Learn to Avoid This Big Mistake in Internet Marketing – Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket

December 15th, 2007 by Will Scott

I live in New Orleans where people do occasionally rent a television for the big game.

It’s an event. No need to call consumer credit counseling.

If I’m renting my 17″ Sylvania that may be a problem.

Website promotion is the same. Rent or Own.

Ultimately you want to own.

How do you own your web site ranking? Simple, when someone searches for what you do, it should be YOUR WEBSITE they find.

You may ask “what about paying a top ranked directory or portal? That’s almost the same right?”

If you could rent a car, drive it every day and it was cheaper than owning you’d do it right?

What if I add some conditions?

  • I can come take your car any time
  • You rented a Cadillac and I replace it with a Yugo
  • You’re paying $50 and I raise the rent to $5000

I’m sure you get the point.

This is what it’s like to limit your internet marketing to industry directories.

Stop paying and see what happens.

This is also what it’s like if you advertise with a third-party company where they control all of your listings.

Let me explain…

If you know what my return is on your lead acquisition technology you can raise your prices up to my acceptable profitability and I’ll still pay.

The worst case is that I’ve put all my eggs in your basket — it happens, especially among small and medium sized businesses.

My favorite example from Yellow Pages is the transition from black and white to color, then to multi-page ads.

The Yellow Pages ranking is ad size and seniority. The biggest ad which has been in the book the longest comes first.

Soon enough black & white was no longer good enough and the publishers added color. If you didn’t upgrade you lost your spot.

Then came the “Double-Truck” — an ad spanning 2 pages or more (in Las Vegas some Entertainers cover 4 pages or more).

Upgrade or lose your spot. You don’t own the ranking — it owns you.

I’m not saying directories have no value. There are paid directories which deliver customers. These should be part of any program and they’re not proprietary closed systems. They’re part of an holistic marketing package.

When developing your plan to build online sales (or leads) you must ask “what happens when I stop paying for this?” With little knowledge of online advertising, limited budgets and thin margins, small businesses can be hobbled when the one bet they could afford doesn’t work.

If you rent your store, an increase in rent can be tragic. Ask my friend Nancy Murphy who makes New Orleans Gift Baskets (the irony is that Nancy’s old landlord is still without a new tenant).

In the long term, owning it is usually less expensive than renting. And, if you own it, you don’t have to lose sleep over your provider not performing, or worse yet performing well enough to hold you hostage.

It does makes sense, If you have the budget, to test multiple marketing channels. Just make sure you’re tracking which leads come from where.

If you have a limited budget you must be sure that at the end of the day you can at least drive away free and clear in your Yugo.


All of the above offer a wealth of resources for small business owners looking to better understand online marketing.

Photo Credits:

Bush Photo: A La Gauche – and yes, that is one of my all-time favorite post-K pictures
Yugo Photo: All World Cars

Many thanks to Andrew Shotland of Local SEO Guide for his editorial comments.