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Recently, I was browsing some content from a potential client and found some very familiar text, with a stock photo I knew I’d seen somewhere else. Thankfully, it wasn’t something I had written, although that’s happened before. But the words and photo were close enough that I decided to go down the rabbit hole.

I finally located the original article, posted some 5 years ago. But in the process, I found almost 30 different companies who had posted identical content within a 2 day period. All of them had been supplied to these small business websites by a company that promised to help them rank higher on Google for their keywords.

In case it isn’t obvious from my tone and the title, we at Grow the Dream believe this type of behavior is highly unethical. Even if it’s buried in the contract somewhere that material may be reused and/or resold, I guarantee this marketing firm is not pointing that out to the clients. And if they do notice, odds are, they’re downplaying it.

There Can Be Only One

But even more than the fact that this firm is profiting off of selling one article – that they may or may not have originated – they’re doing the exact opposite of the service they are promising their clients. It does not matter that the companies are geographically separated. Even if the Internet was not ubiquitous, it is impossible to stand out when you’re just regurgitating the same material that 20 similar businesses are also using.

For example, we’re based in Sarasota, FL. There is a community, weather and economic structure here that is entirely different, not just from where I live in Los Angeles, CA, but from Ft. Pierce and Miami and Orlando and Jacksonville. Selling the same content to a Florida company as you’re selling to another related business in Chicago – word for word – isn’t helping either company.

If you want your organic Google search response to grow, you have to target the people that your company serves. Not what people in East Lansing, Michigan or Puyallup, Washington are searching. And I would wager, if this marketing company is cutting corners with their content, they’re not doing the research to make sure even their first client is served, let alone the other 25 that are buying what they think is fresh new content.

If it helps, picture it like that Highlander movie from the 80’s (just the first one – what sequels?). When there were 25 immortals, other than boss sword fighting skills, they were pretty average people. But as each one was eliminated, his power flowed into the others. Until Connor McCloud is the only one left – and his bearing and power were nearly god-like.

Do you want god-like abilities to draw organic traffic with your posts, or are you content with just a slim slice of the Google pie?

Out Standing in Your Field

Okay, here’s the thing – I’m not writing this to promote our business here at Grow the Dream…Except for the fact that good, solid, original content in itself promotes our business. That’s kind of the point. Allow me to elaborate.

We teach and practice strategic marketing. That is, we know who our best client is – the ideal customer we can serve. We narrow that focus as tightly as we can. Demographics, psychographics, how they speak, what they read, how they think, where their pain points are. And then we create laser-focused content that not only gets the attention of and draws in that ideal client, but a reasonable number on the periphery too.

Think of it like an archery target. If you don’t aim, you might not even come close. If you aim for the target in general, well, you might hit it, but you’re just as likely not to. But if you aim for the bullseye – the smallest, most precise spot on the target… Even if you miss that tiny round “window,” you’re all but guaranteed to hit the target somewhere.

You’re also less likely to overshoot it. A tightly focused, ideal customer-based strategy is not only going to draw the best customers in, it’s also going to send others packing. And that’s a good thing. You don’t want every customer. You don’t need a client nickel and diming you. Or worse, badmouthing you behind your back because they didn’t want the full package, and now aren’t getting the full results.

Aim Small, Miss Small

Strategy works because it’s YOUR target client. Not someone else’s in San Antonio, Texas.

I get it, you may not have time to write the posts yourself, even if you’ve done the strategic work. But why would you pay to outsource that content by hiring someone who doesn’t care who your clients are. They don’t even care who you are as a company. They just want your money. Honestly, if they had another motive, they wouldn’t be selling the same content to dozens of other clients.

If the person you’re doing business with isn’t interested in helping you the right way, then you don’t need them. They’re hurting your business, not helping it.

I’m not saying hire us. In fact, even if you found this article, you may not be the best fit for us or vice versa – we don’t serve every person that comes to us. Just like we teach our clients, we implement strategy. Whether we teach or help a business with hands on implementation, these timeless principles have enabled us to assist countless small businesses and entrepreneurs to grow. Even during the 2008 recession. Even in the midst of a global pandemic.

We believe so strongly in strategy and the principles that we’ve taught over the years that now we’re sharing them – for free. Every Wednesday at 1pm Eastern, we’re live streaming on our YouTube channel – giving you a scaled down version of our training program that we’ve charged thousands of dollars for in the past. It’s our way of giving back during these challenging times. You can find the details here.

Get Your Money’s Worth

Unfortunately, much of the Internet is still like the wild west. Even with better and more precise algorithms, it’s hard to police every service provider and purveyor of information. But you can protect yourself.

  • Before you hire a company, ask if they’ll be creating curated content for you – or is there a chance several of their other 8000 clients will be posting the exact same thing.
  • Make sure they’re taking into account your target customer. Articles need to be written to appeal to them and their needs – not simply keywords on Google. You can ask for rewrites, editing control and proof they’re writing original material.
  • Ensure there’s an out clause in your contract, tied to specific metrics and expectations. You should get periodic reports on your organic search growth, the effectiveness of reaching your targeted customer and meeting specific conversion goals.
  • And hold them accountable – if you’re paying them, they owe it to you to do what they promised. If they’re not delivering, call them on it. And if they try to brush it off, terminate the contract.

I hope you’ll take a moment and check out our weekly #StrategyStreams. There’s plenty to learn and even our team has found periodic review and reinforcement helpful. If you’d like to talk to us about producing original content for your site, as we do many others, or if you’d just like to get a clearer picture of what strategic marketing looks like, feel free to reach out.