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The Grim Future of Pay-Per Click and PPC-based Lead Generation?

In order to survive in the business world you have to be able to predict the future to some degree, or at least look once in a while. This absolutely must be applied to our marketing efforts if we’re to survive long into the future.

Fact: Marketing methods and mediums will change.  We must face the facts and move when, where and how we need to. If you don’t, you’ll be one of “those guys” who complain “how it used to be” and how “people should still this-and-that”, but you won’t be making any money either.

Were you one of the guys in 2008 that was wondering why no one was calling you anymore? 2008 was a dramatic drop in phone-book-based phone calls due to the dramatic rise of smart phones and internet-based (Google) searches for local businesses. Remember that?  I do, it was great for us, considering what we do as a business, but this was really hard for a lot of our clients. They were so busy, not paying attention to the changing market conditions and doing “the usual” that it hit them in the face…financially.

So let’s do a bit of speculation about Pay-Per-Click, or PPC as it is more commonly known. You know,  the little ads on the top of your Google Searches and all over the right side of your Google Searches? Every year, Google does things in order to increase revenues, just like any publicly-held, for-profit company certainly would. PPC is their billion-dollar beast. So, logically, appeasing stock holders, and to grow, they must increase those revenues by increasing people’s use of their ads. And so they do. I’ve watched Google over the last few years do things that they say are for privacy, better search results, etc., but the actuality is that it results in more ads being clicked…period. It makes sense, they are for-profit, and in their defense, they do a good job with search results (use other ones if you don’t believe it).

However, they keep pushing businesses more and more towards PPC and away from the natural search results every year.  I wish I could tell you how many business owners have said to me, “Google is bleeding me dry” when referring to their PPC. You can only push people against their will for so long before it backfires on you. The USA is a prime example of that. Remember, business owners are who pay for Google’s PPC ads, they pay Google’s bills, not consumers.

Right now Google is the 500LB Gorilla in the Internet search space, Yahoo and Bing aren’t even close contenders.

But…what if they weren’t?

PPC is a primary way to generate business for many these days, not to mention that an entire part of the Lead-Generation industry is using PPC to generate those leads and phone calls they sell you. What if it all went away?

Well, recently Apple came out and during a speaking event casually mentioned that they were getting into the Search game using Spotlight, the search application on the iPhone. There are even rumors circulating of them buying a major search engine like Duck-Duck-Go.

Now, Google historically has had nothing to be nervous about…until now. Yahoo and Bing have tried, over and over, to compete and failed. But Apple…it’s not often they fail at anything they do. Even products that I thought were not going to be a hit (iPad) were through-the-roof successes. I think they know how to win.

Now, here is the biggest kicker with Apple creating their own Search Engine to compete with Google: there will be NO ADS. No Pay-Per-Click. If it takes off and Google becomes a thing of the past, the whole PPC industry and all lead generators using it, they all disappear.

Remember, you can only force people to do something for so long before it recoils back at you. Remember MySpace? Invasive ads, and it got more and more invasive…after a while everyone left for Facebook. And now Facebook is getting more and more invasive with privacy and advertising too.

There is no such thing as “too big to fail”.

So, Google will have a serious, proven contender for Searches soon enough. Will you have the foresight to plan and execute, quickly enough, a new marketing plan? Or will you be like the clients I remember from 2008 and wait until the last minute when their revenues were dying at the same rate of the people who actually used phone books still?

Dan York

Founder, Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.

Should I Have Multiple Websites for my Water Damage Company?

Should I Have Multiple Websites for my Water Damage Company?


This is a question we get weekly. In short, no, this is a terrible idea. I can tell you horror story after horror story about doing this.  You’ll want to read this entire article for sure.


But you say, “But I see Joe Schmo’s Water Damage Company has 10 websites??!!  And he is getting business.” Oh really? Is he really? I know the inside story. Remember, we get to talk to all of the Water Damage companies from around the U.S., every one of them, we know the real story.  Later in this article, I’ll tell you exactly how it rolls out for Good Ole Joe.


But first listen, Joe is scamming the system, those techniques will always catch up with you.  This is the same in any business. Take a shortcut and it will ALWAYS catch up with you.  Think about the guys who do that in the reconstruction business in Water Damage, they are the ones who get the callbacks to fix the jobs…again! The result: wasted time, money, resources and you’ll have a huge, huge set back when it all catches up with you, which it most certainly will.


I run into these guys all the time – they think they are so smart and they are going to create 10 different websites for 1 Water Damage Company in one city.  They “swear” by it.  It might work…for a while.  Then, one day, Google (inevitably) catches up with what they are doing, crashes their websites and all of their calls stop coming in.  They’ve been blacklisted by Google.  Then they call us to see if we can fix it.  They call us and say, “just pick a website and get my rankings up, I have like 10”.  And therein lies the problem.  With This type of marketing, you have to have a plan, a strategy, gain trust,  persist, do things correctly, otherwise, it will all come crashing down, just as it does in this example.  All of your money is now wasted, your effort and time wasted.  Sometimes when this happens to your website it is easier and cheaper to just start a new, fresh website. My team and I often imagine what would happen if we crashed our clients websites the way that they do doing this type of strategy. They would kill us! Spending all of that money year after year only to end up with a program that has disappeared! Crazy!


Anyways, Google is not stupid. They have some of the smartest computer engineers in the world working for them. Do you really think you’re going to beat Google at their own Game?  Go back and look at the Google Panda and Penguin Releases and how many websites virtually disappeared overnight. Those guys were scamming the system. It caught up with them. Almost all of our clients made it through those major changes without injury to their marketing programs.


Stop trying to find cheap, dumb shortcuts to winning.  Is there any shortcut to having a good marriage?  How about cheap shortcuts to creating a successful business? And it goes the same with your marketing.   Use a scammy shortcut and it will catch up with you and you will lose income, time and effort and have to start over. I promise.



Dan York

A Company Stinks from the Top Down…right?

Anyone in the Entrepreneurial world has heard the phrase “A Company Stinks from the Top Down”.  And so it does.

Of course we’ve all run into companies where it was headed up by a guy who wasn’t all that great and he created an environment that was similar to his own personality. Maybe we’ve even worked in that type of environment where it stunk all the way from the bottom to the top. You’ve probably had trouble with a vendor company and then worked your way up the pecking order from the bad employee to the manager, only to find that he was worse than the employee who was giving you difficulties in the first place. It works this way in Government, companies, and even families. We’ve all seen it.

Now what about us? We’re the good guys, the guys trying to do it right and live the American Dream right? This statement works for us, too. Now, let’s not be too extreme or harsh on ourselves here as we are the ones really putting our companies together and employing Americans who then pay taxes to pay for our services provided by the government, etc. But again, this “stinks from the top …” phrase applies to us to some degree to.

Have you or anyone you know gone through a divorce and tried to run their business at the same time? I’ll bet you dimes to doughnuts that they had financial difficulties in their business during that divorce time period. Ever known anyone that was having personal problems of any sort, whether mental or physical or drug or alcohol addiction and then also, coincidentally, starting having problems with “hiring the right staff” or all of the sudden their accounts receivables slowed down or maybe even their best employee up and quit or some new major financial crisis reared its ugly head? This is the way it is and only the most experienced of the entrepreneurial know this. This is why the best ones that I know try and “live the good life.”

Think about it for a second.  I’m willing to bet that when you were doing the best personally, you were also making the most money, doing the best in your business and everything just seemed to go the right way.  Things didn’t stink from the top down, they were great from the top down. This is the “company stinking from the top down” except we’re the good guys.  Even good guys have trouble sometimes.

What does this tell you? It tells you that you should take care of yourself and “live the good life.” Don’t do drugs or drink in excess, especially during your work hours. Don’t do things you know to be unethical in your business, not only will they come back and haunt you (I could tell you stories of water damage companies getting haunted) but you personally and mentally will carry the burden of knowing that you’ve done something unethical. It’s not good for you personally and I’m willing to bet financial woes might even follow that unethical action.

When you’re in really good shape – physically and mentally, you’ll have an easier time of running your company, you’ll attract the right staff, be more profitable, sales and marketing will weirdly get more leads in than normal. Test it out for yourself. Probably many of you have experienced this already.

This also tips you off to why certain areas of your company perform poorly under certain employees. They are responsible for that area, yet under them everything seems to go wrong. It is them. Certain areas go right under certain employees, it is them too. You can hire and fire from this observation alone and you probably do already.

Live the good life, keep it clean, be more ethical in your business, expect the same and educate the same into your employees and you’ll see the difference financially.  Look around at those that are really successful and expanding, I’m sure you’ll find this to be true. Examine your own history, running business in good times and in bad. Look at how you were doing in those times.

America stands on the back of entrepreneurs like us. If we’re not doing well, this country won’t either. And we cannot count on the fact that the government will do it for us, let’s do it for ourselves.


Dan York

Founder, Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.


Your Gross Income “sticky” no matter what? Is it employee related?

Have you ever just had those weeks or months where no matter what you did or how much you marketed, you just couldn’t get the jobs in? You tried everything that worked before,  you sent out the same stuff, networked with the same guys, but still – no calls and jobs and your Gross Income suffered.

Did you ever wonder if it was one of your employees? It very well may be.

Some of you can disagree with this, but people that work for you can have a sort of black magic effect and influence over your statistics.  Some of us who have been in business know that business is all about people and there are people who make things go right and people who make things go wrong. Stick a person who makes things go wrong in any area near your finance, marketing, sales, etc. and they stop things dead no matter what you do. Almost like spiderweb or bubble gum.

I’ve touched on a lot of this on a prior article I wrote before, (click here to read it).   But I want to give you more  things to look for that tell you whether you have someone holding back the expansion of your company, and they may not be employees, but could be people around you such as friends of family…

Here are some more Indicators that you have an employee or other person around who needs to be removed (the 1st article linked above has the others):

  • You’re tired all the time, but you didn’t used to be. 
  • You don’t feel like helping your employees anymore, except that you’re successful to the degree that you are because of your natural ability to help your employees.
  • Things look bleak now when you used to look at the bright future of it
  • You move slower now, but you used to move fast.

The fact of the matter is that there is ether someone working for you that slowed you down and started to get you to think and act this way, or someone close to you personally.

The world’s most rich and powerful know it is all about people and having powerhouse positive people around you.  You must become good at filtering out the negative (they can be hard to spot) people from your company and life.


Dan York

CEO andFounder, Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.

How do you know (for sure) if you have a bad employee in your Water Damage Business?

It happens to the best of us…the bad hire.

In some businesses they can get away with leaving the bad seed around, but not the Water Damage Business. This is an Emergency Service, it is hot and heavy and is a now, now, now business. There is no time for that one bad employee.  You as the owner are pouring your heart and soul (and money) into generating new business and taking care of your customers to create a future for yourself in a really fast and competitive business.  There is not time for this here.

There are really only two types of people you hire: The guy who can make things happen and the guy who can’t. There is not really any in-between if you haven’t noticed already.  Either they can or they cannot. No amount of smooth-talking gets a guy who can’t, to can!  As the most experienced business owners know, talk is cheap, action  speaks for itself!  The numbers and stats tell you everything you need to know.


So here is the trick: How do you know when you’ve got a bad hire? It’s not always easy to see.  How do you see them so you can replace or remove them?  Fortunately there is a lot of ways to tell, which I’ll bullet point some below:

  • Running your company ceases to be fun and is now “stressful”.  Look at exactly who you hired when the company stopped being fun and became stressful.
  • Your company income drops “magically” and no matter what you do marketing wise, sales-wise, etc. nothing works, not even your good ole’ trusty money makers. Look for you who hired when this started occurring.
  • Your company turns into a gossip group. Find who you hired when this started. Not everyone is a gossip. Usually just one or two of your staff. They poison a whole company into non-productivity.
  • Look for the person who swears up and down “they are your friend” and are really “helping you”, but you’ve never really been quite sure of them. Are they really helping you? Or are they stabbing you in the back talking trash about you to your staff?  Trust your instincts with those kinds of people.  They are hard to read sometimes.  Look at their stats, are they really doing anything? Those people you should be suspect of.
  • Your staff’s morale suddenly drops and people start quitting.  Look for who you hired when this started happening.  It is usually the chief gossiper.
  • The guy who has to have you buy him a ton of stuff to get anything done rarely will get anything done, even if he gets the “ton of stuff” he needs in order to his job. The best staff can make things happen with whatever they’ve got.
  • Chronic excuse makers.  They have an excuse for everything, but rarely have any solutions for any of it.
  • Keep a close eye on whoever it is that gives you all of your bad news, bets are that you’ll find it is only one person that gives you all of your bad news.  You don’t need people like that around you.
  • Chronic negative people. They slowly but surely make everyone negative.  No matter who tries to cheer them up, they never do. They end up slowly killing a company.


This can be tricky, but again – trust yourself, trust your instincts. You’re the business owner, you sort of know already right? Don’t second guess yourself.


It is really much more simple than people think to see who who was a good hire and who wasn’t. This one question usually does it:

Did things get better or worse in the company after you hired them?  This extends to well outside of their job. Remember every employee influences the entire company to some degree.  I look at the entire company influence from any new hire.  They either contribute to it or poison it.


There are too many good people out there for hire to waste your precious time and money on people who will slowly kill your business and maybe you!




Dan York

In It To Win It?

Are you in it to win it?

I know, it’s trite and overused, however very true.

So you have a Water Damage company and you want it to make some serious money right?  Then you better learn this lesson fast.

Too many Water Damage Company owners that I know spend all of their time on logistics. Now this is fine, but it is done out of order. Before you spend any time on Logistics, you have to get your attitude straight. Logistics ONLY work where your attitude is right first.  Don’t believe me? Do you know how many guys I know where they say, “I’m doing the same things as this other guy but it is not having the same effects, what am I doing wrong?” Ten for ten I find that they are not totally committed to something. They aren’t in it to win it.


Did you go into your last marketing program saying this, “ok, let’s try it out and see if it works…”. Did you start your water damage company saying, “this could make some money…” Imagine if people started their marriages that way, “Let’s give it a shot and see if it works!” No one would ever stay married this way! Your business will never succeed like that.  You have to commit.


If you’re going to have a Water Damage company, do it. Don’t dabble in it.  Dabblers get small paychecks. If you’re going to to market your company, don’t just “test out a market you want to move into”, dominate it. Get in it to win it.  People who dominate make all of the money. Microsoft, Apple, AT&T, these guys all DOMINATE, they are in it to win it.  They didn’t dabble in their businesses.  They owned their markets.


So, when you’re doing something in your business, fully commit, be in it to win it. No doubts. Dive in, all in.  Now, this all being said, you tell me if any of these sound committed:

– You hire a new employee going, “I’ll see if you work out…”

– you buy more equipment for your team thinking, “I hope this gets used…”

– You start an advertising program thinking, “I hope this works…”

Does that sound like commitment? No!


Unfortunately, that is what is needed to become great, successful and financially well-off.


I know the most successful water damage companies out there and you’ll have to trust me that they are very committed. they don’t do this as a hobby, it is not a good idea for them for retirement and they weren’t bored. They came in this business to make a lot of money and be a market dominating entrepreneur delivering a good service.


If you really want to compete, don’t compete – dominate them. Commit to being the best, the biggest, the most well-known.  Try it for a week, see how your week goes. Go all-in on all of your decisions regarding your company.  Watch your income go up and your stress level go down.




Dan York




Is this stuff for real?

Is this stuff for real? Does this Water Damage Marketing really work?

You know, I’m literally asked this every week by potential clients.

Some guys are so irritated by the amount of emails they get from marketing companies saying they have a “magic formula that no one else has” that they are instantly mad at me when I get on the phone with them.

Some guys are so fed up with trying different companies trying to “keep the faith in internet marketing” and after none of them work, they are mad at me when I contact them.

WE get it.  I’d get irritated too getting 10 emails a day from India or “water damage specialists” that claim to be able to make a million dollars. That’s why I always tell my clients, talk to the other guys first, better yet, use them. Then come to us. It’s part of the reason our client retention rate is so  high. We know who else is out there.  And you probably do too.


Here’s a fact though:  You can be frustrated because all of the above, but you can’t give up. 


If you do, you’ll go broke eventually. This is the future guys. You’re in it and it is getting more so every month that goes by, every younger generation. Confront it, let’s get with it.

The only choice you really have is who you use.  So find someone you like. Some guys like local guys, great. Find a good trustworthy local guy.  Some guys want a specialist. Good find one.  And guess what? you may not get a good one right from the get-go.  I went through 4 Accountants before I found one that worked for me.


In our company, we don’t usually deal with guys who have never done online marketing before.  Will we? Sure. But they haven’t seen what is out there yet.  This stuff takes persistence, patience, intelligence and teamwork not to mention a lot of technical skill. If you think your “friends company” who is making millions from internet marketing started doing that over night, you’re fooling yourself.


Don’t drop out of the game. That will ensure that you lose. Keep playing the game. Learn some new moves.  It’s the only way to win.




Dan York



How to Recover from Bad Google Reviews

If you’ve been in business long enough, you’ll know this fact:

You could have 100 happy clients and 1 bad one, but that bad one is the one who will go and spread bad reviews all over the internet about you while the good ones don’t do anything.

It is what it is. We can either complain about how it is or accept it, be responsible about it and handle it. I choose to be responsible about it and handle it. If you do too, read on.

Handling your reviews on the internet is actually the subject of Public Relations – which is how you are viewed, how others think of you. The internet has changed the ease at which this can happen. Companies & websites like the BBB, Yelp and Google Reviews have really led this. Unfortunately, and probably non-intentionally, these sites have been heavily used to spread around bad reviews. This is now turning into lawsuit material where certain companies are suing people for writing bad reviews. This is probably justifiable for some businesses as one bad review can hurt a good businesses who is actually working hard to grow and survive. And as the most experienced of us know – some people just can’t be made to be happy. But frankly, some businesses who do not take care of their clients as they should get the bad reviews thy probably should. This article is for those of you who do care about your client but still get that “one guy”.

Ok, so how do we handle it?

1. Most of these website now have recourse to handle bad reviews. That should be the 1st thing you do. Go for the recourse. Get them removed if possible. Red flag them if needed. Or you could actually ask the person to remove it…if they are willing. But let’s assume not.

2.  The most important thing is to build up your positive reviews. You have to take control over your online reviews. This is a part of your company’s public relations job now. Get your clients to go to Yelp, Google Reviews, Merchant Circle, Angie’s List,etc. and write their positive review about you. Ask them for their help. Most people want to help and will do so when asked, but you have to ask. If you do not ask them they will not do it generally. You must take responsibility for your Public Relationship and control this. It will not happen on its own. I’ve sent emails to my clients asking them to do it, I’ve called them, however you do it, you must ask. Spend the time on this, it is worth it in the revenue you won’t lose!

Then, when you have 30 positive reviews from great clients and 1 bad review from that “one guy who was impossible to make happy no matter what you did”, everyone will read your reviews and think, “That’s one of those guys who just isn’t happy about anything.”  People aren’t stupid. They know those people exist too. 

Important: Absolutely DO NOT get into an “internet war” with the person writing bad reviews by writing bad reviews about them. You will lose that game. If you ever do need to sue them you will lose the case due to the fact that you spread around bad things about them too and it will be thrown out. There are already cases in court where this has happened.

Take the high road, the professional road. Your time is better spent on getting positive reviews, getting more good business.


Dan York

CEO and Founder

Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.


What to Do and What NOT to Do When It Gets Slow…

There’s a tendency to stop your marketing when it gets slow. This seems fairly natural – business slows down… your marketing has to slow down, right? WRONG. That’s the kiss of death.

I talked to a guy two months ago who just closed two shops, let go of 10 people and moved his remaining stuff back into his house & garage. I asked him, “What’s happening?” You know what his answer was? “The economy stinks.”  I thought that was interesting in light of the fact that I know of water damage companies doing $12mm to $45mm and up. One of them was only 80 miles away from him. So I asked him, “Where and how are you marketing?” He had nothing, and I mean nothing going on. Surprise! No phone calls, no jobs, now no staff, no premises, and soon to be no company.  He said he had to stop marketing when his business started slowing down and he finally cut off his top source of calls and then he got…no calls. Marketing is not magic, it’s logical.

Water Damage Restoration – you have some seasonal business and that’s the way it is. Storms – flooding, cold – bursting pipes, you know the deal, feast and famine sometimes. When things slow down though, that is when you have to get smarter, faster and spend your money more wisely.

So, what do you DO and NOT DO when things slow down?

DO NOT stop marketing. You’re putting the final nail in your coffin if you do this. When the slowness is over and your competitors have died from this, you’ll be in clover picking up all of the business. I see it happen like this every year. Marketing has a trailing effect, sometimes weeks or months, but when you stop marketing, that trailing result will catch up with you and that trailing effect can be good or bad. 

DO get smarter about where you spend. Look at where your calls actually come from. If you have no tracking systems set up, get it set up ASAP. Ask your clients when they call how they found you. Don’t get lazy about this. You might be wasting money and precious resources and losing valuable information that can get you way ahead of your competition. Yellow pages not producing any calls for 6 months and still costing you thousands? Bye! Plumber referrals driving 50% of your recent calls? Guess you should be making some new friends. Google getting you 1-5 calls per day? Hmmm….Maybe a few bucks should go there.

– DO NOT try the marketing “shotgun effect”. This means you start throwing money at everything everyone tells you to because it might work and you’re getting desperate for calls.

DO keep a cool head, watch very closely where your calls come from, rain or shine. Invest more there, not in new untried things. I’ve watched the Facebook experts come through selling how they’ll make you millionaires by creating a Facebook page. Now, I can’t say it doesn’t work, but do you know anyone who goes onto Facebook to find Water Damage companies? Know what I mean? Think about it realistically before you spend your valuable marketing dollars.

– DO NOT have a burn and churn operation.  You old guys know what I mean.  All of the fly-by-night guys that suddenly showed up when the getting was good, but couldn’t do a good referable job and then when things got tough last year, they all died.

– DO a good job. I find it fascinating that I have to even say this, but welcome to 2012 I guess. You will not have a long lasting & respected company by burning up your customers, treating them like yesterday’s garbage. Only the strong survive and get referred to their neighbors and other plumbers. If you have any employees that treat your customers like this, get rid of them. They are slowly but surely killing you.

Dan York, CEO & Founder

What’s the #1 Difference between a TOP Water Damage Company owner and an ok one?

What is the #1 Difference between an “ok” Water Damage Company owner and the top ones?

I know what a lot of guys think about the more successful companies- they think they have some sort of upper hand or inside track or some sort of secret-sauce marketing or sales tactics. Well, it isn’t.

Frequently, especially in the slow seasons, I get guys calling me up and asking me for advice on other things they should do. My first question is always, “what are you currently doing and what have you done?” I pretty much hear the same things like, “I tried this and this didn’t work, and then I tried this for a few weeks and this didn’t work either.” Here is the funny thing about every single thing that they mention – it is the same things that the more successful guys are doing! So what is the difference?

Persistence. That is the difference.

The most successful guys never go at anything with the “I’ll give it shot” attitude, they say, “This is going to work!” They really commit to it. It’s attitude. It’s solid decisions. They are in it. They are going to persist at something.

Every part of business is like a successful marriage. It takes work, creativity, constant change and really committing to its success. Ask anyone who has been successful married for a long time. No one would knowingly say, “I’ll give it a shot” or “I’ll see if it works” prior to getting married. Yet this is how most “ok” business owners run their company and their marketing programs.

You want to be one of the successful ones? You have to commit. Stick with it. There will be bumps in anything – trial and error, losses, etc., but on the other side of all of that is success, real success that only those who can persist through everything through thick and thin ever get to see.

So, this year, whatever you are going to do in business, commit to it. Keep with it and stay in for the long haul.  Imagine your opinion of the girl who can’t commit and jumps from man to man frequently.  You got it.  This is exactly where successful business owners see the unsuccessful ones fall down all the time.  Same with successful investors.  The most successful ones invest for the long haul, they don’t do small time quick in and out trading.  Look at the biggest in the planet- Warren Buffet.  You don’t see him doing little short trades, he buys a company and sticks with it for 30 years.


Dan York

Founder and CEO, Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.

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