Let's get one thing straight: much as we like to play God, Internet marketers
are not the omnipotent beings some people think we are. The Earthly truth is that we're just
some really driven people with a lot of knowledge about working the web
to your advantage. And most would agree that this knowledge, when put into action, is worth a few bucks. Of course, it's easier to continue believing in the omnipotent marketer. As in, if you pay someone enough money to market your business for you, then that person is accountable for your business' failure to turn a profit, right?
Back to Earth now.
If the Internet has made you a believer, I commend your optimism. If your faith has blinded you to the fact that there are no absolutes in marketing--and just a handful of foreseeable truths--your wake up call is coming. Because no matter how irritatingly detailed your web marketer's contract is, I'd bet the farm you harbor a pile of assumptions about what's included and what isn't. And the assumptions you make today, tomorrow and throughout the marketing process dramatically impact the results you've been praying for.
Let's blow up those assumptions then. The following reality check will keep you grounded, keep you sane, and ensure you
get your money's worth:Assumption:
Web marketers can anticipate the precise combination of copy, design and functionality that will
attract and covert the ideal customer to my website.Reality:
When you hire a web marketer you are hedging that
he can make a better (read: more informed) guestimate than you can
regarding what will motivate your target market to act. Besides, if we could
anticipate such things do you really think we'd give out that information for
the price you're getting?Assumption:
My website operates in a vacuous digital environment that will send me customers if I pay an Internet marketer enough money.Reality:
There are countless external forces--online and off--continuously acting on the environment in which you do business (e.g. interest
rates, the housing market, consumer spending, search engine algorithms,
what Paris Hilton is wearing, etc.). If marketers could control these forces, they probably wouldn't be working for you.Assumption:
If I'm ready to sign a contract and make a deposit, I'm ready to let the right consultant revamp my marketing strategy.Reality:
trusting the instincts, experience and educated guesswork
of a well recommended marketer causes more than a lunch hour's worth of teeth gnashing, you're not prepared to make good use of a consultant. Hire a technician to implement
your ideas instead. It's cheaper and allows you total creative
If sales don't increase within at least a month or two, my marketing consultant should figure out what he did wrong and fix it.Reality:
at least 6 months pass, you've resisted the urge to change your strategy 37 times, and
performance still falls short expectations, reflexively
blaming the marketer is not sensible. Tweak the investment you've already
made. Then test the results. Tweak again. Test again. There's a pattern
here. And it works.Assumption:
We closed the project last month and conversions have soared. That web marketer I hired is brilliant.Reality:
Thanks for the accolades, but if you're pulling strong conversions out of
the gates, you just won the web lottery. The other 99.99% of us mortals should put away our horseshoes, hunker down and do some audience
awareness exercises (read: analytics, testing, research, and so on).Assumption:
My marketing consultant should work with me until I see satisfactory returns on the project cost, at no additional charge.Reality:
There are millions of websites on the Internet. If you want to be a superstar, prepare to pay for activities like testing,
monitoring and maintenance. (Contrary to popular belief, us web beings need more than our computers and some stale air to survive.)Assumption:
I'm not a marketing expert, and that's why I'm paying someone else to market my website. Answering all these many questions about my target market, the history of my website, bla bla bla ad nauseaum is not the best use of my time.Reality:
The marketer you hire is a key player in the game but
he's just one. Do not underestimate the impact of your input, where you
started from, and those pesky external forces. No one knows your business better than you, and that's how it should be.
bottom line is that web professionals do not hold all the cards.
Yet many seem to think that a lucky few of us do. This not only
sets you up for disappointment, but you're more apt to fall prey to
unscrupulous marketers who would rather take your money than help you
make some. At the end of the day, this is your mountain to climb. Are you up for it?
May 22, 2008