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Every year when business slows, home service companies are inundated with free SEO analyses, marketing “toolkits” and emails out the wazoo from marketing companies hoping to pick up new clients.
Chances are, your business has been on the receiving end of these special marketing emails, letters, and packages. It’s your prerogative as a business owner to check out new vendors—and it’s natural to be alarmed when these strangers tell you that your current marketing company is dropping the ball on key issues.
But before you let these pitches ruin your day, I’ll let you in on a trade secret:
The large majority of marketing pitches you receive are mass-produced pieces of crap.
I get it—it’s tough weeding out the credible claims, and nobody likes to be told their current partner isn’t pulling their weight. Most of the time, there’s nothing to worry about. These emails and letters are part of an automated campaign, and you’re one of the lucky 2,000+ service company owners receiving the message.
Fortunately, there are a few tips we have that can help you discern between the fake and the real.
First Things First; What Is Poaching Season for Marketers?
Poaching season for your industry is whenever the dips in calls come. For roofers, that’s winter. For HVAC companies, it’s spring and fall. Pay attention, and you’ll notice a rise in the amount of pitches you get during these times.
Here’s why marketers do that:
Most marketing companies know how to market themselves, and do it well. It’s the flip side of the two-edged blade. They know that when your calls stop coming, you get unhappy, worried, or anxious. And unhappy people are—in traditional marketing practice—really easy to persuade.
Think about it; you’ve probably used that tactic in your own marketing campaigns.
Common Poaching Techniques to Beware Of:
Here’s the main problem with all these pitches: they completely ignore the real issues.
Unless they have a copy of your revenue, lead tracking, analytics performance, social data, and competitor analyses, they don’t know jack about you. This is what you should really be caring about:
- You’re outperforming your competitors
- You’re staying ahead of the digital needs of the everyday consumer
- Your business is growing healthily
Remember to keep that big picture in place when you’re reading through these pitches.
The Google Manual Action Penalties Pitch
The business owner gets an email that looks similar to the following:
“RE:Google Manual Action Penalties
Hope you are doing well.
I discovered some major issues in your website which might be the cause for the Google Penalties and poor search rankings of your website:
* Your website has different adverse technical errors such as dead links, HTML errors, lost image alt tags etc. You can verify this by searching your website URL on validator.w3.org, brokenlinkcheck.com, feedthebot.com/tools/alt/
* I found that there are various ‘bad’ links pointing to your website. You can confirm this by searching your website on the key search engines search boxes – Google, Yahoo & Bing. Simply search by entering your website: URL.
* The number of quality and/or commanding Back links related to your website is very low. You can confirm this by simply visiting ahrefs.com
* Duplicity in the contents has been found which can be negatively affecting your website search rankings. You can simply verify this at copyscape.com.”
I hate this pitch. Not only is it obviously a template, it only scratches at the surface, is riddled with typos, and literally LOOKS like it was written by a computer algorithm.
One other thing—notice how many times they said “simply” and then listed a place to “verify” the information? Guess what? They’re citing public, easily accessible information–they aren’t actually performing any real data analysis.
When we send out our information, you better believe we hand-pick a select few companies, use our own software, our own data analysts, and extremely high-tech analysis programming.
The “I Noticed a Mistake/Major Issue/” Pitch
This pitch usually points out one or two surface-level data points that—at face value—aren’t as optimal as you probably want them to be.
It would be the same as me sending you an email saying “Based on the amount of times you’ve been to the gym lately, you’re out of shape.”
Now, I don’t know your life. You could be a marathon runner or a triathlete, but if I point out that one tiny fact, it can completely misrepresent the entire picture.
The “You’re Missing Out” Pitch
It’s common marketing practice to use specific emotional triggers in order to get people on board with your message. Using language like “You’re missing out on…”or “you’re getting left behind…” is a tactic that preys on business owners’ aversion to the unknown.
The Flashy Marketing Material Pitch
Ooh, this one’s a sneaky one.
Have you ever bought something based off the packaging? I have. Numerous times. It’s why the CMOs at Fortune 500 companies make the big bucks: persuasive packaging is a tried-and-true marketing method.
Our clients have gotten everything from a cardboard toolbox with a video message installed inside to an actual drone. The theory is, if they’re coming up with these beautiful, high-tech marketing pitches for you, you’re going to get the same for your customers.
Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. I’ve had too many clients come to us from digital marketing companies that promised these high-tech, brilliant marketing campaigns. You know what happened?
In most cases, they got the same or worse results as their previous vendor, along with a headache from switching.
Unless you’re a $100 million company, chances are you’re not going to get those high-impact, expensive campaigns.
Don’t Worry, We’ve Got a Pitch-Proof Marketing Solicitation Toolbox for You
Before you get stressed out about all these worrisome emails and pitches, relax. We’re here for you (and you won’t get a half-baked, cliche pitch from us).
Warning signs to look out for when solicited by a digital marketing agency:
- Are there typos/grammatical issues in the email?
- Do they have a @gmail.com address or a real business address?
- Did they leave quotes around their email (classic copy/paste mistake)?
- Are they promising the #1 spot in search results? Anyone that promises page 1/#1 rankings is lying through their teeth. How can they promise that?
- Are they making promises tied to a price? Anyone that promises the world for $50/month is a dirty no-good liar. In marketing, you get what you pay for
- Are they making very general/blanket statements – or do their claims have data specific to YOUR website?
- Is their website legit? Check out the company’s own website, and actually read through it. Is it thoughtful? Is it real? (I once had a prospective client vetting us and another company that was based in India. The other company’s site was riddled with typos and incorrect grammar.)
Final Thought: Pay Attention to How Marketing Companies Allocate Their Resources
The main difference between trustworthy marketing companies and the moneypits is simple:
Trustworthy marketing companies use their resources FOR you. The moneypit marketing companies use their resources ON you.
Think about it this way; if a company trying to sell you on INBOUND marketing has to run OUTBOUND marketing campaigns (like sending you an email or a package) to get your attention, how good do you think they’ll be at their job?
Take this example:
You’ve got two marketing companies. They pull in roughly the same amount of revenue and have 100 employees each.
- In marketing company one, 75 percent of the employees are devoted to either the internal marketing department or sales department. Their primary roll is to get the company more clients.
- In marketing company two, 75 percent of the employees are devoted to client services–account managers, SEO managers, PPC managers, etc. Their primary role is to get their clients more customers. (At Blue Corona, we have a grand total of four internal sales/marketing employees. The rest of our staff is dedicated to client services).
Which marketing company do you think has your best interest in mind? The one that spends all its money to acquire more clients like you, or the one that spends all its money on getting you more customers?
If it were my business, I’d want the company that has my best interest in mind before theirs.
If you receive any of these emails, send them to one of us. We’ll let you know if it’s fact or fiction, and what to do next.
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About The Author: Betsy is Blue Corona's in-house Digital Marketing Specialist. When she’s not directing Blue Corona's corporate digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring with her wife, diving into the latest marketing trends, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
View more blogs by Betsy McLeod