Brick Marketing recently wrote on the Search Engine Optimization Journal blog about a company called Goldline Research. There are several things that strike me as odd about this company and its way of doing business.
First, the “out of the gate” contact with this company, according to the writer of the blog post, was that they were working on a “research study” that will subsequently be published in the popular business magazine Inc. So far so good. Except that later, after spending at least an hour of Brick Marketing’s time on the phone conducting their “research” the company then drops a big bomb – they want $5,500 from Brick Marketing before they can proceed. What a chin dropper!
I’ve got to say, this is not how research companies work and it certainly isn’t the way a journalist who is publishing an article in a leading magazine would work. Big red flag there!
My regular readers know that I spent years working in the marketing department of a Fortune 500 company and so I have a unique perspective on these types of encounters. If any company ever asks you for money in order to be included in a market research study or a magazine article, run – don’t walk – the other way. And, better yet, call the Better Business Bureau and report them. That’s not only bad business practices, but it’s unethical.
Now, I don’t know Goldline Research and all I have to go on is Brick Marketing’s blog post. I am getting the facts second-hand, but I definitely never recommend doing business with any company that engages in such practices. If you are ever contacted by a company claiming to be conducting research in your industry or wanting to write a magazine article then I suggest you do the following before you agree to be included:
- Verify the company’s credentials – Check with the BBB and other professional organizations to see if they have a history or background of complaints and ethical business practices. Are they a new business? If so, chances are they are not what they seem. While it isn’t entirely impossible, new businesses generally don’t get publishing contracts with leading national publications unless they have other things going for them.
- Ask lots of questions – The No. 1 question you should ask is “Will this cost me any money?” If they ask for a fee, say “No” and move quickly to the nearest phone to report the company to the BBB and your state’s scam hotline. Every state has a chain letter division and an attorney general’s office who can lead you in the right direction. Also, if the company is claiming that an article will be published in a certain magazine then ask whose name will be on the article as the byline. Companies don’t write articles. People do. If they don’t know who will be the author of the article then ask them to call you back when they do.
- Call the magazine – If, as in this case, you are given the name of a particular magazine in which an article is scheduled to be published, call the magazine to verify it. If they’ve never heard of the company conducting the research or say that they have no such scheduled article then let them know that someone is out there misrepresenting them and their legal department can handle it.
- Don’t get too excited – While good opportunities do present themselves from time to time, be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true. Brick Marketing’s enthusiasm at the outset may have contributed to their big letdown in the end. While I am not saying they are totally to blame for their own misinterpretation of the original call, if a legitimate opportunity does arise for you and your company then it is a cause for celebration, but don’t get too excited about it and lose your head.
Leading magazines do from time to time conduct studies like this one, but they generally have a staff write do it. Third party research firms do not ask for money when conducting research of this nature. Don’t let the wolves at your door and if by any chance you open the door to see one smiling and licking his fingers, slam the door in his face – otherwise, you may find yourself eaten out of house and business. Or just eaten.