I constantly read forum posts about contractors' being shocked to discover they are being re-directed away from their own company when searching for their own company online, and then are directed to a lead generation service. The issue is rampant – but unfortunately, the situation is typically inadvertently created by the contractors' themselves.
Research from MyOnlineToolbox
We never intended to focus on the specifics of Lead Generation Terms & Conditions. The issue started to intrigue us when a handful of our contractor website marketing clients were having challenges getting website leads. We discovered through our research that these contractors signed up to one or more Lead Generation Services over the years. The contractors simply did not realize how hard it was to literally compete against themselves based on how well the Lead Generation companies were using their information against them.
We read the Terms & Conditions of numerous Lead Generation companies. It is important to note that every lead generation company views anything you submit to their site for content as their own. That includes your business biography, services, testimonials and pictures. The terms sometimes have a permutation of wording that states "the contractor agrees that a consumer MAY NOT be directed back to the contractor if the contractor does not have the appropriate spending limit and other limitations".
We think it is fair to replace MAY NOT with WILL NOT when money is not to be made. And considering the whole issue is already ambiguous, we also wish someone could explain what "OTHER LIMITATIONS" means since we feel the limitations are definitely directed against the individual contractor.
And, to make matters worse, the terms also state the contractor agrees the lead generation company can take the content (reminder: your Business Bio Information that you submit) and use, copy, reproduce, and sublicense any content on your profile page to drive traffic to the content. But they do not have to pass the consumer to the contractor.
So let's guess what the lead generation company will do next... You wonder?
We interpret the situation this way
The contractor is asked to sign up, pass along his/her identity to the lead generation company, and the lead generation company can use the information anyway it wants if you do not pay them forever.
Just imagine if every contractor knew up front, in big bold explanation what he is giving up when he agrees to join a lead generation service (for free or paid, doesn't matter). But many times we feel the contractor is being misled into not only what he is getting for free, but also what he is not getting and how their company information may no longer be used to their company's benefit.
It begs to wonder why anyone would agree to one way terms with something as important as their business identity.
Maybe we are wrong
If we are wrong about this let's hear from a lead generation company who feels we are wrong and can offer a specific explanation as to their terms and conditions to ensure contractors know the difference between your services and other lead generation services. But it would also be nice to hear that, unconditionally, your company would never use a contractor's business data to drive traffic to your site in order to then connect a potential consumer with different contractor.
For more information
Unfortunately we discovered so many ways information is used against a contractor that it was easy to organize and share our findings with a visual understanding. We do that here in a few short videos lumped together as Say No To Lead Generation Companies.
There are only two ways to win at getting more online lead opportunities:
Do not sign up for any Lead Generation Services to avoid content being used against your company over a period of time. And if you feel so compelled to try a service, then by all means just read the Terms & Conditions first since you may have second thoughts.
Have your own website and learn the basics of website marketing (referred to as SEO Search Engine Optimization). A little bit of website tweaking will give you years of ongoing opportunities. It is not that hard all.
Brian Javeline is President & Co-founder of www.MyOnlineToolbox.com, providing business software and the industry's popular Contractor Website Online Marketing Education Class. He is a guest blogger for Shawn McCadden's The Design/Builder's blog.
Shawn McCadden founded, operated, and sold a successful design/build company. A co-founder of the Residential Design/Build Institute, he speaks at industry events and consults with remodelers about owner issues, management, lead paint regulations and other industry issues. ShawnMcCadden.com firstname.lastname@example.org