As I often observe – perhaps too often – the dot bomb era taught us lessons that were soon forgotten. I was reminded of this recently when I got an email from a potential client saying that my fee was too high – especially because I didn’t guarantee them sales; the implication being that other, better SEOs would make that guarantee.
Let me say this – if there are SEOs out there who can truly guarantee sales from their work, please give me their names. I’d like to hire them myself. I specifically mean a full money-back guarantee with no conditions and no strings if there isn’t a big jump in sales arising from their work.
I say that because finding a firm that does this would be like trying to hire the ‘A Team’ in real life. One of my friends paid that ‘Howling Mad’ Murdoch guy to clean up the Mob in New Jersey. Unfortunately, some guys broke his legs the first day and that was the end of that. Turns out, the guy was just an actor; the ‘A-Team’ was just a TV show, all pretend, a fantasy.
In this case, that is what these guarantees are, too. Imagine walking into a top ad agency and saying ‘I’ll hire you. But I want a guarantee that your ad campaign will double my sales. If you don’t I don’t have to pay you for your work. Agreed?’. Does Madison Ave work that way? Of course not. They’d go broke.
Or what if you walked into the office of your local Shopper paper and plopped down across from their ad rep, whose Real Job is playing keyboards with his band. Would you say to them ‘Run my ads. If my sales double, then I’ll pay for them. If they don’t I won’t pay’? This I can guarantee: you’d walk out without an ad in the Shopper, though you might leave with a flyer for the band’s gig next Tuesday at the Taste of Schenectady festival.
SEO is marketing – it is getting people to your site. It is raising interest in your business. But just as a sidewalk sign does not make the sale, neither does SEO. The sign can work wonders in pulling people off the street. After that, though, you have expectations that must be filled before you get their money.
Search engine optimization/marketing is still a very valuable service and tool. This truth doesn’t diminish its worth, just as good advertising is priceless. You will still need a good product/service. You will still need to provide a good, even great experience. The early internet success stories were all about the traffic they were getting to their site. The problem was that no sales were being made. No income came in. That’s the mistake people make with SEO. It is vital, even essential to the success of most sites. The mistake the dot-bomb people made was they thought the sales process ended there. It didn’t.
Anyone who seems to be promising a real money-back guarantee, no strings attached probably has a Get Out of Jail Free card concealed somewhere in the fine print. Remember to look for that.
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