Internet Marketing Companies
The US education system hasn't yet caught up with the fast-moving technological pace of web developing, which means that by the very nature of this new, self-taught industry, Internet marketing companies can set up and start offering their services with little or no experience at all. Which means that when you come to recruit an Internet marketing company to help with your e-commerce or web development business needs, you should use a personal, word-of-mouth recommendation if possible, interview several companies, make sure they have at least two years experience in developing Internet sites for businesses (five years experience is even better, though you'll have to pay more for the quality), and try to find a firm local to your business so that face-to-face meetings can be conducted easily (you can do this with the help of your local business directory).
Face-to-face contact with the company in question is vital to successful manage and steer a company. Never pay a large lump sum of money to an Internet marketing company upfront - this implies that you are probably buying their equipment for them, and the Internet marketing company is therefore not geared up properly to design your site in a professional manner); if they demand this, leave them alone, Also demand references from previous clients.
The Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org) and the American Marketing Association (www.marketingpower.com) lists specialist services on their sites - though keep an eye on industry trade shows, magazines and ezines to see which companies are advertising their services. Look at the Small Business Association resource (www.sba.gov) to find details of business law and managing your Internet marketing needs.
But be aware that you can use Internet marketing companies in a different way - they needn't simply be there to take on your design and build contract.