Sometimes You Shouldn’t Hire a Professional
A good friend gave me a call two days ago to talk about the 17 different projects we need to start tackling at some point but probably never will (up from 15 last time we talked). Towards the end of the conversation, right after we scheduled a meet for next Tuesday, he threw in a “hey, my buddy owns a masonry company here in the Chicago suburbs, and marketers have been bugging him to hire them for local search. Help him out, will ya?. “Sure”, I said, “give me his number and the name of his company… how do you spell that?”
So of course I took a break from whatever it is I was doing as I was curious to see what kind of disaster Mr. Masonry’s online presence was (I made up that name for this article btw). I Googled the company. It came up. But the name was unique, so no big deal there. The site was going to be awful, I knew it. Click. Nope. Not awful. I don’t like the title font per se, but over all, decent site, with a nice logo, and a clean layout. So his problem isn’t the website, it’s that he cannot be found. So I searched for “masonry” plus Mr Masonry’s headquarters. I get the Google local search business map result, and Mr Masonry is #1 on that list. In the organic results, he’s #2 (and only because #1 went to thumbtack.com, a top 1000 site in the U.S.).
I run a couple of more local searches, like “chimney repair”, and sure enough, Mr. Masonry is in the top 5.
A day later, I’m on the phone with my friend’s friend. He told me how he basically built the site himself and passed it on to a management company. How he has Google Analytics tracking and he checks it often. How customers can find him easy enough and that he gets enough calls for his services to keep him fully booked. “What’s the problem, then?” I asked. Marketers keep on call him to tell him how bad it’s going to be for him if he doesn’t hire them. That he needs to use the exact business name down to the letter and case everywhere otherwise Google is going to yank him off the web or some such.
Here’s what I said: you’re doing fine. You’re doing very well, actually. Last stone mason I hired (only stone mason I ever hired) was a referral, so I didn’t have to search for one. But assuming I had to, this fellow would have definitely received a call from me and most likely would have ended up stoning the lower half of the front of my otherwise blue house. To recap, Mr. Masonry has a nice website that is responsive, is easily found with all the relevant search terms and has a good handle on his web presence and audience.
So, what was it that I told him? I told him to keep doing what he’s doing. Sure, there are improvements that could be had, that is always the case, but nothing to pay some marketer or agency $5,000 to do. I told him to incent his satisfied customers to write reviews about his excellent work on Google reviews and Yelp. I told him that content is king, and that his content was good because it was all well-formed and most importantly true (and truer than anything the marketers that were calling on him can ever produce). I told him that he can try to join a few social media groups (FB local groups are sprouting up like weeds these days) as I myself use such groups to inquire about services and food every now and again.
I wasn’t squandering an opportunity to gain a client for a well-defined, easy to run local search campaign. I was telling a potential client, who might still be a client down the road, that sometimes you think you’re bringing in the professionals to do it better and prevent some sort of fallout with your buddy Google when in fact what you’re doing is bringing on a company that might do the very thing that Google will penalize you for. They won’t charge you enough to even attempt to understand your business like you do. They’ll do it quick and dirty. Most likely it won’t hurt you any, but you’re out a few thousand dollars, and they’re up yet another account that they had no business servicing to begin with.
These companies rarely seem to sell you the service that fits your need, instead they try to fit you into a service they are selling. Always ask yourself this: can they do it better that I can or did? If the answer is no, don’t hire them.
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