Some customers tell us that they WANT to sign up, but they just don’t have time to do it. What they’re really saying is that they don’t want to take an active role in the promotion of their own business. We understand that you’re busy, and that being a small business owner often entails a hectic schedule, but if you don’t take the time to actively participate in promoting your business as accurately as possible, the consequences can be disastrous! No matter how many jobs you have lined up or how complicated your schedule has become, it’s critical that you take an active interest in the information circulated on the Internet regarding your company. So shuffle your calendar or take a quick break, and spend a little while focusing on how your company is being promoted on the web. Remember, the content generated and distributed by an online advertiser on your behalf DIRECTLY reflects on your company and represents your brand. If you allow inaccurate, low-quality, or just plain wrong information to spread out all over the Internet, the message you send to potential customers is that your reputation and professional image are not important to you in the slightest. Customers will assume automatically that these errors and inaccuracies are an indication of how you conduct yourself as a general rule, seeing them as symptoms of an overall lack of professionalism and customer service.
Web Advertising: How Much Time Should You Spend?
So, if taking a little time to sign up for a program that promises to create a web presence for you (in the form of a website, advertisements, etc.) is to the benefit of your company, how long will it take? The answer varies from business to business, but you can be certain it’s more than two minutes! Consider it this way: Could you walk up to a stranger on the street and describe each and every service you offer in just two minutes? Probably not! So why is it fair to expect a third-party advertiser to understand all the nuances of your business in that short an amount of time? Here at Prospect Genius, it doesn’t take long to sign up, but we do make sure we learn all about your business. The time you invest at this stage gives our team more ammunition to promote your business online, in the end helping drive maximum traffic back to you. Just how long does it take? Well, in our experience, when a new client signs up with PG, the initial interview typically takes between 20 and 30 minutes. The follow-up interview usually lasts another 10 or 15 minutes. If you’re a chatty person, or your company offers a number of different services, you could spend up to 90 minutes on the phone with us going over the type of work your business does and what makes your company unique. Everything that you tell us about your company is the fuel we need to make sure your business is represented accurately and promoted efficiently on the web, ensuring you get the most out of your new online presence.
Food for Thought
If a web advertiser says the signup process will only take 30 seconds, or even just 5 minutes, shouldn’t you be concerned? How will they learn anything about your company in that period of time? Especially if all they want is your billing address and credit card number, the red flags should go up. At Prospect Genius, we take the approach of using in-depth interviews with a number of different goals in mind:
- To make certain you get the types of calls you want (for example, calls for repairing large appliances rather than small appliance repairs)
- To ensure we promote your business in the correct location and service areas
- To identify the details that make your company special, unique, and different from your competitors
All of these goals are for your direct benefit! If another online advertising company does NOT invest time in getting to know your business when signing you up (by asking for specific, detailed info about your services, etc.), you may find yourself facing several problems:
- They may not be planning on doing a whole lot of work for you, so detailed information would be irrelevant.
- They may be planning to send you every and ANY call out there, including junk calls. This can be an especially major issue with a pay-per-lead or pay-per-call system.
- They may just be planning to copy and paste from your existing website, duplicating content and potentially earning penalties from Google.
- They may be planning to spam Google Maps by posting a slew of phony addresses on your company’s map listings page. This may give your company a quick boost in Google rankings, but any unverifiable addresses will be blacklisted by Google. Since your website will be connected to one of those map listings, you’ll also be risking a penalty on Google’s results pages. In extreme cases, Google may even penalize your business name and phone number across the board.
Why It Really Matters
So what? What’s the worst that can happen if you choose to use a web advertising company that doesn’t take the time to learn about you and your business? That’s a really good question because one answer is that you could even go to JAIL! Sounds extreme, right? Never gonna happen, right? Actually, we’re not kidding. Imagine you sign up with “Advertiser X” and spend just one minute giving them your credit card info and business name, but almost nothing else in terms of information. Then, if Advertiser X puts content on your website that includes false claims of certifications, memberships, or licenses you don’t actually have, you could easily end up on the wrong end of a sting operation. Several states, including California, are seriously cracking down on these types of violations because the resulting fines are a source of revenue for their cash-strapped coffers. In fact, some of our clients have endured similar situations because they failed to comply with some aspect of state law regarding exactly how you can advertise your services. Of course, these are the most extreme examples, but the threat of fines and penalties is REAL. In the end, it’s up to you as the business owner to verify that the content on the Internet regarding your company is 100% accurate.
Vet Advertisers Carefully
With all that can go wrong through cutting-corners or just plain sketchy online advertising, it’s vital that you be careful when choosing who will represent your company’s interests on the Internet. In the same way you wouldn’t hire just anyone to answer your phone, you’re better off not hiring just anyone for online advertising. What an advertiser puts out there about your company invariably becomes the basis for first impressions for many potential customers. If there’s information on the web that’s untrue, misleading, or even misspelled, it could end up costing you a whole lot more than the 30 minutes it would have taken to do it right in the first place!