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How to avoid Advertising Scams

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We are always trying to pass on valuable information to our clients and contacts and we are also very aware that there are many unscrupulous companies out there trying to con you out of your hard earned money with various sales ploys and incorrect information.

With years of experience in the publishing world we are to expose below various common scenarios which may happen when you are contacted to advertise either on-line or in-print...

In fact much as Penn & Teller exposed the secrets of magic tricks, we are going to do the same with sales techniques...

Never trust a sales person who quotes Hits rather than Visitors!

The most common statistic which is quoted by a dodgy sales person to fool you is hits rather than visitors. An example of this may be "We have 470,000 hits a month". When this sales person was asked how many visitors they had, they reluctantly quoted 28,000. Why the difference you may ask, well a hit is not a visitor, in fact it is a figure which is found from the amount of images and pieces of text a page has. To give you an idea, we @ THE BIKER GUIDE have an average of 54,800 hits a day and 3,250 visitors.

Read more on the difference between Hits and Visitors here

It is also worth noting that some companies may have a website which covers a variety of publications and/or titles and so the figure quoted to you may actually be referring to the main website rather than the specific section they are trying to sell you into. So in this case the quoted 28,000 a month is spread across 15 titles, meaning the daily visit is greatly reduced to more in the region of 60 a day!

The original quote made you think the website had 15,000 visitors a day whereas the reality is more likely to be 60... As we are sure you will agree these two figures are very different.

What to always ask when contemplating advertising onto a website

In this order...

How many visitors does the website have? How many daily visitors in the last month?
How many daily visitors in the last month compared to last year?
How many pages does each visitor look at? How many visitors return?
From how many countries? How do you get your visitors?

These questions should give you the correct information for you to base your decision of whether or not the website is worth you spending any money on.

You should also check that the website is user friendly (i.e. could you find your business in 3 clicks if it was on there?), that it is not overloaded with lots of people doing the same thing and that it is found on search engines with a relevant search to your business.

A honest company and sales person should have these figures and information to hand, if they do not it is generally because they do not want you to know the truth of their lack of visitors, lack of growth, lack of self-promotion and a basic lack of interest from the www of their web-site - AVOID them.

Print advertising scams

A common sales ploy is "We have a last minute cancellation as the client cannot get the copy to us in time, the usual price is £1,500, would you like it for £150!" Sounds good doesn't it? Well if that person makes 100 call that day and 15% of the people believe them, are tempted by the savings and ask no questions, hand over their card details then its a good day on the sales floor.

Unless a publication is ABC audited (an in-depth examination of a publisher's records that assures buyers that a publication's circulation claims are accurate and verifiable), which is usually larger media companies such as Associated Newspapers, Trinity Mirror, Condé Nast, Bauer Media, etc..., it is hard to establish how many publications are actually being produced and circulated and to be honest many people simply trust the sales person as to what they are told rather than ask for evidence.

A common scam is to only print enough of the publication to send out to the advertisers and potential advertisers, rather than print the specified figure. Imagine this scenario "We have a circulation of 20,000, sold at WH Smiths, at over 15,000 independent retailers, via Amazon and we also give some out for free at events that we attend". So you go into your local WH Smiths and there is no magazine, you look on Amazon and there is no magazine, you ask people if they have heard of the magazine - They have not. When you next speak to the sales person they will no doubt tell you "That's because it was so popular it sold out". You ask for them to send you one "Sorry all gone" You ask which shows they have a stand at, they tell you "We don't have a stand we just go to them" - The Alarm Bells should now be ringing loud and clear...

Always ask, in this order:

If it is sold, ask for a list of where and then ask where in your area (If you are interested check with the retailer) If they distribute the publication for free ask where they do this and how many at a specified establishment (If you are interested check with the establishment)

How many do they print?
Are they ABC audited?
Who reads the publication?
Which of my competitors are in?
If they sell it, how much for?

* Note, many people will not pay for any form of information anymore as it is readily available for free on the www. If you are being sold into a publication which is not ABC audited and it has a purchase price, we would presume that not many people get to see it.

Are they honest and professional?

In this day and age the publication should be for sale on their website. They should also have photographic evidence of any free distribution.

It is common practice for publishing companies to employ a Sales and Distribution person who will have extensive data of distribution outlets, sales and returns and in specific postcoded areas, which will be available to sales teams to use to inform potential clients. If they do not have this to hand, they are usually trying to fool you with a lack of relevant figures.

Never, never agree on the first telephone call...

Most sales people simply do not give two hoots about you or your business and simply want your cash. They want to make a quick call to you, tempt you with a price and get the booking.

They do not ask you anything about your business to check if it is suited to what they are selling you into, they do not care if your competitor is next to you on the page or if you get a response, they simply want the sale.
We would advise to never agree to any form of advertising without either looking at the website yourself or the publication and to check that the person and company are professional, ask them to send you an e-mail with the details and if it is a printed publication, that in the post along with the rates.

A lazy sales person will not even bother to send you anything as they were hoping you would be charmed out of your advertising budget with their sales tricks.

What do their visitors/customers say?

In this day and age reviews and guest-books should be the norm - If they do not have a review or guest-book section, ask yourself why not?

Help others and report them

If you feel that you have been mis-sold any form of advertising from information which is in print or on-line there is the independant regulator of ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) and there is also Ofcom, where you can report any such unscrupulous companies.

THE BIKER GUIDE summing up...

We hope this article will help you in dealing with sales people who are basically trying to misguide you with incorrect information and hopefully to help you choose wisely where you place any print advertising or your business on the World Wide Web!

If you would like any further advise of anything included in this information, do not hesitate to ask.

If you already knew all of the above, please accept our apologies and welcome to our world!


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