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3 Marketing RED FLAGS to watch out for as a Small Business Owner

I work primarily with small businesses. This is no secret but this typically means if I'm talking to a prospect it will go one of TWO total ways.

In the first scenario, they are so small, or new (not the same thing) that they have never worked with a marketer before and I am their first!

If they don't fit that description it means they're either brave enough or established enough to have been wronged by a half-baked marketing firm.

Sadly that second bucket always fills up first and we're often spending the first 6 months or so with our once-bitten, twice-timid client just working up the courage and trust to proceed. Do I mind? Of course, not!

As a mom and a bleeding-heart hippie part of me loves the excuse to flex the nurturing muscles required to heal and empower these wounded business owners. Those are some of the same muscles required to work with small businesses at large so maybe I have a type!

But my taste in clients aside it is a shame that so many of you have to learn the hard way, so today I'm sharing the 3 most common marketing red flags you can watch out for on your marketing journey to ensure that when and if our paths cross you can just hire me to achieve your marketing dreams and not untangle the proverbial Christmas lights first!

Although to be clear if those lights are already tangled hand 'em over. I like puzzles, as much as the next nerd, AND I know what I'm doing!

Red Flag #1: Not Owning your Website

If I had a dime for every time I encountered a person who didn't own their own website but rather paid to RENT their site, I wouldn't be a marketer anymore! I'd join a few Facebook groups and retire to the ALPS.

This normally happens in the form of paying a marketing firm a subscription for your website instead of a large upfront cost. Why is this so common? Because of that large upfront cost. Websites can be expensive.

Our smallest website package is $1,100 for a one-page website and even significantly below market value which is still a hard price for most businesses to stomach all at once.

(Especially since websites are one of the first things you have to have for a new business, making it an action item -sometimes- before you're even profitable)

So marketers will offer websites for nothing down and something like $50/month, which sounds great until you read the fine print and you realize you will be paying for it but just all at the end! Or worse, starting from ZERO, after having an active website for years!

Check your fine print and ask questions like "What happens to the site if we decide to terminate our agreement?" or check specifically in the contract for things like "Ownership".

I've met people who had ownership but still paid more in monthly costs than they would have to buy it outright once, rather than carrying a payment for years at one end of the spectrum. As well as those who had zero ownership of the site, PLUS the site was a stock site with duplicated copy on countless competitor's sites rendering the SEO useless and the site dull and impersonal ON TOP OF BEING OVERPRICED!

Our website policy is this.

We build the site to your standards at a package or hourly rate. All packages can be split into up to 4 payments rendered every 2 weeks.

We build it so that it is user-friendly and you have access to make changes and add new posts, etc. We retain no ownership of the site beyond the final payment of the package. There are no contracts and no fine print.

SSL, domain, Beaver Builder License & server space is included in all packages for the first year and cost less than $200 to maintain per year (because those things aren't free) AND/OR the freedom to move from our server, allow the domain to expire or SSL to lapse at any time for any reason.

Red Flag #2: No Clearly Defined Deliverable(s)

What exactly are you paying for? In some cases it is clear. In most cases, it seems clear only until you start. For example, a blog. When you buy a blog what are you paying for exactly? Is it just a doc with a blog in it? Does it include SEO work, publishing to the site, or featured images? What is the word count? Are there options for revisions?

It's likely becoming clear where I'm going with this but I will say it just for posterity's sake: You need to be sure the deliverables are CLEARLY defined. And to be CLEAR whilst we discuss clarity clearness does not equate to the volume of promises and buzzwords being hurled at you.

In a generation of the self-proclaimed 'expert consultants' a whole lot of people are quick to promise you the moon wrapped in an eloquently-worded synergetic limerick. Which, let's be clear can and does have its place. I serenade as good as the next marketer when the time is right. However, I ALWAYS put nouns in my sentences.

If you're at a meeting and there are real numbers on the table in the form of how much it is going to cost you - there should always be a matching list of tangible deliverables you are receiving for said money.

Circling back to the blog example we opened with by the way I should say in the case of The Clever Catalyst, our blogs are priced based on word count and SEO optimization, revisions, feature images, and publishing to the website are always included!

Red Flag #3: You Can't Get a Read on Them!

Calling back to our two meet-cute scenarios earlier similarly I typically get one of two reactions from potential new clients in our initial call. In the event, they've never worked with a marketer before they're genuinely surprised at how easy it is to talk to us and how relaxed the entire process is. This means I get to watch their faces transform from a bit shy and unsure to confident and happy they pushed past their anxiety and made the meeting.

PS this exact experience makes the top three list for me of why I absolutely LOVE my job!

Or in the event, they've worked with another marketing company before they're genuinely impressed with how different we are. How easy we are to talk to and how relaxed the whole process feels. Sound familiar? It should, but in these cases, I get to watch their faces evolve from hesitance on the entrance, interest upon initial conversation, a pit-stop at 'is this woman for real?' and finally confidence and a returned sense of hope and excitement in their business as we close our call.

PPS this exact experience also makes the top three list of why I FREAKING love my job!

The Clever Catalyst is transparent if nothing else and while we may not be the biggest marketers on the block we pride ourselves in being the most honest. We are clear about what we can do and what we can't, what we have experience in, and what we're willing to try. We communicate in abundance.

We encourage and require feedback and approval to ensure that you're always 100% happy with what goes out under your name. ANDDDD we use data to inform our progress and compare ourselves to our competitors to know when that money is best used elsewhere!

Any marketer worth their weight in salt can, should and does the same. If you meet anyone that tells you otherwise (whether explicitly which would be kinda weird - or implicitly by what they aren't saying or how they aren't saying it) that's a red flag!

The Clever Catalyst, as you can tell, is worth its weight and salt PLUS some extra sprinkles on top like:

  • No Contracts

  • No Deposits

  • No One-Time Fees

  • No % of Ad Spend

  • No retained ownership of any assets

We just offer fair and quality digital marketing services to our clients in an effort to flood the world with more good and drown out more of those loud and lousy other marketers.

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