6 Reasons You Should Stay With Your Current Small Business SEM Provider

sem-providerIt's tempting to change vendors when your small business SEO has seemed to stall. But the hidden costs of vendor hopping are not well-recognized.

Here are six reasons to stay with your current SEM provider, even when frustrations are high and the value proposition is in question.

Your SEM Supplier Is Well-Organized

Organization is a big deal. People often take this for granted, especially when results are slow in coming.

The reality is that slow-and-steady always wins the race. Don't fall for big promises from untested teams.

If the current provider is highly organized, and has shown a propensity for consistent follow-through, you may already have the winning team. Teams like this have a system for staying organized, such as support tickets and task numbers.

They also use their calendars religiously. Every meeting has an agenda and ends with a review of action Items.

Your SEM Supplier Does What It Says It Will Do

This is another trait that is in short supply. So much marketing is hype. When you find a team that doesn't take breaking promises lightly, you should stay with them.

Give strong preference to teams that will politely push back on unrealistic requests. Don't surround yourself with "yes-men." While this does wonders for the ego, it is short-lived and rarely results in great rankings.

A strong SEM team won't be afraid to tell you when something is unrealistic because they understand the value of under-promising and over-delivering. When they do accept tasks, it is highly organized and usually logged into some type of project management software. It always has a due date and an accountable party assigned.

Your SEM Team Schedules Regular Meetings

Have you turned down, dodged, or missed an account review meeting with your SEM provider in the last three months? If so, you are potentially the bigger problem in the relationship.

All vendor-supplier relationships require time from both sides. If your supplier is regularly reaching out rather than waiting for you to call with problems, you have a solid team. They understand that relationship equity is built from positive communications when times are good. This equity will hold the relationship together when the inevitable problems arise.

Your SEM is Proactive

If your SEM sends you random emails with interesting blog posts and follows up meetings with phone calls to debrief and get reactions, you have a great team.

Many teams will blast out content without a positive account management touch. This can feel a little impersonal.

If your team has intimate knowledge of your website and makes strong suggestions around keywords, on-site updates, email marketing, and social media, they are a keeper.

Your SEM Team Provides Strategic Value

If your SEM team has suggested strategies to you in the last few months that you have either not thought of or have not been able to get off the ground, they are helping you generate strategy.

Some strategic advice will come in the form of creative ideas, such as how to make a social media campaign engaging for a boring product offering, or how to get people to opt in to an email list through a white paper.

Other times the strategy is centered around execution with limited resources.

Your SEM Team Is Friendly

Nobody wants to work with grumpy colleagues. If your day-to-day interactions with people on your SEM team are positive, this counts.

Many sales teams wine, dine, and charm, and then turn you over to less pleasant delivery reps. Be skeptical of teams who separate sales staff too far from operations as you may end up disliking your vendor on a personal level.

Conclusions

When your SEM is sagging, it is tempting to make a knee-jerk decision to switch vendors. However, the true costs of switching are dramatically higher than most realize.

If your current team exhibits the traits outlined above, you may not know how good you already have it and it's merely time for a heart-to-heart discussion with the team.

About the author

Adam Stetzer, Ph.D. is President and Co-Founder at HubShout, a leading SEO Reseller and SEM software and services provider. He holds a Doctorate in Industrial Psychology from Purdue University and has over 15 years experience in the Information Technology fields building enterprise software for Fortune 100 clients such as General Electric, Coca Cola, Pepsi, AT&T, Verizon, Nissan Motors and ChevronTexaco. He is a serial entrepreneur, but believes that owner passion and organic growth are the secrets to his start-up success. Dr Stetzer has been building software in the SEO space for the last 5 years. He lives and works in Rochester, NY.