Liar, Liar, Vendor on Fire! April Edition

Liar, Liar, Vendor on Fire - April Edition

Welcome to the inaugural post of Liar, Liar, Vendor on Fire! In this monthly series, I’m calling out the bad advice and outright lies I’ve heard over the past month as vendors pitch me their marketing and IT services. This series will be a little irreverent and packed full of snark as I have no patience for those who take advantage of small business owners.

As I call out the bad advice, I’ll explain why it’s wrong. Ultimately, I hope this series helps you spot unscrupulous sales pitches and saves you money. 

1) We Have WordPress Gold Edition

Image from the Vendor's PPT
There is no such thing as WordPress Gold Edition. Also, that’s not how you use the © symbol, dude!

No. Just no. There are two flavors of WordPress: the one that’s available at and the self-hosted variety. Self-hosted WordPress websites are what small businesses use. That’s it – there’s no other type of WordPress out there; so don’t pay more because someone tells you they’ve got a premium version of WordPress. Premium themes, premium plugins, custom functionality – all totally legit things a vendor can sell you, but there is no such thing as a premium version of WordPress itself.

I was feeling feisty…

So I wrote back:

“Thanks, Cole. I was a full-stack web developer before I took over IKOR’s marketing efforts. As I’m sure you noticed, our website is running on WordPress – my current plan is to rebuild the website in late-2018 using the Genesis Framework for WordPress. However, I haven’t heard of WordPress Gold Edition. Is that a proprietary plugin your agency has created or is that functionality baked into a theme?”

He responds:

“Let me check with the Dev team, I’m almost positive it’s a separate functionality within wordpress, I’ll double check and get back to you.”

That was April 19 and I have to hear back. I’m guessing his development team told him they’d been busted, but rest assured, if I hear back, you’ll hear about in May’s edition of Liar, Liar, Vendor on Fire.

Bottomline: Before you part ways with your money for a premium sounding version of something, do a bit of research so you can sort out marketing hype from reality.

2) It’s a Good Idea to Have a Responsive Website

Okay, I’m going to need you to pull yourself, and more importantly your advice, out of 2015. In mid-2014 Google began indicating all websites should be mobile-friendly; then in February 2015, Google decreed that all websites must be mobile-friendly by April 21, 2015. Any website that was not mobile-friendly after April 21 would be hit with an algorithm penalty which would result in a lower ranking.

Now, fast forward to this March and Google further reinforced the necessity of a responsive website with a move to mobile-first indexing. To grossly oversimplify what’s happening, Google will start delivering search results based off of what the search engine “sees” when it reviews your mobile website. If your website isn’t rendering properly on mobile, or you are serving a different, scaled back version of your website to mobile visitors, your chances of being found in search is dropping to zero. Some are already asking if this is the next Mobilegeddon.

Why this Recommendation Grinds My Gears

Grinds My GearsI don’t think the consultant who gave this advice was being malicious, I just think they haven’t updated their knowledge for a few years. Marketing best practices, especially digital marketing best practices, are constantly evolving as new tools become available and consumer’s expectations change. If you are vetting a marketing vendor, it is completely fair to ask them what they are doing to stay current with marketing best practices and consumer experience expectations.

Bottomline: A responsive, mobile-friendly website is no longer a best practice, it’s a mandate.

3) Never Use Stock Photos on Your Website

Here is some (unsolicited) web design advice I received from another vendor wanting to consult on a website redesign:

“Use authentic photos to build trust. Stock photography is no longer used in modern design.”

While I don’t disagree that visuals should be authentic and help build trust; I think this statement needs to be injected with a strong dose of reality: The web is a visual place and most small businesses don’t have the money to get custom photographs and graphics made for their site.

While the wrong stock photo can sink your website, selecting the right stock image you can enhance the visitor’s experience and leave a lasting impression.

Use Stock Photos the Right Way

The clever folks over at HubSpot put together an excellent 10 Do’s and Don’ts For Using Stock Photos article and the always insightful writers at Buffer have this great article on how to choose the right stock photo for your next project.

Bottomline: If you can afford custom photography, go for it – otherwise, choose your stock images carefully.

Oh, and if you’re wondering how this consultant tackled the stock image challenge – the front page of her website greeted you with a poorly framed and super-pixelated selfie while the latest three blog post violated every best practice guide out there for using stock images. I checked and this meets the definition of #MegaFail.

Because it relates…

Another Screenshot from a Vendors PPT on WordPress Gold Edition
“Let us tell you about WordPress while showing you an image of Google Analytics. We figured you’re too stupid to know the difference. Can we please have your money now?”

Speaking of stock images undermining your credibility, our friends peddling WordPress Gold Edition have this problem. While the text is about WordPress, the image is of a Google Analytics dashboard. I get WordPress Gold Edition is fake, but the could have at least shown a real WordPress dashboard!

If the vendor can’t be bothered to get the details in their sales slide deck right, how confident can you be that they’ll pay attention to the details in your project?

Before You Go

Thank you for taking time to read this edition of Liar, Liar, Vendor on Fire! If you liked this post, share it with your friends and colleagues. Just click one of those share buttons below. Has a vendor given you a similarly slimy pitch? Tell me about it on Twitter.

Finally, need help to figure out if your marketing consultant is helpful or belongs in an upcoming post? Contact me. My Marketing Second Opinion service offers an unbiased opinion of whether or not the marketing person you’re working with can deliver quality service that meets your needs.