Trying to find good online marketing help is a nightmare.
Online marketing is full of self-promoters and tricksters. It is a field full of traps. Online marketing traps cost you money – without improving your revenue. How can you find online marketing advice you can trust?
Are you talking to an experienced marketer – or a fast-talking sales person? Companies like Australia’s Reach Local have a reputation: Lots of sales staff / undertrained and under-resourced marketing staff.
Last month I was approached by online marketing agency E-Channel. E-Channel’s salesman is not a marketer. He isn’t knowledgeable about AdWords. He didn’t do his homework and he didn’t understand my business. He bragged about technology that’s irrelevant to my business. He couldn’t find any landing page that his company built. He showed-off clients’ ads by clicking on them (spending the client’s money). His pitch fell flat and he couldn’t understand why. I won’t trust a marketing agency if they won’t send an experienced marketer to talk to me. (On top of all that, E-Channel’s sales guy was arrogant, rude and aggressive.)
On the other hand, I recently spoke to Crockford-Carlisle about direct response campaigns. Who did I speak to on the phone? Jerry Crockford. The owner. He was generous with his time and was happy to visit my office. He thought about my situation, asked the right questions and prepared a thoughtful proposal. That’s good business.
Are they trained?
I did some digging and found that E-Channel only has two AdWords-qualified people on staff. That’s not encouraging.
Google certification isn’t a guarantee you’ve found a smart online marketer. The exams are easy and affordable. But most online marketers stay certified and stay on top of the latest changes. If a marketing agency can’t bother to certify their staff, what else are they skipping?
You should see key staff information and credentials – on the website, on LinkedIn, somewhere. If there are no marketing credentials listed, are there legitimate recommendations or testimonials from real people?
Agencies that belong to bodies like the Australian Direct Marketing Association are bound by some standards. Belonging to a marketing industry organisation suggests – at least – that an agency is willing to mingle with its peers and to be seen in public. But it’s no guarantee.
Who owns the work?
Watch out for this! With a company like Reach Local, you hire them for a while, pay a bundle of money, back out later and find that they’ve nailed-down your campaigns so you can’t access anything – no keyword history, no ad history, nothing. In my opinion, this is criminal.
Every SEM consultant should work within your existing account and should treat the account like they are a privileged guest – not an owner or a pirate. Get this in writing.
When you pay for work, the work belongs to you. Full-stop.
How about a 2-wine lunch?
If your marketing consultant can afford to wine and dine you, you’re paying them too much.
Don’t hire an agency for your ego – hire it for your business. Go eat lunch with a real friend who’s not charging you for their time!
What about consulting fees?
Listen: Don’t get robbed. Be cautious and smart.
Some online marketers charge a percentage of your revenue or a percentage of your PPC budget. This smells.
Your AdWords account is an asset. If it creates profitable conversions, it is a valuable asset. It is YOURS.
Imagine your business…
Today: Annual budget $100,000. 5,000 conversions. Annual growth 10%.
With a consultant, after one year: Annual budget $110,000. Consulting fee 20% (eg. E-Channel) = $20,000. 6000 conversions.
You paid a consultant $20,000 for 500 conversions. The consultant gets 2X more than Google for those conversions – and you’re still paying Google.
YOU created 90% of the account’s value – did the consultant earn a slice of that?
“If the conversions are profitable, why not?” Here’s why: You could find an expert to do that work for you on a flat fee. And you might get some additional services with the deal.
Flat monthly fees seem harder to swallow because they aren’t directly linked to your turnover. But if you get a good package of services on a flat fee, it creates a clear business relationship that’s fair and easy to work with.
I worked at Marketing Results in Brisbane. It was a busy, challenging job with lots of pressure to learn and grow. Owner Will Swayne takes AdWords very seriously and he takes time to review clients’ situations personally. No percentage-scams here – Marketing Results clients get high-quality services for around $2000/month. Packages can include AdWords, landing pages, email campaigns, etc. They build nice websites for fair prices. They always think about clients’ ROI. No fluff like meetings, lunches and brand-image workshops. (Full disclosure: I used to work there, but I don’t receive anything from them now.)
Get a guarantee.
This is not a popular thing with marketers.
Consulting is hard work and clients expect a lot. Some clients have dysfunctional businesses and expect a marketer to create profit out of thin air – while nothing at the business changes. Clients expect consultants to turn a sow’s-ear-business into a silk purse full of cash.
But that’s life as a consultant! If your consultant won’t stand behind their work somehow, don’t trust them.
Good luck in the online marketing minefield!
PS: A theme I’ve noticed in marketing agencies: Small agencies = better value and more accountability.