We get emails all the time from clients who are approached by marketing companies who are promising the world. Usually companies neither they nor we have heard of. After viewing hundreds of these, there are ten common red flags we see that help us quickly evaluate these offers, and I wanted to share some of them with you today so you would know what to look for.
#1: They Think for You
Their communication is doing all the thinking for you. You can tell this right away because (on their website, ads, or outreach) lots of different words have been bolded, sometimes in different colors and fonts, and they are usually designed to scare you or appeal to fear or greed. They have highlighted all the words they want you to remember. You don’t even have to do any thinking for yourself, you just have to “act now.”
#2: Fear of Loss
Fear of loss. You’re missing out on hundreds of new patients per month, your website got a bad grade, and no one can find you on Google, you could be making tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a month using this new, exclusive, secret system that is very light on details.
Are they painting an apocalyptic scenario for you, where you will literally be out of business by the end of the month if you don’t call them immediately and sign a long contract? If so, then you probably have nothing to fear from this type of pitch.
#3: Fear of Missing Out
Fear of missing out. Have you found a limited-time offer on some sort of contact page that has a timer counting down? Lucky for you, you found it, but there are only 58 minutes to go! However, if you get your credit card, and sign up now you’ll make it just in time. Or maybe there is some exclusive webinar that’s just running out of spots, and there’s just one left for you if you sign up now.
This tactic is usually a trick, and you can tell by refreshing the page and watching the timer reset. Or, opening it in a different browser and once again you’ll see it reset. You will find that you actually have all the time in the world to properly evaluate this offer without being under pressure.
#4: No People to Back the Company
This is when the about section of the company's website has no people. There are no real people associated with this company, not even the principal or the owner. There is also no information on how long this company has been in business. There’s just a nebulous mission statement about what they’re doing best for their clients, and that really doesn’t cut it. Actual companies have real people, employees who want to be seen, and owners who are proud of what they’ve built. If you can’t find any of these things, that is a huge red flag.
#5: Claiming Exclusive Google Partnership
Claiming that they have an official relationship with Google. One common form of this is they’ve employed a former Google engineer who worked on the search algorithm, and they can tell YOU the secrets they use to rank dental websites. Or that they have an official partnership with Google that lets them get around officially stated rules, like taking down any negative review they wish, optimizing a dental website overnight to the top of the first page.
Google does not make these sorts of deals, and company employees who leave are under strict NDAs. Google is one of the largest companies in the world. They are not making insider deals contrary to their own interests with small dental marketing companies.
Another common item is misrepresenting Google Ads partnerships in terms of something that will help your search engine optimization efforts. There are Google Ads partners, but this has nothing to do with search engine optimization. It may help your pay-per-click ads, but not your SEO.
#6: Overstating Accolades
Showing you all the credible publications they’ve been acknowledged on. It may be very impressive to see logos for NBC, CBS, The Wallstreet Journal, CNN, etc., but you notice very quickly that you cannot click on any of these logos to actually read the article or view the video.
That’s because nine out of ten times, they purchased a press release and opted for the additional $250 package that shares these articles on those websites. So while they technically may have appeared on some of those websites, they weren’t really featured or investigated or vetted by any of those news organizations. So this is a bit less impressive.
#7: Making Guarantees
Guaranteeing things they cannot control. Ethical marketing companies will admit to you that they cannot control human behavior. After all, marketing is the business of trying to influence human behavior, but we cannot dictate it.
Furthermore, when it comes to some marketing strategies like SEO, if you know what you’re doing, you can point to a track record of success and show lots of case studies, but you can’t predict the future. You cannot control Google rankings absolutely. Google is in complete control of that. Make sure that they’re being honest and realistic with you.
#8: Promising Review Removal
Claiming they can alter negative reviews. I mentioned this briefly before when some companies claim they have a special relationship with Google and can take down any negative review they wish. That is not true.
Now you can get negative reviews removed under certain circumstances. If someone has used racist or offensive language, made threats, or violated the terms of service, you can flag this, and Google will review it and sometimes they will take it down. But if they haven’t done any of these things and just didn’t like you, it is not likely that you will be able to get the negative review taken down. We can try,, but we cannot guarantee that.
#9: Overpromising Returns
Guaranteeing a certain amount of leads or patients. Read the fine print here. Often you’re being sold patients, but what is in the fine print is getting leads. Leads may count even if the phone number doesn’t work or the email bounces. It still counts as a “lead” according to your contract. It’s just a worthless one.
Which makes you wonder who would be motivated to fill out a contact form with fake information every month to make a quota?
#10: Fixed-Price SEO
Fixed-price SEO. Search engine optimization is difficult and, therefore the cost varies wildly from market to market. A dentist in downtown Manhattan should expect to pay substantially more for search engine optimization than someone in rural Kansas.
If there is a one size fits all SEO from that company for every dentist across the country, this almost certainly means that they are using a computer program to do the SEO work. Now, this isn’t terrible, but it usually means that the practice will come up short and be disappointed with SEO if they’re in a competitive market. Or, if they’re in an uncompetitive market, they are going to overpay.
You may have heard some of these tips before, but hopefully, you learned some new ones that will make you a more informed consumer of dental marketing services in the future. If you’ve received a questionable marketing pitch and you would like us to take a second look, please give us a call or contact us at greatdentalwebsites.com.