Increasingly, businesses of all sizes are beginning to understand the need for effective marketing. But unfortunately, that recognition of need does not always come with an in-depth understanding of the industry, and some services are taking advantage of that gap.
If someone is trying to sell you their marketing solution, you need to make sure that it’s not a scam – and that the software can actually help you. To help you maximize your budget, here are 7 ways to tell when a “marketing solution” is a scam.
1. The Solve-All
Generally speaking, any company that claims to offer you a solution for all of your marketing should be viewed with scrutiny. It’s a tough claim to follow up with, and while that doesn’t definitely mark the solution as a scam, it’s at least worth further inquiry. Especially if that promise comes with:
2. A Lack of Guarantees
“We’ll help your business succeed,” “outrank all of your competitors,” and “triple your revenue” are bombastic claims. But when you get into the fine print, does the solution actually guarantee any of them? Before you sign a big contract, make sure that it actually includes assurance that your marketing will improve. If it does not, you may be paying a lot of money for little change.
3. Scare Tactics
Any time a company threatens that you need it or else, beware. Yellow Pages 360 Online, for example, claims that if you don’t advertise with them, your business will not be found online. In reality, though, it only means your business will not be found on their service, which is an important distinction.
4. Lack of Case Studies
This one is closely related to the lack of guarantees point we made above. Any successful marketing solution should have customers that have succeeded with them in the past, ideally in your industry. Don’t trust the love quote on the website – look and ask for real case studies that identify problems and how the service helped solve them, ideally with customer contact information to very the story.
5. Lack of Outside Presence
If a marketing solution truly backs up its grandiose comments, you should be able to find and read about it elsewhere. If you search for the solution’s name on a search engine, what comes up? If the results are all or mainly promotional content from the service itself, you may want to look elsewhere.
6. Online Reviews
The above step may also lead to feedback about the solution. This feedback should always be taken with a grain of salt – after all, if a solution goes through the efforts to scam its client, it can alter the feedback as well. But if you know where to look, it can still be instructive. For example, Yelp’s filtered reviews (the reviews manually removed by paying customers on the site but still visible if you know where to look) can be incredibly instructive. Here they are for Rogers Outrank, a service that teeters on the edge of being a scam.
7. Lack of Reporting
Finally, you should establish ahead of time just how the solution reports success (or failure) of its services to you. If they have a clear plan in place, along with success metrics and regular, actionable improvement suggestions, you can rest a little easier. But if they don’t, or keep deferring your question about reporting, you may want to pay attention.
Marketing can be a complicated endeavour, and it’s tempting to invest in a solution that promises to solve all of your problems. But when that happens, you should do your research first to ensure that you’re not wasting your money on a service that won’t keep its promises. The better choice is to work with a marketing agency that can truly help you in all areas of your business, and has the expertise and client history to back up that claim. To make that step, learn more about how we can help with your inbound marketing efforts today!