It happened again. Another small business owner called me with hopefulness in his voice: “Lori, we’d like to see if we can meet to go over how you can help us.”
“We’ve been working with [X marketing company] for a year now but haven’t gotten any results,” the VP said.
We scheduled our meeting and in the meantime, I researched the VP’s website and digital marketing so I would be prepared to educate them about some immediate steps I would take and some long-term steps to follow. I was shocked at what I found…
…Or maybe I should say: I was shocked at what I DID NOT find.
Here’s what I discovered…
The president, a silver-haired gentleman who had started the company 33 years ago, had chosen this other digital marketing agency to work with a year ago. They had been paying the agency a monthly fee of, what some people pay for a home mortgage ($1,800), and had gotten zero leads from this hefty 12-month investment. They had NO visibility in Google except for two keywords, no social media strategy to build trust with their local community except for the Facebook post that went up a year ago. No Google reviews (thankfully, there was not the dreaded ONE review that was negative, posted three years ago that a lot of uneducated businesses have). I found dozens of inaccurate directory listings of their company with the wrong company name or wrong phone number and wrong address. There was NO strategic presence in Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. No 60-second videos with helpful tips on their website. No YouTube channel. No digital marketing. Nada. Zip. Nothing.
No dripping brains or blood all over the back seat of this car but the magnitude of the damage was essentially and metaphorically the same: this vehicle had to be cleaned up and put back on the road again – this time with an expert driving it who had a road map and end destination so nobody would get hurt, lost, damaged or worst of all: lost in cyberspace, invisible to the world.
This company had been driving in the desert for a year now, without any nourishing leads. Time to get them back home to where they could be found by potential customers who were actively searching for their services in Google, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. etc.
Why were they in this mess? Ah, here was the problem: they had chosen the wrong digital marketing agency to work with.
This so-called digital marketing agency was not walking its talk.
Yes, they had a Twitter account but their one and only Tweet was shared three years ago.
Their Facebook Business page had obviously been put up so their employees could post 5-star reviews of their own company. All the posts were self-serving. There were no helpful tips for their fans. And the engagement (likes, comments, shares) was dismal.
Their videos they created for this client were not story-telling films but slideshows of a series of still shots. My 9-year old niece puts these together quite easily but she doesn’t charge $1,100 for them like this so-called digital marketing company charged this client.
The blog posts my client had paid for were very simple and basic – just enough words that Google would be happy. The SEO of the blog posts and a few of the pages of this website were adequate. I could see they were doing the basics but not enough to be charging such a high monthly fee for. There was absolutely no off-page optimization. During the meeting we searched in Google and found competitors in the top search results but only found my new clients twice and those were basic keywords they should have been found under. The president was surprised to find a new company had overtaken the top search results in the last two weeks.
The mess was worse than originally assessed and the clock was ticking.
As more Baby Boomer business owners wake up and realize that digital marketing is much more effective than radio, print, TV or other old school marketing and advertising, they still need to educate themselves about digital marketing so they can make informed decisions and not waste their money or even go out of business by making bad decisions like this one.
How to choose a digital marketing agency
That’s why I created this checklist for busy business owners, especially the Baby Boomers, who didn’t grow up with technology and don’t use it like their children and grandchildren and customers use it.
Check out the online reputation of the company. Search in Google for keywords they should be found under. They have to walk their talk. If they’re not doing digital marketing for their own company, how can you expect them to do it for yours?
Are they social? A good digital marketing agency is a social business itself. The CEO or the team or the brand should be Tweeting every day, have an active Facebook community of fans who like, comment and share their posts. If appropriate, other social networks should be strategically used by your digital marketing agency: Instagram; Pinterest; Periscope; Vine; and Google+. There should be links to their profiles. Go review them and find out how active the company is in these places. If they haven’t Tweeted or shared valuable content in Facebook or LinkedIn or elsewhere in a few days, that’s a red flag. How can they do this successfully for your business if they’re not doing it for themselves?
The website: is the content written all about them? Or is there content showing you what they’ve achieved for others? Case studies, client testimonials, videos of clients talking about them, blog posts that give helpful tips about marketing – is ANY of this in their website? No? Run away.
Do they have a Google+ Business page that’s active and verified? What about Pinterest?
What’s the plan for measuring their efforts? How will you know they’re succeeding in increasing page views of your website and decreasing the bounce rate? Google Analytics helps you by providing some very insightful data. Hopefully, they are at least doing this much. There are many other ways of measuring performance. Ask about this.
I could write a LOT more but you get my point, right?
Make an informed decision. Don’t choose the agency because they said they’ll do a good job for you. Get the data, do some research and use my checklist.
What are your thoughts about this subject? I hope my article helps at least one person avoid getting ripped off by unscrupulous companies. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Share this article with your friends and colleagues so you can save them a ton of money. Thanks for reading and sharing.
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