Gather round, it’s time for a true story.
Once upon a time, in a distant land called Murfreesboro, TN, a well-known local business decided to cancel their contract with hibu – the online marketing service associated with Yellowbook. The business owner had been using the service for three years in an attempt to increase leads for his business and web traffic to his website. Unfortunately, the business owner was seeing poor results from hibu, decided to end the relationship and orchestrated a meeting with his hibu account representative.
Before I continue my story, I should mention that hibu clients are strongly encouraged to purchase a display ad in the phone book in order to receive the online services. Yes, the phone book.
This particular account representative had been with the company for seven years and was an intelligent and personable individual. Prior to being employed at hibu, the representative was on track for success in the medical field. Due to the unsettling state of the economy, she took the position with hibu in order to remain financially stable. Little did she know that this company would push her to her breaking point.
The Breaking Point
Upon hearing the news of the contract termination, the hibu account representative began to question the local business owner about his decision. The business owner stated his reasons, including:
- A lack of website traffic driven from the hibu effort
- The inflated price per month for the unsuccessful services
- The unnecessary display ad
- The inability to derive sustainable sales leads from the web traffic.
Naturally, the account representative wanted to keep the local business owner as a client. Over the years the account representative had built a strong business relationship with the business owner. Breaking this connection, although necessary in the eyes of the business owner, would be detrimental to the account representative. The local business owner stayed firm in his decision to terminate the business relationship. In turn, the representative would not falter, as this was a high-profile client.
The tension began to build. That is until…
The account representative began to cry.
The representative broke down in tears and explained to the business owner just how awful it was to work as a representative for hibu and Yellowbook. From the rigorous management team to the unattainable sales quotas, the representative described a horrendous work environment and just how awful the job was.
Note, this was not a sales tactic. These emotions were real. The account representative was exhausted, stressed, and genuinely distraught over the practices at hibu.
The business owner was empathetic for the account representative. After all, he had heard the hibu horror stories from other businesses. Something must be terribly off if the customers and employees of a business are miserable.
Ultimately, the local business owner apologized for having to end the relationship with hibu, but explained that it was necessary in order for his small business to operate efficiently. Although it was unfortunate for the account representative, the local business owner made the right decision for his business.
The moral of this sad, sad story.
Let me explain why using the services provided by hibu and Yellowbook is a terrible decision for local small business owners.
1. Ridiculous prices.
The web marketing services at hibu are priced unreasonably high. In addition, they promote these services as secondary to the display ad.
Think about how many people still use Yellowbook or the Yellow Pages. Now think about how many people use the Internet on a daily basis. It may be me and my common sense, but the online services seem as though they should be the primary services offered. In fact, with the proper education and guidance, the majority of the services offered by hibu can be completed for free right from your own home or office. Why pay for nonsense?
2. Minimal ROI
Those who have used hibu will tell you that it did very little to help their company. Hibu will make you pay an excruciating amount of money, and ask yourself if you think you will see the full return on investment.
First, you have to pay for a display ad. Ask yourself again, when’s the last time you used the Yellow Pages or Yellowbook in comparison to an online search engine? Unless your target market still uses the phone book to look up businesses, there is very little need to still advertise in that manner. As we all know, phone books are a piece of ancient history and will soon be long gone.
Second, you pay far too much for the listing, landing page, and other online services that you actually need. These services can easily be done for as little as, let’s see, free. Those with a knack for technology can assist their company’s search efforts for free or very little cost. Not technologically savvy? A local marketing firm can do more for you than hibu can, and at a lower cost.
3. Inconsistent leads
Hibu and services like this have a great sales pitch complete with flashy statistics about their services, including PPC services and Google Adwords. What they fail to tell you is that those statistics are national. What about the average number of visitors in your state? City? Business category? If you are considering using these services, be sure to really ask your account representatives the deep questions.
4. Tricky billing tactics
Hibu and Yellowbook are notorious for their inability to cancel a client’s account after the client requested a cancellation. For fun, go take a look at the reviews for hibu on www.consumeraffairs.com. The first thing you’ll notice is the overwhelming 89% 1-star rating. Ouch. There’s your first red flag. The next factor you’ll notice is the amount of customers that detail their miserable experience with hibu. From being charged too much, to having to cancel credit cards in order to avoid being charged, these customer nightmares are alarming. Save yourself the headache and the trouble.
5. Aggravating Customer Service
Although the account representative we mentioned in our true story was a very pleasant individual, the majority of customer service experiences with hibu are less than stellar. Want to change something on your website or ad? Good luck.
Many customer reviews of hibu include frustrating phone calls with hibu representatives, a lack of representative presence after shelling out a large sum of money for the service, and so much more. Why put yourself through that anguish?
As a small business owner, you need to be strategic about your marketing efforts and overall spending. Instead of wasting your precious time, energy and money attempting to wrestle with the mess that is hibu, choose a marketing company with your best interest in mind or simply complete the search marketing tactics yourself.