How To Avoid Getting Scammed by Your Agency

Jonathan Bannister, President and CEO of Cornerstone Marketing Solutions, interviewed Dennis to discuss the importance of transparency in Digital Marketing and why clients should insist on getting access to their digital assets to avoid getting scammed. They also discussed 15-second videos and how to get video reviews onto Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). Here is a condensed version of the interview.

avoid getting scammed

How Can a Client Determine if Work Is Being Done the Right Way or Not? How can they avoid getting scammed by their agency?

Dennis says that if you are a local service business, the first thing you should do is get access to your assets. Some agencies will tell you that it is proprietary and that you cannot have access to your ads, analytics, search console, or GBP accounts. Do not let them play this game. You need to have access to all these things.

They will give you access to the central dashboard instead because, in that way, you would not think of looking into the assets, such as Google Analytics, to see what is going on. Those watered-down charts they generate do not show what is happening under the hood.

Some agencies do not want to give it to you because once you gain access to your assets, you can look at the Change History and see what they have been doing. You will see if anyone did any work at all on your ads account. Has anyone built any links? What kind of traffic are you getting? How is your SEO performing?

Dennis knows this very well because he has done hundreds of audits, and in the last two weeks alone, he conducted 40 audits. The majority of these home service businesses had no links that were built. They were also not ranked on any keywords except for their name. The traffic that was coming to their sites came from their brand name.

Some people are paying these agencies $3,000 a month for SEO, but they are getting scammed, whether intentional or not. Dennis says that credible marketers like Jonathan do not have to worry. He will pass such audits because of how they create content and because you can see if someone is watching over your account. There is a trail.

Some agencies are so sales-oriented, and once they get 50, 60, or more than a hundred clients, they have already lost track of the accounts they are managing. That will not happen if you have the right ingredients, such as competent account managers, a good team, a solid operations manager, etc.

Clients should not hesitate to ask for an audit. A good and honest agency like Cornerstone will never deny such a request and will gladly do so to show you what is going on in the background. They will tell you: “I want you to have access. I want you to see what we are doing. I want you to be a smart client and understand your numbers.”

It does not mean that you will become a pro at digital marketing. It just means that you will start to understand how your agency translates, creates content, runs ads, and updates your website. All these lead to more calls on your phone. If you are a good client, you will stay with that agency because they are transparent, and you can connect how their work impacts what Google thinks.

And if you are ranking organically or running ads, you can see how that translates into verifiable business results. When your agency agrees to an audit but refuses to answer your questions, that is a red flag telling you that things are not looking good and that the agency does not want you to know that.

Jonathan adds that their team does their best not to bore their clients with technical stuff. They give their clients full access to their assets. They can check anytime. They listen to every call from each campaign because they already set the metrics and goals for them, which tells them how many leads they need.

And because they are transparent with their clients, they are fully exposing themselves, which sometimes hurts them because clients sometimes get the wrong idea about measuring success. They would say: “You spent $15,000 on YouTube, but we only got a few bookings.” Jonathan wants people to realize that it is not just about the number of clicks or conversions.

They should be using the data for split testing to get things better. We all need data, but for the bare minimum, clients should be able to ask if they can see what is happening in Google Analytics or Google Search Console and look at the traffic coming to their website monthly.

Jonathan admits that he is also guilty because previously, he would tell clients: “Look at how many of your pages are on the first page of search results. He felt good that his team was able to achieve that. However, there was no traffic coming from there. They were not doing anything wrong, but they were doing SEO wrong because they were going for the easiest keywords to rank for. Those keywords were easy because nobody cared about them. Be on the lookout for such things.

So again, Dennis reiterates getting access to your assets and checking the Change History in the ads account. Track through to the revenue. Do not focus on the likes, views, or number of keywords to rank only. Track it all the way through into ServiceTitan or whatever system that tracks where income comes from. Everything else will be handled from there.

Dennis also says that checking these things will nail 99% of people who are not doing a good job, whether they are intentionally scamming you or do not know any better. It is the basics. If you are a local service business doing plumbing in Denver only, then you are not competing nationwide.

If you are dealing with a national brand, have many locations, and run TV ads, then that is another matter. But if you have one business serving one region, you only need these basics. Do not worry about TikTok, threads, etc.

Check Out: What Happened to ServiceLegend?

How Important Are 15-Second Videos? Why Is It Important To Get These Video Testimonials From the Customer? What Should They Be Doing With This Content?

Dennis reveals that they conducted research to determine the optimum length for a video, especially on social media, and it turns out that 22 seconds is the magic number. He explains that this is the exact amount of time it takes for a technician to say: “Here we are at Jane’s house, and we are in the backyard. Hey, Jane. How are you doing? Oh, I am great!”

It only takes one short story as people scroll through social media, and when you have built a collection of these stories, Google, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube will prioritize the content to the right audience. People will gravitate towards certain people. That is just how it is because of their connections and the neighborhood they are in.

TikTok, especially Instagram, knows where a person captured a photo because it will include additional information as long as a mobile phone captures it. That will help you on social media. You do not have to be a professional or have a fancy camera. Just take 15-second to one-minute videos. The sweet spot is 22 seconds. Collect them and have the Cornerstone team or any team process the content lightly.

You do not need Premiere or After Effects to make this happen. No fancy editing is required. Even high school students can do this easily. Once done, post those short stories on Facebook, GBP, your blog, and other places. Create the content and let it live in these places. It is called repurposing. Lastly, run ads against them.

People are afraid of putting themselves out there and getting judged. Do not worry about that. Just make short videos to show you are out and about. That is it! That will send a signal to the search engines about who you are. That is all you are trying to show. And if you can, do it in front of recognizable or famous landmarks such as a well-known park or restaurant because people who live in that city will recognize that place.

Do it even when it is not on the job. Having those sorts of moments is what creates the kind of local connection. That is why people will choose you over the others who do the same thing in your city.

Uploading Videos To Google Business Profile (GBP) and Achieving Success With Reviews

Jonathan shares that he was completely blown away by what Dennis mentioned about getting videos onto GBP. Then, he touches on how to get the most success with getting client reviews. He says that he always advises his clients to inform their customers that they are going to ask for a review once the job is completed successfully.

It would be something like: “Hey, Mrs. Jones. I am going to knock it out of the park for you. Once the job is done, I will ask you to review the service.” Jonathan says that it helps build trust and credibility and also eliminates barriers. He thinks that the home service industry is jaded. People are scared to call marketing companies because they think they are shady.

It is the same with air conditioning or electrical companies. There is no trust because people feel some of these businesses are out to take advantage of people. That approach eliminates the hesitation about letting service providers into their homes. So you could say: “Listen, I am going to ask for a review only when I do a good job and you are happy.”

However, Dennis’ approach is unique. He advises the client to upload the review video to Google Maps instead because you cannot upload a video in GBP. You can only leave a written review, add images, and award a star rating there. It matters because review videos carry more weight. It would also be great to have the customer mention the city and the service rendered.

Dennis Yu

About the Author

Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu is co-author of the #1 best-selling book on Amazon in social media, The Definitive Guide to TikTok Ads.  He has spent a billion dollars on Facebook ads across his agencies and agencies he advises. Mr. Yu is the "million jobs" guy-- on a mission to create one million jobs via hands-on social media training, partnering with universities and professional organizations.You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.