A little while ago I received what was, without a shadow of a doubt, the very best introductory email I will ever receive. So good in fact that I framed it and it now sits on my desk in a gold frame.
Normally I shy away from profanity, particularly professionally, but sometimes it makes things significantly more amusing. While the content is funny, the perception of the digital marketing industry as a whole should be a shock or perhaps a wakeup call.
Unfortunately the term “SEO wanker” is not a rare perception. Nor is it unjustified within the industry for a variety of reasons:
4 Types of “SEO Wanker”
1. Snake oil salesman – An industry like SEO has a very low barrier to entry. In fact, all you have to do is say “I sell SEO”. This leaves the gates wide open for opportunistic scam artists who make crazy promises. I think these fit the phrase “SEO wanker” rather well.
While there are now digital marketing courses available that include SEO, the industry changes so fast that it’s nearly impossible for most of these courses to keep up. All a client really has to go on is previous performance, testimonials and references.
2. The Salesman – These are the people that are so focussed on profit and closing deals that they forget the interests of their clients. While they are not necessarily selling snake oil, their presentations will be just as slick but the follow-up, the actual service, often lacks that same dazzle. It’s all about the numbers for these people and no client wants to feel like a number.
Sign the dotted line and you’re tied in for the duration of your contract no matter what the service. These people are addicted to the sales buzz and don’t share the same passion for the actual work.
3. The damaged geeks. The industry attracts geeks who love code more than social interaction and that’s fine. These are not the people I’m talking about. I’m talking about the ones with a chip on their shoulder probably picked up through schoolyard bullying who now overcompensate in the adult world. These are the ones that sneer at your lack of comprehension when they come out with an endless string of industry technical jargon. They’ve been make feel small growing up, now it’s time for revenge!
Bullying is never acceptable, neither is that kind of unhelpful point scoring in a working relationship where you’re supposed to be on the same team.
4. The know-it-alls / non listeners – Have been in the industry for years and are going to tell you exactly what you need to do. The only problem is they aren’t listening to your own requirements. Every company is different and has different objectives, even if these are sometimes slight. They all have unique selling points that would be the basis of an offline marketing campaign. The know it all tends to stick to doing what has “always worked for me before” rather than take the time to heed client input.
Worse again is the know-it-all who appears to listen to what you are saying, but then goes and does their own thing regardless.
Can you add to the list? I really hope not, but comment away if there’s a type of wanker I’ve forgotten in the digital marketing industry.
Sad state of affairs
It’s a sad day when you realise that “normal” as a personal quality is held as a rarely obtainable ideal in your industry. The one that truly shocks me though is when I am thanked for a client for being honest with them. Surely that is a basic requirement for business? A large proportion of my work involves experimentation. I keep my clients informed of what I’m doing and tell them what worked and what didn’t. The “didn’t” part seems to be omitted by some of my peers.
Perhaps it’s time we digital marketers as a whole embraced the fact that it’s ok to say “I don’t know” if you don’t. “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” is better though. How about “I don’t know but that’s interesting, lets see if we can work out a way of testing that” is what I’d be looking for though.
The introduction email text
Ian meet Ciara; Ciara meet Ian.
As I understand it, Ciara is looking to hire an outfit to manage her AdWords, make SEO suggestions, and investigate job-title targeted ads on LinkedIn.
Also as I understand it, Ian is a normal human and not an SEO wanker, with a reasonable cost basis and no strangulating contracts.
Go forth and see if you can do business?