Large Local Marketing Firm, WebVisible, goes belly up

21 replies
Largest local marketing firm called it a day...

Don't let anyone ever tell you it's easy. Local marketing firm WebVisible is in the process of declaring bankruptcy. Google it and you'll see.

Despite doing a JV deals with huge players such as the Yellow Pages, the bank just foreclosed on their line of credit.

The president chalked the failure to the high acquisition costs of getting a client. Even with referrals, they just couldn't get to break even. The investors, big players as well, gave the firm a no-confidence vote when they declined to invest more money.

The investors had invested $37 million in the last few years. But it seems the company was no closer to turning a profit.

Depending upon your area, this represents an opportunity to pick up clients who've been abandoned by WebVisible. The company was strongest in Orange County and Los Angeles, California.

This also leaves companies like Yellow Book in the lurch because now they don't have anyone to refer. So it's good news for us all the way around, if we as local marketing experts can act fast.

If there's anyone in Orange County, California that would like to explore the opportunities, feel free to PM me.

- Rick Duris

PS: If anyone else has any insight, feel free to post.
#belly #firm #large #local #marketing #webvisible
  • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
    Am I evil for thinking this is good news? Orange county is one of my best markets. California as a whole, is great for me. Orange county, Sacramento and the bay area are extremely juicy and I'm not even local!

    As for webvisible going down, I think it has been a long time coming, don't you? They have had some of the worst reviews in the country for local marketing. So many consumer reports, ripoffreports and everything else negative you can imagine. It seems from these peoples experience that not much was really actually done for clients.

    Of course, that is business and there are always people unhappy so maybe thats all it is. With the volume of chargebacks they have received, I can't say I'm surprised.
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    • Profile picture of the author fuzzycorleone
      I personally dislike posts like these because it's very discouraging. If a marketing firm with millions of dollars can't be successful then how's a 25 year old kid from NYC going to be successful in IM? It's very disheartening.

      Also, I'd imagine trying to sell SEO services to local businesses in Orange County and other areas where WebVisible had clients would be difficult. Many of these clients who probably aren't internet-savvy probably feel betrayed by WebVisible (as you can tell from the poor business reviews and ripoff reports) and may hold a great deal of resistance to new businesses trying to sell them seo services.
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      • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
        Originally Posted by fuzzycorleone View Post

        I personally dislike posts like these because it's very discouraging. If a marketing firm with millions of dollars can't be successful then how's a 25 year old kid from NYC going to be successful in IM? It's very disheartening.

        Also, I'd imagine trying to sell SEO services to local businesses in Orange County and other areas where WebVisible had clients would be difficult. Many of these clients who probably aren't internet-savvy probably feel betrayed by WebVisible (as you can tell from the poor business reviews and ripoff reports) and may hold a great deal of resistance to new businesses trying to sell them seo services.
        If a big company like them, can leave clients dissatisfied, then you can bet many local offline marketers are also leaving clients with a bad taste in their mouths. It happens, and is a price of doing business in this niche.

        I wouldn't view this as a negative thing. If you do, then you have the wrong outlook and don't have the go getter mindset that you should strive for in order to succeed.

        In my opinion, there is market share up for grabs. There are clients needing a company to go to. Big potential here.

        You also have to think that just because a company has millions of dollars in investments, it doesn't mean they actually are spending it wisely. Their costs of operation is a lot higher than a 25 year old starting out. I'm 25, and the sky is the limit as far as I'm concerned. Everything that may seem like a discouragement, there is opportunity around the corner, as long as you move forward to get to that corner.
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      • Profile picture of the author Kunle Olomofe
        Originally Posted by fuzzycorleone View Post

        I personally dislike posts like these because it's very discouraging. If a marketing firm with millions of dollars can't be successful then how's a 25 year old kid from NYC going to be successful in IM? It's very disheartening.

        Also, I'd imagine trying to sell SEO services to local businesses in Orange County and other areas where WebVisible had clients would be difficult. Many of these clients who probably aren't internet-savvy probably feel betrayed by WebVisible (as you can tell from the poor business reviews and ripoff reports) and may hold a great deal of resistance to new businesses trying to sell them seo services.
        Hi fuzzycorleone, first off don't get disheartened. You have no reason to feel discouraged that a big firm failed because well you don't run a big firm.

        The problem with being as big as the alleged $37 million dollar investment is that they need to make back at least $37 million to even break even... despite the fact they have $37 M to grow, there is less of a guarantee that you can pull in that much and more than if you only invest $200 or $2000 and need to break even on thta.. Kind of ironic but very true.

        A company that has $37 M to spend on web services should be getting more business at great prices than they can handle so folks like the warriors shouldn't really ever get a look in... at least not like many are.

        But, despite having such huge companies offering similar services as the warriors do, we still close sales on a regular bsis locally worldwide. That should make it clear that there is more room out there for many folks to ply their trade than you probably think is available... which is a great thing.

        Finally, you're getting caught up in the too big to fail syndrome here... Ain't nobody too big too fail... too many examples from Rome, to the Titanic to Multinationals worldwide crumbling in 2008 onwards should have proved that.

        Infact the bigger you get the more likely you are to fall with a horribly huge splat. So I think the moral of the story is be careful how fast and how big you grow.. Sometimes getting too big especially without the right safeguards will eventually be more painful that never being able to kick off as an underdog.

        Bottom line, as a small firm or solopreneur you should be happy to hear that you don't need $37 Million to make it in this business... tons of warriors are NOT filing for bankruptcy infact they are earning steady incomes from offline consulting so see the glass as all or half full not all or half empty.

        Cheers,

        Kunle Olomofe
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      • Profile picture of the author Kevin AKA Hubcap
        Originally Posted by fuzzycorleone View Post

        I personally dislike posts like these because it's very discouraging. If a marketing firm with millions of dollars can't be successful then how's a 25 year old kid from NYC going to be successful in IM? It's very disheartening.
        As others have said you should be looking at this as an opportunity. You are much more flexible than large firms. You don't have the fixed costs or the pressure of a 37 million investment.

        Lastly, if you're going to let something like this bother you then you'll never start any type of business. No matter what industry you're in I guarantee companies will come and go.

        It's the nature of the beast.
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      • Profile picture of the author Matt B
        Originally Posted by fuzzycorleone View Post

        I personally dislike posts like these because it's very discouraging. If a marketing firm with millions of dollars can't be successful then how's a 25 year old kid from NYC going to be successful in IM? It's very disheartening.
        This post should be encouraging to read, not the other way around.

        As posters above have mentioned, it provides an opportunity for others (us) to pick up the slack where WebVisable left off.

        A quality consultant, or service provider, should be able to forge a relationship with the business or business owner with whom they are consulting. When you're running your own consulting firm you're usually the one making the prospecting calls & showing up to the place of business for a presentation or meeting. You're also the one that the business owner calls when a question or issue arises, usually on your cell phone. All these things help forge that relationship that is essential for long-term success and future up-sells. No doubt, this is where WebVisable grew to be too big for their own good. They probably lost that "personal" touch with their clients. On top of providing "lackluster" results, that's a poisonous combination for any business model.
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      • Profile picture of the author HypeText
        Originally Posted by fuzzycorleone View Post

        I personally dislike posts like these because it's very discouraging. If a marketing firm with millions of dollars can't be successful then how's a 25 year old kid from NYC going to be successful in IM? It's very disheartening.

        Also, I'd imagine trying to sell SEO services to local businesses in Orange County and other areas where WebVisible had clients would be difficult. Many of these clients who probably aren't internet-savvy probably feel betrayed by WebVisible (as you can tell from the poor business reviews and ripoff reports) and may hold a great deal of resistance to new businesses trying to sell them seo services.
        This just shows the importance of under promising and over delivering...as will as the importance of top notch client support.

        Nothin like thinning the herd....nature has been doing it for eons...

        The way I see it, their failure is MY Opportunity!
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      • Profile picture of the author Bill D.
        Originally Posted by fuzzycorleone View Post

        I personally dislike posts like these because it's very discouraging. If a marketing firm with millions of dollars can't be successful then how's a 25 year old kid from NYC going to be successful in IM? It's very disheartening.
        Fuzzy,

        As others have said, you should celebrate things like this happening.

        Opportunities are all around. This news just proves things most smart entrepreneurs already knew.

        Anyway, try to focus on the opportunities that arise from ANY kind of news (not just good news).

        And start reading and studying stuff by these people:
        Jim Rohn
        Zig Ziglar
        Maxwell Maltz (PsychoCybernetics book)
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  • Profile picture of the author mjbmedia
    so hold on, a big player in the offline marketing field goes under because....wait for it....they clearly couldnt market themselves well enough!!!!
    And yet they still got $37m investment ?

    Blind leading the blind, good riddance to them.
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    Mike

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    • Profile picture of the author tupai
      Originally Posted by mjbmedia View Post

      so hold on, a big player in the offline marketing field goes under because....wait for it....they clearly couldnt market themselves well enough!!!!
      Very well put.

      It just shows how open and the amount of opportunity there is in the offline market. Our competitors are not making their customers happy.
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    • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
      Originally Posted by mjbmedia View Post

      so hold on, a big player in the offline marketing field goes under because....wait for it....they clearly couldnt market themselves well enough!!!!
      And yet they still got $37m investment ?

      Blind leading the blind, good riddance to them.
      I don't think it was a problem with them not marketing themselves well enough. I don't think that was ever an issue, they were always well marketed. It was their operations and lack of fiscal responsibility that did them in. Making layoffs a year ago, was too late for them to turn a profit.

      Many times, businesses fail because of operational decisions.

      When you cut spending, it adds to your net profit just like more sales do. A ton of sales with an irresponsible budget, and bad decisions will ruin a company.
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      • Profile picture of the author HypeText
        If you take a look at the complaints that are all over the internet, certain complaints repeat over an over..

        The companiy's sales pitch made claims that were just wrong to begin with.

        1) They over promised on the potential results

        2) They led the Client Base to believe PPC costs would not increase

        3) They claimed they had a special Relationship with Google. Their relationship was no different than any other Google engage agency.

        4) Utter lack of Customer Support

        5) Falsified Traffic Reports. WV would claim the client had received Thousands of Visitors but when the Clientbase checked their stats themselves the numbers were about 1/10th

        6) They promised specific numbers in regards to customer count. While one can estimate click Throughs, an Agency has no direct control of conversions.

        It appears this company did nothing more than resell Google Adwords at inflated prices to unsuspecting Businesses.

        So basically what we had here was a company that over promised, under delivered, lied to clients, when clients complained...they ignored them.

        Gee! Wonder why they went belly up?
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      • Profile picture of the author Marvin Johnston
        Originally Posted by iAmNameLess View Post

        I don't think it was a problem with them not marketing themselves well enough. I don't think that was ever an issue, they were always well marketed. It was their operations and lack of fiscal responsibility that did them in.
        Going to what I think is the root of the problem, it is most likely they didn't have (lost?) a vision of what they wanted to do along with a profitable way of doing it.

        Marketing, operations, etc. are a result of the vision and saying that is the problem puts the cart before the horse ... assuming the people involved were not totally incompetent.

        Marvin
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    Large companies have processes and procedures, asses to kiss and levels of authority. Practically every decision has to be checked out by someone above. Anything that seems new, fresh, exciting or unusual will freak out the beancounters that often run the place.

    So you, as an individual, don't have to put up with any of that crap. You can do what you want, the way you want it: give your clients the best and most effective marketing solutions that you can come up with. Nobody's going to say "that sounds scary; you can't do it."

    You also don't have overhead costs, investors to answer to (who typically know nothing about your business or how to make money--but sure think they do), or people looking over your shoulder.

    These guys can't do anything except by committee, and it takes weeks or months for them to do what you can in a few days. You have a huge competitive advantage.
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  • Profile picture of the author localvseo
    From a business perspective, without knowing the financial details (which don't seem to be public) about why they shut, it's hard to draw any conclusions about the market for local services. Look how much money all the major search engines are putting into the local market as a whole. I think from a data perspective that is a lot more valuable as a point of reference than one company that was in the space that shut. Sometimes it's good to look at the 10,000 foot view rather than ground level to take the bigger picture in.
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  • Profile picture of the author Marvin Johnston
    I'd love to see the business plan that allowed investment of $37 million (over about 7 years?) and then the company gets shut down. Or what changes occurred (or didn't occur) that forced the company to fold.

    The Orange County Register has a short article about it:

    Online local ad service shuts down | webvisible, company, online - Business - The Orange County Register

    Marvin
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  • Profile picture of the author Jeff Lenney
    Banned
    I'm in irvine. Hit me up!
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  • Profile picture of the author Tam Chancellor
    This is really news to me. The headquarters is right up the street from me. Didn't know that they were in financial trouble. They were really hot several years ago. Press darlings. Most companies that fail, fail because of mis-manangement no matter how much money that have.
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  • Profile picture of the author contentment1st
    Here's my opinion on this issue for what it's worth and I'm sure it mirrors some of the comments already made. This market is so perfect for those that are good at what they do and want to handle 10 or 20 clients regularly and give them specialized personal service. I have some clients that call me every week for something; others that I don't hear from unless I contact them. All of them are happy with their results.

    It takes a certain skill set that very few have to ramp up an operation like Offline Marketing where you are managing clients in the thousands. Many can and will if they go about it methodically and slow down and ramp up their operations based not on sales, ego or pressure from investors, but on CUSTOMER SERVICE only.

    If the matrix for growth includes a concrete policy that states, no new clients even for an extended period of time if customer service begins to falter, then that's the type of leader and business owner who will be successful and may very well create a business that handles clients in the 1000s.

    Those that treat this business as a puppy mill and invest other people's money to ramp up too quickly with a large base of telemarketers and too few people to actually do the work and monitor success on a monthly basis are doomed to fail.

    I have one client who I have a great relationship with. He tells all of these "script driven" callers that I handle things like that for him and that if I say so, he'll consider using them and then he gives them my phone number. You wouldn't believe the drivel that I hear at least once a week from these folks.

    "We'll do X, Y, and Z for you and then we'll also do J, K and L and then you'll get more customers than you know what to do with!!!" The funny thing to me is that out of all the things they run through, very few of them have anything to do with driving traffic and sales. The good news? This market is wide open and we have only scratched the surface of the potential. The bad news? We will always be facing potential clients that have either been burned in the past, consider us just one more of those phone scripted jokers, or they simply lack the trust necessary to move forward.

    For what it's worth, if you're struggling, go do a couple of jobs for free. It will give you an honest assessment of your abilities and it will give you references that can help jump start your business. As with most Offline Marketers, word of mouth and referrals from existing happy clients are the two foundational keys to your long term success.

    As far as the mega operators are concerned? They'll always be there and the bigger they get, the further they'll stray from what keeps retention rates high...Results and sincere, personalized outstanding CUSTOMER SERVICE!
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  • Profile picture of the author Hugh
    Think "Nimble"
    Think "Agile"
    Think "Flexible"
    These are characteristic of young aggressive enterprises.
    These are characteristics that older, more careful companies lose.

    Hugh
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    "Never make someone a priority in your life who makes you an option in theirs." Anon.
    "Some see private enterprise as a predatory target to be shot, others as a cow to be milked, but few are those who see it as a sturdy horse pulling the wagon." -- Winston Churchill

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  • Profile picture of the author RentItNow
    It may have been smaller players that knocked them out. In other words, a smaller marketer can be fast on their feet with their clients, try new things and get much better results then going through a 10 person comity. They can also offer the services for way cheaper than a larger firm. Makes sense to me.
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    I have no agenda but to help those in the same situation. This I feel will pay the bills.
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