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The search marketing industry: Great but no guarantee

Hey, did you hear that the economy is in trouble? Of course, if you didn’t know it you have either A) chosen to ignore it B) are just numb from the onslaught of doomsday talk or C) have your head comfortably buried in the sand. I do not have any magic elixir for you. Whether you are a business owner who uses search marketing services, an Internet marketing services provider, or consultant, you are faced with an interesting paradox. Despite the great industry that search and Internet marketing has always been, there is simply no guarantee that anyone will be able to capitalize on it in these conditions. Here’s why.

Now, if you are in need of a search marketing professional, it means that you do not have the knowledge of search marketing to do it yourself, or the time to do it yourself, or both. Now throw in the fact that you may not have the money to do it either. What do you do?
As a search marketer myself, I offer the totally unbiased advice to find a way to make it happen. Seriously, though there is no other marketing or advertising medium that gives you more targeted, measurable results coupled with that rarest of things in business: control.
Unlike advertising that requires long term arrangements (such as print, TV, and radio) to be effective (if they even really are for your particular situation), Internet marketing has an on-off switch that can be thrown at a moment’s notice. Pretty important for this day and age, right? My recommendation is that you find a way to make it happen and commit to it immediately. You might need to cut other marketing programs but just be honest with yourself. The old adage that what can’t be measured can’t be managed holds true for marketing as well. If you cannot definitively tie bottom-line results to any marketing effort, then you should stop it. Make room for those things that can be measured and controlled.
If you are on the search marketing provider side of the ledger, you have another set of interesting circumstances to consider. First, do you take any customer that comes along because you need the revenue in this economy? I can’t tell you how many search providers are having difficulty with collections at this time. As search and Internet marketers, we must show incredible value and make sure that we are at the top of the food chain when it comes time for our clients to pay their bills.
I am taking the opposite tack of more carefully interviewing my prospects to make sure they have the commitment to be a good client, so that I spend my time working with them to get results and less time arguing over payment.
Is it risky? I suppose it is, but I would rather deal with it from the point of view that I will just have to dig deeper and claw harder to find the right folks to work with. I am a businessman but I am not interested in spending time doing things that are not profitable (such as working for non-paying clients). Overall, there is going to be considerable change in the search marketing services arena due to new “experts” coming in because they lost their corporate jobs, and more scams being perpetrated to get something from someone. I suspect many current providers who are not sharp business people are going to close up shop. This should be interesting.
Finally, here’s a word of warning to both sides of this search/Internet marketing coin. Hollow, gimmicky promises do the client and the industry no good. If someone guarantees results, it truly IS too good to be true. If someone sounds like their services are cheap, then suspect that the quality will match. Now is the time to interview providers and get comfortable with a partner who will work with you, not for you.
As search marketers, we need to sharpen our pencils and run tight, efficient businesses to get on the other side in a few years and be stronger for it. Stop riding the wave of search popularity and focus on delivering solid business value to your clients. It will make a difference to their business and yours.
These are rough times indeed. Be sure that we are all doing the next right thing so. The good search marketers will get through this and be better for it. What’s your take?

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