The Google Partners program is one of many ways that Google enables various companies and individuals to earn recognition for their knowledge and abilities. Achieving and maintaining Partner status requires extensive study and recurring testing. The tests are created and administered by Google and, I can say from experience, they are not easy. In addition there are benchmarks in customer satisfaction and business activity which must be met to retain Partner status.
I think that the Partners program is necessary because there are so many options out there for businesses in online advertising. I am Google Certified myself and as an Ambassador for the Google Partners Community on Google+ I feel that I have a good insight into the program and what it means for agencies and qualified individuals as well as for businesses. However the opinions and insights I will present in this article are my own.
The fact that small businesses today are likely to be on the receiving end of a great deal of marketing and promotion from ad agencies and SEO “experts” as well as the local directory listing people can be confusing. I own an ad agency and I still get emails and calls from these people nearly every day. To me that just shows that they don’t have a clue how to run a marketing campaign and they do not even take the time to identify the businesses they contact. Of course I also think they prey on businesses who do not have much experience on the web so to them it doesn’t really matter who they contact.
Anyone can hang out a sign on the web saying they are an expert tree trimmer, ad agency or brain surgeon for that matter and market themselves as such. If they read a few articles on their chosen subject of expertise they will probably sound as though they know more than your average person does about the subject. The point is that, unless you already have some knowledge or experience on the topic it is easy to get taken in and waste a lot of money on the lesson you will learn.
The Google Partners program provides some assurance that, when dealing with a Partner you are able to know that they have passed the certification exams and are maintaining the required level of customer satisfaction. That means a lot in today’s world and can literally mean the difference between web success and failure for your businesses web efforts.
You can of course use a non Partner agency to handle your Adwords account or even do it yourself. How you do it depends on your motivation and your budget. If your whole focus is cost maybe a non Partner agency might be cheaper or certainly doing it yourself is cheaper but cheaper is not necessarily the best criteria for judging quality and I am sure most of you know that.
There is a comparison that I like to use to illustrate the actual and (I believe) intended value of using a Google Partner. I think that the insurance business is a familiar type of business so most people can easily understand the points of comparison using that industry as the model. Of course there are differences, Google Partners don’t earn a commission from Google, ad agencies do not have to be licensed and they do not get any exclusive territories.
You can buy insurance through your local agent, through an independent insurance broker or on the web via company websites. Each of these methods has a different price.
- The cheapest is to buy it online on a company website. Of course insurance is a complex business and by doing it yourself you may save a few dollars but you may be sacrificing the ability to get the right coverage for yourself.
- Buying it over the phone costs a little more than from a website because a licensed agent has to be involved. In this case you may end up with better coverage but you are sacrificing the convenience of having a familiar agent to call when you need help
- Buying from an independent insurance broker may be better than buying over the phone and cheaper than a company agent but the independent broker is probably not going to understand everything that is offered by your insurance company the way an official company agent would
- Buying from a local agent who is officially representing the products offered by your chosen insurance company is the best option if you want to deal with someone who knows you personally and can advise you on the best products and services over the course of your life and is available over the phone or in person whenever you need them. Most people find the extra cost well worth these benefits
I think that you can understand the online advertising industry in the same way. Each of these methods outlined above for insurance corresponds to a way to buy ads for your business. Costs will of course vary between buying method and agency but in general I think it gives you a good template to use when thinking about whether or not to seek out a Google Partner for your advertising needs.
To me the benefits of having a local Google Partner agency as a “Trusted Digital Media Advisor” is well worth the cost. The Internet today is a very complex place. Success online for a business depends on many variables and without extensive knowledge of several disciplines you are almost guaranteed to fall short of what is possible.