So you’re looking for an ESP and someone tells you about a cool new kid on the block? Or perhaps an old bulletproof mainstay which you’re not yet familiar with? How do you know that ESP is reliable and won’t cost you a arm and a leg?
First stop is their website. Just plug their URL into your browser and off you go straight to a home page with…
1. No client roster, no case studies, no testimonials
“We’re the bee’s knees!”, the ESP proudly claims. Great, got a customer to vouch for you? “We have over 15 years experience!” Super, can you show me a referral to go with it? “Hundreds of businesses enjoy our services!” Can you name a couple? Not even one? Come on, folks, throw me a bone here.
Is this a deal breaker?
Not really (mostly). If the ESP you’re checking out is a startup, it’s only natural they won’t feature a client roster yet. Even if they do, expect some far from impressive local businesses to be included, but you shouldn’t worry too much. It just means they’re starting out.
The key thing here is how upfront they are about it on the site blurb. If you see something like “We’re just getting started, but we’d love to have you along for the ride!”, you’ll probably be fine. Maybe a bit bumpy at first while they work out the inevitable kinks, but you’ll be given help at all times from fresh-minded entrepreneurs eager to prove their merits – which can only be a good thing.
Definitely not a good thing though: a whole lot of boasting without anything to back it up. Be particularly wary of ESPs yapping about multiple years in the business and yet nothing to show for it. No testimonials, no customers and a LinkedIn page with just one or two people (usually CEO, guru, visionary or a combination of all three). That’s a surefire sign you’re being kept in the dark.
“Things are not as clear-cut though. An ESP with no references doesn’t mean I will be screwed over “, you may retort.