On average, the overall marketing budgets are not growing. Companies are looking for what are
profit centers, so they need to allocate existing budgets differently. The money has to come from
somewhere, and it usually comes from other marketing efforts.
For example, if a company’s marketing budget for PPC has been $100,000 a year in the past, and they
begin to use a consultant or vendor that requires $10,000 a month for six months, that leaves just
$40,000 a year for PPC marketing. And that’s one area where budgets are being shuffled. Companies
understand that an agency will likely help them get better converting traffic for their investment,
either by providing better converting traffic or by reducing the cost of existing search marketing cam-
paigns. And most search marketing agencies are very good at what they do. Many larger agencies do
not practice “churn and burn” tactics. They know if they perform for a client, the client will come
back. Short-changing a client for the sake of immediate profits is always a poor business model, yet is
sadly still popular with many of today’
s “instant experts” who use software to manage everything and
claim to understand what they’re doing.
We are also slowly beginning to see some of the older, larger advertising agencies toying with the
idea of doing search marketing now. As traditional advertising spending has dropped consistently,
these larger organizations are beginning to realize that their customers want more options for mar-
keting, and the online channel brings good results for less investment. So the larger agencies have
begun to realize that they could be holding onto a portion of their clients’ spending if they are
offering the search marketing capabilities that those clients want. But these older companies are
kind of behind the eight ball now, because search marketing companies have already been estab-
lished and they’re good at what they do, so these more traditional agencies will have a hard time
breaking into this space.
Jerri: What tips would you give an organization looking to hire a search marketing consultant
First, get a list of past clients, and not just anyone in the organization. Request the con-
tact name and number for the person who was responsible for the SEM agency relationship. Then,
meet with them and ask them the hard questions. Ask how the relationship went. Ask if and how
quickly the company responded to their requests. And the most important question to ask is, “If
you needed work done again, would you still hire this company?”
The agency’s job is to make you look like a hero, but if they are overloaded, you end up in a situa-
tion where you’re just left hanging. So, if a reference says they would prefer to do their search mar-
keting in-house or would not hire the company again for any reason, then you should reconsider
whether you want to hire the company or not. It’s a telltale sign when a previous customer won’t
hire the company again, but if they say they would, then that’s a good endorsement for the company.
In the end, it’s a leap of faith — at some point you’ll need to pony up the cash to get the program
up and running. Just make sure that whoever is handling the agency relationship in-house under-
stands enough of the various facets being worked on to know if the agency is getting the job done
properly. If you are a marketing manager tapped to manage this effort, get cracking on learning
about organic search and paid search marketing yourself. Even a basic level of understanding can
be enough to spot problems and get this sorted properly for you.
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