Archive for September, 2009

Storm Media and other Google Scams

In general i don’t like writing about scams and giving attention to evil companies tricking people out of their hard earned cash but this particular scam is really really annoying me. Storm Media and several other incarnations of the same scam (such as a company called Matchmaker) have been tricking upstarts out of money in Ireland for the last few month. This is a SCAM and absolutely no one can sell you a No1. Position on Google. It can’t be bought, it must be earned, no exceptions.

The Following companies are Scams, listed here are some of the Aliases they go under:

Top Spot Marketing
Storm Media
PolePosition Media
Match Maker
Zenith Marketing
Sphere Marketing
First Search Consultancy
Apex Media
Lime Media
Media Mountain

If something sounds too good to be true it nearly always is – €149 to be on top top of Google organic search? Get real! On the phone they claim to be “from Google”, they most definitely are not and yes I have reported this scam to Google who are dealing with it, however the companies change names so often its hard to keep up.

First off organic search cannot be switched on and off like PPC (price per click campaigns). Second if there was a trick to getting to the top of Google they would be out selling it for millions, this is preying on the week and is the lowest of the low. If you happen to coincidentally have some success during the period of your campaign you might correlate it to the scam and they will suck on you until eventually they put you out of business after all they can threaten to turnoff your success if you don’t keep paying a monthly fee.

As i have several businesses i’ve received it several times and also we receive regular calls, it’s always the same. Usually in a well spoken British voice. I can only assume the increase in the calls is due to the scam working on some people. Here’s what the email looks like:

> Hello Ronan
>>
>>
>> Thank you for taking the time to consider this proposal.
>>
>> Over the last few years, the internet has grown to such an extent that
>> no
>> matter what industry you are involved in or what your demographic is, it
>> is
>> vital to have an online presence. As a company that has invested time
>> and
>> resources into creating an online presence, I am sure you are aware of
>> the
>> importance of gaining exposure for your website.
>>
>> There are many routes your potential client base could use to find a
>> product
>> or service, however it is statistically proven that the vast majority of
>> all
>> online searches and therefore all online business is directed through
>> Google
>> and more specifically the 1st page of Google.
>>
>> Most people are aware of the power Google holds although very few people
>> know how to take advantage of Google’s search volume.
>>
>> You have probably been approached with, or possibly even tried a variety
>> of
>> methods to obtain high positions, for example ‘search engine
>> optimization’
>> or ‘directory listings’. Although these methods can have some level of
>> success, there is only one way to obtain GUARANTEED Google Pole
>> positions. The
>> answer is very simple, GO TO GOOGLE ! !
>>
>> As a licensed Google retailer, we are able to offer a package that is
>> unsurpassed within the marketplace. The offer is as follows;
>>
>> ALL PACKAGES INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
>>
>> -GUARANTEED 1ST PAGE GOOGLE POLE POSITIONS WITHIN 48 HOURS
>> -5 SEARCH PHRASES IE: THAT ARE THE MOST LUCRATIVE TO YOUR BUSINESS,
>> COVERING THE AREA? OR REGIONS REQUIRED.
>> -NO LONG TERM CONTRACT
>> -FULL SUPPORT FROM A DEDICATED CAMPAIGN MANAGER
>> -MONTHLY REPORTS
>> -FREE UNLIMITED SEARCH PHRASE CHANGES
>> -FREE GOOGLE MAP
>> -EXCELLENT VALUE FOR MONEY: 196,04euro
>> .IF YOUR VAT REG” 169,00euro
>>
>> -STORM MEDIA WILL BUILD YOU A TWO PAGE WEBSITE” FOR 99EURO,
>>
>> If you would like me to do a preview” its not a problem.
>> If there is any question you can contact me by phone or e-mail using
>> my contact details below.
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> Kind Regards
>>
>> Patricia Buckley
>> Senior Sales Advisor
>> email:ireland@stormmedia.eu
>> Tel:0034 951311935 0871 9711142

I will continue to update this post with the latest name of the business everytime they call or email, but please post if you have received similar scams under one of their business names. If you have been unfortunate enough to be caught out remember you can reverse the payment on your credit card by VISA and Mastercard.

If you are listed on any Irish directory service you can expect a call from someone trying to sell you a Number One Spot on Google. It’s a scam, tell them nicely you hope Karma sees them soon and hang up. I really do feel awful for start ups that have fallen prey at a time where every marketing Euro means so much to them.

_________Update of Alias Names____________

Thanks to Sian at Whatswhat.ie who’s directory was used (without permission) at one stage to targeted Irish companies other Alias’s of the company Storm Media are:

Top Spot Marketing
Zenith Marketing

These have been added to the list above on the page.

For more on this Scam read Here:

No1 Position in Goolge Scam

_________Update of Alias Names____________

Geraldine of Eonish Lodge brought to our attention a new name they are using which is now added to the list – First Search Consultancy

Also got an email back from the company reacting to my somewhat frank and direct reply saying “one thing I found that sceptics have in comman over the years is that they’re all broke.”

I wonder when they read this blog post if their gonna tell their mummy on me too, grow up and stop trying to earn a living from other peoples misfortune and lack of knowledge.

_________Update____________

Apex Media is another new name for this scam. They also seem to be getting much bolder judging from the comments below. Expect them to seem to know details about your business and claim the knowledge is because you confided it in Google.

This Scam has spread across Europe and the USA now, new front lines are Spain, France and Germany. WhatsWhat.ie has a blog about how a customer that was scammed is having awful problem with them – apparently they used the card details (given for a trial version) to make “4 unauthorised debit card transactions” when they tried to cancel their campaign!

_________Update____________

Should also point out if storm media were infact in any way competent at SEO or being at the top of Google organic SERPs then the current search for their own business name would have them ranked higher. After all I have done zero SEO work on this post. So its only a geo-targeted PPC ad that they are shilling as an organic listing.

Storm Media

_________Update____________

Lots of comments suggesting the name for the company doing this scam is now Lime Media

_________Update____________ 14/5/10

Media Mountain is now practicing the same scam.

The Irish Apprentice

Just watch the first episode of The Irish Apprentice on TV3, I’m not impressed. Really is that the best Ireland has to offer in terms of business talent? Or were the good ones just not bothered to enter? After all there’s a shed load of money to be made in a recession. The show itself was well put together, Bill kills the position of big bad boss – he’s perfect for it and i’m really impressed TV3 went broadcasting online.


So why did it suck so bad?

The Apprentice TV3

The Apprentice TV3

In a nut shell these apparent great minds earned a grand total profit of roughly 6.42Euro per hour profit (~450 profit divided by 7 doing a 10hour shift). So the best of the talent pool of “entrepreneurs” didn’t quite do much better than being on the dole and were unable to produce the minimum value to society that is the minimum wage.

From a business perspective there was no USP’s (unique selling points), No strategy and No leverage. Even worse they didn’t even sit down the night before and plan for the day in hand.

So what should they have done?

Had a meeting there was only two ways the brief could have gone – Sell only to the public or use leverage and sell business to business. Divide into teams and tasks that individuals would be responsible for and get a team of runners to hit the pavement while the others decided on the strategy.

So what would you have done?

1. Worked out the night before where the hotspots of traffic were during different specific periods of time and their price parity.

2. Team one of two people hit the street where the most traffic is at 6am before price was decided. Just get moving. Team two decide on strategy given the brief and set pricing. They would then be updated about where events were taking place and at what times.

3. Team three aim for leverage. If i had 10 hours to sell ice cream i’d be making deals with restaurants to commit to buying a year or two’s supply of Ice Cream, I’d create new deserts that use a twister (etc) as an ingredient. I’d be making deals with vendors who will be at concerts who already sell chips to expand out to sell ice cream also. Whatever happens, i wouldn’t be trying to sell them one at a time.

4. Last of all i wouldn’t be putting up with someone on a megaphone chasing away customers and getting negative brand equity. Selling and product we all the project was about, so running out of product was a total fail on both parts.

As Bill said the boys team just failed worse than the girls. What do you think?

The Ultimatum Game and Human Behaviour

The ultimatum game is an economic experiment in which two players interact to decide how to divide a sum of money that is given to them. The first player proposes to divide the sum between the two players, and the second player can either accept or reject this proposal. If the second player rejects, neither player receives anything. If the second player accepts, the money is split according to the proposal. The game is played only once so that reciprocation is not an issue.

By pure logic a recipient should accept any offer as if they turn it down they will get nothing, however in practice when a player low balls the other offering 10% / 20% of offers are often refused as their is a human trait that would rather go without than see another human come out of a situation better than they.

This experiment can be broadened further to show how humans are will to put more effort in keeping something they already have than they are will to put effort into achieving something that they don’t have but could get with equal effort.

Could this be the reason that people who run businesses feel the immense need to grow and expand, know that by standing still they would be loosing ground, but those that talk and dream of taking the first step to starting their business never get off the starting blocks?