Online Marketing Assets – Why You Must Be In Control

Marketing assets are things that you own and control that help with your marketing initiatives. And according to Seth Godin, marketing assets are tools or platforms that can be used over and over without using them up and which get better the more you invest.

Your brand identity, website, domain name, email list, customer list, white papers, presentations, pay-per-click advertising, social media, directory sites or any platform that houses your important marketing content, are critical assets to your business.

Why are these online marketing assets critical?

Let’s take a look at what these assets mean to your business:

  • Your domain name is associated with your business and most likely is your business name. Your website and blog, built using that domain name, provide online visibility to your prospects and customers. If you were ready to sell your business, these assets would be valuable to the new business owner. Did you register the domain name under an account you own (i.e. like Godaddy or Network Solutions) or did someone do it for you?
  • Your Google Places page is another online asset that provides information on your business location for local search such as phone numbers, directions and reviews. Is your Google Places page verified in your Google account or in someone vendor’s account?
  • Your Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools associated with your site are important tools to assess the effectiveness of your online presence. Are you the owner of these accounts or did someone else set them up and provide only reports to you?
  • Are you running Google AdWords or other pay-per-click advertising for your business? If so, did you set up the accounts and have someone managing it or did you have an outside agency set it up for you? Is the money you spend monthly all going towards clicks or is some being pocketed by the agency?

Why am I concerned about who controls these assets?

A couple of things happened this week that reminded me that many small business owners still don’t understand the value of their online presence, are totally unaware of their online reputation and have fallen prey to unscrupulous “online marketing experts”. Unfortunately, these experts target small local businesses that need to be online but don’t have the time or expertise to do it themselves. And once in their hands, it is very hard to regain control. For example:

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  • A small business owner was spending $700 per month in pay-per-click campaigns but had no idea what keywords they were bidding on, how much each keyword cost or how much of this money was actually being spent on clicks. Lesson learned: Set up your PPC accounts directly with a credit card and work with someone who can set up and manage your campaigns through your account.
  • Another was unaware that his domain name was expiring and a disgruntled web developer chose not to tell him. His website and email disappeared, the domain expired and the business has to wait the redemption period (about 30 days) for him to register it under his own name. Unfortunately, in 30 days Google will have dropped many of his website’s pages from the index and when the site returns, it will basically have to start over. Lesson learned: Never let someone else register your domain name unless you are totally confident that you can trust that person. Someone you trust will most likely tell you to register it yourself.
  • A local business had his Google Places page and other local business listings set up by a local search firm using their accounts, not one from the business owner. When the local business decided to discontinue working with this firm, they refused to release the Google Places page so the owner could claim it. Lesson learned: Claim your Google Places page and other local business listings yourself or hire someone to do it on your behalf through accounts you have already set up.

When you want to hire an external resource to help you with your online marketing, just remember to think through what happens if you decide to discontinue working with them.

  • Do you still have access to your accounts?
  • Can you take over the management of the campaigns?
  • Will remnants of these efforts remain long after your relationship with these agencies end, such as phone numbers you don’t own showing up associated with your business in the search results?
  • Will your online presence remain visible on the Internet or will you need to start over?

My Advice

Take inventory of all of your online assets and determine who has ownership. This can be done by your office manager or an intern who can search for your business and record the information they find. Once you have that data, determine how you will claim all the properties and update the information so that it accurately reflects your business.

Do you have control of your online marketing assets?

Comments: 8

  • Tyrone says:

    If this is the case so why would people hire agencies or individuals which they pay to handle their online visibility? I mean for me I hired them to be free of worries from these stuffs..this is just my opinion, I hire them to take care of those things so that I won’t be worrying matters similar to that..

  • Great post. It’s unfortunate but I often see small businesses hire an agency to help them with Internet Marketing and the agency they hire registers everything in their name instead of in the name of the business. This means the business will either need to keep paying the agency for ever, or be prepared to go to court to get the rights to their own website, google places accounts, etc…

  • Jon says:

    Yes this is true

  • Hello gentlemen, thanks for the comments. Tyrone, it’s not that you shouldn’t hire an agency to help you but if you do, make sure your assets are in accounts you own and can control. I help my clients with their online marketing but I always use accounts created specifically for the client, not my own accounts. If we decide to stop working together, the client can either take over the work or hire someone else to help them.

    Robert – right on. That is exactly what has happened. I have had to call VPs of companies to get them to release Google Places accounts but fortunately, none of my clients have had to go to court. I refer to this as holding someone hostage and that’s not very business savvy.

  • Great article and thank you. We are an marketing agency and often offer free domain name registration and free hosting with our website development service. Our clients never seem understand why we insist on purchasing these and other “online assets” in their own names. You do a great job of showing the importance of being in control of these assets.

    • Thanks Andria. I’m glad you share the same views. Too many small business owners get stuck down the road when they want to part ways with their agency. By ensuring your clients have access to these assets, you do them a huge favor and demonstrate your integrity to our profession.

  • Naz Mamfre says:

    There is nothing about online reputation management that is simple or easy, but probably the biggest no-brainer solution there is out there is that companies should look after their online reputations BEFORE they get messed up, instead of trying to play catch up once the damage has been done. Even simple tools like Repumatic would help a ton.

  • Naz, this is true. Being proactive about your reputation is important to prevent issues. But unfortunately, small business owners don’t always realize that these things are happening to them until it is too late.

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