April 30, 2019

Hiring Neil Patel's Digital Marketing agency in 2019?

SilverStr

So I know a few years ago there was a post here on IH (https://www.indiehackers.com/forum/hiring-neil-patels-firm--KkY8HHnkItL61OwQ29f) about Neil's digital marketing agency. At the time, it sounded like something to stay away from. Further research recently showed others felt the same way. (https://www.holysmoke.org/scam/neil-patel/) To be fair, it seems that negative page was just put up by someone with an axe to grind. But the info is still insightful.

I recently was contacted by this agency and their new small business division that was launched this January. Apparently they launched because Neil's reputation was getting trashed due to 3rd parties that they were recommending to startups and small businesses that were just not doing the right things for the companies.

So here we are in 2019. For those IH with budget and the capability to outsource some of the tactical marketing work to build organic SEO to increase domain authority, would use use Neil's agency (https://neilpateldigital.com/)?

Why or why not?

I've been talking to a few 'SEO experts' as of late and I am getting so much conflicting information. I like the idea of a firm with resources I can pay to help with a bunch of work that needs to get done. I'm curious if anyone is using their services, or have used them recently and have some insights.

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    What exactly are you looking to get out of a marketing agency? Organic traffic? Qualified traffic to qualified content?

    I am always skeptical of companies who want to outsource their marketing. I mean, it's not a terrible idea, many have done it, but the results are usually crap. If your goal is to grow RELEVANT organic traffic, then you'll want to look for a content marketing company who will work WITH you to understand your audience and approach content that will attract qualified leads. It's not a hands-off approach mind you.

    That being said, you could just as easily hire people who will write this content for you and do the research yourself, then have them do the content marketing. Of course you'll still need to find channels to advertise your content to. I only know of one content marketing agency but I think their rates start at around 10k/mo. I don't think this is a lot considering the work they do, but you could easily do this yourself if you hired a team to do this for you, probably for half the cost.

    Edit note: I would not speak to anyone who identifies themselves as an "SEO Expert" in any capacity.

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      Like any startup, there is little domain authority. Organically finding us on critical keywords is impossible when we have no backlinks, articles or info that fits in all stages of the traditional marketing funnel. This stuff doesn't happen over night. And there is always far more work to do than any one person could handle.

      I am not looking to abdicate responsibility of marketing. No firm could have the subject matter expertise for our industry. But they can definitely do a lot of the grunt work in assessing what keywords are working well in our industry, how competitors are fairing, where backlinks are coming from, what sort of content resonates with our audience, how that should be written, etc.

      I have learned over the years that you focus on what you are good at. You learn what you aren't, and become dangerous enough to know when to bring other people in. Yes, I could easily hire someone inhouse to do this... but they aren't going to be any better off than a firm that could do it. In the time it would take to onboard, educate and focus on producing marketing content I could engage with a firm with many staff that could do all of this.

      Appreciate the feedback.

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        Sure, I understand that content is only half the puzzle and promotion is equally as important hence the backlinks. However, I would caution against thinking about everything in backlink terms / domain authority. From my experience, the type of content that tends to drive actual sales and the type that gets you back links are quite different. Sometimes they are one and the same, but often not.

        Simple thought experiment: you want to rank for a major keyword such as "business intelligence software". Might be hard to do given all the major competitors. They have a ton of backlinks, something an IH may never match (or at least for quite some time). That term may bring sales (people likely want to buy this if they are searching for it -see the google ads). The traditional SEO way might be to create catchy content that gets attention and gets links and pray you some day rank for this and other terms like it. Unfortunately views and content popularity does not always translate into sales. But if you write a comprehensive review of the major players in the field and pluck your startup into the mix, you might actually stand a chance. Instead of aiming to rank for that broad term you can now try ranking for "software A vs Software B, vs My Software". Nothing is to stop you from writing a super comprehensive 10k word analysis of all three tools including yours. The intent is still the same if not more targeted, people looking to buy your solution and others like it, but this time you actually stand a chance of ranking. How likely are you to get backlinks to a vs. vs. vs. page? Not likely.

        This is just one example. My point being, there are a ton of agencies who will GLADLY take your money and will do the hard work for you, but they may focus on scenario 1 when they should be doing scenario 2. If you don't take the time to catch up at least somewhat on information from people who seek to be most efficient with your money, it's easy to blow it away and see nothing as a result. I can't tell you how many times I've spoken with huge companies who said "yeah, we used this agency but didn't see much in terms of results". I've come across many agencies who are very good at "content" creation, and promotion, but do poorly on customer research and understanding what it is your customers struggle with and search for (mostly because those things are so obscure and have so little search volume that you'd never pick them up on keyword research tools or suggested searches). This is precisely what the business excels at - subject area expertise and knowing their customers intimately.

        Again, I'm not saying you can't outsource this function, but it pays to do your homework on what it means to do content marketing and how backlink building fits into the puzzle.

        Best to you!

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    There's Bellcurve.com which is run by @julian who has done 2 podcast episodes. That's a better option in my opinion.

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      Hmmm, I'll have to listen to the podcasts and get a feel for @julian an his firm. Thanks for the tip.

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        No problem!!

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      I know someone that used Bellcurve recently. They said the work was really good, they provided heaps of good insights, but in the end it didn't generate a return beyond what they spent.

      But they DID add, that they felt they were not at the right stage for bellcurve, and did speak highly of them.

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        What do you think is the 'right stage' for such a firm?

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          Hard to say. This was a team of 10, a mature, bootstrapped product that's been running for over 10 years.

          I'm not sure if they were being 'nice and diplomatic' because they knew Julian on a personal level frankly, but the impression I got was that the investment required was really only well suited for a larger organisation.

          I could probably find out specifics, if needed though.

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    OMG. this topic is so weird too see.

    So I hired this agency once, as a business owners, and hands down, it was the worst decision I made in 10 years when we had the company. They literally lied to me about stuff right to my face, total and utter lies. When I called them out on it, one of them was 'let go' over it, but the behaviour stayed the same.

    After about a week, I realised they outsourced the work to a contractor in Bangladish, and I nearly took the company to a law firm about it.

    In the end I asked for my money back, and it was easily the worst commercial decision I made in business in 10 years.

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      Sorry to hear about your experience. The outsourcing is an interesting angle of concern. I'll have to consider that when reviewing these firms.

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        Yeah. Look at the time, it seemed like a great deal. We were going to invest about 15k, and we expected at lest SOME return on that money.

        In the end what actually happened was

        1. They started to update our wordpress website with some really basic changes.
        2. They introduced a bunch of weird bugs, like VERY obvious things.
        3. The website broke.

        So when I started to think, hang on, these guys are supposed to be the best, right? so I asked who was actually doing the work, looking on linkedin, and found they just outsourced it to this individual contractor. I was like okay then, I see what's going on here.

        One of the questions I really drove home with them when we started the engagement was

        1. Who is doing this work. I want their names, because I want to make sure they are good, and credible. So they gave me the name of this person in silicon valley then
        2. Where are these people. Are they actual staff? Or are they contractors. Then they said yeah this guys name is Steve or whatever and he works right here, and they are a fulltime member of the team.

        Anywho, it was basically all song a dances. It as a good lesson really.

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