Tired of getting burned by incompetent, incomplete, or shifty marketing services? Sick of not knowing where your marketing dime is going? Read on so next time you hire a marketing service that earns instead of burns.
Last week, a new acquaintance accused me of practicing black magic.
She dished out this slight after I told her I worked in marketing.
You see, she got burned by the last several marketing services she worked with. She’s sore about it.
The first, she says, just took her money. They made all kinds of claims about sales and leads, and the proposal they made was the cheapest she found.
At first, the results were promising. But after four months of campaigns all over Google and social media, more was going out than coming in.
There was lots of data and reports. Graphs, charts, and numbers. But she didn’t really understand their work.
It was all investment and no return, so she fired them.
Next she hired someone local. Someone she knew and trusted.
This person made an earnest effort and she liked him. And he was a talented designer.
The problem, she discovered, is that design was the only thing he was good at.
He was supposed to be a full-service marketer, but his copywriting stunk. Then he made costly mistakes setting up Google Ads. And when they discussed a strategy for Facebook Ads, she realized he didn’t have one. He didn’t understand the platform at all.
So he suggested that she hire different specialists to handle each area of her marketing. But that meant coordinating the whole thing herself, which would take up all the time she was trying to save by hiring them in the first place.
She’d invested thousands and had nothing to show for it.
“Marketing services are a ripoff. I’m over it. I don’t think anybody really knows what they’re doing, or if they do, they don’t know how to make it work for me.”
“So don’t try to sell me on your black magic. I’m not buying.”
The rest of this article is dedicated to this businessperson and people who feel they’ve been burned by marketing services.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Here’s how you can recognize marketing services that are likely to burn you, with tips on how you can go from burning to earning with your marketing investment.
Marketers In Black Hats
To avoid getting burned by marketing, the first thing you need to do is avoid marketers that operate in the dark.
Black hat is a term used to describe marketing practices that try to manipulate online systems to get faster, cheaper results.
You may have heard the term Black Hat SEO, for example. This is where you try to trick Google into ranking content that doesn’t otherwise merit being on page one.
Marketers in black hats make big promises. They claim to drive more results for less money. They’ll turn the tough work of months and years into days and weeks.
It sounds good at first. But this type of marketing really is black magic. In the end, it burns you.
The lure marketers in black hats use is price. They promise strong results, but their system – as if by magic – gets them faster and cheaper than anyone.
Get this straight. Black hat marketing is cheating. It uses tricks and short-cuts to get around the requirement of delivering quality content that merits attention.
It’s also a sucker deal. Black hat marketing today is a sham.
Let’s face it. You’re not going to hire a marketing service – on the cheap – that can actually outsmart the teams of genius engineers at Google and Facebook.
Likewise, you’re not going to get top-notch copywriting or design at minimum-wage rates.
The idea behind marketing is to get ROI. Return on investment. If you put a dollar in, your goal is to get more than a dollar back in return.
This only works when you invest enough to play – and win – the game by the rules. You have to beat your competition by providing superior value, not by gaming the system.
If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Look closely to see if the marketer you’re considering is wearing a black hat.
Business owners we talk to usually compare marketing services. That’s a smart move.
Often when they get back to us, they tell us they spoke to marketers who guarantee some type of result.
They guarantee…1500 impressions a month on Instagram.
They guarantee…we’ll be on page one for these keywords.
They guarantee…we’ll get 200 leads a month from this target audience.
Marketing services that make guarantees burn their clients. Because there are no guarantees in marketing.
Marketing doesn’t operate on mathematical certainties. It deals with human behavior that’s often unpredictable.
Marketers that make guarantees are practicing the art of deception. They take a data point that has minimal impact on your actual goals to make it sound like there is a certainty their work will be successful.
The word guarantee is a misnomer when it comes to developing a marketing strategy. It’s like trying to guarantee you’ll shoot a certain score during a round of golf.
There are too many variables in marketing for the real guarantee you want (which is that you’ll make money) to be valid.
If the marketing service you’re talking to is making them, get ready for the burn.
Are they up to the challenge?
You know what? Marketing is not as unethical as all this makes it sound. Most marketing professionals you talk to are not wearing a black hat nor will they make empty guarantees.
Instead, they want to do the best work they can for you. They’re not looking to burn you.
The problem is that many freelance marketers and small agencies are not, in reality, up to the task of providing comprehensive marketing services.
Consider everything involved:
- Technical support/development
- Reputation management
- Payment systems
- Search marketing
- Social media
What one person can create a strategy, set attainable goals, and execute the work across all this stuff?
Nobody. Even most small agencies struggle to cover all the needed skills.
This leaves you with a choice – one where you can feel the burn coming.
You either have to hire multiple vendors to cover everything then coordinate the work yourself, or you’re left with an incomplete strategy that can’t maximize results.
The best of intentions aren’t enough if the service doesn’t have the resources to execute the work.
This situation may not leave you feeling cheated, but it will burn through your budget nonetheless.
What do you expect?
When you hire a marketing service, you need to ask yourself this question.
Be honest with yourself. If you’re using the cheapest service you can find, do you really expect to get results that will grow your business?
If you’re demanding guarantees, do you really expect them to be met?
If you’re hiring local freelancers because you like them, do you also expect you’ll get the best work possible?
There is one sure-fire way in life to get burned. Expect the impossible.
A lot of business owners end up feeling burned by marketing because they go into it with unrealistic expectations.
Often, the problem is they look at marketing as a cost instead of as an investment. This makes them want to price shop so they can get the most service for the least money.
But marketing doesn’t work this way.
You invest in marketing with a plan to drive return on that investment.
It becomes an equation. You invest what’s required to drive the necessary results so you’re growing. You understand and execute what you must so you have a competitive advantage.
There is no such thing as cheap – or expensive – marketing. Either you’re doing what it takes or you’re not.
If you’re not, you’re burning your own money.
Marketing – like business – requires that you take risks. There will be trial and error, and it takes time to dial in campaigns.
Frankly, if you expect instant results on the cheap, plan on getting burned. You’re asking for it.
If the risk you need to take to invest in your business is too much for you, consider another career.
Probably the biggest step you can take to avoid getting burned by marketing is to educate yourself on what to expect. We hope reading this article helps.
The Marketing 360® Approach
Marketing 360® doesn’t burn clients. Our goal is to use marketing so they earn. Here’s what we do.
First, we have a full staff of professionals and software tools that provides a true all-in-one marketing service for SMBs.
Our office is located in Fort Collins, Colorado. We staff all design, video, writing, and digital marketing executives in-house. Our marketing software manages all online marketing channels and integrates CRM (customer relationship management) and email marketing software. Our program even includes payment processing and point of sale solutions.
You have one point of contact – your own marketing executive. Our goal is to drive results and save you time. No juggling multiple vendors.
We set proper expectations. Our marketing consultants research your market and present a budget you can invest that has the best chance to deliver a return.
We acknowledge your challenges and analyze your competition. We tell you this hard work that takes time.
We admit it’s likely not every effort will pay-off. You need to be ready for that reality.
But we assure you that we learn from what doesn’t work. We do less of it. And we learn what does work. We do more of that.
We do ethical, white hat marketing. You won’t get short-cut solutions here.
We are neither the cheapest nor most expensive marketing service you’ll find. We’re professionals that charge for professional work, but it’s within the scope of what’s valuable for you.
We can’t guarantee your success or happy ever after. We do guarantee we’ll put in maximum effort towards achieving your goals.
We’ll communicate with you effectively, from the first email to our ongoing updates. We strive to become friends and partners with our clients, so we treat you – and your time – with respect.
It’s up to you. Do you understand the risks of marketing a business? Do you accept the challenges?
Most of all, are you excited by the prospect of doing work you love and making a positive impact on the world?
If your answer is yes, you’re the type of person we’re looking for.
Because you don’t play with fire. You control its energy.
Let’s start earning.