A Simple Thanks Once Again


What a word.  Few terms in the English language can have so many meanings.  Ask 100 people how they define success and you’ll get 100 different answers.  For some, success involves some sort of accumulation of money and/or possessions as a result of their efforts.  For others, success may be simply a better world than when they started.  How do you define success?

The term ‘success‘ by definition is the desired outcome of a specific effort or attempt.  Seems simple enough I suppose.  But what is that desired outcome?  Coming up with an answer is more difficult than it seems.

Personally, I’m not really motivated by trophies.  Don’t get me wrong, I like nice things as much as the next guy – and being able to purchase a full season ticket package to the Grand Rapids Griffins for the first time this past summer was a big deal to me and definitely symbolic of success.  But most of the time, the simple fact that I get to work out of my home helping small businesses improve their operations is rewarding and motivating enough to keep me going.

However, there has been one goal that I’ve been working toward that has always sort of been in the back of my mind.   And this month we have finally made that a reality.  Last week, Angie notified her employer of 12 years that she is resigning her position in order to be a stay at home mom.

This is of course going to be huge for everyone – with two young boys at home everyone is going to be much happier – and I will be able to get more work done during the day.

So I just wanted to take a moment to say a heartfelt THANK YOU everyone for the continued support – from the dozens of awesome clients I’ve had the privilege to serve over the course of past four plus years, to my associates without whom I could never provide the level of service necessary to achieve any level of success.  I also want to thank my friends and family – without their support, patience, feedback, encouragement and love I’d never have made it even this far.  And while I know there’s still a long way to go, this is one milestone I want to acknowledge and celebrate.

Should Fast Food Workers Make $15 an Hour?

There’s a debate that has sparked several staged protests among fast-food workers in the State of Michigan and elsewhere about the merits of low wages and the Federal minimum wage as a whole.  As it stands, the Federal minimum wage is currently set at $7.25 per hour.  In Michigan, the minimum wage is $7.40 per hour.

The conversation centers around the concept that minimum wage is not a ‘livable wage’, meaning that a person earning such a paycheck will have an extremely difficult time maintaining even the most modest standards of living.  The question most relevant is this: whose problem is this anyway?  More on this later.

There’s a conversation taking place right now on Mlive.com in the comments section of this article.  The comments read just like they do with any other controversial topic – with both sides of the argument being defended along with a healthy dose of trolling.  However, there are a couple points that people seem to be missing – intentionally or otherwise.

Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wages in a fair market economy are determined by the same laws of supply and demand that govern all other facets of capitalism.  Fast food work – the functions of the job itself can be performed by virtually any able bodied person.  If you can get yourself to the restaurant at the time you’re expected to be there and can be trained to use the machines, you qualify.  This minimum requirement for employment can be met by a LOT of people in the workforce.  Because of this, there is little reason for fast food restaurant operators to pay wages beyond the minimum.  There is of course something to be said for paying a better wage in order to attract better job candidates – ala the practices of Costco – but in this case, fast food restaurants really don’t stand to gain much by increasing wages.

The other element that people seem to be ignoring when debating this topic is what will happen to the economy if you increase the wages of fast food workers to $15 per hour, effectively doubling the wage.  It has been speculated that there would be a 10-20% in the cost of fast food items if the wages were doubled.  And while this is probably an acceptable tradeoff (especially for people such as myself who rarely eat fast food), this isn’t the only effect it would have.

If fast food work all of a sudden paid $15 per hour, this would become preferable to all the jobs in the economy that pay less than that.   Think of all the jobs such as bank tellers, construction workers, retail clerks, grocery store workers, gas station attendants, house cleaners, trash collectors, secretaries, administrative people… the list goes on and on.  All these employers who currently pay more than minimum wage yet less than $15 per hour are all of a sudden going to find themselves competing with the fast food industry for employees.  So what would happen is that they would have to raise their wages to well above $15 per hour in order to retain their help.

This would have two massive consequences for the economy.  For one, it would drive up the prices of goods and services in every affected industry.  Costs of groceries and gas and building materials and auto maintenance and essentially every consumable product would be greatly increased because of the inflated wages.  This would cause jumps in inflation the economy has likely never seen. Severe hardships for businesses would result – the drastically increased prices of goods and services would reduce consumer demand and the economy would shrink as a result. This is the very definition of a recession.

In a bit of irony, another unintended consequence of this would be the fact that current fast food workers would be largely displaced.  When fast food jobs become more attractive than occupations requiring a higher skill set, fast food restaurants will have a bigger talent pool to draw from.  Employers will always hire the most overqualified candidates they can.  When more talented, motivated, capable workers become available, the weakest fast food employees will immediately become expendable – but instead of simply going from working at McDonalds one day to working at Burger King the next, they will unfortunately have nowhere to go.

Think of it another way: if every job in the world paid the same wage, all the easiest jobs would get filled first… and the more difficult jobs would go unfilled.  Why would anyone work harder for the same pay?

So while it’s apparent that doubling the rate of fast food workers is a colossally bad idea, that still leaves the problem of people working for wages while not being able to make ends meet.  But the question remains: whose problem is this really?

It’s a tough but fair question.  A better question might be how much inflation is reasonable to impose on the economy in order to boost the living conditions of it’s lowest workers?  Is it’s society’s responsibility to provide a minimum standard of living?  I’m not necessarily sure that it is.  While as a society there’s a moral obligation to take care of the weak, the elderly, the sick and disabled, able bodied people have to be held to at least a minimum standard of accountability.  How does it make sense to boost the standard of living of people who aren’t willing to work to achieve it for themselves?

A Simple Thanks

Source: freedigitalphotos.net

Source: freedigitalphotos.net

A few weeks ago, I was asked by a local colleague, Amanda Rogalski, who teaches a class on Technology in Business at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) to guest lecture for one of her classes.  I always like to share the knowledge I’ve accumulated with those interested in what I do, so naturally I jumped at the chance talk to students about the basics of WordPress and how it can be used to the benefit of businesses and individuals alike.  Along with this, one of the things Amanda specifically asked me to talk about was my career path.

This month also marks four years since I got my start doing contract work for Mindscape at Hanon McKendry.  How time flies.

In reflecting and mentally preparing my remarks for this class, one of thing things I couldn’t help but come back to was how grateful and fortunate I am for the opportunities I have to run my own business in the ever changing industry of SEO and Internet Marketing.  Simply put, without the support I’ve received and continue to receive from friends, family, clients and colleagues, I would never have made it this far.

There are simply too many people to name in this blog post who have helped me along and gone out of their way to make sure that I succeed, but they know who they are and I wanted to take this opportunity to say a genuine thank you for all you’ve done and continue to do.  From my associates who continue to provide a high level of service for me and my clients, to my colleagues who have continued to provide support and guidance (not to mention leads to keep me gainfully employed), to my family who’ve supported me even when things were not always easiest, to my clients themselves who come to me from as far south as Dallas TX and as far east as Israel, I sincerely thank you.

On Taking Action

Chances are at some point in your life you’ve read an article or blog post by someone well known or at least famous in their field, or listened to a  motivational speaker, or bought a book or attended a seminar from a well known author or self help guru – someone who in any case considers themselves qualified to dispense advice.  Some of them are better than others, and I know people personally who have greatly benefited from the subject matter of these types of things.  While they greatly vary in tone and overall message – there is one thing that they hammer home universally – you HAVE to take action.

This is of course solid advice.  But it’s challenging to look at someone who’s accomplished so much – whether they’re on TV or have a popular blog or have written a book or three or they’re on a stage alone in a sold out arena and believe in yourself to the point that you KNOW you can duplicate those results.  The point I’m trying to make is that it comes off as easy for someone who’s accomplished so much to say that ‘taking action’ is the only thing you have to do.  Even if it’s the best advice available.   Hearing the stories of the millionaires and best selling authors and all that is great – and there’s a wealth of knowledge to be gained from that.  But it can be intimidating at the same time.

The biggest challenge I think many people face is that you hear these types of things from people who have seemingly arrived; you didn’t know them when they struggled and when they had adversity and doubts and maybe even wanted to quit.  You see them now as this finished product of sorts – something to strive to attain for.  Because of this, I wanted to share the stories of a couple of people who are taking action, and may very well become household names in their respective fields but certainly haven’t achieved that level of success at the time of this writing.  My hope is that you may find some inspiration to hear about some people that haven’t arrived yet – but are working hard every day to achieve their goals.

Meet Jon and Josh Mosher, founders of M2Scientifics.com.

I met Jon and Josh Mosher initially about a year ago when they approached me about search engine optimization (SEO) for an e-commerce site they were in the process of developing.  I got to know them over the course of the next year to learn that they are brothers five years apart, each working long hours in their respective full time jobs – Jon in the wonderful world of automotive retail management (I can relate), and his younger sibling Josh in a customer service position with a fortune 1000 company.

The Mosher boys founded M2 Scientifics when they learned how severely lacking in customer service the world of laboratory supplies and lab equipment was.  While I can’t discuss the specifics of their business model, I can say that they’ve moved forward with a new ecommerce site that they designed and developed themselves, added over 2000 pages of product content, sought the advice of numerous industry professionals, established vendor relationships and attended trade shows all while maintaining family life and their full time employment.

It hasn’t always been smooth, but they’ve learned a lot through this process  and while their business is still very new, they’re already seeing some of the results from their labor, as their site is already generating search traffic and they even are starting to generate a little sales revenue as well!  It’s very possible that M2 Scientifics will be on the radar of a lot of major players before too long.

Meet Jen Lorenski, founder of MoshPitNation.com and OnlineSmartes.com.

Jen Lorenski is an expert in digital content, Google Adwords, SEO and WordPress here in Grand Rapids MI.  She and I have collaborated on several projects all with great results for clients.  I met Jen about 18 months ago when she was promoting Mosh Pit Nation (MPN) in a local restaurant.  MPN is a free service which announces local heavy metal shows all across the State of Michigan.   As a fan of that type of music, Jen started the service when she realized that there was simply no good central location for information on local metal shows.  Purely a grassroots movement, MPN has grown from what began as simply being local to Grand Rapids to include surrounding cities such as Muskegon, Kalamazoo and Lansing, and now has a growing presence in Detroit and beyond.  Jen sells t-shirts and other gear at shows to raise capital and awareness, and is now in the midst of organizing two heavy metal festivals in the summer.

Jen’s day job is OnlineSmarties.com – and works as a contractor for several businesses in the area performing many of the same services I offer.  She began her agency after a mutual split from her last employer.  Instead of seeking the security of employment with another agency, Jen decided to strike out on her own so she could focus on her clients and Most Pit Nation in a way that being an employee in a large agency simply doesn’t allow for.  The rewards Jen has enjoyed have included to freedom and independence that self-employment allows for, as well as providing a great service to the local music community by growing Mosh Pit Nation to over 2600 facebook fans at the time of this writing.  She is no doubt on her way to amazing things.

What do you think?  Have a success story in the making you’d like to share?  I’d love to hear from you – drop me an email using the contact form or leave a comment below!

He Shoots… Scores!!!

I’ve been a hockey fan since 1995.  That year, the Detroit Red Wings made it to the Stanley Cup Finals and had a chance to win their first Cup since 1955.  This was my first real exposure to hockey, and I remember being a 16 year old kid watching the finals with my grandfather, my uncle, and my cousins.   And despite the fact that they were swept by the New Jersey Devils that year, an interest had been piqued that continues strong to this day.  Red Wing hockey on the Fox Sports Detroit is sole reason I subscribe to cable.  Seriously.

About 12 years ago, I moved to Grand Rapids to start a family.  Shortly thereafter, I began attending home games for the Grand Rapids Griffins.  The Griffins play in Van Andel Arena, located right in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids.  My daughter Elizabeth and I routinely attend a half dozen or more games every season.  The Griffins are the primary affiliate of the Red Wings, essentially meaning that they are their number one minor league team.  Almost half of the current Red Wings roster is comprised of former Griffins and it’s been awesome to watch them progress to the highest level.  If we’re looking for something to do in the evening and it happens to be between October and April, checking to see if the Griffins have a home game is pretty much the first course of action.

A few years ago, I decided I’d like to be a season ticket holder for the Griffins one day.  It’s always a great time, and it’s a nice, inexpensive way to spend an evening.  Well this week I can proudly say that I achieve this goal, and committed to a full ticket package for the 2013/2014 season.

It’s a business expense of course – and while I’ll certainly take my daughter to a handful of the games, the vast majority will be sold, or given to clients, associates and referrers. I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on a goal achieved – and to express gratitude to my associates, clients, those who have referred my services, my family and anyone else who had a hand in making this happen.


Why I No Longer Accept Payments via Paypal

This is really in its simplest form a PSA for clients and anyone else who may find the subject of interest.  It should be noted and I haven’t exactly been Paypal’s biggest customer – I only began accepting payment from clients through Paypal about six months ago (in order to accept credit cards as a form of payment) and prior to that I’d had perhaps 50 transactions through Paypal in the past 10 years.  The purpose of this isn’t to try to persuade them into action – I know they don’t care.

The reason I no longer accept payments via Paypal is the fact that their customer service is beneath the levels I expect to receive from a company that should inherently value the business of every customer.  In reality, bad customer service sort of comes with the territory of dealing with big companies – and they are notoriously apathetic toward the entire customer experience as a whole whenever there’s a problem.

In short, I took a payment from a client via Paypal back in the middle of December.  The client in question used their credit card to fund the account.  Three months later, the client inadvertently flagged the transaction with their credit card issuer as part of a series fraudulent activity during that same time period, subsequently causing a chargeback.  Having recently accepted a payment via Paypal from a different client, Paypal placed a hold on the funds in my account in the amount of the transaction back in December.

I called my client for an explanation, and after realizing their error, they immediately contacted their credit card issuer to report my transaction as legitimate.  They handled their end of things within days.

Five business days later, the hold on my funds was lifted, but instead of my Paypal balance returning to normal, not only were the funds NOT RETURNED, they hit me with a transaction fee of 2.9% + 30 cents.  Furthermore, they ALSO IMPOSED A $20 fee, leaving me with a negative balance in my Paypal account.

I’ve sent emails and spent an hour on the phone with their incompetent customer service reps, who after dealing with multiple individuals ended up basically telling me that I had to wait 75 days for the credit card issuer to re-release the funds.  They promised to remove the $20 fee, but that hasn’t happened either.

This biggest thing about this is that this is over a relatively small amount of money – under $1000.  I understand their policy with the credit card issuer and generally that’s fine.  It’s not really about the money – I want it back don’t get me wrong – but I am not optimistic that I will ever see it again.  So I am doing what a customer should do – I am taking my business elsewhere.  I know Paypal doesn’t care.  I know they wouldn’t care if I somehow convinced 100,000 of their customers to walk.  They’re a multi-billion dollar corporation with over 100 million customers worldwide.

So that’s not the point of this.  My point is that bad customer service and apathy toward the needs of their customers can’t be rewarded with more business.   I can’t punish them, but I can control whether I do business with them.  So I am in the process of finding a new payment portal for my business needs.  I already use Squareup and have had nothing but positive experiences with that so far.  But I need to set up a recurring payment portal.  Got any suggestions?

Count Your Blessings

At some point in my life I began to down play the importance of personal possessions.

Don’t get me wrong – I like to have nice stuff as much as the next person, and I’m certainly willing to put in the necessary work in order to attain them for myself and my family.  Flat screen TVs and cars and houses and boats and vacations and on and on all cost money, and money is acquired through hard work.  Having said that, I’ve been resistant to the standard that the accumulation of personal possessions is a barometer of success.  After all, who’s the richer man: a guy who lives well within is means in a small two-bedroom house he owns outright, or the guy with a million dollar condo for which the mortgage payments barely suit his salary & net worth?  Honestly, the answer probably depends on your perspective.  But generally, I’ve found that the people who find contentment in what they have are usually also the happiest, no matter where their life’s collection of worldly possessions lands them in the scale of superficial social hierarchy.

The inspiration for this blog post comes from two things; a scene from the popular HBO series ‘True Blood‘, which is a drama in it’s sixth season about vampires coexisting in society with humans; and an incident that occurred just yesterday.

From the TV show, there is a scene during an episode from the latest season involving a yuppie-type young woman and Tara, a main character who had recently been turned into a vampire.  During a heated exchange, she utters a line in a condescending manner to the effect of “Well. I don’t live in the past, Tara, I live in the present. In a four-bedroom house. With a BMW in the garage. So enjoy your little job, barkeep!”  I don’t want to post spoilers, but suffice it to say Tara gets her bloody revenge.

Not my actual car - but close.

Not my actual car – but close.

I know I know.  It’s just a TV show.  But after watching that character boast in such a way – it immediately hit me that I live in a four-bedroom house and I own a BMW, which is parked in my garage as we speak.  It was a strange realization to think that my possessions might define who I am as a person in the eyes of some people, even though I certainly don’t see things that way myself.

The other thing – that which occurred yesterday afternoon – also involves my car.  I went to Meijer (a grocery/department store chain with about 200 stores throughout the Midwest) to stock up on supplies for an upcoming family vacation.  Out of habit, I always park near a cart corral* so it’s easy to get rid of the cart and take off after unloading my purchases.

Well I came out of the store to find this dirty, banged-up Chevy Venture minivan parked cock-eyed, egregiously straddling the yellow-painted line on the asphalt – about three inches from the driver side of my car.  There was literally about six feet of space between the driver side of the van and the car parked to its immediate left.  While it’s possible that person is the world’s worst driver or is so large that they needed the extra yard of space to exit their vehicle, it’s probable they have passive-aggressive jealousy issues.  While I can’t say for sure, I am presuming the latter is the more likely case.

I was irritated for sure, and I stood there in the parking lot for about 30 seconds after unloading my groceries undecided as to what to do.   Just as I was crafting the perfect dialogue of insults in my mind for whenever this the idiot came out of the store, the driver of the car parked directly across from me appeared, unloaded her purchases and backed out of her parking spot, leaving me an easy escape route out of my predicament.  Other than having to climb into my car through the passenger side, I really wasn’t inconvenienced at all.

*In case you’re unfamiliar, cart corrals are tubular structures placed throughout the parking lot for customers to leave their carts after they’re done with them.

As I drove away, a couple things occurred to me.  I was still irritated – and more than a little perturbed that I didn’t get the chance to confront this person for their apparent act of passive-aggressive vitriol.  But then I realized that simply getting in my car and driving away was the perfect revenge.  They didn’t get the satisfaction of knowing how mad they’d made me, or how I felt like a nimrod as I climbed into my little sedan through the passenger door, or that I had to sit there and wait for someone else to show up so I could pull out safely.  They came out to find an empty parking spot, since (unless they’re driving a Moped) no one would dare try to squeeze between their piece-of-shit van and the cart corral.  I’ve known for a long time that living well is the best revenge, but I guess I needed a reminder.

The irony of all this is that I’m not rich – nor am I trying to present an image of being so.  I didn’t buy the car as a status symbol – I bought it because I liked it and I wanted something relatively inexpensive that would hold it’s value.  Did I mention that my BMW is 10 years old with over 100,000 miles on it?  Did I mention that it wasn’t exactly new or even close to new when I bought it?  Did I mention that my ‘four-bedroom house with a garage‘ is on a postage stamp sized piece of property in the city?  These are all things that I am happy with for now – but I will upgrade them eventually through hard work.

It’s sad really – I like to think that the vast majority of people I encounter would agree that I tend to treat people well consistently regardless of their perceived social-economic status.   But I guess there will always be jealous people.  I don’t intentionally put myself above others and I usually am quite polite.  Aside from the respect you usually receive from people when you give it first, you never know who might just turn out to be an ally.  Plus, no one wants to get eaten by a vampire.  So there’s that, too.

How Facebook Could Generate $1B in Annual Revenue From Users

It’s no secret that Facebook’s IPO back in May and the subsequent aftermath that followed has been a disaster.  After an initial stock price of roughly $38/share, Facebook barely trades at half that value at the time of this article.  Furthermore, the problems that have followed the IPO (possible SEC violations, insider trading allegations, 40 lawsuits filed, etc.) have been what most would consider to be the exact opposite of what Facebook hoped would happen.

Combine this with the fact that Facebook continues to alienate users by imposing unpopular features such as the timeline, trying to milk cash out of brands and businesses with their ‘Sponsored Posts’ nonsense, and perpetually making people leery of even logging into their Facebook accounts at all with their cryptic and ever-changing privacy conundrums and it’s safe to say that Facebook has made a lot of wrong moves, moves that could have rendered a smaller entity irrelevant.  But there is still hope for the Social Network.

As I pointed out right after their IPO, Facebook now HAS to make money.  It’s no longer optional.   Currently, Facebook is making a play to try to extract revenue from those they perceive to have the deepest pockets.  This is a mistake that is turning off companies and encouraging influential people like Mark Cuban to publicly discuss moving their Social Media activities to other platforms.  Luckily for them, there’s actually a great way for them to make some money and more importantly do so without pissing anyone off.

Facebook could generate billions of dollars in revenue annually by becoming the world’s largest dating site.  Same may argue that it unofficially already is anyway.

This could be executed in a variety of ways, but a paid option that unlocks matchmaking and profile features not otherwise available would be a decent approach.  It could be set up so that you could only see who had a ”dating’ page if you yourself have one.  If you don’t have a ‘dating’ page, you still get the regular Facebook features, and you only see other users’ regular pages regardless of whether they have a paid account or not.  This of course, is just one idea.

Facebook has by some accounts over one billion registered users.  For simplicity’s sake, let’s say discounting the duplicate and fake accounts, and then removing the accounts registered to individuals under the age of 18 leaves us with 500,000,000 registered users eligible to purchase the dating service.

There are many dating sites on the Web already, and they range in price from free to as high as $60/month (eharmony.com).  According to this article on RealSimple.com, Match.com has the largest userbase with 2.75 million people, with memberships fees coming in at $30/month.  A price of $20/month for a Facebook dating account is probably a fair price.

At a very reasonable conversion rate of 1%, that would be 5,000,000 paid accounts spending $20/month.  This is $100,000,000 per month in gross revenue, or $1.2B annually – and would be a way to generate revenue in an under-the-radar sort of way without irritating the masses.

What do you think?  Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

Is Your WordPress Site Stuck in Maintenance Mode?

I just wanted to share a quick tip from a problem I recently encountered.  The problem was that after updating a handful of plugins through the WordPress dashboard, the site got stuck in ‘maintenance mode’ and would only display the following message on the site:

Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.

Luckily there’s an easy solution.  The issue first occurred when after initiating the plugin updates, I accidentally clicked on another link in the dashboard before the updates were done installing.  In short, I refreshed the page before maintenance mode had been disabled.  After a few minutes of refreshing the page, I realized that the problem was not going to correct itself.

When you update a plugin or the WordPress platform itself, the site temporarily goes into maintenance mode while this is occurring.  It executes this by first creating a ‘.maintenance’ file on your server.  When the updates complete, this file is simply deleted.  So in order to solve this problem, you need to go into your root directory and delete the ‘.maintenance’ file.  If you use a hosting package such as Hostgator, simply visit the file manager of your cpanel (with the option to show hidden files checked) and find the file.  Delete it and you’re done.

Special thanks to Zachgraeve.com for first posting the solution here.

7 Tips on How to Evaluate Online Advertising Opportunities

Recently, a longtime client passed along some printed materials from a couple potential advertising opportunities.  While initially they looked like they might be pretty solid deals, further examination of the specifics of each offer revealed that the likelihood of the client receiving any ROI for the annual fees the publisher was asking for would be pretty remote. Here are a few guidelines to consider when looking at potential advertising opportunities.

There are several different online advertising models, but the two most common ones that business owners are typically pitched with are Cost Per Mille (CPM) and Pay Per Click (PPC).  With CPM ad models, you pay a predetermined monthly amount set by the publisher, which is determined by the amount of impressions (times your ad is shown) you ad is likely to make.  Typically, this is $1-$2 per 1000 pageviews, although this can vary greatly in niche markets.  So for example, a site that boasts 1,000,000 pageviews per month could change $2000 per month to advertise on the page at a rate of $2 CPM.

PPC is different in that the advertiser only pays if the site visitor clicks on the ad.  There is no up front cost to display the ad.

1) Verify the traffic stats that they are boasting.  For example, a site that claims to be receiving 1M pageviews per month should be able to produce statistical data to support this claim from multiple Web analytics programs.  Google Analytics is the most common – Awstats, Quantcast, omniture and compete are some others.

2) Verify the number of impressions your ad will actually be making.  A news site may be getting 1M total pageviews, but that doesn’t mean that your ad will be seen by a million people.  Of those 1M people, maybe only a third or less will see your ad, depending on the page of the site it appears on.  You could end up paying a much higher CPM rate based on inflated or misleading figures.

3) Verify that the publisher’s audience is your target market.  News sites and directories are notorious for getting a large amount of untargeted traffic, due to the fact that they supply a wide variety of content.

4) Verify that they’ve been around for a while.  New publishers and directories sprout up all the time.  Many are unproven, fly-by-night operations and could potentially fold, take your money and run, or produce nothing of value. Use a site like networksolutions.com to check the age of a domain.  You can also usually use this method to see who owns the site.

5) Look at the site and see who else is advertising.  Then reach out to them and see how effective this marketing tactic has been for them.

6) Perform searches on Google to see if there is any negative information about the publisher.  You may also be able to see if the business existed under a different name at some point in the past, which is a huge red flag.

7) If you’ve been able to find the site owner’s name, Google him.  Who knows what you might be able to learn.

You will notice most of these tips revolve around verifying that what the salesman is claiming is true.  But how do you know?  ASK HIM!  A good, honest salesperson with a legitimate offer may not be able to produce the numbers you ask for instantaneously, but he should respect the fact that you a) obviously know what you’re talking about; and b) are not going to buy any BS.  If he can’t produce such detailed traffic data immediately, he should be able to retrieve it and provide you the accurate info you need.  The real ones will be happy to provide you what you’re after, the frauds will stammer, realize you’re a tough mark and get out of there as quickly as possible, never to return.  Either way it’s a win-win!

Have a question about Web Marketing you’d like to see answered?  Drop me a line anytime by leaving a comment below or send me an email – I’d love to hear from you!