My name is Tom Yawney, and I firmly believe that Internet marketing is the most important conduit of new business. However, after admitting this inner truth, I have to acknowledge the elephant in the room – the one inherent problem that internet marketing presents… As a buyer, it’s not a tangible product.
When you buy a new car, you feel great as you fly down the highway blasting tunes in your new ride. When you buy new clothes, you feel like a million bucks while peacocking around town in your new duds. On the other hand, when you buy internet marketing, there is nothing to wear, sit in, or touch. When you can’t touch what you’ve paid for, you tend to feel ripped off.
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So, having said all this, what causes people to spend their hard earned dollars on Internet marketing campaigns? Simply put, it’s profitable. When it’s done right, Internet marketing is your cheapest cost per acquisition. It may not be as tangible as some consumers would like, but the growth of your bottom line is extremely tangible.
So here’s the million dollar question…How much should internet marketing cost? The question is simple in theory, but the answer is complicated in practise. Here’s why…
If you want to start an Internet marketing company, there are zero barriers to entry. You don’t need an office, staff, inventory, or supplies. Everything is digital, and there is zero overhead. All you need is a website and a phone number… that’s it. In fact, there is nothing stopping someone from creating a website and offering SEO services for $100 per month.
“So Tom, why would I spend $1000 a month on SEO when this other company will do the same work for $100?”
Simply put, reliability, integrity, and transparency. A flimsy Internet marketing company can financially submarine the entire industry to acquire new clients – and then do absolutely nothing. They could sign 100 clients to one year contracts paying $100 per month, and they will make 120k without doing a thing. Eventually their clients will leave, but new businesses will fall into the same trap because they are chasing the best possible deal.
Does this ethical dilemma bother the hypothetical business owner? Not really. They are too busy sipping Mai-Tai’s in St. Bart’s while clearing 10k every month. Shady business people have existed since the dawn of commerce, and we’d be naïve to think they don’t exist within the Internet marketing industry.
So how does a business owner avoid this trap? The first step is a pinch of discretion, followed by a dose of proper judgment.
If someone told you they were selling a Mercedes Benz for five thousand dollars, would you be suspicious? I sure hope so, because you get what you pay for. How could a business exist for any length of time if they sold luxury cars for 5k? The obvious answer is they can’t. It’s not a sustainable business model. Similarly, if an Internet marketing company is offering a deal that’s too good to be true – it probably is.
If you’ve seen the movie “The Dark Knight,” you may remember a quote from “The Joker” that is particularly prophetic in this situation…
“If you are good at something, never do it for free.”
So here’s a question to ask yourself… How much work can actually be done for $100 a month? You can’t even fill up a Ford F-150 for $100, so why would you expect top results for that fee? If someone is legitimately good at what they do, their time is precious. BUT… How does an Internet marketing professional gauge their value? More importantly, what is the threshold for becoming an Internet marketing professional?
Doctors need a PHD to be legitimately considered a doctor. Similarly, most professions have a series of educational thresholds that must be met in order to start a career. So how does it work for Internet marketing? There is no educational threshold. Expertise can only be quantified by a track record of success.
If you needed legitimate health advice, would you accept advice from a self-proclaimed doctor with no formal training? Probably not. If you were doing a renovation to your house, would you feel comfortable offering that job to a newbie that would be learning on the job? It’s doubtful. So why would you trust a self-proclaimed Internet marketing professional to build your business?
On a fundamental level, here’s the real issue
The world continues to become digitally integrated, and the Internet marketing industry continues to evolve at a break neck pace. Coincidentally, and unfortunately, educational institutions have been extremely slow to react to these changes, and they are standing completely flat footed. The only way to learn the Internet marketing industry is by devoting yourself to it.
True Internet marketing professionals eat, sleep, and breathe Web 2.0. They never stop reading, they are humble enough to know that learning never stops, and they become experts through experience. It’s an on-going process of speaking with like-minded individuals, sharing information about best practice, and interpreting data to learn industry trends.
Now more than ever, experience matters.
So, if you can afford to take a risk and you are price conscious, you can definitely become someone’s guinea pig. However, if you NEED to achieve positive results, you need to work with a company that has experience across a variety of industries, over a prolonged period of time – just remember it will cost more than $100 per month.
Great article Tom. I have been involved in Internet marketing since 1999. I had to learn how to design websites, html, and SEO. Plus everything else. LOL
What I learned is that Google never sleeps. Things are always changing. And, there are very few top notch digital marketing agencies. Charlatans are everywhere. I agree with what you said.
1. How long have they been doing it? Have they kept up with trends? Do they learn something new every day?
2. Client list. How long have they had their clients? What is their track record?
3. Do they tell you what you need to hear? Not what you want to hear?
4. Do they have passion?Are they Uber competitive? Great SEO people hate losing.
5. Do they actually do the work they promise? Unfortunately few people are qualified to assess great Internet marketing. However, if you pick a winning company. You will be on the right track.
6. You get what you pay for. I could charge $200 per hour based upon my skill, experience, and track record. So… $100 a month? Just flush it down the toilet. That is what you will get for it.