Good intentions, bad advice
As you evolve your business strategy over time, you have to be conscious of who you’re asking for advice. If you’re working with an outside firm that is heavily geared towards social media marketing, they’re likely to believe that the thing you should be spending your money on going forward is, unsurprisingly, more social media.
The same thing would be true with a pay-per-click company, an SEO company, an affiliate marketing company and so on. Given this truth, it’s critical that you find ways to get input from people who don’t have a vested interest in one specific type of service or marketing platform.
It’s important for business owners to get some outside opinions about the total strategy that they wish to implement. Just asking their vendors how they should be approaching things is clearly not enough, because the vendors are obviously biased towards the types of services that they provide. It’s not out of malice; it’s purely because that’s what they know. That’s what they believe in, otherwise they wouldn’t be in that line of work.
Aside from specific vendor bias, it’s also important to be aware that the market is constantly changing. In earlier chapters we talked about ROI being the metric that’s most important. As you track ROI, it is often the case that as the months go on, certain types of activities will start to drive higher ROI than others.
It may be in your best interest to move investment dollars from one type of activity to another. Unfortunately, if it means losing a contract, most vendors won’t be eager to highlight that to you.
Search for the highest ROI use of funds
As the owner, your question shouldn’t be: “Can I make positive ROI on this activity?” The power question is:
“Is this activity the highest ROI activity available to me right now?”
Those are very different questions. If you’re asking the latter question, it forces you to look at everything and evaluate the potential returns that you could be getting. If you’re asking a vendor or someone who is specifically involved in one aspect of online marketing, they’re very likely to tell you that they think that the thing that they do most often is the answer... which it may not be. This is also a question which should be asked broadly in the business and put up against other offline marketing opportunities like print and direct sales.
One of our clients is an e-commerce specialty products company that came to us spending five figures a month on pay-per-click ads and $3,500 a month on an SEO company which was doing content marketing work for them. We looked at the overall investment that they were making, the performance of their campaigns and their blended cost of traffic.
We ended up recommending that they reallocate their content marketing budget into a contract with a new vendor for a special type of technical SEO work and restructure their paid search program. The result of those changes was that organic traffic increased 35% in 90 days, representing an additional $30,000 a month in sales.
By lowering their blended cost of acquisition overall, they were able to be more competitive with their paid search campaigns as well, expanding their reach into new ad networks and increasing ROI.
Getting quality outside advice and perspective on your marketing programs can be a challenge, but is well worth the effort.