As we close out another successful year at PracticeProfs, we were looking back at 2017 results and trends.  One unfortunate trend we’ve experienced is a higher volume of calls and emails to our clients (mainly law firm websites and attorney websites) pitching questionable marketing tactics. Since PracticeProfs becomes the marketing department for our clients, we evaluate all new opportunities, looking for those true gems we can add into the marketing mix. We don’t know why, but there seems to be more cubic zirconium in 2017 than previous years.

After evaluating hundreds of different offers over the past year, here are some examples of the most prevalent marketing scams being served up by commissioned sales reps:

  1. Set and forget. After you sign the contract, the marketing vendor does some stuff in the first month and then nothing after that. It takes a monthly effort to run any successful marketing program. Before you lock into a long-term contract, make sure you understand what the vendor will be doing every month, as well as how you’ll receive reporting that confirms the work was done.
  2. Caller cannibalization. No one is eating your clients, but the marketing vendor will purchase cheap Google ads that show up when only people are searching for your firm’s name. These searchers already know who you are and would normally just click to your website. When they click or call from the Google ad, the vendor takes credit for “leads” that you would have received anyway.
  3. Fake traffic. Even though people can get the information they need right from a Google search, there a few directory websites left that display lists of firms and make money by selling upgraded profiles and ads. Watch out for directories that artificially boost traffic numbers by temporarily purchasing Google advertising. You only see the inflated numbers, along with inflated prices. Ask for a year’s worth of traffic data and see if you get a response.
  4. Websites held hostage. Beware of the marketing vendor that still requires your website to be on its proprietary platform. If you ever stop paying the vendor, you could lose your website. There are great website-building tools available, like WordPress and Squarespace, where you can have a professional site created that you own and control.
  5. Guaranteed leads. You receive an email from a vendor guaranteeing you a certain number of “leads” per month. There are two potential issues here. First, what’s a lead? A bunch of repeat phone calls from other vendors should never count as leads. Second, what’s the guarantee? Unless you get your money back or have an opportunity to cancel, you could still be trapped,  paying for nothing.

Don’t put the tactical cart before the marketing horse

Scams aside, most of the time these sales reps are just selling marketing tactics, not programs. Just like you do with your clients, you need to plan before you execute. Once you understand your goals, you can implement the right mix of (measurable) activities to achieve those goals. If you just start doing stuff, you’ll probably end up wasting some if not all of your marketing investment.

Have you seen any suspect marketing tactics in your email inbox? Let us know. We’ll research on your behalf, provide you with our professional opinion, and, if applicable, add to our next marketing scams article.

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