Monday, 23 November 2015 07:54

Smart Marketing or Snake Oil? 5 Ways to Tell the Difference

Last week a construction company contacted me because they weren’t happy with their current marketing firm and were looking for an alternate vendor.

This would be a great phone call to receive except it was accompanied with a horror story of bad marketing. In this case, the company spent $20,000 for their new website. The site was not mobile optimized nor did it have the searchable database the company needed so their existing customers can search and find information on their accounts.

They were cheated. Seventy percent of Internet searches now happen on mobile devices. As a result, Google no longer recognizes non-mobile optimized websites as relevant and won’t list them in search results. Charging $20K for a website no one is going to find and doesn’t perform all the required actions is criminal. That website builder should be forced to chew tinfoil for a week.

Bad marketing can hurt your business’ reputation and affect your bottom line for a long time. This kind of thing happens because marketing is complicated, and the tools change almost daily. Business owners, rightfully, don’t know how to evaluate all these vendors’ claims.

These shady marketers are taking advantage of the small business owners’ lack of knowledge and experience in marketing to sell them something that often they don’t need. Here’s how you can fight back and kick a bad marketer’s butt. Use this checklist when you evaluate a marketing firm.

  1. How big is their tool box? If the firm only does websites or social media, or pay per click advertising (PPC), odds are when they talk with you, you’re going to need a new website, or a social media strategy, or a PPC plan. (What a coincidence!) They have one solution, and that’s the one they’ll tell you that you need.

  2. Talk with their current and former clients. Ask questions like, “Do they deliver on time?” “How is the communication between you and your account manager?” “Would you hire them again?” And here’s the important one: “How did they measure the impact of their solution on your business?”

  3. Get Real Numbers on Their Impact. Ask them for case studies. What did they accomplish for these companies? Did they increase their profits? Did they get more customers through the door? Did they achieve more website visits? Did the company’s phone ring more often as a result of the firm’s efforts?

  4. Look at their digital footprint. If it’s a website company, look at their site. Is it mobile optimized? Do all the links work? If it’s a social media company, look at their Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter pages. How many followers do they have? Look at the social media accounts of their clients. Are the updates relevant and frequent? How much interaction do they garner with their audiences? What impact has their social media strategy and execution had on their clients’ bottom line?

  5. Be Wary of Guarantees. When you get the ad from the Search Engine Optimization company that says “Guaranteed first page ranking!” run the other way. No one can guarantee this but Google. To fulfill their guarantee, you’ll be on the first page of search results for the name of your company, (which you should already be), or some obscure search term that no one actually looks for. Good SEO takes time and effort. It is not an overnight results endeavor, and the goal post is constantly shifting. Keyword prices fluctuate, competitors change strategies, and Google continually adjusts their search algorithms.

The next time a marketing vendor approaches you with a solution. Put them through this 5 step vetting process and save yourself the agony of bad marketing.