Annoyed upset woman talking on mobile phone

I need the services of a handyman and a yard cleanup team for a property I own in another state. My first instinct was to jump online and search for a solution provider. My experience was frustrating. And, from a marketing point of view, very disturbing.

Identifying a local resource and interviewing them about pricing and the scope of work is how I like to work. In most industries, this is a straightforward approach. However, I discovered that many smaller providers lack a website (yes, it’s 2022). Or, their website is pushed down the search results because of poor optimization or website organization.

Instead, there are numerous results from seemingly local (they have a family name) branded websites promising the work. But unfortunately, the only way to contact them is to complete a web form. And that is where the marketing fraud takes flight.

The Marketing Fraud

A day later, I started getting calls from HouseAdventure (not the real name) telemarketing agents. I never accessed their website or requested that they match me with a service provider. You guessed it – this big marketing portal has registered domains that mask their identity and pretend to be local providers. They have constructed websites to support this fraud. And, they are spending big bucks to dominate the top spots on search results.

When you complete the form, the calls begin, and they are relentless. One day after submission, I told two agents I had not found a provider but refused to work through a marketing portal because I’m not too fond of the fraud in their marketing. Big mistake; now they know I’m still looking, and I can expect a barrage of additional calls. I next plan to tell them I filled the position. But will that stop them from calling? I might have other jobs to complete!

Worse, they also have my email address because of the submitted form. As if I need more than the 300 daily emails I receive.

Now I am revisiting my original search, but very suspicious of every result. I am apprehensive of every published telephone number that goes to voicemail, worried that if I leave my information, it will end up in some telemarketer’s database.

Too often, these unsavory marketing agencies disrespect inboxes, interrupt workflow with constant phone calls, show up without an appointment, and misrepresent businesses with fake websites.

How It Works

These “services” promise to match your need with an appropriate local provider, which is all well and good. But often, they use your “lead” as a carrot to entice local providers to join their network (which, of course, comes with a reoccurring fee). We have had numerous clients who invested lots of money with these services (I am not calling out any one brand here) but little return on that investment. There are probably some success stories, but more likely, they are traditionalists afraid they might lose what they have not received.

The State of Play

The owner of The Wine Library, Gary Vaynerchuk, once spoke at a marketing conference I attended. He made an observation that I will never forget (and every marketing professional should take to heart). He pointed to the room of about 500 people from the stage and reminded us that “over time, you people have managed to f**k up every good marketing concept that ever existed.” Gary loves using colorful metaphors in his talks, but don’t let it distract you from the meaning: unsavvy marketers are exploiting the automobile, telephone, email, and the internet. Unfortunately, Gary wasn’t around, but they also ruined the stone tablet and the carrier pigeon.

Here’s a clever video on the history of marketing. Full transparency, it’s one our ours.

Too often, these unsavory marketing agencies disrespect inboxes, interrupt workflow with constant phone calls, show up without an appointment, and misrepresent businesses with fake websites. I can’t wait to discover what the dishonesty and greed of my industry will invent next.

My solution? I will use the worldwide deceptive, fraudulent web to identify potential players, but before I again submit a form, they must have a working phone number. And I’ll stop leaving voice messages. Sure, it will take more time, but I’ll ensure my business stays local while blocking out the fraudulent marketers and those companies who feel they have to be deceitful to get my business.