Cup of Joe: Honking At Red Lights On A Hot Day
I am in the cab of my dad’s pick up. We are coming home from visiting family in the South Carolina up-state. The blazing sun above and the infamous southern humidity have mixed to create an almost unbearable atmosphere. The only escape that we find, is keeping the windows rolled down and the truck moving forward. We are on one of South Carolina’s many back roads. It’s the kind of road that seems to go on forever and is lined with old barns and tobacco fields on either side.
When your main source of air conditioning is keeping a steady flow of air pushing through your open windows, the last thing you want to do is slow down, or heaven forbid, stop. But, occasionally you are forced to do both.
The stop light came into view after the road came down over a hill. My dad slowed the truck down to a stop behind a tan Cadillac, with what looked like an old woman sitting in the driver’s seat. We sat waiting patiently for the light to change as we felt the hot, still air creeping back into the truck. I remember turning the radio on to take our minds off the heat and started wondering if we were ever going to start moving again.
We waited a few more minutes and the light was still red. I looked at my dad and said, “This is crazy! Why is it still red?” He looked out the window and saw that the old woman in front of us was parked behind the inductive-loop detector. An inductive-loop is an electrical trigger placed inside the road on many busy intersections, that alerts the traffic light that there are cars waiting to get by. However, on this hot day, this old lady wasn’t triggering the loop. She hadn’t moved her car up far enough.
A few more minutes went by and cars were starting to line up behind us. Some started blowing their horns out of frustration. We figured that maybe if we blew ours too, the old woman in front of us, would move forward and trigger the traffic light.
However much to our amazement, instead of pulling her car up, she started blowing her horn as well!! Apparently, she assumed that we were all blowing our horns at the traffic light and if she joined in, it would magically change to green! Thankfully, a county sheriff’s deputy was one of the cars in line behind us. He drove on to the shoulder and triggered the loop with his car to change the light. And, we all began moving again.
When I think of the woman in her tan Cadillac, I am reminded of many of the consultants and agencies in Internet marketing. Most mean well, and have frustrations like everyone else, but are clueless on how to actually get results. And, most have no idea of their ignorance.
Last week I picked up a new SEO client that started their business around 5 years ago. After a year or so of managing their own site, they started to see pretty good rankings for their niche keywords. They then wanted to ramp up their SEO efforts so they hired around 5 different agencies over the course of the last 5 years. As a result their rankings plummeted to a point where they aren’t even ranking anymore. After looking at their site its apparent that these SEO’s didn’t have a clue what they were doing.
Even though it is ultimately the responsibility of business owners to research the consultants and agencies they hire, it’s also our responsibility as service providers to make sure we are competent in what we are selling. We need to treat what we do as an eternal learning process with an open mind. Otherwise you are just honking at red lights while standing still, and that doesn’t help anyone, including yourself!