The Internet Marketing industry is growing rapidly, and within its ever expanding realm, you’ll notice more companies popping up all over. There are many legitimate companies who have valid assets to offer to you. Some companies perform one niche service, such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services, while others offer a plethora of services tailored to your online marketing needs. These companies offer you real value. There are, on the other hand, companies who do not display what we call “honest business” ethics. Some of these companies use online marketing strategies that are black hat. We’ve even seen some “experts” take another company’s entire website and throw it up on their own URL as-is to market their “services”. Needless to say, these are the worst of the companies that are showing up within this industry. It seems like it should be crystal clear who you should trust and who shouldn’t, right? You would think it’s relatively easy to recognize a good company that adds value and a bad company that uses tactics that can eventually get you blackballed online. That’s not always the case.
Sometimes you don’t realize that there’s a viper in the grass. This is what we like to refer to as the “middle man” companies. These types of companies will advertise their services to you, claiming to be experts in the field. However, when you dig deeper, you will find that the experts are not really on their team, but are “partnered” with the company. What does that mean exactly? To break down the middle man business model, let’s examine the pros and cons of doing business with a middle man company.
- You may get a break in price because the service you are paying for is outsourced to other countries with cheaper labor or because they are being outsourced to other companies who manage a large amount of accounts.
- You may get service from a larger firm that is very reputable within the industry, though their identity may never be disclosed to you unless you ask.
- You may experience elevated prices as the middle man attempts to pay the outsourced company while trying to leave margin for themselves as well.
- You may employ a company that has no tangible value to you. If you were to ask for consulting or ask questions that would require an expert opinion, you may find that you don’t get an answer from the “expert”. Instead, you are put on hold while the “expert” reaches out to the outsourced company to find the answer for you.
- You may find poor customer service, longer response times, or an inability to receive the answer you need.
- You may have an account with the “expert” company, but not understand that the fate of your account lies within the hands of a different company whose identity you may not know.
- You may experience sub-par work, especially when it comes to any content writing. This can be due to outsourcing in non-English speaking countries. It can also be due to the fact that cheap labor sometimes entails lower quality work.
There is a time and a place where the middle man business model makes sense, and only then with an “open” and “honest” business ethic in place. “Posing” is never a viable business practice. If the company you are working with refuses to give up the identity of the 3rd party company or they refuse to admit they utilize a 3rd party, you may find that they are not the company you’d like to do business with. It can be difficult for customers to determine whether or not their online marketing, web design firm, etc. are using a 3rd party vendor. You may be asking yourself, “How can I make sure that I’m not being ‘middleman’d?” First, inquire with the company as to their outsourcing policies. Do they outsource to other companies for their services? If so, which services? Who do they outsource to? Second, look at their portfolio. When you look at their “work” online, you can usually find a link at the bottom of the page that has a copyright for the company who actually completed the work. When you look at the company name at the bottom of the page or click on the copyright link, do you find you are looking at another company?
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