Savvy Online Business Builders: The New Snake Oil Salesmen

August 30th, 2011 by Search Influence Alumni

A Look at the Growing Trend of Internet Marketing Con-men

We’ve all seen these people at conferences, pimping out their extra shiny business cards and talking like late-night infomercials – the online business strategists and social media experts. They claim to have the secrets to creating a successful online brand and promise “more profitable business now” if only you are willing to hear the pitch. They use buzz words like “online reputation score” and “viral marketing” to excite business owners into trusting their expertise and ultimately signing up for expensive year long contracts but never promise actual results.

I hate these type of people.

They prey on ignorance, offering fly-by-night schemes which promise efficient ways to generate more revenue at a low-cost for small businesses. Of course that low-cost is for the online expert’s one-size fits all advice.

Advice that seems to always involve action plans centered around mediums that have no measurable results *cough* Twitter *cough*. These experts rarely provide their clients’ with monthly performance reports – just monthly invoices. And clients would be hard pressed to get details on how that “low-cost” investment has translated into online business.

Who should you trust with your web presence? I’ve got a few questions you should ask before you sign on the dotted line.

Top 5 Questions To Ask An Online Expert To Avoid A Scam*

  1. What makes you an expert?
  2. Do you have experience in my industry?
  3. Can I see some examples of your success stories?
  4. What should I expect in terms of results? In what timeframe?
  5. How do you measure your success?

Be sure to remember question #5 – online business experts who fail to measure qualified results, such as # of leads, improved rankings, or increase in traffic, are to be avoided.

If they can’t prove their worth with data, they aren’t worth hiring.

In the end, someone who promises to rapidly grow your business with inspirational coaching and Twitter spamming is probably not an expert. So when you are looking for help with your web presence, find someone who sets quantifiable goals to measure success. An Internet expert should not be determined by how convincing his words are, but rather how his contribution to your business generated revenue and results.

*Adapted from Google‘s useful questions to ask an SEO