SEOmoz’s New Look and Feel
Woke up this morning to a new SEOmoz:
I think the SEOmoz team really nailed the design, taking user action into account. The site is set up to funnel users into the site and have them perform goals, whereas the old design left the user aimless and wandering (so to speak).
SEOmoz Did A Great Job. What Can Small Business Learn From This?
Great job to the SEOmoz team. Small and medium-sized businesses can take a tip from SEOmoz: every so often, it’s necessary to makeover yourself. You still have the same values and services, just a new look and feel. It’s a way to spice up the everyday, give your loyal customers something to appreciate, while broadening your reach to a new segment.
RFPs and Search Marketing Firms
If you’ve ever been in the agency or firm world, then you’ve heard of them. RFPs (Request for Proposal). And, chances are, you’ve participated in one, answered one, and, god forbid, crafted one. I consider them to be the “Goose that Laid the Golden Egg” for companies; they keep on giving and giving. Endlessly.
The premise of the RFP:
1) You get an RFP from a prospective client. A business-orientated tome full of hypothetical questions.
2) The business requests you answer a complete litany and barrage of questions as to how you would go about marketing and strategizing for (hypothetically, of course):
a. A particular line of products the company is thinking about launching
b. The company itself (my personal favorite).
c. Analyzing their current marketing strategy, and what your company would do to improve upon it
3) After spending considerable, and exhausting hours, delving in your own company’s products and services, you send it back to the prospective client in the hopes they will choose you to implement the marketing strategy you put together.
Why the RFP Must be Banished
The three points above are overly-simplified. The questions in these RFPs are very specific to the given client requesting it, and ask for data that takes a good bit of research to speak intelligently to. For example (completely fictitious question):
“We are thinking of offering consumers in Region Z our Blue Widget product, previously unavailable to them. What types of demographics are most apt to purchase our product? What type of marketing strategy is needed to make this effort profitable and capture the demographic?”
That’s just ONE question. There are likely to be several questions that go that in-depth. Right there we’re talking numerous hours of research to find out about the primary demographic that would most likely purchase the widget. Add on top of that the hours it’s going to take to craft a specific marketing strategy to sell a blue widget. Ridiculous.
Oh, and did I forget to mention that all of this is FREE OF CHARGE? That’s right, it’s free. It’s for the opportunity to put YOUR OWN PLAN OF ACTION into action. Brilliant. So, let me get this straight: I get to waste dozens and dozens of man-hours and create a hypothetical marketing strategy, all for the opportunity to put my own plan into action? Awesome.
What happens if they decide to go with another RFP from another business? Well, you’re SOL. All that research and data and strategy wasted. Not so. Nothing is stopping the requesting company from integrating your ideas into the RFP they chose. Not a thing. Moreover, the requesting company might choose not to pick anyone at all. They might just withdraw all offers and sit on it.
Right. This company just swindled (yes, that’s what they did), in some cases, $20,000+ of free research and strategy, for nothing but the promise of opportunity.
How To Stop The RFP Madness:
Businesses should simply refuse to participate in the process. Send it back with a big “NO THANKS” stapled to the front of RFP. If more businesses decided to spend the time and man-hours working on actual clients, they’d be more profitable. It might even send the message that the “free lunch” is over. Or secondarily, just bullshit the answers. Have fun with it. Get Socratic with it. Answer their questions with more questions.
If these companies weren’t getting anything valuable from it, then they’d stop sending them. They’d actually have to meet with a company, face to face, and discuss actual issues that need actual resolutions. And, they might actually have to pay to have that research done. Weird.
I, for one, am saying no to the RFP.
Redefining What Search Engine Monopoly Means:
The question whether or not Google is a monopoly is a sound one. And, inherently, the answer I can come up with is, “yes” it is a monopoly, based on the proof the Hitwise image provides (see above). Google has been steadily drowning the competition for over two years, each year pushing them (Yahoo, Live, and Ask) further in the undertow. But are they are true monopoly?
The definitions of monopoly are as follows:
“Exclusive control by one group of the means of producing or selling a commodity or service”
- “A market containing a single firm”
- Investment Dictionary: “A situation in which a single company or group owns all or nearly all of the market for a given type of product or service. By definition, monopoly is characterized by an absence of competition – which often results in high prices and inferior products.”
It’s the last definition that gives me pause. Based on this definition, one could go either way on the monopoly vote. And, based on the last definition, my answer changes. I don’t think Google has a monopoly, just a better products and services that a populous prefers. They’ve revolutionized search and the clarity of search. Google has competition in the market (albeit poor competition in the populous’ eyes). Moreover, this competition produces inferior products and services.
So, if others will continue to insist that Google is a monopoly, then we will have to redefine monopoly for the Digital Age. Something to the effect of:
“Dominant market control in an individual industry, made up of several sub-industries, in which market competition produces inferior, under-caliber products and services.”
There are, as I see it, only three possibilities from here and monopoly-hood:
- Google continues on its current path. And, by 2010, will have effectively crushed all their competition, owning over 90+% of the search market share. Read this as: Google Officially Becomes A Monopoly
- Yahoo does eventually, team up with MSN/Live (MicroHoo). This partnership creates enough innovation within search and its sub-industries to cause a slight reverse in trends. Google will still own 50+% of the search market share.
- A new search engine firm will emerge and help create destabilization within the search market. (The most unlikely of the three)
Personally, I’m rooting for the second or third option, because, frankly, it’ll make my life pretty boring if all I have to do is think: WWGD (What Would Google Do). I’m not saying that Google is/will become Skynet or the Matrix, but it could happen. Anything we can do to help shake up the market is a good thing.
UPDATE: 10/08/08: Googleopoly
Check out this post by Rusty Brick (a.ka. Barry) posted on SE Roundtable. More great information about whether Google is truly a monopoly or not.