7:58PM UPDATE: I just stumbled across this gem of a post. Back in June, Paul replied to an upset customer stating:
“ Customer service of old is gone were in a new generation now.”
Hrmm. I wonder if he still feels the same way now.
7:07PM UPDATE: Good grief. I can’t keep up. Paul Christoforo has issued a couple of half-assed apologies to both Dave and Mike. Basically, he strings together every excuse he can come up with to try and justify his behavior, and pleads with Mike to call off the internet minions (as though Mike has any control over them). Andrew Galbraith has done a great job of staying on top of info as it rolls in, here in this article on The Examiner. Meanwhile, Paul has kept himself busy writing angry responses on Twitter, and then deleting them. Is this the sign of someone truly repentant? Seems to me Paul is just overwhelmed with his own desperation, which would explain why he thought it prudent to reply to an email from the editorial director at Kotaku as Brandon Leidel, CEO and Director of Operations at The HAND Media. The insanity is unending. Note to Mr. Christoforo: This is not the type of recommendation you want from a former employer:
a street thug masquerading as a self proclaimed “Marketing Professional”. This guy is a complete fool and somehow strong armed his way into working with the company so we walked away.
If this is how people tend to describe you, you can rest assured that you are doing something terribly wrong. Also, reputation management. If you’re serious about the web marketing business, you might want to look that up.
6:11PM UPDATE: Apparently, it isn’t just the “services” page that is plagiarized. Unsurprisingly, Christoforo has some questionable credentials: http://ht.ly/8bxcS
Although I don’t consider myself to be much of a religious person, there was a time in my life when church played an integral role. Along with studying the scriptures, I was taught to value particular character attributes, and to develop these traits within myself. As I sat with other young women my age, I didn’t give much thought to the stories and lessons, but looking back now, these things must have resonated with me. The values “stuck”, because now, as an adult, I consider personal integrity and accountability to be paramount
Unfortunately, there seem to be many who never developed these traits, or who have no regard for them…particularly on the internet. Considering the nature of the industry I work in (SEO and web marketing), there seems to be a disproportionate number of smarmy, disreputable individuals claiming to be experts, who act with absolutely no regard for their business, or anyone else.
By now, you’ve likely heard about the Ocean Marketing debacle. If not, its understandable that you may still be walking around in a residual nog fog, so here’s a quick rundown:
A customer (named Dave) was frustrated with the lack of communication regarding a set of Avenger controllers he had ordered, so he e-mailed the distributor (Ocean Marketing) asking about the status. Upon receiving minimal responses with seemingly conflicting information (They’ll ship by Dec. 17. Oh, wait, they’re still in China. No, they’re not in China, they’re in the US but stuck in customs), Dave was understandably a bit teed. He pointed out that there is a current promotion, granting 10% off any new orders, and inquired why he (or any other customers who had been waiting over two months for their orders) should not be given a similar discount/refund.
Based on my experience in customer service, I probably would have replied to Dave with an apology, and given him the discount on his order if possible. If, for some reason, I couldn’t refund an amount on his order (this happens sometimes when you’re the middleman, working with another vendor or company), I would have either issued him a credit for use toward future orders, or apologized further and referred him to someone higher up who might be capable of resolving the situation. Better to have a happy customer, you know?
Not according to Paul Christoforo/Ocean Marketing. He responded with a series of rants which rival the sophistication of a ten year old, stopping short of insulting Dave’s mother:
“Things happen in manufacturing if your unhappy you have 7 days from the day your item ships for a refund. You placed a pre order just like any software title the gets a date moved due to the tweaks and bugs not being worked out and GameStop or any other place holds your cash and im sure you don’t complain to activision or epic games so put on your big boy hat and wait it out like everyone else. The benefit is a token of our appreaciation for everyone no one is special including you or any first time buyer . Feel free to cancel we need the units were back ordered 11,000 units so your 2 will be gone fast. Maybe I’ll put them on eBay for 150.00 myself. Have a good day Dan.”
Things only escalated after Dave (not Dan, :sigh:) forwarded his response to a number of news sites, as well as Mike Krahulik, of Penny Arcade. Paul/Ocean Marketing continues to berate Dave and Mike, until Mike points out that he is the founder of PAX, and will make sure that Paul and Ocean Marketing do not get a booth at PAX East.Paul seems to reign in his angst momentarily, only to come back flailing in an argument that is essentially summed up as “I don’t need you and your fancy convention. I know important people here. I’ll have the MAYOR get me in!”.
Of course, the internet community was quick to jump on this, especially after the email thread was posted in the Penny Arcade blog, and on Reddit. Despite the backlash, Paul Christoforo seemed unphased. When Scott Lowe of IGN respectfully requested Christoforo to refrain from mentioning him or the company in support of Ocean Marketing, Paul tactfully responded, calling Lowe a “douchebag”. Eventually, he killed his twitter account (@OceanMarketting), only to come back with another (@OceanStratagy). So what gives? Is this guy completely insane?
Sadly, no, I don’t think insanity can be blamed for this trainwreck. So what is it? Well, Ocean Marketing’s site and social media accounts do a great job of pulling back the curtain, allowing us to see the “great and powerful” Oz. Here’s what stands out to me:
- The gross misspellings and grammatical errors. From butchering the spellings of basic industry terms in the business’ twitter handles, to nonsensical sentences in business correspondence, the written gaffes are overwhelming. I understand that not everyone is a writer, and grammar and spelling aren’t going to be everyone’s strong suit…but that is why spellcheck and grammar check were invented. As the president of an internet marketing and advertising agency, if you aren’t capable of speaking or writing in a professional, eloquent manner, you hire someone who can. If you can’t be bothered to click a button to check your own copy, or to have someone else on your team look it over, why should anyone else trust you to do quality work for them?
- “We are a Premier Social Media Company and SEO Company” Of course you are. :sigh: Why don’t you just go and tack “Guru” on there somewhere?
- Generic site copy Sure, you’re going to find similar terminology on websites for businesses that perform the same services. That isn’t the issue here…it’s the fact that there seems to be next to nothing unique on the Ocean Marketing site. This, along with the suddenly impeccable grammar raised some red flags for a few savvy individuals, who ran the site through Copyscape, which indicates that the Ocean Marketing “services” page is blatant plagiarism, matching 83% of the copy on rubikzcube.com.
While my mind is completely blown that this company seems to lack any sort of professionalism, ethics, or regard for anyone or anything aside from the almighty dollar, I know that Ocean Marketing isn’t a unique case. Tried and true SEO and web marketing specialists still have to battle to be recognized as authentic professionals, rather than scam artists, because everyone and their brother with access to the internet seems to think they’re a “guru”. What these self-proclaimed “experts” fail to realize is that customer service remains king, whether that customer is the client you are developing a website for, or an individual on twitter. The problem I often see with SEO is that many people become obsessed with pleasing Google that they neglect everything else. You know what? Google is not going to buy your product. (In fact, when you try and cheat the way Ocean Marketing has, Google actually carries some pretty stiff penalties. Just ask JC Penny.) Regardless of the size of your business, your customers are still your bread and butter. They say that a happy customer will tell three friends; an unhappy customer tells 3,000. In the age of the internet, that reach goes much further…and the idea that “all PR is good PR” is a myth. No matter how “premier” your company is, you remain accountable for your actions. The internet does not grant anyone immunity. I think Paul Christoforo and Ocean Marketing are learning that lesson the hard way.