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Evaluating Law Firm Marketing Vendors

A vendor for one of my clients recently told my client that I really didn’t know anything about their product.  They provide Google Adwords management services for consumer bankruptcy law firms.

While it’s true that sometimes I’m clueless about a vendor’s offering, I actually know more than the average marketing person about paid search engine campaigns.  At the time of this vendor’s comment, I managed PPC programs for six clients and had managed a very large one for the bankruptcy firm at the center of the discussion.   My client decided to give this company an opportunity because they had done good work for firms in smaller markets, and made some enormous ROI promises at the beginning of the sales process.

During the pre-sale conference calls, I said very little while the vendor promoted their “patented program” and proven ability to drive significant business to their customers.  We heard a lot about competition, quality scores, landing pages, and lots of other buzz words commonly associated with PPC marketing.  But there was never anything that sounded more innovative than what every other company was doing for their clients.

In the end, the program underperformed, but we had a number of conference calls during the implementation.  On these calls, it became apparent that the vendor’s knowledge was really skin deep.  I said very little.  Why?  I know what I know.  Proving to this vendor how much I know makes it more difficult for me to evaluate their capabilities.  Of course, I can understand why they interpreted my actions as ignorance and I’m okay with that.

Slow playing a vendor doesn’t have to be malicious.  It serves a purpose, which is to assess what they can really offer and deliver.  It’s fair to withhold knowledge, and can be a very effective strategy in making marketing decisions.

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