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Web Gotcha’s

The importance of checking out web marketing promises

I am writing about this because it seems to be happening too often.  I believe that the reason it is happening so often is because many of us consider the internet and web marketing to be both mysterious and critical to our businesses.  That makes us vulnerable.  The offers sound so good and we are lulled into false hope.   Quite frankly, I also have those thoughts of “what if this one is really the answer.”  Although I refuse to allow myself to get lulled in, I am usually willing to listen to the pitch, if for no other reason than to be prepared.  Forewarned is forearmed.

Recently I was again asked to speak with the rep from a company promising to get my client to the top of search engine listings.  My first reaction was “no, not another great deal,” but my more logical communication to my client was “I would love to speak with him – just give him my phone number.”  In truth I was thrilled that my client had the presence of mind to ask me to check out this great deal.  And, truthfully I needed some afternoon entertainment.

The phone conversation and internet presentation would have been fun, if it hadn’t been for the fact that I knew there were probably lots of people being taken advantage of.  As has often been the case, the rep made a bunch of promises, none of which made any sense to me.  The really sad part of this is that those promises sound so good to uneducated internet users seeking more business.  Unfortunately, even the very savvy business person can get fooled by these promises because of the slick talk and our wish to be number one on the internet.

This particular sales pitch was more like throwing dice or playing a game of bingo.  My task in all of this was to try to understand what was being proposed so that I could help my client in deciding whether to use this company’s services.  My client was impressed by the fact that the sales rep called a bunch of times and was very diligent in calling when my client asked him to.  The problem was, my client is a very busy business owner and couldn’t always talk when the rep called.  So he finally gave him my number and that was when the fun began.

As I have stated before, I am simply not creative enough to make up these stories.  As always, I will withhold the name of the company to protect the guilty.

The call started out fine, with the rep suggesting I log into his demonstration.  He immediately assured me that his company was the largest website development company in the world and they would get my client top ranking with the search engines.  He then started telling me how easy it would be for my client to create his new website.  When I explained that my client has a website the rep changed his pitch and said they would build landing pages to go to his website.  I asked how they were going to do that and what advantage that would be to my client.  The rep kept pointing to the section of his screen which said “Professional Search Engine Optimization.”  He said that is how.  I again asked how and we went round and round with the rep pointing to the fact that they do “Professional Search Engine Optimization.”  Once he realized that I was not satisfied with his vague non-answer, he offered to show me an example of a landing page with links to another website. Unfortunately, the landing page example was not a landing page.  It was a website that happened to have links to other areas of its own website.  Although there is nothing wrong with internal links, that sample website had nothing to do with what he was describing.  At this point the rep decided he was out of his league and called in another rep.

I politely told Rep 2 that Rep 1 was trying to convince us that we should rebuild our website. I told him that our website has 61 pages and hundreds of pictures.  I also told him that Rep 1 was trying to show me an example of a landing page, but showed me a full blown website instead.  After politely listening to me, Rep 2 then asked me if we already had a website!  I reminded him that yes, we in fact. had a 61 page website with hundreds of pictures.  He then said that Rep 1 was mistaken in telling me that the website he had shown me was a landing page.  He went on to say that his company would get my client to the top of the search engines and we had nothing to lose and we should just do a 30 day free trial.  Again, I asked what they were proposing and again he said that it was cheap enough and the first month was free so we should just do it and we would get to the top of search engine results pages (SERP).

By this time I had had enough fun for one day and I still didn’t know what they were proposing to do, so I asked the rep to please email me a proposal.  He told me that this was the proposal – he said it was an online and phone proposal and he will sign us up for the 30 day trial.  I let him know that we did not want a 30 day trial at this point, but I would like an email describing what they proposed to do.  We were at an impasse – I wasn’t buying and he wouldn’t tell me what he and his company were selling, so the afternoon fun was over.