If a used car salesman tells you that the "older model", as depicted in this animated image (click on "the empty white space" below to see it), gives you more "BANG" for your buck, ask him if that means "suspicious noises" like "grinding" and "clunking".
Danny Sullivan ("Search Engine Guru") recently said (according to "RustyBrick" of Search Engine Roundtable) in his "KEYNOTE: The Search Marketing Community" at the 2005 Search Engine Strategies Conference in Chicago about the current reputation of the Search Marketing Industry (as a generalization): "Despite gains, many will still see us as the used car salespeople of the Web."
How sad that fact is after 10 years of the emerging growth phase of this relatively new industry. My opinion is that there is enough blame to go around for both some buyers and some sellers of Search Marketing. It's not just some greedy sellers, it's also overly competitive (the end justifies the means) buyers who want their Search Marketing vendors to do whatever it takes for them to beat their competition.
I believe Danny Sullivan wants the entire industry to "do the right thing" to promote faster growth of the Search Marketing Industry, but he doesn't control the search engines, the search marketing sellers, or the search marketing buyers. He also knows the challenges (as seen in Danny's Post on "Improving the Reputation of The SEM Industry") in doing any kind of "standards" or "certification". He is also wise enough to not want (what may happen eventually) any kind of governmental "Used Car Lemon Law" legal regulations, in my opinion. So what is a prospective buyer of Search Marketing (SEO-SEM) to do besides educate himself (as much as time allows), and research (as much as realistically possible) the many SEO's and SEM's, and eventually gives a "Requests For Proposal" to possibly only three.
So, here is the first post on my "one suggestion" to help the Search Marketing Industry grow. It involves a form of "Performance-Based Pricing" or "Pay For Performance" that I promised I'd come back to in "SEO Consultant Compensation Based on "Knowledge".
In my last post I mentioned a SEW Forum thread called "SEO pay for performance". In it the prospective SEO buyer says after some discussion of the subject: "It seems the general opinion is that cpa is the way to go in which ever form it takes.", and wants a "Cost Per Acquisition or Action" proposal from one of the participating search marketers. He sells different levels of memberships from $16.00 to $75.00. My opinion is that the reason he only got a "good luck & be careful" response (at least, online) is that "Pay For Some Kind of Performance" usually only works for both buyer and seller if the buyer sells a relatively large dollar transaction. Of course, there is always the argument for "fast nickels vs. slow dimes", along with the fact that there are many newer (and very good) SEO's out there who have lower overhead, and can therefore work for less gross profit at first. Different SEO's will accept, as it relates to client profiles, varied levels of income and sizes of client's businesses.
In another SEW Forum thread called "What is an SEO worth (in cold hard cash)", an SEO (and please keep in mind that since I have never worked with any SEO, I am not recommending any) says: "However I think you forgot one model that has turned out to be increasingly important (and profitable) for me: CPA
How much is it worth to a client to profit $100 more and gain more reach and marketshare. Give me a (decent) share of that and I am happy.
Lawyers actually also work this way sometimes: At a cut of the potential winnings.
This model has turned out to be far the most profitable for me (as calculated by profits per working hour) and the one where clients stick around for the longest time (in fact, I never had one single client terminate such a deal - yet)." So, we know that some SEO's are already doing "Pay For Some Kind of Performance", but we don't know all the little details about those SEO compensation plans. Those "little details" can make a big difference in determining whether or not it winds up being a true "win-win" situation.
With the probability of NO REAL, VALUABLE GUARANTEES in SEO, wouldn't you prefer to have a long term "win-win" relationship with an SEO Consultant firm based on some kind of "Performance-Based Pricing"? My next post will explain why I like and agree with this Harvard Business School Marketing Professor (Emeritus), Benson P. Shapiro. On 7/22/02, he published "Is Performance-Based Pricing the Right Price for You?. I believe there is much wisdom in it that proves that it benefits both the buyer and the seller under the right circumstances. What do you think?
Animated image courtesy of www.artie.com.