Recently, I asked a number of Search Engine Optimization/Search Engine Marketing (SEO/SEM) and Display Ad providers for proposals. These are only the most basic services; no social media, no blogging, no offline marketing, etc. All provide the services, so I thought I could compare apples to apples, right? Yikes, no!
Each had their own format, but that’s to be expected. What made the process confusing was that they didn’t quote the same things. For example, two gave an estimated Cost Per Click (CPC) for the SEM quote, but the other two didn’t.
Different providers also gave different value-added services. For example, one included call tracking while another broke it out as a separate line item. Some had additional “service” or “management” fees that the others incorporated into the broader quote.
I had a fruit salad! I was comparing apples to oranges to bananas to blueberries. I had to ask further questions of every provider in order to compare the four proposals.
I know enough about these programs and services to be able to analyze the different proposals – and ask the follow-up questions. But I think about the small-business owner who knows she needs these services, but barely understands what they are, much less how to evaluate them. This has to be overwhelming.
I had to put together a spreadsheet to sort them all out. If you would like the spreadsheet, just ask.