I’m not one for pitching on projects as I believe building business relationships on trust is far more concrete than doing some fancy presentation and winning the work – of course, this applies to both sides, the company and the provider. That is not to say that it isn’t important to communicate what one is able to do, please don’t get me wrong, I just don’t feel that a flashy presso is an approach that is better than building the trust. I also understand that sometimes you have to pitch, but in most of my cases I like to get to know potential clients before entering into business relationships, it’s worked very well for me.
A few months ago I was involved in a situation where there was a level of pitching involved, I did what I had to do, I also went for the trust angle and my offering and costings were very good – I went in lower than usual as it was a client I would have very much liked to have worked for as the brand shared a lot of my feelings. The pitch went well, the client liked me and I was fairly confident that I would get the work. A month went by, I sent through a follow up email and the client replied positively, but explained that it was going to be a slow process – I’m happy with that and completely understand.
I didn’t land the project.
My company is fairly new and I wanted to understand why I hadn’t landed the project so I popped the client a reply thanking them for letting me know (I truly appreciate being told when I don’t land work) and asked for some advise, was my pitch bad, did I quote incorrectly or anything that I could take and work on for the next time. The response was very polite and it boiled down purely to cost. I was a little shocked by this, but I was given some insight into the client’s budget at the time, so I thanked the client and went on with business.
Now, today, a few months later the brand popped up in passing conversation, completely randomly, and I decided to head back to the office and have a look at the website and see how things were going. My experience in SEO allows me to quickly look at a website and identify some of the key tasks any SEO company would immediately implement on a website, such as: meta data, sitemaps, backlink profile and so forth. Now, most of us know that meta data is no longer the be all and end all when it comes to SEO (if you didn’t know that, you do now). However, although it’s not a heavy ranking factor, it’s still incredibly important to make sure that it’s relevant, suited to the page’s content, not duplicate and is user friendly for when the results are displayed by Google, Bing and so forth. On this client’s website, all the meta data hasn’t been updated, it includes keywords that are irrelevant and in many cases, they’re duplicate! The website runs on WordPress, I’ve seen the backend, so I know it’s not a case of being a strong CMS that doesn’t have the functionality to update meta data uniquely. I also noticed that the sitemap is old, it doesn’t take any of the new pages that the client had just created when I met them into account and there’s no sign of any changes to the link profile. The list does go on, but for the sake of this post I shall not bore you. Oh, and the website’s rank for the keywords they were interested in haven’t changed one bit, I compared it to the report I pulled when I was pitching.
This sort of thing pains me, not because I didn’t win the work (sure, that plays a part), but mostly because I know that I could have done a better job, an ethical job and a job that the client would be able to see the result of. I can’t help but think that the company who won the pitch quoted really low, landed the client and has honestly done absolutely nothing – probably sends them a monthly report with some complicated graphs and keyword lists that make it seem like a lot is happening. It just feels wrong to me, horribly wrong, when there are SEOs and inbound marketers out there doing great ethical work, these cowboys and flyby nighters are giving the industry a bad name.
Now, I know this is life and I know that this happens in all industries, so I’m certainly not saying this is all about SEO, but in this case it was and it infuriates me that these great people (the client) are not getting what they are paying for. It also makes me mad that I could have landed an incredibly nice client and done some amazing work.
Perhaps I should email the client and touch base?
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