One of the greatest tales in Marketing Land is overnight push-button traffic and the Gurus that can make it happen. While some of these stories have weight to them most are quite frankly fables in the making. The truth of the matter is anyone with mediocre internet skills cancreate a fly-of-the-night website and claim to be a magic marketing genie. The following information may startle you but quite frankly you’d be at a greater disadvantage if someone were to pull the wool over your eyes.
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Here are the facts according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations: In 2006, the UK Office of Fair Trading estimated 6.5% of its adult population fell victim to mass marketing schemes. In 2008, the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated 5% of it’s population were victims of mass marketing fraud losing over AU $900 million collectively. In 2005, the US Federal Trade Commission estimated that the U.S. adult population would lose over $20 million dollars to mass marketing fraud. Furthermore, according to the FBI’s International Mass Marketing Fraud Working Group one of the principle forms of Mass Marketing Fraud is Advertisement targeting businesses. With all that in mind how can you realistically protect yourself and your business from falling into the depths of fraudulent despair? FEAR NOT, because here are 10 insider tips on how to avoid a marketing company scam.
Rule number one in the marketing industry is “Measure...Measure...Measure”. Any marketing company promising you results should be able to prove that such results are feasible. This concept goes far beyond a few graphical representations. Because after reading this article you will be smarter than the average bear, right? So, metrics should not just seem convincing but also be displayed in real-time if possible and publicly available.
Why? Simply because web interfaces displaying click rates or any other measurable element can be easily manipulated. When at all possible ask the company to use a screen sharing communication tool so you can verify the results are not doctored. Also, the way the company publishes their metrics is also important. If, for example, a company unwilling to publicize their accomplishments. One must wonder why are they so “hush hush” about achievements that have the potential to skyrocket their business. Granted concealing information like trade secrets is a reasonable expectation. Otherwise clients should expect transparency.
When Design Trumps Strategy Think Twice
Any marketing company that runs immediately into the design phase is questionable at best. Why? The fact of matter is every client or need differs. Therefore, consulting and planning should always come before implementation. This is a professional standard. Just imagine walking into a cake shop and saying, “I want to buy a cake”. And immediately without any question the baker says, “Great! $500 chocolate cake available on Sunday”. You might respect his enthusiasm but what about the details. Are you ordering a wedding cake, a birthday cake, are you allergic to chocolate, do you want any icing text, decorations, how many tiers, etc. A serious marketing company cares about the details and how to create the most effective strategy for your particular needs. Marketing is never one size fits all. So always think twice when a marketing company jump straight into design without considering the details.
SOP’s and Support
SOP’s are standard operating procedures. SOP’s are not always referred to as SOP’s they can appear as Proposals, Wikis, Codex, FAQ’s, or Features, they differ depending on the complexity of the services provided and of course the company’s internal operating procedures. Consider a company’s SOP’s as if it were the nutritional label or instruction label of any product. You may not be privy to every process or operation included in the service but you should expect at a least general description of the product/service. For example a product label will tell you how many servings in a bottle of juice. In the same way SOP’s should tell you the type and amount of services you receive for the money you’re paying and how you will receive it. Additionally, a support mechanism should always be available. A legitimate marketing company should already have a support process clearly explained and accessible to every customer.
The average user often considers the presence of testimonials as a clear indication of a legit marketing company. But remember I said you are “Smarter than the average bear”. So don’t just look for testimonials look for a means to verify the testimony. Why? There have actually been instances in which marketing companies create fake testimonials using stock images as the physical representation of a person. They even go as far as creating fake news websites to display the articles on so the testimonials at first glance appear legit. You can verify testimonials via the internet. It’s a researchers playground almost anything you need to know is available online. Search for scam reports or visit Facebook and validate the testimonial image with the Facebook profile.
Anticipating Reasonable Goals
If a marketing company claims they can make you a millionaire overnight for a measly $1000 investment it’s extremely likely they are flat out lying. Do your research and set reasonable expectations for marketing services.
No Contact Marketing
Any marketing company that neglects to provide a valid contact number or address is questionable at best. This may mean several different things. One possibility is that the company itself is not a registered business. The company’s failure to comply with domestic business requirements also suggests a nonchalant or laissez faire attitude towards e-commerce compliance. The last thing you want is for a marketing company representing your business to deliver illegal services under your authority.
While there really is no global umbrella for internet compliance there are regulations both domestic and international that companies must comply with. This is especially important in terms of internet marketing, e-mail marketing, affiliate marketing, and online advertising. A reputable marketing company is familiar with both domestic and international law or can at least provide or refer a client to a legal expert. Some indications of an internet compliant company are disclosures, terms of service, etc. For example, Verizon Wireless makes its Customer Propriety Network Information disclosure available on the company website. These types of disclosures suggest the company itself is compliant with internet protocol.
Work Product Compliance
Although evaluating a company’s legal reputation is important you as the client should also ask very important questions regarding the service as it applies to you. Otherwise, you assume the legal liabilities in terms of work product delivery. Therefore, when contracting with a marketing company simple questions like: What kind of research have you done to ensure my product is compliant with industry, government, and global standards? Don’t be afraid to ask questions or require clarification. Especially if the expected work product is largely outside the norm. There are many blackhat marketing companies on the internet that will inevitably hurt your business in the long run.
Reputable Marketing Companies will usually offer either a free version of the software/service, and trial version, or a Money Back Guarantee. In the absence of any the above assurances you are essentially proceeding at your own risk. Granted some marketing companies cannot provide the actual service itself (e.g. complex back-linking, directory submissions, or search engine optimization) they may instead substitute the free, trial, or Guarantee with a free but quality ebook, course, bootcamp, or kit.
Proof Beyond Hype
Last but certainly not least a marketing company should always provide you with proof of service. If for example you land on an advertising site that claims your add will be viewed by 10,000 people but sneakily they inserts a small disclosure stating the ad views are not trackable you should think twice and go with a more reliable and trackable service.
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