“Ghost Marketing – When the digital, online presence, or web profile company you have spent hundreds or thousands of dollars building your online presence with makes all their work disappear at the end of their contract.”
In order for marketing to function for your business, it needs to both build on your foundation and push your business to new heights.
You can build your foundation through consistency in your branding, services and customer experience.
You push your business to new heights by generating more customer leads and reaching your target market with the right services.
In order for new clients to become loyal customers, there must be consistency. The following are common pitfalls when hiring marketing agencies. If you have been approached with one or more of these offers, either proceed with extreme caution or get out right away.
The Clingy Salesmen
Like the girlfriend you just can’t get away from, clingy salesmen are to be avoided. We are not talking about persistence. Patience is a virtue, persistence and determination are excellent business qualities, but clingy is a whole different world. When we say ‘clingy’, we mean letters with hearts, driving by your house, you broke up four times and she still calls every hour clingy. These salesmen start out with an ice-cold call and point blank refuse to get off the phone with you until you have pulled out a credit card and are begging for mercy! Not only do they take up a massive amount of time, but also the entire conversation is steamrolled towards what they can do.
Marketing is not a one-size-fits-all. Any conversation that isn’t both about your business and about their capabilities is not helping you much. If they won’t let you get off the phone, chances are they are afraid if you stop to think about your decision or ask around, you’ll back out. You have the right to think about it, and should never be pushed into a marketing decision. When the clingy salesmen calls, try this trick: Tell them you have a policy of waiting overnight before making any money decisions. If they still won’t let you get off the phone, say politely ‘thank you but no thank you’ and hang up!
Paying to View Online Reviews
Before the comments come flooding in; no, there is nothing wrong with wanting to view your online reviews all in one place. Having a service that allows you to view everything people are saying about you online is chicken-fried-steak-sandwich lunch-with-an-alien awesome. Who isn’t impressed with being able to pay only $20 a month to see all of their online reviews and web information in one place?
Well, the answer to that is simple: someone who isn’t paying anything. Google Analytics offers a completely free service that allows you to see most of the reviews posted about your business (thank you Google!). For small – medium sized businesses that are just starting to make a buzz online, monitoring real-time reviews can drain marketing funds and not provide much value in return. Who wants to pay when you can do this for free?
“I see your Web Info!!”
Nothing is more fun during your work day then having a company that you’ve never heard of calling you trying to sell you something. OH- wait! There is something more fun: Having a company you’ve never heard of call you claiming to see your website’s back-end information and analytics and then trying to sell you something!
Having fun yet? Neither are we. Be extremely wary of any company you have never heard of calling you with claims that they can see how many people have visited your website and other personal analytical information. Is it possible? Well…sort of. There are ways to get a websites information online, but the information is usually not very accurate. More to the point, companies like these thrive on cold calling. They have a list of business owners to sell to and they often know little or nothing about your business prior to the call. Their salesmen are usually taught how to keep you listening and stop you from canceling services. Again – take caution! Good marketing draws from the foundation to build upwards, and the priority for every marketing dollar should be to grow your business by shining a light on what makes you special.
Building a Fake Website
“I have a good idea,” states Ter Ible Marketing. “In order to increase your brick and mortar business, we will attract more people to your location by building a beautiful fake store front in a popular part of town! That way, you will have more visitors and make yourself well know.”
“But…” replies Honest Amy, a small business owner “there won’t be any product there or workers! How can we deliver the same quality of customer service our shoppers love if we don’t have anyone representing our product working there? What use is it to us if our customers are visiting a fake store that cannot provide the exact experience of our real store…”
“Pish posh!” cries Ter Ible Marketing, hushing Honest Amy with a grand sweep of their hand. “What you are providing your potential customers is your name and a bit about yourself. Isn’t that key to new business? You will have a lot more people see your name then you do now. Think of the exposure!”
“But that’s exposure to a fake storefront, not my actual store! What happens when we don’t want the stand anymore?”
“That won’t happen,” Ter Ible Marketing says with a grin, “because if you did close it down, the store front would disappear, the lines wouldn’t work, and it would look like you went out of business. That would be bad for business, and you wouldn’t want that, now would you?”
It seems so silly to put together a fake storefront for a real business to attract customers, yet every day people are enticed by online marketing companies to do just that.
Protect your reputation and brand. Beware of marketing companies that build a simple landing-page website that does not use your actual domain name, especially if you have an existing website that they chose to ignore. While buying complimentary domain names is a method used to increase search engine optimization, secondary ‘landing pages’ -(Simple, one page websites with basic information and contact options)- should always direct web traffic to your real website.
Some online marketing companies create these ‘ghost websites’ out of basic templates, completely ignoring your real website. This ghost website is where they concentrate all of their marketing efforts, allowing it to gain popularity or climb higher on search engine listings. It’s rarely very customizable outside of small pictures and basic information and doesn’t reflect your companies branding or professionalism.
The moment service with these types of online marketing companies are terminated, the ghost website disappears, leaving a great deal of confusion and annoyance for your clients who are now no longer linked conveniently to your site. This defies the laws of good marketing: creating all the results you’re paying for, but on their platform…not yours.
Why would online marketing companies do this? Because we don’t employ these methods, we can only conjecture that this allows their work to be easily removed and creates dependency. Companies like this usually accept monthly payments. If their marketing support is built on your company’s foundation, they no longer have any upper hand in keeping you as a customer. In order to reap the benefits of your investment, you are forced to continually sign a monthly paycheck. This is no longer a partnership: You are at their mercy.
- Protect your brand by maintaining ownership of your online profiles
- Do not pay for online marketing materials and digital space that will be removed from existence upon termination of service
- Have your online marketing work for you by directing your advertising dollars to your company’s website
Building Fake Phone Numbers
This goes right along with fake websites, except it’s even sneakier because many companies do this under the pretense of gathering ‘helpful information’ from your fake phone numbers. Now, don’t get us wrong, there are several great phone systems that can track phone information and record conversations as a great marketing tool for your business. This is a fine tactic to take when choosing a phone system, but when this is the only phone number your marketing company will allow when you already have a different office phone, they are building your company base on a phone number that doesn’t actually exist. Your marketing is no longer building upon your businesses foundation, and when you cancel your service and your clients call that number and find it to no longer work, they will be more likely to chose a different business provider.
- Keep your official phone number consistent in all your marketing materials
- Set up your analytics through your phone provider rather then setting up a fake forwarding phone number.
Phony Search Engine Optimization
As a business that offers Search Engine Optimization services, we know that SEO services come in a variety of shapes and sizes. An ongoing SEO services transforms from the initial optimization (setting up analytics, keywords, content optimization, etc) to routine maintenance of your ranking using the following tactics:
- Pay Per Click Advertising
- Content Marketing (including Blogging)
- Custom Newsletters
- Reputation Management
With the exception of the services listed above, after the initial Search Engine Optimization set-up, maintenance should be minimal along with what you are being charged. If you are paying out the nose for SEO but the scope of the services your SEO Company is working on doesn’t change, chances are your SEO Company is over-charging you.
Ready for some cold hard facts? It takes 4-12 weeks to begin to see marketing results. No way around it. Be wary of any marketing company that calls promising instant high rankings on Google or “200 more calls per week within the first week’. Chances are the phone will ring, but full of wrong numbers and overseas area codes. That’s because real marketing takes time to saturate your target customers, and more time to get a response.
There is, however, an instant effect, called a ‘Quick Win’, which is a marketing term for the immediate improvement proper marketing and branding can have on a business. A ‘Quick Win’ can be the updated logo causing your current clients to make positive comments about your new look, or a new phone system making it easier for clients to reach the people they need to connect with at a faster rate. Honest marketing companies do not hide under the pretense of ‘Quick Leads’, but they are sure to generate many ‘Quick Wins’.
Be extremely wary of any marketing company who begins deleting your online presence after you discontinue service with them, and we don’t mean simply stopping to produce what they usually produce for you. It’s natural that certain marketing services like e-newsletter releases or social media updates will discontinue if you no longer work with a company that is managing those services. We mean bigger things. No business owner wants to go online to find their website has disappeared and they are no longer listed on any directories.
Outside of initial set-up, most online directories have free listings that require little effort and no cost to continue existing online. In fact, it actually takes a bit of work on your ex-marketing company to delete them all. Why is this a concern? Because there is no benefit in engaging and paying a marketing company if their efforts will disappear after services are terminated and you will have to pay to start from scratch again.