Technology has created lots of great tools to increase sales and conversions like targeting, follow-up and lead generation tools. However, I am concerned that these may be becoming an excuse for ignoring basic good practices and too many small business owners are getting burned.
“A great idea without execution is a hallucination” as Benjamin Franklin once said. We sometimes get enamored with the latest technology or fad and forget the importance of factors like executing, expertise and experience.
The most robust technological solutions in the world are only as strong as their greatest area of weakness. If one thing fails with your technology, are you still capable of devoting enough attention to resolving the negative and turning it into a positive to increase their satisfaction with you? Are the consultants you hire?
Without a human element continually factored into your equation for success, you’re doomed for failure. We all know satisfied customers are the best marketing tool and dissatisfied customers are the biggest negative.
Here are some increasingly common scenarios for businesses that I’ve consulted with who are trying to grow their businesses by improving their online presence:
Lead Generation Consultants Leading to Nowhere
Many lead generation consultants seem to have some great tools. However, they frequently ignore that the specifics of who your customer base is and how to reach them. This can lead all parties astray when it comes to staying focused on your goals and needs and more importantly your customer’s experience.
Choose a lead generation program or outsource lead generation to someone who prioritizes communicating with you about what they plan to do and will be honest with you about the expected results. Learn about the process instead of fobbing it off to someone along with a big financial commitment.
Web Designers Who Skimp on Deliverables
All too often, web designers ignore the parameters they provide clients with, such as timelines and features that they are capable of delivering on. Clients should always be informed of schedules, deliverables, and given the respect of communicating when there is a delay expected.
In a recent survey, 92% of small business owners plan to have a website by the end of 2018, so it’s important to be choosy. The competition is getting stiffer. That doesn’t mean you can’t be choosy about your web designer.
Digital Marketing Agencies That Dodge Questions
Chances are, if you’ve shopped around for a digital marketing expert, you’ve encountered many who ignore simple explanations of themselves and their services. Social media consultants in particular frequently ignore excellence and best practices while becoming obsessed with technology.
Websites, blogs, and emails are great, simple efforts to illustrate if they have what it takes to follow through. If they’re not up to par, they probably won’t do more for you than they are doing for themselves.
References are still important, but in so many cases, those we hire hesitate to provide them. See what’s on their website and LinkedIn profile and pages. Do others sing their praises?
Furthermore, it’s not enough for them to point you to what they’ve already done. They should be able to explain what they can do for you
Beware of The One-Stop-Shop
More and more consultants claim to be a “one-stop-shop.” If they’re vague on potential outcomes and like a “dog in heat” on your commitment, be skeptical. If they require commitments involving thousands of dollars for 3-6 months based on limited proposal details, projected timetables, and potential takeaways, steer clear.
Many solutions are frequently boasted as one-size-fits all solutions, especially when it comes to expensive technological solutions. Eric Rise, one of my favorite authors right now, argues that failure is part of achieving success in his recent book Lean Startups. We all need to measure and then pivot to eventually achieve excellence.
So many say that they can “do anything” and this is simply not a realistic response. Someone you hire should be able to speak about what they are unable to do just as well as what they are able to do. No one can do everything well.
The worst part about all of these examples is that small businesses waste so much money in these scenarios and start to give up hope. Many efforts are ruined by dumb distractions when all that anyone wants is to find useful and simple tools that can help us all grow in the long run from our investment.
Want to speak to me about how you can grow your business online without getting into lengthy commitments with people who don’t come through? Contact me.
Dr. Bert Shlensky, president of StartupConnection is a graduate of Sloan School of Management at M.I.T. He served as the president of WestPoint Pepperell’s apparel fabrics business & President and CEO of Sure Fit Products. Having provided counseling to over 2,000 clients, he focuses on working with select start-up and small businesses.