BarnRaisers



10 top tips for writing an RFP that gets great work 0

Posted on December 14, 2015 by Rob Petersen

 

RFP

A Request for Proposal, RFP, is one of the most common tools an organization uses to find the right partner for a business opportunity.

Finding the right partner for a business opportunity can be complicated. The way an RFP is written makes a big difference. It  can help get great work at a competitive price and build a strong relationship.

An RFP includes tangible criteria, such as price, qualifications and experience. But there are other intangible factors such as alignment of organizational values, a shared vision, and organizational capacity.

How do you write an RFP that gets great work? Here 10 top tips.

  1. ALIGN KEY STAKEHOLDERS EARLY AND OFTEN: An RFP is often either written in isolation or with a laundry list of requirements to make sure everyone’s individual agenda is met. While stakeholder engagement is challenging, don’t begin an RFP without first talking or interviewing key decision makers and aligning their needs into common criteria for selection that is agreed to at the start.
  2. BEGIN WITH BRIEF OVERVIEW AND OBJECTIVES: State not only what you want the service provider to do but also why: What is the central “pain point” your organization has? For example, if it’s a website redesign, what about the current one isn’t working for your purposes? This is high level, so be brief. The details will come further down and a birds-eye view is fine.
  3. SET A REALISTIC TIMELINE: Often, there’s a sense of urgency to an RFP which is understandable. However, abrupt deadlines can convey a lack of respect. If your organization faces a serious problem or opportunity, you should budget a serious timeline. But you need the best ideas, counsel and, not necessarily the quickest.
  4. BE CLEAR ABOUT BUDGETS: It’s important to indicate a commitment by disclosing the funding amount approved. By doing so, you’ll receive much richer and relevant proposals and demonstrate that you are seeking a qualified firm, and are not simply fishing for ideas.
  5. BE UPFRONT ABOUT NUMBER OF CONTENDERS: The more selective a client organization is in their extending of an RFP, the better indication for the potential partner firm that they’ve has done their homework. If a client hesitates to reveal the number invited or there are more than a handful, it’s possible the organization needs to get a better handle on what exactly it seeks in the RFP process.
  6. ESTABLISH EVALUATION CRITERIA: Is pricing your only evaluation criteria or are you looking for the best fit and the best project for your budget? State clearly what the participating company is being judged and has to deliver to be selected.
  7. OPENLY SHARE VITAL BUSINESS INFORMATION: Sharing ample background data and research about your organization conveys that you take the RFP and proposal development process seriously and that you trust your potential future partners with that information. In the end, an open partnership will reap better rewards.
  8. SKIP THE BUZZWORDS, JARGON AND EXCLAMATION POINTS: As a writer, I’ve learned that when people write like this, it’s often because they are truly eager and excited. This is not a bad thing. However, you need to take a step back. Read your writing aloud. Never write a sentence you couldn’t imagine saying to someone.
  9. YOU CAN’T KNOW EVERYTHING: And that’s ok!  Vendors understand that you cannot know everything and are not able to anticipate every little thing that may come up during the procurement or implementation process.  What they do need is for you to lay a good framework by working with your stakeholders, gathering requirements, and layering your information so that it flows and provides insight via text, diagrams, and other visuals. They need to see what you want the product to do, who will use it, and how it will be used.
  10. REMEMBER YOUR END GOAL: Your end goal is not to simply acquire to pick a vendor. Your end goal is to make sure what results from this process support the change in your organization is seeking – and you receive the best work for a competitive price.

Asking for something that clear and well-written can go a long way to getting great work.

Do this tips help you in writing and RFP? Do they convince you it can lead to great work? Does your company need help writing an RFP?

11 signs when you don’t have a strategy 0

Posted on June 01, 2015 by Rob Petersen

 

 

 

Peter Drucker

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old”
Peter F. Drucker

A strategy is a plan of action to achieve a major aim and future result. It requires commitment because making change is difficult. To describe what’s involved, Peter Drucker said:

“Strategic planning is the continuous process of making present entrepreneurial (risk-taking) decisions systematically and with the greatest knowledge of their futurity; organizing systematically the efforts needed to carry out these decisions; and measuring the results of these decisions against the expectations through organized, systematic feedback.”

So it’s not hard to see how businesses get off course, often unaware, and the commitment of a continuous process becomes a collection of words periodically reinforced.

To know if this is happening to your business, here at 11 signs when you don’t have a strategy

  1. STRATEGY IS A COLLECTION OF TACTICS: Often, we use the terms strategy and tactics interchangeably. They are interdependent but different. You need both. Sun Tzu, the Chinese general, philosopher and author of the Art of War said: The difference between strategy and tactics: strategy is done above the shoulder, tactics are done below the shoulders.
  2. STRATEGY IS MERELY AN OBJECTIVE: Increase awareness. Acquire new customers. Grow average order size. Inspire advocacy. These are not strategies. While they may explain the what of a strategy, they don’t explain the how, when, where and why where the heavy lifting is required.
  3. NO CONSISTENT EXPRESSION OF SUCCESS: A strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve a major future result. If your company isn’t clear what success looks like, you’re lacking the key ingredient of the strategy.
  4. NO CONSISTENT MESSAGE: Your brochure, website and sales collateral have inconsistencies. The content is even unclear to people in the company. When people within a company can’t understand it, neither can anyone else.
  5. IDEAL CUSTOMER ISN’T DEFINED: A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. It’s not uncommon to mention them in a strategy. Every business should know who they are.
  6. EVERYTHING IS A PRIORITY: When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. A strategy focuses on a singular major future achievement.
  7. IGNORING COMPETITION: A strategy reinforces a competitive advantage. But the competition is not static and is not only direct competitors but innovations that could make your product or service obsolete. A good strategy takes the competition into account and maintains flexibility.
  8. NO  POLICY FOR OPPORTUNITIES: A reason to have a strategy is to guide new opportunities. When a business is not using its strategy for this purpose, your not taking advantage of one of its major benefits.
  9. DON’T DO MARKET RESEARCH OR SOLICIT CUSTOMER FEEDBACK: A strategy has to be grounded in reality and the achievable. A sound strategy has been researched with quantitative data about the market and qualitative data from customers and prospects.
  10. NO KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (KPIs): KPIs are the metrics that matter most to the achievement of the business objective. They are generally in the range of 6 to 8 metrics carefully chosen to keep a strategy on track. They are the actionable scorecard to help guide the desired result of a strategy.
  11. NO RAVING FANS: No business can survive without enthusiasts. If a strategy isn’t created around them, then your strategy isn’t going to work.

Do these signs help you determine if your business has a strategy? Do you need help creating and putting a strategy in place at your company?

5 data-driven metrics prove ROI of SEO 0

Posted on May 10, 2015 by Rob Petersen

 

ROI of SEO

 

  • 64% of traffic to a website comes from Organic Search (source: Conductor)
  • $750/month to $8,000/month is the range  for retainers companies pay for SEO (source: Search Engine Watch)
  • $100/hour to $300/hour is the range on an hourly basis

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines.

These facts show:

  • An understanding of Organic Search is necessary for businesses to succeed on the internet
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is big business and costs vary widely
  • SEO should be tracked and measured to know its return on investment (ROI)..

With 5 data-driven metrics, you can prove the ROI of SEO. We’ll show you based on the SEO we do for our company, BarnRaisers.

  • WEBSITE VISITS FROM ORGANIC SEARCH: SEO that works drives more visitors to a website. For our business, we know 83% of traffic comes from organic search (more than average). We know it attracts over 11,000+ visits/month and over 85% are new. We get this information from Google Analytics. We work at SEO largely by providing relevant content (like this blog) to our visitors using priority “keywords” (metric #4). We track it every month.

ROI of SEO - Metric #1

  • LINKS: When search engines crawl your site, they look to see if you are an “authority.” This is determined by other sites that refer visitors through “inbound links.” If you’re providing relevant content on a regular basis, “authoritative links” should increase and the search engine raise your rank. We know we have 289 inbound links. We monitor them regularly and watch where they come from. Guest blog posts have served us well from increasing our inbound and authoritative links. There are many services that track links. These are tracked from Marketing.Grader.

ROI of SEO - Metric #2

  • INDEXED PAGES: Search engine catalog search pages for every query a user makes. The number of search engine pages your website is cataloged on are your “indexed pages.” More is better than less and, if your SEO is working, indexed pages increase. From the same source above, we have 1,100 indexed pages and are glad it has grown and continue to grow.
  • KEYWORD RANK: 32.5% of people click on the website in the first position in Organic Search from their search query; 90% click on a listing from the first page (source: Chitika). Understanding what keywords your business ranks high and how they match with what you do in very important. In our case, we achieve first page rank for keywords that reflect analytic expertise like “Key Performance Indicators,” “kpis” and “crm.” Since this is what we do, we’re glad about it. We also see how must value our efforts in Organic Search provide compared to paying for these keyworks on a CPC (cost-per-click) basis. The figures below come from SEMRush.

ROI of SEO - metric #4

  • KEY TRANSACTION ACTIVITIES (CONVERSIONS): People like to do business with people they know, If you like what you’ve read, you can: 1) Subscribe to our newsletter, 2) Download our free eBook, 3) Buy a book we’ve helped author or 4) View our process for working on SlideShare. We track all these activities and know a certain percentage of people who do their activities become customers. We also know what percent come from Organic Search because we’ve set up “goals” in Google Analytics. Through all these measures, we are able to determine if and how our efforts in SEO generate ROI.

ROI of SEO - metric #5

 

If you need more information on the cost of SEO, below in an infographic.

Do these 5 metrics prove the ROI of SEO to you? Did it help to show you how to measure SEO based on what we do? Does your business need help with SEO?

SEO costs

10 bad reasons to jump on the Millennials bandwagon 0

Posted on May 03, 2015 by Rob Petersen

 

Have you noticed more and more businesses are jumping on the Millennials bandwagon?

Companies seem to have concluded by targeting Millennials, the generation born from the early 1980’s to the early 2000’s, this solves any business shortcomings now and ensures success for the future.

In many cases, companies, without research run by people much older, are pinning hopes, plans and resources behind those who are much younger.

Are they doing it for the right reasons?

To help separate right from wrong, here are 10 bad reasons to jump on the Millennials bandwagon.

  1. MILLENNIALS ARE THE BIGGEST GENERATION EVER. At 75.3 million in 2015, Millennial are the largest generation in U.S. history. They are also the most diverse. Share of Millennials born in foreign counties is the highest since 1910. There has been a 20% rise in the Hispanic population in the Millennial generation (source: White House). Millennials are a melting pot. Before concluding bigger is better, a little market segmentation is likely to go a long way.
  2. MILLENNIALS HAVE THE MOST SPENDING POWER: Millennials spend $200 billion dollars, annually, the most of any generation. But they make less money and actually have less spending power than older generations. On a per person basis, they are the smallest age group in spending today and won’t be the largest for another five years (source: Goldman Sachs). Student loan debt is also at a record high. It jumped from over $12,000 for the class of 1993 to nearly $27,000 for the class of 2012 (source: NPR.) If you’re going after the disposable income of Millennials, you’re chasing a small amount.
  3. MILLENNIALS ARE SHAPED BY TECHNOLOGY: Although Millennials can figure out how to use an app or site that is a clunker, they probably won’t take the time to do so. They are experts at finding alternatives. This means technology from smartphones to websites to mobile apps need to provide the most usable, self-guided, hiccup-free, efficient user experiences in history. Don’t think your online  experience is going to win favor with Millennials unless it’s great.
  4. MILLENNIALS ARE REACHABLE THROUGH DIGITAL MEDIA: 3 out of 4 Millennials own a smartphone. They are inseparable from their smartphones — and Facebook specifically, followed by YouTube and Pandora. Snapchat is the other notable mobile platform among Millennials and has grown 102 percent over the past year (source: Neilsen). If mobile isn’t central to your business strategy for Millennials, you’re not going to reach them.
  5. MILLENNIALS SEARCH ALL OVER THE INTERNET: 40% of Milleninals use product review websites before they shop (source: Edelman). 33% of Millennials rely mostly on blogs before they make a purchase, compared to fewer than 3% for TV news, magazines and books (source: Forbes). If you’re business doesn’t have a presence in these channels, Millennials are not going to find you.
  6. MILLENNIALS ARE BRAND LOYAL: 67% of Millennials believe it’s their responsibility to provide brand feedback (source: Edelman). A good customer experience and a “quality product” are the two most cited reasons for what influences Millennials to share information about a brand online. 62% expect a brand to engage with them on social networks to become a loyal customer. 43% say Facebook is the social network with the most influence on their spending habits, followed by Instagram at 22%.  (source: Millennial Branding) If you want to connect with Millennials, you’re going to have to rethink the way you market your product.
  7. MILLENNIALS ARE INFLUENCED BY THEIR PEERS: 68% of Millennials agree their peers’ social posts are ‘somewhat likely’ (or better) to influence them into making a purchase. 25% share online shopping content to their social networks; a rate of 4X that of the average user. They also share 2X more content than the average user (source: Adweek). These facts say Millennials trust people over brands and trust is likely to be built on their social networks then your brand’s website.
  8. MILLENNIALS ARE CAUSE CONSCIOUS: 80% said they’d be more likely to purchase from a company that supports a cause they care about (if price and quality were equal); 75% would think more highly of a company that supports a social cause (source: TBWA) ; yet, they check prices twice as often as Boomers, 83% budget a specific amount each month to pay off debt; if given money, 42% would use it to pay off debt (UBS)
  9. MILLENNIALS VALUE COMMUNITY AND FAMILY: Millennials may be connected but they delaying marriage and babies and taking time to “find themselves” in their 20s. The average age of first marriage is 27 for women and 29 for men, up from 20 for women and 23 for men in 1960, according to a recent Pew Research. Some millennials — 34 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds — are waiting longer to get married for financial reasons.
  10. LET’S HIRE MILLENNIALS TO LEARN ABOUT MILLENNIALS: They are very hard workers; but they’re different from previous generations. 56% would take a pay cut to work somewhere that is changing the world for the better; yet, 71% don’t always obey social media policies at work and 56% won’t work at a company if they ban social media access (source: BarnRaaisers). Millennials work hard, maybe even harder, than the rest of us, but they work differently and have different expectations of the workplace.

Are these bad reasons to market to Millennials to you? Does your business need help marketing to Millennials for the right reasons?

12 ways Organic Search and Paid Search work better together 0

Posted on March 21, 2015 by Rob Petersen

 

 

Yin-Yang-of-SEO-and-PPC

In Chinese philosophy, yin (the shady side) and yang (the sunny side) describes how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected and interdependent in the natural world. In digital marketing, yin and yang apply to the way organic search and paid search work.

Organic Search (Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the the process of obtaining a natural placement on search engine rank pages using keywords, keyword analysis and link popularity.  The goal of SEO is to attract users organically without paying for it.

Paid Search (Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or Pay Per Click (PPC))  is where web site owners pay an advertising fee to have their web site search ads shown in a top placement on search engine pages or display networks. The goal of SEM is to ensure search visibility.

Although 80% of people clicks on an organic listing first. Whether they go to organic search or paid search, 33% click on the web listing in the first position, and 90% of all click occur on the first page. So, as Ricky Bobby says, “if you ain’t first, you’re last”

How do you get the most out of organic search and paid search. Here are 12 ways to make organic search and paid search work better together.

  1. MORE “SHELF SPACE:” It’s no secret, when you have 2 listings you own more real estate and chances of being clicked.
  2. INCREMENTAL CLICKS: Google research shows even with a #1 organic search ranking, paid search ads provide 50% incremental clicks.
  3. GREATER CONVERSIONS: Even though roughly 80% of clicks on a search page occur on organic listings, 42% to 48% of conversions happen against paid traffic according to Forbes.  That means paid ads work after a would-be customer knows what they want to buy.
  4. ORGANIC LINKS + PAID LINKS = MORE CLICKS: Studies show users have a higher propensity to click on paid links if your organic link is listed, as well the other way around.
  5. MORE COMPELLING COPY: Take your best performing ads in terms of click through rate (CTR) and conversion rate and try applying those headlines and ad copy into your meta descriptions and title tags. Additionally, take copy from top performing organic pages and see how they work within paid ads.
  6. FASTER RESULTS: It can take months to see progress in organic search rank. The ability to appear in the search results in a top position in paid search helps carry your brand while building an SEO presence.
  7. BETTER HEADLINES AND LANDING PAGES: Paid search makes it possible to test landing pages, headlines and templates without hurting your organic traffic. When an advertiser can learn what is most effective and achieves better click through rate and more conversions, everyone wins.
  8. COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE: There are many ways and tools for organic search and paid search for competitive intelligence. Identify who the top competitors in organic search are for a particular keyword with Keyword Spy. Find relevant long tail keywords, see what competitors’ bid and their PPC ads with SEMRUSH. Use these tools to identify competitors’ keyword priorities and strategies.
  9. ACHIEVE CAMPAIGN GOALS TOGETHER: Want to see how PPC & SEO work together to achieve your campaign goals? Link Google Webmaster Tools to Google AdWords which provides additional insight into the relationship between paid and organic search campaigns. Using the Paid & Organic report effectively shows any instances where a potential customer might have seen paid search results, organic search results and paid and organic search results together on the same results page.
  10. MORE WEB TRAFFIC: It is plain and simple; with more links pointing to your website at any given moment there is more opportunity for increased visitors.
  11. COMBAT NEGATIVE PR: Occasionally, someone will say something negative about your company. It happens, and when it does, combined PPC and SEO efforts can be great damage control. A great example was seen during the Gulf oil spill. For some time afterward, BP paid for PPC ads linked to the keyword ‘oil spill.’ The PPC ad led to a page on BP’s site about the cleanup effort. They wanted to make sure that whenever someone searched ‘oil spill,’ BP’s PPC ad was at the top of the list. Use this technique to help tell your side of the story.
  12. TARGET MORE PRECISELY USING SOCIAL: The social media landscape is changing dramatically, and part of that change has been the emergence of highly targeted advertising opportunities. Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube (owned by Google) can serve up ads targeted to incredibly specific groups of people. Using Facebook user profile information, it’s possible to show an ad only to 22 year olds living in Kansas City who are interested in motorcycles and horticulture. It may be a small group, but it’s precise. The data that you collect from these campaigns uncovers granular details about your target audience to help refine your organic and paid search strategy.

Did this convince you of the yin and yang organic search and paid search? Could it benefit your business if they were working better together?

 

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    BarnRaisers builds brands with proven relationship principles and ROI. We are a full service digital marketing agency. Our expertise is strategy, search and data-driven results.



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