Internet Marketing – Are You Tired Of The Hard Sale?

My internet passion started back in 2003. A little eBook set me on the road, it was Google Cash by Chris Carpenter. I set up a few campaigns in a relatively competition free Australia and started making money directly promoting affiliate programs.
I was quite successful at this in the beginning and then had the pleasure of watching the market flood with new entrants, all doing the same thing, forcing keyword bids up. I also had the pleasure of watching Google continue to refine their rules to make their search engine perform better, often at the expense of affiliate marketers. I watched and modified my approach until the time required to exist in the market, was no longer compensated by a justifiable remuneration.
So I changed my approach. I started to build websites and learn about search engine optimisation. I still used PPC marketing, but to drive traffic to my own websites while they optimised in the organic search terms. The result for me was half a dozen highly optimised and profitable website businesses. Of these, only one has its own product. The others either promote affiliate programs or sell advertising space.
Over the 6 years I have been active in internet marketing, I have picked up quite a few clients who wanted help with their web presence. I never promoted this service, they all came to me on referral or by word of mouth. They all had two things in common. Firstly they wanted a website that sold their product. Secondly they had been ripped off by an unethical internet marketer who took their money and left them with a website that didn’t work.
That’s the problem with internet marketing. Its not a university degree, its not a regulated industry. Anyone can and does call themself an internet marketer. That’s why internet professionals as an industry have such a bad reputation. Our industry is packed with graphic designers who know nothing about marketing and professional marketers who know nothing about the internet.
Every week I see these operators at work. They operate on the assumption that they know more about the internet than their clients and therefore can create sales through misdirection. They promise the world, deliver very little and once paid move onto the next unsuspecting victim.
For example, my tourism business hires out surfboards on Australia’s Gold Coast. Do a Google search on “Gold Coast Surfboard Hire” or even just “surfboard hire” for that matter. I’m sure you’ll find me, mine is Gold Coast Surfboards. Clearly for the product I am selling, I am very well optimised in the search engines.
So I have a website which is supporting a business perfectly. Its optimised in the search engine for the search phrases which are popular and relevant to the service. Despite this, so called internet “professionals” contact me every week trying to sell me their SEO services.
You can see exactly what they do. They find a small business website with the assumption they will know more about the internet than the websites owner. (He after all will be busy running his business) They will look at the main products and then trawl through Google to find a search phrase that the website doesn’t compete well with. Then they try and scare the business owner into signing up for their services.
Using my two examples above, if I had have used these “gurus”, my website would be optimised for 1 specific search phrase which is unrelated to my core business “Surf Board Accessories” and 1 broad phrase that will attract lots of people, most of which are looking to rent a car or a hotel room. Thes people probably aren’t even going to the Gold Coast. I’m sure the gurus would have taken my money regardless.
If you are under pressure from an internet salesman to sign up for their optimisation services, my advice is to first get a really good understanding from you clients, as to which search phrases they use on the internet when they are looking for your product. If the salesmen are trying to get you to optimise other phrases, don’t do business with them. At the very least they have not researched your market enough to work on your website. At its worse, they are just manipulating you in an attempt to wring some money out of you. Either way, it will damage your business.
If on the other hand you are not being hassled by these salesmen, yet understand the potential the internet has for your business but don’t know where to start, I recommend you start asking around your circle of friends. Try and find an operator that someone will recommend first hand. Just make it clear to them though you are looking for an internet marketer, not a designer. There are plenty of students or graphic artists out there who will be happy to take your cash and build you a masterpiece. It will be such a pity no-one will be able to find it.
And to all the shonky operators in our wonderful industry, please make an effort to bring some standard of ethics into your operation. You need to stop selling for the sake of sales and start selling to add real value. If you can add real value to a potential client’s business, great, please do so. Its so nice when businesses speak highly of the internet marketing industry. If you can’t add value to them though, leave them alone. They are better off without you.

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