In business, there are roadblocks that an outside perspective could help you overcome. Spending a little bit of money on training could be what you need to take your business to the next level. The money spent could be returned to your business tenfold if what you learn is properly implemented.
The Internet has given us unparalleled access to knowledge. Online, we can take courses or hire professionals from all over the world. Social media and marketing are necessary today to carve an audience from the 2.5 billion people who log onto the Internet every day.
The potential for business has driven entrepreneurs to pay for "professionals'' who market well but only deliver hype. In the journey to build my business, I have spent $5,000 on services that disappointed. Here are five questions to ask before hiring a coach or consultant to avoid being in the same position.
1. Is the person/company using “marketing speak?”
Every day when you log onto Facebook you’re bombarded with ads about “living the laptop lifestyle,” or “use this cheat sheet to make six-figures.” You see the programs and courses that tell you to have your “expert positioning,” or “funnel optimization" in place.
There is a lot of marketing speak that sounds good and valuable but has no practical value in your business. Those terms are merely used to sell you on the program or service. When you start seeing these phrases or hear a professional try to sell you using this talk, an alert should go off in your mind. Proceed with caution.
Related: How to Scam-Proof Your Business
2. Are the testimonials suspect for the person/company?
Sadly, testimonials don’t hold the weight they used too. These days, it’s easy to fake them or get testimonials from people who have partially used the service. Be suspicious if you can’t contact the people listed or see how they’ve gotten said result.
Smart entrepreneurs do their homework and research before they spend money. They investigate the testimonials and, if they turn up fake, they don’t do business with that person.
3. Is the person/company relying on past success?
Changes happen quickly in marketing. Past success is not an indicator of present or future success, especially if they person is coasting on their name. There are lots of big-name entrepreneurs who haven’t had success in years but still command higher prices because of when they did.
4. Are the strategies still relevant?
There are a lot of strategies that worked years ago but are ineffective today. For example, if you’re an author, publishers used to handle all of your marketing and book sales. Today, a bulk of the marketing falls on the author, published or self-published. I was at a writer’s conference last week talking to former New Times best-selling authors who don’t know how to sell books today.
This vortex of past opportunity has given rise to a modern day gold rush. Old and useless strategies get passed around as the only way to succeed. Don't pay someone to teach you what used to work. Pay to learn what works now.
5. Is the content designed to upsell you?
There are courses and services that are specifically designed to give you just enough and then upsell you. They give you the first few steps, and when you purchase the entry services, you’re upsold on the big daddy program.
Webinars seem to be the new fad. You’re marketed on why you need to join the webinar and get just enough information. You’re then sold on the “must have” course. I have no problem with webinar marketing, but if the webinar doesn’t give you any useful information, you’ve paid for a useless service.
I’m a firm believer in investing in yourself, but only if you’re going to get what you paid for. With today’s access and technology, there’s no need to overpay for services. If the value is there and if the value is proven, don’t hesitate. The right services can be invaluable. Do your research.