There is a sucker born every minute!
I have no doubt that this is true, but I don’t have a problem with that. Heck, we’ve all been duped at one time or another. The real tragedy is that there is a liar born every minute preying on the ignorance of well-intentioned people, otherwise known as “suckers”.
I get it, we always want to put a positive spin on things. That’s what sales people do. You emphasize the positive and de-emphasize the negative. SEO is that way. It’s kind of hard to sell a service based on, “I have no idea if you’ll ever get ranked #1.” But, in truth, we really don’t.
We can, however, sell SEO based on experience.
In our experience our clients see a positive return on investment, increasing traffic, leads and sales. Do we know for sure where you’ll end up ranking for any particular keyword? Nope. Does that mean there is no value in web marketing? Quite the opposite. The value is in what we see over and over again with our clients. But every client is different. Every result is different.
That makes web marketing a bit more difficult to sell.
The Well-Intentioned Sucker: Me
Recently while on Amazon, I got a “take a short survey and get a free gift” offer. I thought, sure, I don’t mind paying shipping on a free gift. Seemed like a good idea. The fact that it was all handled through Amazon gave me confidence. Later the same day, I got another survey offer. I figured I hit the jackpot. Two great deals in one day!
This time, however, I didn’t pay too close attention to what I was doing. As I followed the clicks, I was taken to a third party website where I ended up sighing up for a recurring “subscription.” And here I thought I was just ordering a single free product. This is when my wife’s paranoia comes in handy!
After she got a fraud-alert text from our bank, she did a little research on the company. As you can imagine, she read all sorts of negative things that set off more and more alarm bells. Luckily, I was able to promptly cancel my order before I was left paying for something I had no intention of paying for.
The Difference Between What You Want and What You Get
Hey, I’m all for up-selling, but deceptive marketing like this just isn’t cool. Put your best foot forward and all that crap, but don’t hide what should be obvious in the small print.
While my sales person is very concerned about getting sales, he is even more concerned about our reputation. Without that we have nothing! So he spends a great deal of time educating prospects about our services, expectations, and what we’ll be able to accomplish for their budget. Selling SEO is a long and very customized process. Yet we occasionally lose contracts to other companies promising far more than they can deliver at a price too good to be true.
That’s not to say other companies can’t do a good job at a lower rate. You can get a perfectly wonderful car for $15,000. You might also scoff at the car that costs $35,000, because, after all, they both get you from point A to point B. But we also know there are huge differences between a $15,000 car and a $35,000 vehicle, and that difference is far more than the price tag!
But to those that don’t know better, you can sell the same web marketing services for $5000 per month that you sell for $500 per month. The difference is both the quality of service you’ll get and, of course, how much you’re paying per hour. If we live in a world where people get paid what they are worth, it’s generally worthwhile to pay the higher rate. We do it with lawyers, plumbers, doctors, and builders all the time. You don’t want someone cutting corners on the foundation of your new home!
But we also know that there are scammers out there promising the moon and delivering a marble.
How Not To Be Duped
There is simply no room for deception in marketing. If you have to lie or hide things in order to sell something, you’re a fraud! It doesn’t matter how good you think it will be, in the end, it’s really just good for you.
The onus for honesty in marketing is on both the seller and the buyer. As the seller of SEO services, we have to do all we can to ensure each prospect and client is fully informed as to what we can deliver and the obstacles that might impede their success. The prospect has to do their due diligence in making sure they aren’t just hearing what they want to hear, that they are getting “the full scoop”
The worst client relationship is one where the client has expectations different from what is possible. It’s on both sides to make sure that expectations are understood.
My team calls me an anti-sales person. It’s not that I don’t like sales. I just don’t like sugarcoating stuff. I tell it like it is and work very hard to make sure our clients aren’t just buying into the idea of SEO awesomeness. I want them to know that things don’t always go perfectly. Over the years, I am sure that I have lost many potential clients because I’m not willing to let our prospects believe something that isn’t true (as much as I have that ability.) Yeah, it goes against good sales, but it’s also the reason why some of our clients have been with us for over a decade!
Do you want long-term success? For the web marketer, don’t over-hype what web marketing can achieve or undercut the costs only to add them on later. For the business owner, don’t buy into something that sounds really, really good without first investigating. Ask questions, keep your bullsh!t meter operating at peak proficiency, and run from any signs of dishonesty.
While I was annoyed at having been duped into a subscription service without realizing it, the fault was still my own. I just didn’t check out the fine print. If everyone takes responsibility for what they buy and what they sell, perhaps we can rid the world of the scammers and liars.
I know it’s wishful thinking, but a guy can dream.
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