Are Your Outside Marketing Resources Giving You B.S. ? (Part 2)

Sadly, there are still disaster stories about outside marketing resources that are big on promises — but haven’t delivered. It frequently happens when companies are trying to save money, and they may not be asking the right questions before hiring.

Here are our next 2 in the series of “Top B.S. Phrases” that need careful scrutiny – because they may mean you should turn and run the other way . . .

1. “I’ve done hundreds of (insert project here)”

When I was consulting at Qualcomm, the MarCom Manager (whose background was in brand marketing) had hired a freelance writer for some projects. I gave the writer a creative brief on an upgrade promotion I was working on.

What I got back was copy that “meandered.” It didn’t follow the sales process, and it didn’t seem to follow any sort of copy formula I could see.

So, I asked the writer if she could follow the sales process (since this was copy designed to drive an immediate sale), and I outlined the sales process for her.

She got irate and informed me that “I’ve written hundreds of mailers for (insert big-name client here).”

I asked her, “Can you tell me what your sales results were for some of the best copy you wrote?”

Silence. Oh. She had never written copy that had to sell directly, where the marketing team was actually going to count the number of sales compared to number mailed or emailed.

It doesn’t matter “how many you’ve done,” it only matters what the RESULTS were.

If you’re doing lead generation, you need someone experienced in writing lead generation copy. If you’re selling via ecommerce, you need someone experienced in driving a sale through copy.

What does “experienced” mean? Ask to see some of their best work and ask what the results were for each.

If an agency or freelancer can’t tell you how they increased traffic, leads, or sales – by how much — and what the cost per visit, lead, or sale was, they’re not the agency for you.

2. “We know SEO.”

A small business that sells via retail locations in 4 cities hired a website developer based in an Eastern European country, who was also going to handle the Search Engine Optimization for the new site.

(Red flags should already be going up: SEO is primarily about content. You want native English speakers if the SEO company is going to create content for you.)

The website developer created Main Menu topics that hid certain products, because “they aren’t important for SEO.”

But the Main Menu should be created to help your prospects find what they’re looking for.

Typically, whenever you create something “for SEO” or “for Google,” that’s usually not the best way to handle it (which Google has made clear on more than one occasion).

The website developer also created these curious “content pages” – which weren’t linked to from any Main Menu pages or sub-pages.

When I asked about these pages, I was told, “Oh, they’re just for SEO.”

When I looked closer at these pages, the copy was completely generic, didn’t tell the prospect anything new, was written in poor English – and the first paragraph was always repeated as the third paragraph, like the writer was being paid by the word.

When I looked at incoming links, I found the web developer owned a number of blogs that were linking to the client’s website. Unfortunately, none of the blogs was focused on what the client was selling.  Each post on their various blogs was for a different topic, so each blog covered a massive array of different products, presumably for each of the agency’s various clients.

When I asked the agency president about this strategy and my concerns for Google penalties for this old “link farm” approach, he replied, “Small businesses need to do this. Google won’t find out, and this will be much more effective than just hoping to attract links organically.”

All of these old-school “SEO” tactics haven’t been best practices in the U.S. for at least 15-20 years.

Whenever you consider hiring resources from other countries, always assume they are at least 5 years behind best practices and technology in the U.S. And that 5-year lag (or more) could mean disaster from an SEO perspective. (We’ve seen this across countries and across websites — so be careful.)

Content (and SEO) needs to be undertaken by native English speakers who live in the U.S. (if your market is the U.S.). Even freelancers from Great Britain use words we don’t use in the U.S., and they have different spellings and wording for certain items.

If you’re going to use writers from the U.K. for the U.S. market, be sure you read carefully and correct all of the “amongst” and “analyse” and “open home” references, as well as other phrases, words, or spellings your prospects wouldn’t use.

Search Engine Optimization tactics done correctly can absolutely help small businesses. We fixed the Main Menu to make sense for visitors, removed the “written only for Google” pages, and started writing truly educational blog posts.

We wrote new page headlines, Page Titles and Descriptions using important keywords for each retail location. We added loglcal links between pages with keyword-laden anchor text and removed some duplicate content.

Each of the 4 locations began to rank organically for some important keywords (and two locations hit the #1 position and remained there for their most important keywords.)

End result: The site drove more sales than they ever had during their traditionally highest-selling month.

The need for small businesses to save money is understandable. But before you sign up for the lowest-cost option, get a few proposals and ask each resource EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO DO to solve your problem or improve your results. And ask to see their past results.

Be sure you spend your budget on strategies that have generated proven results for other companies.

Let’s stop being fooled by these B.S. lines.

Did you miss “How to Identify When Marketing Resources are Giving You B.S., Part 1”?

Need more smart strategies that just make sense? Our new BEST-SELLING book, “The Results Obsession: ROI-Focused Digital Strategies to Transform Your Marketing” is now available on Amazon!

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Learn more about The Results Obsession and see the Table of Contents


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About the Author:

Best-Selling Author, "The Results Obsession." Website SEO, Digital, and Direct Marketing Copywriter, Offer and Lead Generation Strategist. Karen has generated stellar Internet Marketing and Direct Mail Marketing RESULTS for a Range of Clients, including: 1) 67% boost in online guest accounts for; 2) 60% response to an online survey for Luce Forward; 3) 22% response for Union Bank; 4) Direct mail for Qualcomm that boosted sales response by 25 times; 5) Email Nurturing Series that doubled sales for; 6) New Email Series for Software company that boosted click-through by 3 times. Contact Karen at 760-479-0012.

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