO RFP!

I’ve run into situations like this before, where a big name company came down the pipeline with an SEO RFP that I dropped everything to complete and get back as soon as I could and I learned over the years that it almost never pans out. The 4-5 hours it takes me to do my due diligence with that RFP is 4-5 hours I’m not spending on existing client work and that lost time needs to be accounted for somehow. I can’t allow myself to get blinded by a big name prospect and let existing client work suffer on a prayer that we might make it round two of the SEO RFP process.

Another problem I have with SEO RFPs is that I don’t know how many other SEO firms got sent this exact document. If this company told me we were one of four SEO firms I might actually consider during it because that means I have a 25% chance of landing a great client. But what if they sent this SEO RFP to 10 SEO firms? Or 50? My odds of just getting a phone interview, never mind a contract, are pretty slim. And as I mentioned before we’re a smaller SEO firm and I don’t have the in-house team that just handles sales and prospects.

I’m also concerned that I’d pour my time and energy into this RFP and have one wrong answer send me to the reject bin. For instance, in this SEO RFP one of the questions is about communication—how will we communicate with them and how often. Well, during the onsite optimization process we might be having a scheduled meeting every 2-3 weeks to review recommendations, but once the link building is underway I typically get 1 call a month on the books for sure, then extra communication is had has needed. But what if this company wants a status call once a week and that’s the only answer they’ll accept? If we were on the phone I could scope the situation out a little bit better and adjust my answers/strategy accordingly to make sure everyone is happy but with an SEO RFP all I get in a one line response.

I realize that an SEO RFP is supposed to help a prospect learn more about me, but I need to know more about you as well in order to provide an accurate proposal. What the capabilities of your in-house team? Do you need help creating content or managing your social media marketing? Will you be implementing the onsite SEO recommendations yourself or will you need our developer to do it? All of these things and more impact what work my team can do for you and how much it’s going to cost.

My advice to companies looking for an SEO company? If your internal processes will allow for it I’d suggest losing the SEO RFP. A good SEO firm will be flexible to your internal process but a long SEO RFP can be brutal and a real drain on internal resources. If they actually have time to answer your SEO RFP my guess is they either having nothing better to do or have an in-house team (if it’s a big enough SEO company) handling it. And a sales guy’s job is to close the sale, so they might make recommendations or statements that aren’t soundly based in SEO.

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