Archive for the ‘Marketing Consulting’ Category

Marketing Consulting and Performance Based Deals

June 15, 2009

Having been a marketing consultant for two decades now, I have had the opportunity to experience several business cycles.

In my experience, business owners tend to seek my particular type of outside advice only during economic downturns or when their business has soured other than when times and business are good.

Economic troughs inevitably reveal the greatest weaknesses in every management team’s bench.

I also get a similar amount of calls from recently fired or laid off employees looking to do marketing consulting work until they find another job.

This time is no exception.

Yesterday, I received a call from a person looking for a job as a marketing consultant with my firm.

If no positions were available, the caller was then interested in getting more information about starting their own marketing consulting practice.

I told the caller I am a sole practitioner and didn’t have any marketing positions open at which point the would be marketing consultant asked if I did or had done any performance based deals.

The caller’s question was a legitimate one.

As with any employee, my firm has to produce tangible results for a client in order for me to justify my firm’s fee (paycheck).

Client’s also have to receive a demonstrable value in order for them to justify paying my bill.

The marketing consultant in training then asked “How have your performance only deals worked out?”

I thought about it and replied – “they all worked out, but not without incident”.

The caller then asked – “under what circumstances would you do a performance based deal today?”

My reply?

Only if and when the counterparty in the deal –

1). Has done at least three deals with other consultants.

2). Arranges my access and interview of the three previous consultants regarding their experience with the counterparty and whether or not they received the amount of compensation agreed upon.

Once those terms have been met, I would then begin to consider whether I could help the owner solve his business problems or not.

If I recall correctly, when a prospective performance only marketing client and I have reached this particular juncture in the negotiations – the client inevitably decides to pursue what other options they may have had.

Go figure…

Google Local Business Results and the Last Mile: Search Takes Two Steps Closer to Bridging the Gap Between Web and Foot Traffic

January 28, 2008

Google’s First Step…

As reported and since confirmed by Greg Sterling, Google is now showing up to 10 local business results for geographic specific queries.

Google told Greg the reason it’s showing more links is because usability testing revealed that many people didn’t realize there was additional local content available beyond the three listings, despite the “more results . . .” prompt. Accordingly, Google said that with the 10 links it is hoping to signal people that there is much more local content a click away.

Google also said that it wouldn’t always show 10 results; it might still show three sometimes or one if the query is very specific.

As Mike Blumenthal has noted, it has been nearly a year since Google last upgraded their Local OneBox. At the time it led to a significant increase in Google Maps usage.

It will be interesting to see if and how Google’s worldwide roll out of their new Local OneBox increases Google Maps usage like it did after implementing their last Local Business OneBox changes.

In my previous post about Google’s local business results being expanded, I wrote about how the listings appeared locally and some of the factors I thought contributed to the listings.

Sterling reported the ten results are based on a range of factors, including the “query, proximity, availability of ratings/reviews and their quality and several other variables.”

Since Google doesn’t publish exactly what factors influence their list, all we can do is study what they publish and draw our own conclusions as to which variables may matter the most.

The following are examples of searches I have ran, Google’s Local OneBox business results and my analysis of what variables I think generated the list.

Google Local Business Results: Internet Marketing Oklahoma City –

Google Local Internet Marketing Oklahoma City

This query for a service (internet marketing) followed by the location (Oklahoma City) produced a “top of page” 10 listings OneBox result. I also found some Google Adwords ads displaying the recently discovered business address on the fourth line of the Adwords ad.

Google Local Business Results: Oklahoma City Internet Marketing –

Google Local Oklahoma City Internet Marketing

Searching for the same terms in a different order; placing the location first (Oklahoma City) and the service (internet marketing) last, produced a OneBox result with only three business listings. Some local Adwords advertisements still appeared with their specific address on the fourth line, which as mentioned previously only displayed a city or state.

Google Local Business Results: Business Marketing Oklahoma City –

Google Local Business Marketing Oklahoma City

A slightly different search for a similar business category yields a new clue to at least one of the factors Google uses to generate its OneBox 10 local business listings.

A search for the service (business marketing) and the location (Oklahoma City) produces a different yet seemingly innocuous list of businesses. However, in this particular query and in addition to the expected listing for my business “Advanced Marketing Consultants” appearing, “Cohn, Tim” also appears as one of the results.

Cohn, Tim is one of my business phone listings in my local Bell telephone directory. The phone company apparently can’t sort and digitally publish business listings with an individual’s name like they can an individual’s residential phone data.

A search in YellowPages.com produces “Cohn, Tim” for my business phone number –

YellowPages.com

Yet, a search in Google for “Tim Cohn Oklahoma” produces both of my residential phone numbers and listings in correct order: Tim (first name) and then Cohn (last name) –

Tim Cohn Oklahoma

I haven’t investigated whether the phone company automatically reverses residential phone records before they are published to the web or whether Google reverses the data before they publish it.

Regardless, it looks like the business listing for “Tim Cohn” will remain forever memorialized in the vast telephone company data and its Internet counterpart as the business listing: “Cohn, Tim”.

Having accepted the fact that the telephone company seemed incapable of changing their listing results years ago, I decided to turn this particular piece of flawed data into my “control”.

When Cohn, Tim appears in print – whether online or off – its source is always local phone company data.

Thus at least a portion of this particular Google local OneBox list origins lies in business telephone directory data.

To its credit, Google has become proactive in allowing users to modify incorrect Google data as Barry Schwartz recently reported.

And unlike my attempts to get the phone company to correct how my business phone listing appears both in print and online, I am sure Google will let me append my business listing in their Google Local Business Center, but that will have to be the subject of another post.

Google Local Business Results: Chevy Oklahoma City –

Google Local Chevy Oklahoma City

Unlike with an old fashioned yellow pages search for listings with “Chevy Oklahoma City” keywords whether in the yellow pages or through directory assistance, Google can return results most likely relevant and matched to the searchers or callers intent.

Whereas, a yellow pages search or directory assistance call would take a couple of “passes” to yield the similarly accurate and desired result – businesses listings most likely to be known as “Chevy Oklahoma City”.

Brilliant!

If the telephone company can’t arrange and organize my single business listing correctly in their digital directories, how will they ever be able to compete with Google’s ability to anticipate and even provide multiple possible answers to each searchers question?

Google Local Business Results: Double Glazers Chelsea London (England) –

Google Local London

Google’s local business results aren’t just appearing in the US. A search for “double glazers” in the Chelsea section of London produces a list of double glazers midway down the search engine results page. I am not sure why some OneBox results appear at the top of the page and why others appear in the middle of the page but I believe it too must be based on Google’s understanding of the searchers intent.

Google Local Business Results: Travel Agents Sydney (Australia) –

Google Local Sydney

This search in Sydney, Australia for travel agents also produces a OneBox result. Here the OneBox appears again at the top of the page above the organic results.

In my next post, I will show how Google’s local business results have taken a second step closer to bridging the gap between paid web search traffic and foot traffic…


Google Local Business Results Expanded

January 18, 2008

Google is now showing ten results for businesses under city, retail and service related queries instead of three.

This does two things:

1. It provides local businesses more exposure in local related searches. This in turn may aid Google’s efforts to generate more locally targeted advertising from retail and service businesses.

2. It reveals the lack of forethought shown by most businesses when it comes to choosing their free yellow pages category when ordering their phone line. If I had not spent years studying potential yellow pages categories for both mine and my client’s businesses, I too probably wouldn’t have given it much thought either. The data displayed under each query is only as informed as the person who placed the original order with the phone company.

In the following example under a Google search for “marketing oklahoma city” you can see about half of the businesses listed are probably not in the business of providing “marketing” services in Oklahoma City.

Marketing Oklahoma City

However, in a search for “marketing consultant oklahoma city” you can see nearly all of the businesses listed likely provide marketing consultant services in Oklahoma City.

Marketing Consultant Oklahoma City

Fortunately my business listing – Advanced Marketing Consultants – appears within both searches today.

Yes, every business with a phone line will probably now appear in a local search result.

One question remains – will their listing be shown to the right audience?

You Can Always Tell A Harvard Man…

November 9, 2006

when you see him, but you can’t tell him much.

This saying came to mind this morning while thinking about the hundreds of different business marketing consulting projects I have considered.

Unfortunately, the saying is true particularly when the Harvard man is also the owner of the business.

Why would a Harvard graduate ask me to discuss his business plans?

For the same reason most every other business owner who has ever contacted me did, to get a “second” opinion.

An opinion, a diagnosis not free of bias but one free from theirs.

Every small to medium size business owner prospect or client I have spent time with has had the same problem.

To get to where they are, they had to surround themselves with people they trusted. Those people in turn grow comfortable and content with their having “made it” to their organizations inner circle.

All is warm and fuzzy when times are good.

With their having “made it” the members of the inner circle sign up for hefty mortgages, buy expensive cars and enroll their children in private schools.

What follows next isn’t pretty but happens quite predictably within varying degrees of time.

The business encounters some form of disruption from outside the team’s control shaking their trust.

The team functions well managing the day-to-day operations when the sailing is smooth, but has difficulty responding to any unexpected swells that may rock their otherwise smooth sailing ship.

Why?

Contempt.

A distrust in all knowledge and experience other than their own.

Why not? The owner and his inner circle have seen it all before.

Those waves heaving over the bow will surely subside.

The owner silently tells himself, “My team and I can handle this like we handled everything prior.”

There is only one problem.

Change aka risk…

Innovation by definition means doing something new and different.

The inner circle who once clawed and scratched their way to the table is no longer interested in taking a risk on something new and different.

When the subject is broached the owner hears,
“Us, do something different?” “Are you kidding?”
“We have houses to protect and families to support!”

Regardless of whether a single member of the team ever graduated from Harvard or not, the team has caught the same bug.

The Closemindedness Bug.

Now we all suffer from this to varying degrees, but business executives should be the last to catch it if ever.

If you or your team have been infected with the Closemindedness Bug seek professional help before your market hospitalizes you.

Internet Marketing Book by A Guy and His Laptop

September 24, 2006

129 days until the release of my internet marketing book – For Sale By Google.

In late 1999, I was fortunate to recognize the impact internet marketing would ultimately have on the marketing and advertising industries. I decided then to move my firm Advanced Marketing Consultants marketing consulting practice completely online.

I was approached in November of 2005 by John Wiley and Sons to write a book about my online marketing experiences at www.marketingprinciples.com.

Why me? I think Wiley contacted me because my internet marketing strategy has consistently attracted 500,000 unique visitors from around the world to my site annually for each of the last three years. I have generated as many as 4,400 online transactions monthly for myself and clients.

All the while still just a guy and his laptop. Well, some servers too…

Writing a book has proven to be much more difficult than I expected.

However, at this time I wouldn’t trade the opportunity and experience for any other.