Every time a client calls scared from a sales pitch from some goober company I’ve never even heard of, I feel two things. First, I feel angry that a company would resort to this type of tactic to generate business. Second, I feel grateful for the relationship I have with that client, who trusts me enough to call and talk about their unsettling experience.

You know they’re lying if…


They say your Google listing is about to expire. This is a scare tactic. Even a company the size of Google doesn’t have enough people to call all the business owners in all the cities in all the world to let them know that their listing is about to expire, not to mention that your Google listing is never about to expire. Not only is it free, it’s not going anywhere. Even if you didn’t register your business with the search engine, you may still be listed on Google. The company makes it their business to know that you exist and to share your information.

They guarantee a No. 1 Google ranking. Not even the best SEO company can guarantee this. Google expressly warns against SEO companies guaranteeing anything, let alone a coveted No. 1 Google spot. Rankings are volatile — they fluctuate and can only be influenced, not controlled. Therefore, a ranking can’t be guaranteed.

They promise top rankings in 48 hours. The promise of quick rankings is, while appealing, actually a lie. Building legitimate traffic to your website is a marathon, not a sprint. If you want to generate a surge of traffic to your website or a top ranking on Google, you have to pay for it through advertising. And that means you’re really not doing SEO, you’re doing pay-per-click advertising. If they’re promising top rankings in 48 hours, it’s not legit. And if the company delivers on the promise, the odds are good that it wasn’t achieved using legit methods, and Google will penalize you, not the company you hired, leaving you with little to no web traffic and a big problem to solve.

The price seems too good to be true. You know what they say: if the price is too good to be true, it probably is. If you have two bids with one that’s super low and another that’s super high, then the odds are good that you’re negotiating with different scopes and styles of work. Ask somebody who knows the lingo to help you compare apples to apples.

They post your blogs on their site. If you’re paying a company to post blog posts on their site and never on yours, you’re missing the mark. I’m not saying that you should never post content on another company’s website. Guest blogging can be a great component of your online marketing plan. However, if you’re paying somebody to blog for you and they post all the articles on their site and not yours, their website will gain any benefits of increased traffic and search engine placement, not yours.

They need to clone your website for “tracking purposes.” If any online advertising company you’re considering tells you that they never need to talk to your web design company to develop an online marketing campaign, run away quickly. Most of these companies plan on cloning your website. This is a bad deal for two reasons:


  1. The cloned site they’re creating is a site they control, not you. Depending on the contract, they may actually own the site. If you ever stop working with them, you’ll lose all the attention gained through your campaign because it’s all tied to a site that’s not yours.


  1. Your website is rewarded for its unique content. Unless handled properly, if there’s another exact copy of your site, one of the sites will be penalized for sharing duplicate content. They’re promoting the domain that they own. Can you guarantee it won’t be your website that gets dinged?


They say they’ll do all the work. This is marketing code for “we are going to make up crap.” If your marketing company never has to talk to you about what’s going on in your business, then they have no idea what’s going on in your business. And the marketing they produce will also have nothing to do with your business. Good marketing requires interaction from all parties to ensure it’s consistent throughout all mediums and true to your values and company culture. Good marketing always requires an investment of time.


Bottom line: Listen to your gut.

If you’re not sure about a sales pitch, ask around. Talk to a marketer or fellow businessperson you trust. Ask Google. If it’s a scam, someone has probably already ranted about it.


Monica Pitts is the chief creative director of MayeCreate Design. 

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