The problem with people marketplaces

Yesterday I saw something I couldn’t believe. It was from a people marketplace – those sites where you can hire another persons skill set. I’m not trying to shame the person who submitted the listing, but I think we need to talk about this.

Allow me an analogy:

62584229Many years ago I was a professional photographer. When someone saw you with a camera dangling around your neck, they had no idea how good you would be.

Sometimes you were judged on your equipment, or your charm but never on your photographs. I’m talking about when you are on the job – when you are presenting yourself.

The photography industry was transformed with the democratisation of the tools of the trade. It became easier to establish yourself as a photographer. It became easier for inexperienced people to present themselves as experienced.

The same thing has happened in marketing.

It’s very easy for someone to present themselves as an ‘expert’, ‘ninja’, ‘guru’ – you name it. But it doesn’t mean the quality of the work will deliver. Just because they have the charm and the tools.

I think this is one of the most important things to understand as a business owner.

So many businesses have now been burnt by poor quality work that they dismiss marketing as a complete sham. They have lost faith that it is possible to find anyone in this industry who is legitimate.

Let me show you an email I received for a job posted on People Per Hour:

Hi fellow SEO colleagues, I need urgent SEO done for one of my clients, as I charged him just over £6K (yes 6 thousand pounds) about a month ago and I didn’t manage to rank their website as I promised, and now they are putting a pressure on me to finish the job. Please help me out with this one.

I promised them to rank their website in top 5 on for the keyword “asos discount code”, however, I only managed to get it up to number 10 on page one.

Their website is XXXXX, it’s a discount finder website with about 250 pages, and I don’t know what to do from here.

I only want clean techniques, so I’ll need a real SEO expert here. I also have many other similar projects for you if this is successful, as I took on about 6 clients recently that have paid more than £5K each, but I don’t know what to do with them 🙁 . Please help me first with XXXXX

Link to Listing

The lack of transparency that this ‘so-called’ expert has with his clients is astounding. He’s got the gig and then scrambling to get the work done.

havent got time gif

It’s easy to overpromise and underdeliver. Unfortunately this has become the standard ethic most so-called ‘experts’ are working with.

The comments underneath are keen for the work but no-one is surprised by this behaviour. I suspect the next step is that someone else will take on the work and the original budget will be diluted yet another step and the results will reflect this.

The end result is a promise broken, a budget wasted and a distrust of marketing borne.

But it’s not just marketing. This is a particular problem with people marketplaces. By that I mean the sites and services which connect those who need someone with the person that can do it.

There are measures that these marketplaces have introduced to incentivise trust, such as badges, qualifications, reviews and the like but despite all this I see the problem continue.

There are many ‘marketplace’ hacks people have told me. To ward off the ‘spam’ replies to your job listing hide a secret word in your copy. Start your reply with the word AMAZING so I can tell you are legitimate.

Or another approach is to hire 10 people for a small job that can demonstrate skill and then pass on the remainder of the project to the one that actually delivers.

There are more and these tricks help, but they only help what I think is a rotten setup. A setup which doesn’t favour the user.

Finding transparency and responsibility in online marketplaces

There is one metric that is most pertinent when it comes to finding a marketer in a people / expert marketplace. That is your return on investment.

So when we built our marketplace of marketing experts (what a mouthful!) we built ROI tracking straight into our dashboard.

I got so frustrated with our ecommerce clients getting burnt. We helped them use Google Spreadsheets to track performance of their experts. We then developed this into YoGrow which is a performance tracker and a marketplace.

Download our free spreadsheet with our guide to increasing ecommerce sales

Whether you use YoGrow or an existing people marketplace, there are three things you can do to ensure your next expert delivers and you don’t find yourself in the position I pasted in above. The position where your expert is frantically trying to outsource your work to someone else.

These three items are:

  • Set agreed targets with your expert
  • Monitor these targets constantly
  • Open up a regular line of communication with these performance metrics as your main talking point.

Those three simple items are key to a strong relationship with your expert. Don’t let the noise on people marketplaces drown out the talent. Take control of your campaigns and if you are unable to get the promised results be ready to pull the plug.

Don’t burn your budget at your experts expense. Always track your return on investment and you can’t go wrong.

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