As a pricing and business model, project-based consulting is a fairly common practice. As is evident in the name, it involves charging clients with a flat project fee based on estimated breadth of work, duration and manpower requirements. Many SEO firms have pre-packaged services on offer, and almost all try to tailor their bids on client needs. But given the prevalence of many other pricing models such as pay-per-hour, performance-based and profit sharing each having their own unique advantages, is this pricing model still worth it both for service providers and their clients?
Certainly, this pricing scheme has its advantages. For one, a well-constructed project-based agreement holds the provider and the client to an agreed set of deliverables and costs, instilling a real sense of accountability that is present in longer-term contracts while still retaining some flexibility that is inherent in hourly consulting models. Project completion and a standard of quality is also readily established before a program is implemented which lessens the headaches for both parties.
The fee structure of project-based consulting is also relatively simple, especially compared to contracts, performance-based and profit-sharing agreements. A specific project has one price, which is especially helpful to marketing departments on the client side when they present their plans and budgets to their CFOs. This simplicity also benefits SEO firms, since they can easily advertise budget-friendly rates while increasing the likelihood of repeat business and lasting relationships.
In most new SEO projects, additional work are almost inevitable. With this pricing model, any extra services can be billed separately and split into more financially manageable clusters that will prove friendly to changing client needs and budgets while assuring a steady cash flow for SEO firms.
Of course, these are not automatic benefits. The progress of an SEO project often entails many changes of direction, adjustments and problems, and ultimately, this model might not be the most flexible and responsive when it comes to dealing with unforeseen situations. The key to making the most out of project-based agreements is in the details. Given SEO’s dynamic nature, it is important to flesh out the parameters of any agreement for SEO work while identifying potential problem areas that might take more time and cost more money. Again, both parties should bear in mind that whatever agreement they enter into are based on estimates; fees, deadlines and deliverables should be arrived at reasonably and spelled out in as much detail as possible.
For clients trying to choose among several project bids, an important factor to consider is the provider’s transparency in discussing the actual work that is going to be done and for how long. This is useful in forming realistic deadlines and establishing quality expectations throughout the project’s duration. Try asking for case studies or go directly to their previous and current clients for a better idea of how they deliver. Also, be wary of overpromising and undercharging contractors. Their claims of fast results or cheap upfront fees should be taken at face value because even the most veteran of SEO professionals readily admit that as with any other form of marketing, SEO offers no shortcuts and most definitely takes time, effort and yes, considerable expense.
Kaushal Gandhi is SEO Expert and director of Mumbai based Aaris Internet Solutions. Aaris provides SEO consulting and specialises in promoting small business websites with its affordable seo packages .