Home – New Forums Tech talk Warning: Business owners – be weary of contracts

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  • #990747
    AlexZooPD
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    Hey everyone,

    Just a quick one – If you’re a business owner and you’re looking for online marketing services, here is a warning for you:

    Be suspicious of agencies or freelancers who try to get you to sign a contract for online marketing services (mostly SEO or PPC)

    I recently picked up a client (a plumbing company) who asked me to help out with there PPC campaign, which was being run by another agency (I wont mention names). The problem was: they had signed a 6 month contract (spending thousands of dollars) and during month 2 they had already burnt though thousands in ad spend (on top of management fees), for a total of 0 conversions.

    After a quick analysis of their campaign, I noticed some HUGE errors (i.e spelling errors, wrong choice of Keywords, no landing page, irrelevant keyword groupings etc etc.)

    What can they do about it now? they can pause the campaign, get it fixed (which is what i’m doing) however in terms of their 6 month management fee – they can do nothing apart from take the loss as a learning experience.

    Don’t sign contracts when engaging in SEO or PPC services!

    Now, i’m not saying that a contract is immediate grounds to write the service off, but think about this:

    If an online marketer is good at what they do, they will get you a positive ROI…

    …So why the heck would they need to lock you into a contract? If you are making money by using their services, you will want to keep working with them, unless for some reason you don’t like profit

    Takeaway – always ask an online marketing agency/freelancer if they will do month-to-month contracts, and if they do not, ask them why not!?

    #1178404
    Craig.Smith
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    Just goes to show that you should choose a contractor/company after performing due diligence. Not choosing someone based on marketing content on their website but via referrals and a solid track record of performance. Most PPC companies charge a flat rate (10-12%) of the PPC budget. However some will work on a commission basis only.

    #1178405
    John Romaine
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    AlexZooPD, post: 207799 wrote:
    Don’t sign contracts when engaging in SEO or PPC services!

    I’m sorry Alex, but you either need to retract this comment or reword it because suggesting that anyone enter into a business deal without an agreement or contract of sorts is nonsense.

    I provide PAYG (pay as you, month by month, no lock in contracts, they can cancel out at any time they choose) with all of my clients, however each of them enter into a binding contract – simply from a legal point of view. Contracts are designed to help both parties understand their responsibilities, obligations, service level agreements and so forth.

    Their also designed to protect both parties, should something go bad.

    Of course no one wants anything to go bad, but you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you’re faced with a legal problem, and can’t do anything about it, simply because you never signed a contract.

    Look, I’m not a solicitor so I’m not going to give legal advice (I’m sure we might have a few here on FS that may be able to better articulate the importance of what I’m trying to say) but a contract is an important part of any business agreement where money is being exchanged.

    I would definitely agree with you in terms of marketing agencies that “lock” you into 12 month contracts etc, as most of them are thinking moreso about the longevity and success of their own business, rather than their clients – BUT that is not true in every case.

    Often, locking a client into an ongoing contract is a great way of filtering out the time wasters. Typically the first few months of a marketing campaign are the most intensive – and I can tell you its very frustrating when someone comes on board with a long list of ambitions – then goes on to cancel a month later.

    Again, and I’ve said this before – the constant fear mongering in the SEO space in particular needs to settle down. It’s not helpful for anyone. There are many of us (myself included) as well as a list of others that I know of – that do the right thing, and we work very hard to service our clients as best we can.

    #1178406
    Aidan
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    Hi Alex,

    I’d echo what John said there, you really should have some form of agreement, even if its a brief outline agreement that states the intention of the parties, any term involved (see below) and privacy of info.

    The agreement however does not need to lock in the client, I don’t myself either by the way but I know of some circumstances where it is necessary, for example where much of the work is done in the first month or two but the provider agrees to spread the cost out over several months to help the client’s cashflow.

    Now – not meaning to be pedantic but if you’re going to talk about others spelling mistakes, you really should fix up your own! I’m not meaning that to be sarky, it’s just a light-hearted and well intentioned suggestion ;-)

    #1178407
    Bob Jones
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    Sounds like your client might have a case as the service delivered can be seen as not for for purpose. have a look here and see if you can advice your client.

    #1178408
    bb1
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    Alex,

    I am confused by your post one minute you are suggesting SEO, and the next you are saying marketing. Was the contract for both services or just one of the services. As the 2 should be linked, but a lot of SEO aganecies only look at SEO, and this is not the full marketing experience that should be focused on in a campaign.

    #1178409
    ThexArm
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    I agree with John as well. Yes, you need to have a contract in place. But, you need to be very careful and do the necessary due diligence before entering into it. Don’t fall for the trap of being naive to some traps.

    Its not only relevant for marketing and seo business. I have come across business consultants/coaches who does this as well. You need to be wary of entering into long term contracts. Month to month contracts are the best and probably with a months notice is what I personally think acceptable. Some contracts do come with a clause of 3 month breakout fees. I think that is ludicrous.

    #1178410
    Aidan
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    Oh Jeebus I can’t ignore it, this is a pet peeve of mine.

    The correct word is WARY which means careful, cautious.

    The other word WEARY means tired, exhausted.

    So endeth the lesson

    #1178411
    ThexArm
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    good pick up Aidan. :)

    #1178412
    MichaelDigital
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    It can also be wearying to see thinly veiled attempts to gain business by stirring up fear and alarm – obliquely advertising yourself as an ‘honest choice’.

    The problem in this scenario – if indeed it is genuine, is that business owners need to educate themselves on hiring online services a little – rather than opting for the first plausible looking service they encounter. you should always have a talk with the services provider, if they won’t speak plain English and listen to you, go to the trouble of tailoring a solution for your specific business then a red flag is raised – many just blind you with science and present a cookie cutter template, a ‘generic service’. Also the more genuine service providers often present a low cost ‘proof of services’ introduction to their services. I actually provide a comprehensive guide to online services, and what they mean, what they provide in terms of benefits – prior to any agreements being negotiated.
    Business owners quite often gain a little understanding, and opt too quickly for the ‘pipe dream’ – online services are not a ‘quick fix’, they take time to mature and to take effect, plus it requires a multitude of approaches and methods to arrive at a good outcome.
    The industry is awash with cowboys, ego-manic pretenders and 3rd world sweat shops…I don’t doubt many businesses become cynical and disillusioned -but a little measured research and talking with people can really make the difference. Being offered 1st position on Google searches is too tempting for many – but this is not really the el dorado it is made out to be – there is a failure of business sense here – there are many other dimensions to consider, being chosen as the preferred business involves very much more than appearing high in the search results.

    #1178413
    Aidan
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    Thorn, this thread is several weeks old?! Are you in a rush to get your post count up or something? No need for that, people around here will judge you based on how genuinely helpful you are to others :)

    #1178414
    Cesar
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    To sum up this thread in its entirety, do what I did. I hanged around this reputable forum for a few months, stirred a few pots with what I already know about business and online marketing, and then I chose the service providers who I knew were true professionals within their industry.

    Flying Solo, has provided me with everything I need for a successful business.

    Another Pet Peeve Word Aidan, is “Advise” and “Advice”, I see too many individuals use these two words incorrectly.

    #1178415
    MichaelDigital
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    Aidan, post: 210151 wrote:
    Thorn, this thread is several weeks old?! Are you in a rush to get your post count up or something? No need for that, people around here will judge you based on how genuinely helpful you are to others :)

    I don’t really care how old it is, I felt like responding if that’s OK with you sonny-I honestly don’t need your advice – and I’m not interested in your opinion really-are you worried by competition or something?

    #1178416
    MichaelDigital
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    Cesar, post: 210155 wrote:
    To sum up this thread in its entirety, do what I did. I hanged around this reputable forum for a few months, stirred a few pots with what I already know about business and online marketing, and then I chose the service providers who I knew were true professionals within their industry.

    Flying Solo, has provided me with everything I need for a successful business.

    Another Pet Peeve Word Aidan, is “Advise” and “Advice”, I see too many individuals use these two words incorrectly.

    That sounds dreadfully obsequious Cesar – are you trying to impress the administration, or me? I have no illusions about a forum providing me with a business – I run several businesses – i just come on here to provide a little experience based knowledge to the struggling business people – they are so often given the wrong advice by know it all green sticks who have only just left school – no wonder the business failure rate is so high in this country.

    #1178417
    Cesar
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    thorn, post: 210158 wrote:
    That sounds dreadfully obsequious Cesar – are you trying to impress the administration, or me? I have no illusions about a forum providing me with a business – I run several businesses – i just come on here to provide a little experience based knowledge to the struggling business people – they are so often given the wrong advice by know it all green sticks who have only just left school – no wonder the business failure rate is so high in this country.

    I’m not impressing no-one Thorn, just giving you the facts. By doing your homework and looking for reputable sources, there is no need to be wary of being ‘Taken for a Ride”.

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