Marketing Contracts – Why You Should Avoid Them
Don’t get sucked into long-term dental marketing contracts – you may well regret it!
Regular readers of our blog will know that we often get frustrated when we see the “dodgy” stunts pulled in the dental marketing community, where dentists get duped simply because they don’t really know what they are being sold. This is rife unfortunately.
One of our bugbears is the marketing contract which most agencies foist on their clients to guarantee 12 or more months of income. What’s worse, there is almost never a guarantee of performance with such contracts which means that the client has no comeback should the promised results fail to materialise.
Today I’d like to illustrate a situation where one of our former clients was sucked into such a contract with another agency. They were promised spectacular results but nothing of worth materialised, and 18 months later they are into paying for a new website, on a new domain name and effectively starting from scratch. Here at Dental Media we strive to look after all of our clients and it was very disappointing to see what resulted in one of the isolated cases where we actually lost someone to a competitor. It’s worth you knowing too, so you can look out for similar and avoid being disadvantaged in a similar fashion.
First a little bit of background – of course without mentioning the names of businesses concerned.
The promise leading to the switch
The client unexpectedly moved to another provider around 18 months ago based on a promise of lots of new patient enquiries and in particular, Invisalign treatments. We had already successfully moved the client to number one in Google for many search terms organically but due to the practice location, we’d also recommended using paid ads to broaden the presence in additional nearby towns to boost the overall web footprint. Given the good organic search coverage and well-elaborated plan to improve even further using pay-per-click, we were very surprised when the client elected to move supplier.
We wished the client well and continued to support her existing website for nearly 6 months whilst the new supplier re-built it. This is where the client first came back to us and expressed her disappointment in the new supplier – in particular the new website was taking far too long to finalise and the new agency was being extremely slow to address the client’s concerns and requests. She also told us that the website was being built on a website ‘DIY’ building tool i.e. not to industry standards. Of course she didn’t realise this but by this stage it was too late. Unfortunately she’d agreed to pay thousands of pounds for the new website, together with an SEO contract to “improve the rankings”. Note that the existing website already had excellent ranking positions!
The new website
Finally the new site was published and the client approached us again to see what we thought. We never burn bridges so we agreed to carry out a few basic performance checks on her behalf. What we found was quite desperate in that the website, built on the DIY web-builder platform, was extremely slow, indeed on of the slowest we’ve ever seen when using the official Google performance testing tools. There were numerous technical errors and “school boy” SEO problems too.
We advised the client accordingly, along with predictions that the website would likely start to lose ground in Google. This didn’t take long and as soon as Google crawled and indexed the new site, a stark drop was apparent. This became progressively worse as the months progressed. At this stage the new agency started to ad spammy 350 word blogs to try to arrest the ranking drops but unsurprisingly, the situation just got worse.
Another new website!
The client approached us again a few weeks ago to advise that her new agency had recommended a change of domain name and another new website to reverse their SEO misfortunes. Now those of us who work in the SEO world, know that the most likely reason for this is that the old website and domain had been compromised by bad SEO and that there was no likelihood of cleaning it up. Perhaps the agency had also recognised that their first attempt at a website was so poor technically, that they also needed another attempt to try to improve it?
Of course the result of this is not just that the client is back at square one but that she also has lots of new issues to deal with, not least that her domain name isn’t the one that matches all of her branding and stationery. In fact it doesn’t even match the email addresses she is using.
Break the contract and leave?
You would think that the client has grounds to leave the agency based on dire performance, but apparently she is being held to contractual terms and consequently having to go along with (poor) advice to try to improve on the mess which has been created. Effectively she’s paid thousands of pounds to go backwards and now paying again to try to recover the ground she’s lost.
This really isn’t “sour grapes” on our part although it does hurt when we see a former client struggling in such a way. Our purpose here is to illustrate what can happen if you don’t do your homework and get duped by hype.
This is just one example where a dental marketing company has given poor advice and service to a dentist resulting in harm to their business. Over the years we’ve seen many examples of this including some poor dentists who get it wrong time after time and seem to hop from bad to worse when it comes to choosing their SEO and marketing partner.
What makes matters worse is that agencies who mess up like this typically also want their clients to sign up to onerous, expensive contracts, so even when things start to go wrong, the client can’t easily escape. Please don’t fall for this, do your due-diligence and do keep abreast of how the provider is performing. When it comes to due diligence, please also do this as broadly as possible and don’t be duped when you are offered testimonials from “pet” dentists or where a supplier has hundreds of manufactured reviews on Google. Those suppliers are also failing and it’s easy to evidence this if you know where to look and what to look for.
If you need help with a situation like this or are simply looking for transparent marketing services without onerous tie-ins, please call the team at Dental Media on 01332 672548 and we’ll be pleased to help.Google+