Online Marketing Aha: When Stupid Acts Begin To Make Sense

A Recent Online Marketing Story

OnlOnline Marketing - Einstein quote

I attended a business presentation yesterday and in a chance conversation, I had one of those Online Marketing Ahas!

Let me tell you what happened.

There was some light networking after the presentation  This is when I met Peter (not his real name).

As we’re chatting Peter shares that he has just signed a “very expensive contract” with some firm (he couldn’t remember the name) “for SEM”.

So, doing what inquisitive people like me do, I asked him what the SEM contract entailed.

Peter didn’t know for sure, but it had something to do with “search” and there were two parts.  One part was about Google Adwords and he couldn’t remember the other part.

I asked why Google Adwords versus LinkedIn advertising since he sold seminars, company analyses and employee assessments to businesses executives?  LinkedIn seem a far better fit.

He didn’t answer my question, but did provide an interesting insight.

He tells me that the firm he contracted with (the one he couldn’t recall) is on the Board of Google so they’re “in-the-know” about everything Google is doing.

I think to myself ‘who cares‘ and continue to pepper Peter with questions.

Why did Peter want to increase his website traffic?

Did he know how much traffic he was currently receiving?

What were his plans once this flood of traffic arrived at his website?

Did he have drip or nurturing campaign in place to turn all of these visitors into solid leads?

Peter’s face begins to get longer with each question.  He’s getting an inkling that he doesn’t know what the hell he just purchased.  Judging from the look on his face, it seems the contract was truly expensive.

Peter then asks me if this – a drip campaign – is something he could do with Constant Contact, confirmation he really didn’t have a clue about what to do with this new stream of visitors.

It was also my Aha.  I’ve had this Aha repeatedly in the past, but am always stymied when it happens.

Here is an otherwise intelligent, educated professional taking an expensive marketing step without a the vaguest idea of what he’s buying, why or what, if any benefits, will be achieved from this effort or what the company is going to deliver,

In fact, Peter couldn’t describe what he had purchased.  It could’ve been SEM, SINK, SWIM…it didn’t matter because he didn’t know.

Why did he do it? I don’t know.

Perhaps it was because the sales person was a razzle dazzler.  Maybe it was the impressive fact (at least to Peter) that the SEM firm he contracted with was “on the Board of Google”.

Or maybe, just maybe he wanted to do s o m e t h I n g, anything and these people were handy in his time of desperation.

What I do know is that Peter is not going to be happy with this service.  It’s not going to deliver what he wants, because he doesn’t KNOW WHAT HE WANTS OR NEEDS.

I’m confident Peter has a lot of company.  There are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of such thoughtless and expensive decisions made every day by all sorts of otherwise bright professionals, in all walks of life.

People, who would do their due diligence in their own industry, become deaf, dumb, blind and somewhat stupid when it comes to anything related to marketing i or specifically to online marketing.

Their legitimate excuse?  They don’t know what they don’t know.  But sadly they aren’t sufficiently curious to find out what they don’t know.

What Peter Could Have Done

Peter could’ve asked a colleague or a business associate about SEM or how they’re getting website traffic.

He could’ve checked out some YouTube videos on the term SEM or done Google searches and found other companies offering similar programs and done some comparison shopping.

He could’ve asked for the names of this firm’s clients and educated himself more in conversations with these users.

He should’ve talked to a several local area marketers and picked their heads about search, online marketing and SEM.

He should’ve started at the beginning and ask himself WHY he wanted more traffic and considered WHAT he was going to do with that traffic once he received it.

He could’ve, would’ve, should’ve.

Questions BEFORE Purchase

The best marketing advice I can give you is to ask yourself questions BEFORE making any expensive purchases of marketing tools or services.  Here are a few questions to ask:

  1. Do I clearly understand what this product does and doesn’t do?
  2. How does this product help me accomplish my online marketing goal?
  3. Will it reach the people I want to reach?  Are there more effective ways to reach my audience?
  4. What specifically happens when I do reach my audience?  What is the next step and the step after that?
  5. Are there better tools out there that accomplish the same thing?
  6. What are the experiences of current users of this product or service  How similar are their goals, their businesses to mine?
  7. Do I have a complete plan in place so I can optimize these efforts or is it too early?
  8. What other pieces do I need to accomplish my goal?

These are but a few questions to  avoid making costly online marketing mistakes.

Online Marketing Bottom line

Don’t do a “Peter”.

Don’t buy something you don’t understand simply to ease your conscious that you’re doing SOMETHING, even if it’s wrong.

You won’t be happy with your decision and like Peter, you may discover the expensive actions you’re about to take could lead to  more disastrous results such as disappointed visitors, missed business opportunities and no follow-up system.

Better to wait until you do KNOW what to do and have a clear plan in mind as to how to do it.

If you do have questions about online marketing products or programs you’re considering, feel free to ask me for my opinion.  I’m happy to share what I know, provide you with some food for thought or give you some suggestions as to where you can find out more information.

Whatever you do, promise me you won’t do a “Peter”.  Thank you.

Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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