One of the great things about online marketing is that your work is totally in the open for the world to see. Given the fact that it is, it makes me wonder what companies, agencies, and even our regional government is thinking when they're hiring for help.
It's pretty simple to prequalify your online marketing professionals:
- If you're looking for a Search Engine Optimization firm, stop looking! The best SEO firms are agencies that are omni-channel experts, recognizing how content, email, mobile, and social are all impacting your search engine results. SEO was a math problem, getting results from search engine marketing is a human problem and requires much more than the ol' days of keyword stuffing. Hiring a bad SEO firm can destroy your company's authority for years – so proceed with extreme caution.
- If you're looking for a Social Media expert, look for someone who helps businesses like yours grow their reach in social media. I don't mean the person who bought the most followers. I don't mean the keynote speaker or the author who has a different strategy than your business. I'm advising you to spend some time online and ask who is out there helping businesses like yours. Some of my favorite consultants in the industry are unknown… but their clients have skyrocketed.
- If you're looking for a Branding or Design Firm remember that beauty is only skin deep with websites, too! We've worked with clients who blew their budget on a branding firm that wiped out their search rankings and obliterated their stream of inbound leads. Great design firms are worthwhile, but only when they're ensuring you continue to grow your business results, not just building out a beautiful site or logo.
- If you're looking for an Online Marketing Agency, go to the companies who you enjoy communicating with online and find out who they utilize for marketing. Look for folks with a great site, great email program, are getting some search results and appear in social media. In other words, look for the companies you work with that are well-rounded. Ask your Dentist, ask your local Pizza joint, ask your vendors, ask your plumber….ask… ask… ask. If you respond to their marketing, chances are that others are responding as well.
Don't assume that you can't afford the company. Don't assume that they're too busy to assist you. Great companies will refer you to others who can help you if they don't have the resources or are out of your price range.