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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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  1. Avatar Craig Klein

    Interesting points Frank!
    From my perspective, I see no data to indicate a significant change in search volume for terms I care about like “online contact management” in the last few weeks.
    In fact, what I do expect to see is some pulling back of marketing budgets by competitors so that bid prices may come down or at least not accelerate as they have been.
    Opportunity baby!

  2. Avatar Truby

    Great article Frank! What comes to mind when I read this article is that you reap what you sow. The time is here for sure to get serious about your business. A strong foundation is the only thing that will truly last. You have inspired me to take a closer look at my business and do some house cleaning. Thank you for this article

  3. Avatar business plan expert

    I loved your article Frank. You have written great article on search marketing industry. This article is very useful for those who wants to become search marketers. Keep up your good work.

  4. I do SEM work and yes there are ups and downs to it. You mainly have to make sure your doing quality for lasting results and quantity for quick ones I find.

  5. Avatar Stacy

    That’s a good blog post. I am aware of the economy being in trouble, but I probably pay less attention to it than most. Not because it’s unimportant to me, but I see so many of my friends and families running scared.
    Instead of focusing on the Doom of Inevitable Economic Collapse (if that happens, money stashed under a mattress will be worthless anyway), I am just make the adjustments to both my business and personal life to ensure my stability. So, yes, it does pretty much come down to delivering solid business value.

  6. Avatar Hotal Financing

    Rather than SEM I focus on SEO. I agree that we need to sharpen our pencils and focus on what we are doing for our clients.

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