How to Find RFPs for a Specific Niche? (Database Development)

 wrote this 10 months ago in Freelancer News
I have been working through the "how to find in-demand positioning" module inside of Endless Clients and am having trouble reliably finding RFPs for database work. We are focusing on database development, data cleaning, database architecture, but I am just not finding RFPs looking for that. Most are data management systems – SaaS products aimed at a particular industry.

Does that mean what I am doing is not in-demand, or are my searches not very good?

(Data and database turn up on just about every RFP because they are in an RFP database. 🤦‍♂️)


Good question Royce! And it's actually one that is quite common.

The answer is: it depends.

On one hand, the niche could very well be too specific or too niche to find work via RFPs. If you find that is the case (and we'll get to some ways to find out below) then I’d lean more heavily on the other sources which we talk about in the course. Specifically the later modules focused on: Job posts, Slack communities, LinkedIn, etc.

That said, my hunch is you’ll run into a lot of the same issues.

And the reason for that is NOT that the niche or service you provide is lacking demand (based on what I know about the niche I think that’s unlikely) but instead the reason is that you haven’t found the right wording / language that clients in your market are using.

This is SUPER common.

We, as industry insiders, search and think about the work we do in very different (better, more accurate) terms than clients. By definition, we're subject matter experts, so we look for hyper-specific terms because a) we know they exist and b) we know what they mean.

Often, client's don't.

Sometimes great clients use inaccurate or even downright WRONG terms to describe the exact thing we do, simply because they don’t know any better.

So next let's dive into how to find out if your  niche of database development is too niche for RFPs. Here is a quick Google search I did with your terms. And here are a couple RFPs that mention database maintenance (out-dated now): 1, 2, 3

Note: don't kill me, these 3 are just the first few that showed up. You can very likely find way more relevant RFPs to the work you do.

The first step is to go through RFPs like this that look like the right type of work – even if they’re outdated – and note down what kind of words clients are using to describe your niche.

Pay special attention to surprising, vague, or inaccurate terms. If you find multiple RFPs making these mistakes, it could indicate patterns in the demand from your market.

If you think it may be how clients think about your work, run some searches using those terms to see if it turns up results, using the Endless Clients material.

It may mean being less specific in your initial search, or pitching your database development services in a new way that you hadn't thought about.

For example, instead of looking for RFPs that need "database development" you look for "database migration" RFPs.

This is a big theme inside Endless Clients:  we want to react to market data and uncover real client demand.

Another example: you might assume clients are searching the term “database architecture” because technically that’s the appropriate term … but after you review a few RFPs you might notice that clients actually refer to this work as “database design.”

Despite being a less correct way of describing the work, you find that this term results in more RFPs and job posts.

Sometimes a simple tweak like this can be the difference between 0 results and a couple proposal-worthy opportunities a week. If that's the case, it makes sense to incorporate these search terms, even if they're not exactly accurate.

Hopefully this illustrates how powerful finding the right term can be for your searches.

It might sound a bit farfetched at first... but this is literally a recurring outcome from people who take the program. When they adjust to the market, they find the opportunities are endless.

Here are a couple good tutorials on how to find clients looking for a niche skill:
Dynamics NAV/365
3D Architectural Visualization

Even thought they're not database development, there are a lot of the same lessons repeated in these niches. 

Each video is me going through and finding leads for these niches that they weren't able to find. I walk through what the difference is between our approaches. 

So in the end –  if you’re not able to find ANY good leads on ANY channel no matter what you search, I’d have serious reservations about the niche.

But I don't think that's the case here.
I'd have to briefly concur that, with a little background in SEO, it's very true that often, clients largely use terminology to advertise needs/opportunities in words professionals that can help them wouldn't ever imagine using. That's simply because they don't know much about those skills, even if they need them, including the words used to describe those skills. One has to expand their personal lexicon by studying the language real client prospects use and kind of update our internal map of those dialogues so that we can keep on top of however people describe their needs, that can change on an almost daily basis!

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