If you’re an owner or advertising executive in a small- or medium-sized business, you might be very eager to grow your business in a post-covid-19 world.
You may be considering a range of business-growth activities, including pay-per-click advertising, social media posts, video creation, and search engine optimization, among others.
You may also be willing to enlist the services of others, which, generally, can help speed up the growth of your business.
But, there’s a catch: you have to find a non-scammy, legitimate expert or company.
With small- and medium-businesses eager to grow their online presence, there are predatory outfits online that pose as experts who claim to want to help you grow your business.
But the truth is anything but.
A recent news segment on KHON2 reported that the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker has received reports of so-called marketing services that make promises, take the money of small businesses…but don’t deliver.
But, there are also legitimate marketing consultants, experts, and agencies who do want you to succeed and have a track record of providing their clients with incredible ROI. I personally know a few of them.
So, the question is, how does one determine truth from falsehood?
Signs of an Online Marketing Scam
First of all, not everything has to be a scam for you to be disappointed. That is, even seemingly legitimate companies can create marketing campaigns that, in the end, don’t deliver.
That said, it is better to go with a legitimate agency who’s willing to work with you long-term. Sometimes, it takes a few campaigns to find an approach that resonates and takes off.
Before I get to the points below, I should say that these points aren’t necessarily exhaustive, meaning that you might have to dig deeper than what I mention below.
Also, just because a company (or those pretending to be one) have any number of the characteristics below, doesn’t outright define them as a scam. That said, I leave it to you to use your own judgement. The points below will help you to do that.
- Beware of grandiose promises…especially if the so-called experts don’t take the time to learn about your business and your market size (both in dollars and in total number of potential clients). Think about it: if you have a niche business, and your maximum market size is…say…X, how can a company promise to bring you 3X clients?
- The way they approach you seems…a bit odd. Are they pushy?
- They want you to use a method of payment that isn’t traceable. Not that such payment methods are bad, but at least with credit cards, there’s the possibility of disputing a charge.
- They have no real online presence: their website is so-so, they don’t have a real address (and it could even be fake), they’re not established in social media, and it’s difficult to reach the person in charge.
Due Diligence is Key: Here Are a Few Things You Can Do to Help Determine Whether That Expert or Agency is Legitimate
- Deep down, how do you feel about them? Now that you’re aware of these scams, and with everything I’ve mentioned, how does your evaluation of this company make you feel?
- Are they established? Do they have active social media profiles? (If they don’t, it’s not a deal breaker, but just something to note.) Do they have reviews from other businesses you can verify? Are they listed with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)? (AND, if it looks like they are, be sure they are who they say they are. Some of these folks like to adopt the identity of a legitimate agency, so they may portray that they’re Agency A, but they’re not.)
- Here’s a good question to consider: If they’re so good at helping other businesses grow, have they been able to grow their own client base? Are you able to do some research on this individual or company? Do they have active social media profiles? What about LinkedIn? Do they have a profile with BBB, TrustPilot, or other 3rd party ratings platforms?
- Are they realistic about what your can expect your growth to be? Do they emphatically caution you that they can’t guarantee results (which is honest), and that any business endeavor is a risk?
Business is risky enough, and there are great experts out there who are willing to help you. You just have to avoid the bad ones.