Typical Ignorant, Lying Telephone Solicitor
I don’t do telephone cold calling but if I did and you got a call from me you wouldn’t get a telephone solicitor who claims to have four years of internet marketing experience but doesn’t know the difference between organic and paid listings on Google. Nor will you get one who will ask you to answer questions like how long you’ve been in business to see if Google will “qualify” you for placement on the first page of their search results. Google doesn’t do that. It’s just competitive bidding; Google doesn’t care how long you’ve been in business. You also won’t get one who won’t give you a straight answer when you ask for our website address. I won’t be telling you what city we’re in so you can see if you can find it with Google for a search term like “brand local irvine ca”. Seriously, this is what I had to do to do a little research into BrandRep while on the phone with the solicitor. And why was he calling his company Brand Local when it’s not Brand Local, it’s BrandRep? What was he hiding?
Why We Get This Kind of Telephone Salesman
I realize telephone solicitors aren’t experts in their field. They aren’t paid enough for that. It’s a numbers game: more calls equals more customers. If you have x number of dollars to spend on calls you’re going to get more calls and thus more customers if you can hire more callers. The less you pay your callers the more of them you can hire for the same dollar. It’s simple math.
Except for several variables: the quality of the leads and the quality of the salesman. If all you can do is give a salesman a list of random, busy business owners to call, and most of them have no interest in what you have to offer, that is, they aren’t what we call qualified leads, then sure, you’re salesman’s objective is to get as many calls in by the end of the day as possible in hopes he can find the few low hanging fruit that are either 1) ignorant of internet marketing and will believe anything you say, or 2) are desperate for something, ANYTHING, to try to get more customers. There’s no point in spending money on a real good salesman, one that you or I might actually want to talk to, if he’s going to spend most of his time sifting through all the unqualified leads who have no real interest in what’s being sold.
If an SEO company wants to hire a good salesman then they need to provide him with good leads, like the kind that are actually using Google to search for internet marketing services.
Now there’s a concept, actually practicing what you preach and get your SEO business by doing SEO. Speaking of which, according to Alexa, BrandRep only gets 15% of their website traffic from organic search and less than 2% of that is for something other than people searching using branded keywords like “brand rep” or “brandrep”, like you probably did to find this review. In other words, they are an SEO company that can’t be found with Google.
Did the Sales Manager do any Better?
I will say that after I was turned over to a sales manager I got a really nice young fellow who actually listened to my questions. That’s a rarity among these cold-calling companies. Most of them have no interest in finding out what anybody really wants or needs.
When I explained to the sales manager that the telephone solicitor claimed to have four years of experience as an internet marketer but didn’t know the difference between paid and organic search I thought I would have heard him apologize and admit they need to do a better job of training their people but all I got was, “I wouldn’t do that to you.” Really? You wouldn’t do that to me but you don’t care that the guy sitting next to you is doing it to about a hundred busy business owners every day?
What Does BrandRep Have to Offer?
If you look at their website, more lies and deception. They have a string of logos just above the footer that includes The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, CNN, ABC, and 60 Minutes. Most companies that have that on their website also say, “As Seen On”, because they are actually a big enough deal to be featured or at least advertise on a major news network. Though they don’t come right out and say “As Seen On,” BrandRep is hoping your subconscious will assume they have been seen on these news media and thus think they are a big deal. It’s not lying, per se, but it is certainly deception. Why else would they have a string of major news outlet logos on their website?
OK, enough about their scammy marketing practices. Let’s look at what they do.
Here’s the thing about hiring a company like this to manage your Adwords campaign. They make it sound like you are getting a fantastic deal if they can get you placed for some keywords that they have chosen for you for one monthly flat rate. “Unlimited clicks for one low flat rate.” Sounds like a deal, right? But do you know how much it would cost you to go straight to Google and bid for the same keywords? You probably don’t, and these companies feed off your ignorance.
While on the phone talking about keywords they have software that can tell them with a high degree of accuracy just how many people are searching for those keywords and how many of those will click on the ads and thus give them a reason to bill you. If they are charging you a flat rate of say, $400 per month, it’s because they know they will only spend a fraction of that on your actual ad spend to Google. Even if they say, “You get UNLIMITED clicks to your website for this rate,” they know just how many you are going to get, and you can be sure they aren’t spending this time with you on the phone if they aren’t going to be making a healthy profit off of you. “Unlimited” then means limited to how many people are actually searching using those keywords. And if by chance more people end up searching for that keyword and click on the ad, they will have a built in cap on the ad spend but won’t tell the telephone solicitor or even the sales manager about it.
I don’t do much if anything to promote paid search advertising because most businesses are the wrong kind of business to use Adwords and for those that are the right kind, Adwords has gotten popular enough to drive the prices too high to get any decent Return On Investment. For those of my clients who insist on doing an Adwords campaign I’ve charged a reasonable $200 setup fee and then 20% of the ad spend. I don’t make much at that rate but I can always chalk it up as a learning experience.
Organic Search (SEO)
For $4266 per year you can get BrandRep’s Local SEO package which might lead you to believe they are going to SEO your website for organic search but in reality they are only optimizing where you will show up in Google Places (aka Google Maps) section of their Search Engine Results Page, and only for the city in which your business is located. If you want to reach the city next to yours you will have to buy their AdWords services. The Google Places section is the one displayed next to the map and just below the 3 paid advertising listings (AdWords) at the top and sometimes just below the first one or two organic listings. It’s a good place to be, especially if you are at the top of the list, but it’s no substitute for ranking well in the organic section which gets most of the action from potential customers.
Optimizing for Google Places will help your organic ranking to some degree but optimizing your website for organic ranking will help your Google Places listing to an even greater degree, plus, you will be in the section of the Google results page that gets the most clicks to websites. Optimizing for Google Local is like being good enough for Junior Varsity while optimizing for organic is like being good enough for the Varsity squad.
If you find that you don’t show up well in the Maps section of the Google results page it may be that you just need to spend about 5 minutes and get into your Google account and make sure you have the proper business categories for your business. You may not need to spend a dime. You can also get your business listed on local directories which is the bulk of what companies like this do. It’s not rocket science, it’s just a little work. If you’re too busy your front desk person can do it. How do you find them? Just Google your business categories + city and see what directories show up in the first three results pages and get yourself listed with them. Get their free listings, not their paid listings. Paid directory listings are not worth the money. Some of these companies like Supermedia are just plain crooks.
For $4266 dollars per year you should expect to get more than just your Google Places ranking optimized and even for that they should be able to offer some sort of guarantee other than getting your site there for only 2 keywords, which you probably already are, but they don’t.
$4266 per year is a lot to spend if you don’t know if it will do any good or if you could accomplish the same thing with about 8 hours of work on your part.
How About Their Websites?
You get a pretty basic website for $2000 per year. That’s $20,000 in ten years. Yikes!
Five years ago this might have been a good thing but WordPress is putting this business model to rest. I can build a simple Content Management System, one that allows you as a non-techie to make changes to your own website, in about 8 hours, charge $800, and give you the keys to a system that you can maintain and improve your self or let me or someone else manage it for you for about $360 per year plus about $100 per year for hosting. You will actually own the website and can take it any place you want, have anyone work on it, and you can easily find web designers in any city who know WordPress. Every other one does. Find out more on my website design page.
If you are looking for a more robust website with several service pages I can build that for $1800 one time. No need to keep paying that year after year.
You might also be interested in: Don’t Buy AdWords From a Flat-Rate Re-seller Who Calls You on a Phone