A few months ago I talked about so-called SEO companies that robocall small businesses across the nation in an attempt to persuade small business owners to use their generic SEO services. The unfortunate thing is that many small business owners, including gym owners, don’t know a lot about online marketing so when these companies call they sound logical and extremely believable. It can be tempting to take them up on their $99 per month offer especially when they claim to be affiliated with Google.
Google recently announced that they are suing an SEO company in Tustin, California because their sales staff were claiming to be employees of Google. This is actually a good thing (that they’re finally suing someone) but, unfortunately, this is a problem that is not going to go away soon. There are hundreds of these fly-by-night, rinky dink SEO companies that exist. They’re everywhere!
For true Internet marketing companies, these companies are like cockroaches; a nuisance. Their message completely dilutes the core of the work that goes into search engine optimization if a company truly wants to rise to the top of the most popular search engines. Internet marketing takes a shit load of work and there are no shortcuts. Companies like this call you up and make it seem like your club will thrive or survive on just $99 per month. The funniest thing about their guarantee is that they tell you that they’ll put your club on the first page of Google because they have the connections to make it happen, for up to ten keywords. This is completely laughable. Don’t fall for this or any other $99 Superman Internet companies that call your club.
“I guess what angers me about these companies is the vulnerability that smaller clubs have when they call.”
Without further ado, here’s a list of 10 ridiculous things to look for so you don’t fall into their trap:
1) $99 – ‘nuff said.
2) Be on the first page of Google for 10 keywords – True optimization focuses on an unlimited number of keywords. I don’t know where the “10” came from.
3) They say they’re from Google (or affiliated in any way) – Not ever true. Google will only call you when you start a Google Adwords account and you start running ads. They have a pretty good customer service department that helps you get the most out of your ads. Other than this you probably shouldn’t expect a phone call or Christmas card from Google.
4) The person on the phone is a jackass – Usually, they’re rude and assertive.
5) It’s a cold call – Who in their right mind ever accepts a cold call, much less a robocall at their place of business.
6) They drop the price – They’ll start the price at $199 per month and when you tell them you’re going to pass they drop the price without blinking an eye.
7) They claim they’re the best – A quick search of “best SEO company” yielded 19 million results.
8) They name drop nationwide corporate clubs (or businesses) – They’ll claim to do work for Equinox. This is probably where you’ll start having a lot of fun with them.
9) Listen to the noise in the background – A great boiler room movie is “Boiler Room” with Ben Affleck and Vin Diesel.
10) No references – If you ask you’ll get the runaround on references.
In all seriousness, Internet marketing is a culture shift for your club that takes a sincere investment to promote your club ahead of the competition and once you get there it’s time to drive up that investment to make sure you dominate.
I guess what angers me about these companies is the vulnerability that smaller clubs have when they call. Some small club owners have owned their clubs for many years and the concept of Internet marketing can sometimes be pretty hard to grasp when traditional marketing tactics are dying out. $99 deals sound legit to these owners and they give false hope of what is to come.
If you own a club that may not be able to afford inbound marketing at least pay a little to get some consulting so that you can make some informed decisions about the future of how you’re going to advertise your club. A respectable marketing company will guide you in the right direction even if you’re not in a place to invest fully in their services.
Just remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.