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Caution! Unrealistic Internet marketing claims coming your way!

2011 June 17
by Rich Hargrave

NOTE: this is not me.

I’ve been in the “local search” business since the earliest days. From selling IYP on BigYellow.com, the Yahoo! Yellow Pages and InfoSpace in the 90′s, to SEM, SEO and more recently Social Media, video and Reputation Management services – and all I can say is “I’ve heard it all”!

Lately however, there seems to be a higher proliferation of questionable sales pitches and practices – and it’s not just coming from the local independent guys or fly-by-night start up’s. Increasingly, these unrealistic promises and aggressive lyrics are being used by larger, more “legitimate” firms in the SMB space. Some discussion on this being a sales “training issue” recently took place over on Screenwerk, but I think there is more to it than that…

The reality is this; the marketplace continues to become more competitive. Local search represents the fastest growing segment of online marketing – and some companies/individuals will say just about anything to get their piece of the pie. Additionally, the continued fragmentation and complexities of the “splinternet” is generating more confusion for business owners. Although most local business now realize they need to be visible wherever and whenever potential customers are searching, I think their judgement can become easily impaired under some of these strong sales and closing tactics.

I’ve personally taken a great amount of pride in setting realistic expectations with clients. As a seasoned sales professional I’ve learned that as much as one wants to exceed quota or win the current sales contest; it’s a consistent honest, realistic and passionate approach that wins the game and builds long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. Strong Clients relationships are a journey – not a destination.

So as a public service, here are the latest and most frequently heard unrealistic and questionable sales tactics to look out for…

  • Performance guarantees! Any time the word “guarantee” is used within the world of marketing, watch out! This is especially true in the areas of SEM & SEO. There are never any guarantee: not with PPC positioning, not within organic rank, not within local listings and certainly not regarding your advertising ROI. This is one of the most popular tactics being used; “Mr. Business, I guarantee first position in 30 days, for $199/month”! Run for the hills…
  • Something for nothing? Online, local businesses really can get something for nothing! Inclusion within Google Place Pages, Yahoo! Local and Bing Maps is FREE, and it’s a good place to start building an online presence. As a matter of fact – most businesses already have some level of inclusion – but “claiming” that listing and optimizing it for better rank is the next natural step. This can usually be done with minimal time and expertise (although true website SEO is a critical ranking component – with this you’ll need some assistance). I’ve personally received calls (as have my clients) from Marketing Representatives that offer Google listings for a flat fee of $49, $99, or even several hundreds of dollars per-month! Now, having the marketing experience and knowledge to optimize a Place Page does have some value, but positioning the service a recurring $99/month charge into perpetuity is where I have a problem…
  • Optimization of ___ (fill in the blank). I recently worked with a Client that got swindled into a long-term contract for optimization services, and thanks to that ineffective effort – this business now falls into a growing group of “SEO doubters”. “Optimization” is quickly becoming the most mis-used term in our industry. Everyone it seems wants to “optimize” something, but few of these SEO services I’m hearing within the local-space really address all the critical SEO factors (on-page factors, inbound links, social, listings, ratings/reviews, etc.). High organic rank and visibility is a product of multiple efforts and hard work – don’t’ get fooled by anything less. Ask for references!
  • Cheap SEO/or cheaper PPC. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for. In the world of PPC, I’m continually surprised at the number of business owners that fall victim to claims of cheaper pay-per-click advertising. PPC is a commodity, and outside of set-up or monthly service fees the market/competition is what dictates the budget (“supply and demand”). The best PPC agencies don’t sell on price, they propose budgets that would maximize advertising R.O.I. SEO on the other hand is more of a “service” that consists of significant man-hours and expertise. Some components of SEO may be more competitive if fulfilled off-shore, but generally speaking – a full-blown, inclusive and effective SEO project cannot be completed for less than several thousand dollars. Watch out for the one-size fits-all “cookie cutter” strategy!

Feel free to “comment” and let us know what you’ve heard out there as well…

One Response
  1. June 19, 2011

    “few of these SEO services I’m hearing within the local-space really address all the critical SEO factors (on-page factors, inbound links, social, listings, ratings/reviews, etc.). High organic rank and visibility is a product of multiple efforts and hard work – don’t’ get fooled by anything less.”

    I was beginning to think I was the only one who thought and worked like this. Thank you for reiterating what I’ve been saying all along.

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