I was recently asked by an employee of our City (we will call this person Agent B 😉) to review an email that was forwarded to them by a local business owner (business owner unknown). The business owner wanted Agent B to share this email with other local business owners because they felt it was relevant information for the current state we are all facing with COVID-19. A noble request for sure!
Agent B wanted to know if my business offered the same type of services or similar, which is a very legitimate question as I am local and a part of the community and frankly I appreciated being asked and given the opportunity to give my 2-cents!
I looked it over and here is what my response was:
Dear [Agent B], In looking this email over, I'm ashamed this company even sent this out to small businesses in the USA. It's a tricky, sales-pitchy way to confuse business owners into buying their services playing on the COVID-19 pandemic. All this is, is a way to show potential clients they can "virtually" communicate with one of their salespeople, not the actual person who knows how to setup a website or how to generate SEO leads, and certainty not the business owner themselves. The other method they talk about here is having people set up a new website right off the bat, no reasoning behind why they may need a website… and, making business owners do it themselves–like they have nothing else better to do? Frankly, it goes against everything I believe in. It blindly confuses small businesses into thinking one way while leaving them to do all the work themselves all while having them buy things they may not need! It tricks them with cleverly, ‘wordsmithed’ verbiage. At the end of the day, they want businesses to buy a website from them and they are using the method of "We are here for you during this tough time" to gain that lead. Here at HWD, we offer virtual meetings for anyone all day long if they want! Google Hangout or Zoom–free services. I would NEVER make a client set up their own website and charge them for doing so, SMH. I would never have someone commit to a site until I knew 100% what they needed.
Here is the email that was forwarded to me so you can see it for yourself. I added my notes to it and attached it along with my response!
There are only two offers here: "our virtual office" This is a video showing the reader how to setup a website themselves directly through this company. It is tricking them into becoming a client before they even know if they need to be or not. "DIY ecommerce" This is a video showing the reader how to contact this company virtually. It’s preparing them to become a client and using fancy virtual tools to display a more personal approach. Ultimately, they will get pitched to from a salesperson before they even know if what they’ve spent all their time on is worth it. Well, that's my opinion! Thank you for asking–that was fun going over ;) If the businessperson who shared this with you would like my assistance in anyway, please let them know I am the owner and the person doing the work! I am not a salesperson and I will not sell them something they do not need. I am available via phone at 517-320-2543, email at email@example.com, or we can set up a virtual meeting. Just have them setup a consultation at https://www.hillsdalemarketinggroup.com/book-now and we can set something up! Take care, Amanda
I get so sick of seeing business play on COVID-19 this way. Honestly if it’s not COVID it’s another… big corporate marketing firms and web design firms have a team of salespeople who excel at this tactic, regardless of the angle.
They say "Tip One -Get your products online now." which is misleading because you think you are going to get help understanding how to get your business online but when you get there they are just showing you a video of how to use their platform to get your business online. In this time of need, what business owners need to know are just the facts: "How to get your business online". How to is the key here…What they do is have you literally setup an account right then and there. They say you don't need to add your credit card today, but it very clearly shows their price of a minimum of $99 per month. So, you immediately think, well that’s what it costs, so I must do it! But the reality is; do you even need everting they are offering? If you do, great, but if you don’t who’s there to tell you otherwise? You are relaying on them to be the expert so you immediately think what they are selling is expert services… it may not be!
There are so many ways to get your business online and before you agree to something and invest hours of your time setting up your online profile with any said company, you should know what your options are! You should also know who is doing the work… Salespeople are great, some aren’t, but they are people just like you and me working day-to-day, trying to put food on the table. BUT, to be a good salesperson, you have to be able to push the boundaries. Knowing this will save you TONS of money. What you should be receiving is a business consultation from the people who do the work and who can prove to you your results.
We are not cookie cutter businesses’; one business’s needs are not the same as another's.
It's OK to say, "Hey Mr. customer, did you know that you can use our platform to create a website yourself OR, we can help you along the way? Whether you are a current client or looking to grow your business online, we have what you are looking for!"… something to that effect.
But it's NOT OK to lay it out the way they did. They are making readers feel like they are going above and beyond the call of duty with their multiple links written in various forms, despite them all going to the same page online. With their quick to solution remedies of having them sign up immediately. And instead of explaining how they can help; they are having business owners sign up before they know all the facts.
Then they say “Tip Two - Get Your Team Together From Home” which again is misleading because you think they are going to show you how to get your employees and teammates together virtually for meetings. But in reality, they are sending you to a video that shows you how THEY meet with you online.
It’s just trickery to get you to do what they want. It’s a really good, sleazy salesperson.
It's OK to say, "Hey Mr. customer, did you know we have a way to virtually connect during this time so if you are a current client, or looking to grow your business online, know we have the tools in place to connect with you during this time."
It’s NOT OK to attempt to get readers to sing up for your services without truly understand what they are sign up for, which again, is what they are doing.
In fact, if you look at the subject line it says, “Tips to Stay Open”. Where are the tips?? No tips… just ways to sign up for services.
So, the lesson here is; just because they are talking about “Stay Home, Stay Safe” ultimately, it doesn’t mean they have good intensions. And just because they appear to know what they are talking about; it doesn’t mean you have to sign up for anything until you know 100% what you are getting your business into.
I hope this helps our local businesses a little to avoid the sale and learn the facts!