A local business was referred to me in January. I spent half an hour having a telephone conversation on what looked like a days work. I got access to Analytics and advised them they’d just spent a few thousands of pounds on Adwords with a company they’d worked with, which got them about 40 visitors to their website over three months.

I won’t repeat what they said, but it included the ultimate swear word (as a plural) and the word bunch.

I gave the prospect my day rate, spent half an hour putting together a short proposal, which I emailed, and left it with them.

They contacted me again about two months later to arrange a meeting.

Then, on the day of the meeting, they called me to say they needed to cancel it.

We re-arranged.

On the day of the second meeting, I got an email cancelling it.

I replied that because I get paid for my time and they’ve cancelled two meetings I would have to decline another one as I’d spent too much time already.

I got a one-word email… “Charming!!!”

From using the C-word in our first conversation to the way I was dealt with as a prospective supplier, I just wasn’t feeling it.

This episode reminded me of a small garage owner I once built a website for to get new customers. One of the key issues for his business – as I saw it – was that it out of town and not easy to access. I used to mention it to him quite a lot and questioned whether a move more centrally, although more expensive, would yield more customers.

He couldn’t see it. He had a list of a million and one reasons why his business wasn’t doing that well, and none of them were his fault.  He just needed a website to get new customers, because that’s what websites do!

A couple of months after go-live he called me to berate me for his website doing ‘nothing’. He’d received a few enquiries on a web form, but he told me in no uncertain terms that he got no phone calls, ever, and he was wasting his money on me.

I checked a few things out then called him back that afternoon to explain a few things. No-one answered.

I called another five times throughout the afternoon and no-one answered.

I wonder why he never got any phone calls?

The thing is with marketing, it doesn’t matter what you do at the front-end, if the back-end doesn’t work and isn’t organised, you’re wasting your money.

Unless you have mass-scale as a business, you are in the people business, and, if you treat people badly, it doesn’t matter how shiny your website is, they will vote with their feet.

Focus on making your business worthy (above marketing activity), then keep refining and adapting to improve.

In a world where social media has given every idiot a voice to moan about you in public, why give them the chance?

Stop being vanilla, focus on an audience and make sure you’re not running a turd factory.