Run If You Hear These 5 Marketing Statements

July 15, 2009 •

In Tuesday’s 5 Marketing Misconceptions That Need to Change post, Will covered some of the misguided statements we hear from clients.  If I only had a nickel for every time we hear those types of statements….

In the spirit of fairness, I am determined to defend the marketers who make these types of statements.  Here’s what Will left out – often times these misguided comments originate from an agency, consultant or service provider that the company has put its trust in.  So let’s look for some warning signs.

If you hear your agency, consultant or service provider make any of these five statements, consider running.

1.) Hi, I’m Mike from XXX National Directory/Search/Ad Network Company, and I am a Marketing Consultant with the company.  I am here to help you build your marketing plan.

RUN! FAST! Nothing against these folks (really), but selling Yellow Pages or even a “boxed” pay-per-click solution does not make you a marketing consultant.  It makes you someone that is trying to sell Yellow Pages or a “boxed” pay-per-click solution.  There’s nothing wrong with selling.  God knows we all do it in some form or fashion, but please don’t try to mislead people by calling yourself a marketing consultant.

Clarification: If you are in fact interesting in purchasing what essentially amounts to an advertising package, by all means engage with these folks.  Just don’t expect to get any marketing strategy advice out of them.

2.) If you choose us for your SEO project, we can guarantee multiple top 10 rankings on your targeted keywords.

I thought these people had gone away, but it appears they’re back in full force.  And I can’t blame clients for listening.  When someone tells you they can guarantee results, it’s hard to ignore.

That being said, let’s all say this together:  SEO is not a quick fix, set it and forget it solution for driving traffic .  The best SEO strategies I’ve seen involve a long-term commitment to the creation of relevant content, building that content in multiple formats, and finding multiple distribution channels for that content.

I am guessing there are companies that make an SEO guarantee and do follow through on it.  I am also guessing that those guarantees are made on keywords like “patent attorneys that also handle divorce cases in reston virginia”.

3.) You really can’t afford to wait on addressing social media.  We should build out your presence on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter right away.

Stop.  Please.  We all realize that social media is important, even though it’s getting a bit crowded.  Like anything else though, you shouldn’t build anything if it doesn’t fit into a more strategic plan.

Some of these groups will bait you with the promise of thousands of Twitter followers, Facebook friends, or LinkedIn connections overnight.  Great.  Go ahead and recruit thousands of followers, all of whom could care less about your message.  They’re following you because they’re trolling for followers as well.  And the followers/friends/connections you do want?  You’ll turn them off quick with the hundreds of meaningless updates you’ll have to post to accumulate all the meaningless followers.

Build a social media strategy.  Make sure it ties back to your overall marketing strategy.  Then join, listen, learn, and eventually execute.  It’s that simple.

And one more thing, and I know this will be painful for some “social media gurus” to hear.  Social media is NOT a necessity, nor is it necessarily effective, for every business and business category.

4.) We know you think of us as a print design shop, but just last week we added capabilities in web design and development, search engine optimization, pay-per-click management, email marketing, social media…oh, and we can also handle your dry cleaning if necessary.

Wow, just last week huh?  So you must have hired an entire new team right? Nope.  Acquired a company that specializes in those areas?  Nope.  Formed a joint venture with a web marketing agency?  Not so much.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with trusting a marketing service provider that has done you right over the years and who is now claiming to offer new services.  Just make sure you probe a bit or execute a small trial project before diving in head first.

5.) You shouldn’t cut back on your marketing/advertising spend in a recession.  As a matter of fact, I was reading in Business Week (or insert another referenced publication) that the companies that spend MORE during a recession end up as the top brands years later.

So your client just laid off half his/her staff, notified remaining staff that salaries and bonus levels have been frozen for the time being, cancelled plans to open the new office in the commuter-friendly downtown location…and you’re going to bring the “increase your marketing spend” message?

Don’t get me wrong.  Increasing marketing spending may be right for certain companies; we’ve even seen a few of those up close and personal in the last few months.  But the first move – as an agency, consultant or service provider – should be to figure out how to spend your client’s marketing dollars more efficiently.

About the Author

As managing partner and chief strategy officer for Right Source, Mike Sweeney is responsible for all content marketing initiatives, including growing the company’s content marketing practice, guiding all client content marketing strategy, and recruiting and growing a team of modern marketers. Mike received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in marketing from the University of Notre Dame. You can find Mike on Twitter and Google+, connect with him on LinkedIn, or read his other posts.

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  • Jordon

    Regarding #5 – I just want to add that if you do cut marketing spend in a downturn, you are almost guaranteeing a downward spiral in sales.

    I agree that you need to reevaluate your current spend and use the money more wisely. An increase is not smart, but a decrease is just as bad.

    Good article – these are classic cold-call messages that everyone should be know.

  • Found your blog on Google and have enjoyed reading your posts. Nice work!

  • In regards to #5 (increase marketing dollars) I agree that marketing dollars do need to be increased to increase branding/awareness/business,

    … however, what you say rings more true than ever –

    If you don’t have the funds to pay for overhead, payroll, etc, then you need to get a finger in the dike before your company completely collapses.

    Nothing beats a solid business plan, and some creative cost-effective marketing efforts.

    I’d rather a company stay in business by paying money out for a business plan (, and be around in a year or two to come back to me for marketing services.

    Great list of “Run Away!” statements.

  • Hi Mike. I appreciate your post. While seo certainly has its share of snake oil salesman – there are a number of companies like DataBanq that train our client managers and require a certification in PPC, SEO, social media marketing, etc to actually provide consultation service to small businesses. There are also very successful strategies for getting a client’s presence on multiple positions on the first page of google, whether through maps, ppc, seo or presence on IYPs. I would hate for your post to dissuade small businesses from working with companies that can actually deliver on some of your bullet points. There’s a huge opportunity on the web for these companies and perhaps a future post around how to vet out an seo would be additionally helpful. Cheers!

  • Jose Rios

    About Marketing expenses. A Marketing Strategy is not measured for how much it cost; is is measured by it results. You can be spending $200k in a poorly developed strategy and $150k in better marketing results. I’m with Mike 100%. More money on marketing does not necessarily means more sales. In fact, most sales strategies are in most cases not well aligned with the marketing strategy. Marketing strategies can not take all the load of business success.

    About Social Media: I’m with Mike too.. What is the rush of putting together something that requires special attention and resources to traffic?? Social media presence needs a lot of maintenance and monitoring. It is a direct contact with costumer, and if its not well attended the results can be adverse, very adverse. Smalls business does not have the needed resources to keep -up with social media. It can be done! but limitations has its long term costs…

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