Once upon a time, I wasn’t happy in my work. The reason was because I was tasked with making good on promises that often couldn’t be made good on.
Those experiences taught me a bit about myself, but also a lot about other people.
Let’s look at how some of those other people appear to be (mis)selling (bad) internet marketing products.
PPC As SEO
This is the old “Guaranteed Page One within 24 hours” trick.
The setup is that a prospect is not happy their website isn’t ranking or is taking a while to rank, and the
slimeball shining knight of a business development manager tells them they can have exactly what they want, as quickly as they’d like it. That’s how life is, right?
Opaque Statistics That Don’t Reveal The Full Story
This one’s a little less clear-cut.
The setup is that “previous success ensures future success”, with a twist.
Previous success can indicate pedigree, experience and a fairly-earned reputation. But if success isn’t success, then there’s a pyramid of lies being almost-cleverly constructed.
Say for example that 98% of customers who bought the ‘Platinum SEO Submission Package’ have top three rankings. Sound good?
What if those rankings were:
- for keywords including the brand name
- for long tail phrases that weren’t competitive and didn’t bring traffic
- obtained within the first few weeks of work with a little on-site work, but didn’t rank for the year-long subscription period
- not an organic ranking, but a local listing, image or similar
Recurring Revenue Through Outdated Legacy Products
Business is business, so why cancel an ongoing revenue stream that has no labour cost other than payment processing?
Because you could up-sell someone to a better product that will make them more money, that they could give you more of.
Or perhaps you don’t think that’s a smart move, or aren’t smart enough to make that move.
If you know nothing about the type of work you’re outsourcing, then it may come back to bite you.
Typical examples are clueless developers outsourcing SEO, or clueless SEOs outsourcing development.
Taking some time to learn about things you’re selling can lead to positive results for all involved.
The “Build It And They Will Come” Ecommerce Experience
This can seem cheap —you don’t have to look too far for a full ecommerce setup in the sub-£500 bracket. But if you invest in something and it doesn’t bring you a return, then it’s not cheap. It’s costly.
Some people have made more money selling on Facebook by having a simple business page and collecting orders through Facebook messaging, than others who’ve paid to setup an ecommerce website without any clue as to how to approach the market.
There’s a little less mis-selling and more of a case of a lack of business acumen in this example.
Clueless Cold Callers
These are the nice folk who call you and ask “how are you today?”, which is perfectly pleasant.
Following this, they talk about how your website isn’t appearing in the “right places” before going on to ask just exactly what your website address is.
Their one-size-fits-all package won’t take into account the technical complexity of your website, and if you pay them up front you can look forward to a few hurdles to jump over before getting your money back.
Evidence Of Industry, Or Work As A Placebo
This is typical of when the invoice arrives for “SEO” or in some tragic cases, “Search Engines”, and you phone up to ask what exactly that means.
The call maybe be “answered” with a long list of tasks completed, none of which have had any affect on your business. This might be enough to keep you paying for a few months, but after a short while the penny might drop, or, even worse, you feel so let down as to think that SEO “doesn’t work”.
There’s a lighter, luckier side to this kind of situation. Sometimes your business can benefit from a changes to Google’s algorithm, where others may have suffered. If you happen to be paying for ineffective SEO at that time, I wonder who will try and take the credit for this increase in performance?
Is It Getting Better?
Whether any of this has gotten better, or worse, is hard to say – but with internet marketing becoming a standard requirement for small businesses, I’d hope it’s the former.