Last week we wrote a post about who handles your online marketing and explained what we think is the best option for small and medium businesses when it comes to online marketing. But even if you follow our advise in that post and hire a firm that is a small business specializing in small/medium business online marketing, you can unfortunately still get ripped off with your website and online marketing.
If I had to estimate, I would say that 65-70% of our current clients have told me some sort of horror story about their previous online marketing firm, SEO firm, or web design firm. The reality is there’s quite a few companies out there who aren’t so good at what they do, but they are fantastic sales people! Busy business owners get lured in by their promises without doing any sort of homework, and often times end up getting ripped off. As the owner of a web design and online marketing firm, I have a good idea of what to look for in a company that is going to rip you off, so here are some tips to avoid being ripped off and what to do if you have been ripped off:
Research, Research, Research
Before you ever get started with a web design or online marketing firm, do some research.
First off I suggest reviewing their portfolio (they most certainly should have one if they are a reputable firm). Check into websites they’ve designed, see the results they’ve achieved with their online marketing clients, and judge for yourself if their work looks like the type of work you would want.
Second I suggest checking their blog. See when their blog was last updated, see what type of information they post, and see if they seem like a leader in their industry.
Third check up on their reviews and testimonials. I know first hand getting reviews can be difficult, but they should still have some reviews available. You could also take this a step further and ask for a referral or two.
And lastly I suggest speaking with someone high up in the company, either a general manager or the owner of the company. This will ensure you don’t get sucked in by empty promises of a salesperson.
Stay On Top Of Things
I know this is very difficult for business owners as they are very busy people, but make sure you stay on top of things. If its a website, get regular updates on the progress and have an active role in the website process. If its online marketing, make sure they give you access to a client portal for reporting or at the very least are delivering some sort of reports to you showing what they’ve done and your progress.
Beyond this if you have any questions about the work being done, I suggest hiring an outside consultant to see if things are done properly. Unfortunately there are no “building inspectors” when it comes to the internet, so often times an outside consultant is the best route to get a second opinion. This only applies if you aren’t seeing the results you should be seeing.
I Already Got Ripped Off, Now What?
For many business owners they’re finding this article too late. They already have been ripped off, paying $3,000 for a basic HTML website that is improperly coded or paying $10,000 for online marketing services that got them absolutely no results. If this is the case, I truly do feel for you. Before I became involved in online marketing I owned another business, and we were ripped off multiple times by web design and online marketing firms so I definitely know the feeling.
Unfortunately the only thing I can say is to learn from the experience and find a new online marketing firm, follow the steps above in choosing them, and hope that you make a better decision and learn from your mistakes. I know through speaking with business owners everyday that there are tons of ripoff online marketing companies out there, and unfortunately when clients come to us to fix the mess we are often starting over from step 1 with the website and marketing campaign, doing things the right way from the beginning.
If you’ve been ripped off by an online marketing or web design firm, I’d love to see what we can do to help get your campaign and website back on the right track to being your company’s best salesperson. Fill out the form directly to the right and I’ll speak with you directly to answer your questions, explain what went wrong, and formulate a plan of action to get things back on track and done the right way.