Sweet Talking Guys With Magic Bullets


    This is the sad tale of a business owner who was a sucker for sweet talking cold callers promising magic bullets. His fascination with bright, shiny things created havoc for his online marketing.

    As they do in all the best stories – here’s a list of the people involved.

    The mild mannered MD of a manufacturing business
    His online marketing agency
    His web designer
    His dad
    Plus a hundred chancers with a telephone and a list that includes his contact details

    A marketing agency owner was telling me how they once worked with a family run business where the MD was like a straw in the wind.

    He was a sucker for any sweet talking guy (or gal) who cold called his company and promised to get him more customers.

    And whoever he had last spoken to would influence his business plans until someone else gave him a different magic bullet.

    It started badly when the marketing agency’s initial audit showed that his website needed to be made responsive. They recommended that the MD use their usual web developer.

    Designing a website that works

    But, in the meantime, the MD got a cold call from a web design company who promised the earth at a cheaper price.

    After the website was launched, the agency discovered that the mobile experience on the website was poor and the client was losing money because most of his traffic was from mobiles.

    The sweet talking web dev persuaded the MD that there was nothing they could do about it – other than a complete redesign which would cost more money.

    Now those of you who are paying attention will say: “But hadn’t the MD only just paid them to produce a working website?”

    SEO cold callers

    Regularly, the MD would be telephoned by SEO sales people who would use their persuasive powers to make him doubt how well his online marketing was doing. He would agree that they should send a report.

    This would mean that the agency would have to use up valuable hours of his monthly retainer disproving what these sharks had been telling him.

    Apart, of course, from their assertions that the mobile experience was poor.

    Everyone agreed on that.

    Reviewing the situation

    After a call with a sales person from a review site, the MD decided to add a way of collecting reviews to his website. They had told him that it would have major SEO benefits.

    For once, it was a great idea. Not because of the SEO benefits though.

    The better reason was that the MD’s company sold some great products that their customers loved.

    What better way to spread the word than some positive reviews actually ON THE WEBSITE where potential new customers could see them?

    The agency warned the MD that it would be an ongoing commitment because if he changed his mind, the reviews would all disappear. The MD agreed and was determined to do it.

    Six months later, his father, the Founder of the Company, had been looking at the accounts and complaining about costs. And when Dad speaks, every son listens.

    Dad was worried about the profit and loss account. He didn’t understand marketing and sales or the issues with conversion on the website. He just pointed to all the marketing costs and the lack of sales revenue. He insisted that something must go.

    This problem was compounded when, instead of doing a proper analysis of all the marketing tools to find waste, the MD just bitched about the monthly cost of the review software and stopped these payments.


    The marketing agency were aghast and shook their heads in dismay.

    But the MD was adamant that it was the right decision.

    You will find the next bit as hard to believe as the agency.

    Only a couple of months after that, the MD was cold called by a different review site – one he had previously rejected because it was too expensive.

    You’re ahead of me, aren’t you?

    Yes, he told the agency he had instructed the web developers to add the new review site code to his site to start collecting reviews.

    He didn’t seem to realise that this service was actually costing more per month than the previous review collection company.

    What made him change his mind about reviews? Oh, they promised him that adding their code to his website would result in major SEO benefits.

    Deja vu…

    It was the beginning of the end for the marketing agency.

    Successful businesses have a plan to guide them

    When a business owner won’t stick to the agreed plan, it is always difficult to achieve the best results.

    And when he bends in the direction of whoever shouts loudest or most persuasively… Well, it’s a business that is going to struggle when the going gets tough.

    Michael Gerber’s The EMyth Contractor talks about technicians who run a business by just doing it, doing it, doing it.

    The poor MD was consumed by the day to day. He would much prefer to be working in the business than managing all these difficult high level things that would grow the company’s value.

    Worse still, his Dad was on his back and he had no plan to get the results that were being demanded.

    The MD wanted a magic bullet that would fix all these problems.

    This attitude made him a gift to every sales person who had the skills to tap into it.

    But the people who sell the magic bullets are trained to sell whether they will work in your situation or not. Their focus is on their next commission payment not your business growth.

    It was a recipe for disaster.

    A few weeks after that, an SEO cold caller persuaded the MD that they could do the job better than the current incumbent.

    This time the agency didn’t put up a fight to refute these claims.

    They cut the ties and let the MD go. It was the strategic thing to do.

    You cannot help someone who is constantly deviating from the plan to go after magic bullets.

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