Burned by a Marketing Agency or Burned by Your Own Hand?




  • — December 18, 2017

    For business owners trying to market and grow their business, you should really read this. So many businesses complain about getting burned by marketers, but half the time it’s one of their own issues below that’s the real problem. If you don’t understand marketing or have a business that isn’t ready for it, then you’re going to get burned, no matter who you hire, whether that’s an agency or staff members.


    Of course, there are bad agencies out there, but I’ll cover what to look for in that regard in a future piece. Below I’ll share the absolutely critical information you need to know if you want to successfully grow your company and not eat your shirt in the process.


    1) Being Obsessed with IMMEDIATE ROI


    You CANNOT be focused on immediate ROI. Unless you already have successful campaigns running that you just need to an expert agency to improve upon and optimize, you should never expect consistent profits sooner than 3 months. If you’re expecting marketing efforts to provide immediate returns, then you don’t understand how marketing works and need to re-evaluate your strategy. Keep reading to get the full picture as to why.


    At Circle Social, we make all clients agree to at least 6 months. If you’re marketing on a new channel or do not have an established brand or reputation, then 6 months to a year is standard to start gaining traction and seeing consistent results. If you DO have an established brand or reputation, then you could shoot for 3 months to see consistent gains on a new channel, assuming you’re marketing to the same audiences.


    Marketing results come from building brand and reputation, not linear results on Facebook or any other channel. As I always say, the most important element of marketing is building trust. It works every time.


    2) Looking for Direct Profit per Channel


    Related, you want to see 1-1 ad results. How often have you ever bought something directly after seeing an ad? Do you see an ad on TV and then immediately run to the store to buy something? What about a Facebook ad? Have you ever seen one, then immediately clicked and bought the product or service? A billboard ad? A radio ad? No? Hmmmm….


    Most people see an ad, view the page, check online reviews, do a google search to find the page again, and then buy. That’s all happening over weeks or even months sometimes. Facebook, Adwords, Email Clients, and other analytics tools can’t track that unless they use the same device while logged in within your conversion window. You’re lucky if a particular channel can track 30% of results. Marketing platforms are just that, marketing tools, not sales tools.


    Real marketing is all about integration across multiple channels and mapping out the customer journey to optimize across stages in the process. To better understand what that looks like, read my post on doing it related to addiction recovery marketing here.


    You should be using the marketing channels to drive the awareness and leads and use other standard processes to close. E-commerce or online courses would be one of the few exceptions.


    For ecomm, Amazon is also big. People will see a product, but want free shipping using their Prime membership, so check there and buy on Amazon rather than on the business page you sent the traffic to. Amazon does not allow any tracking on its platform outside their own, so no way to tie the results back to your ad campaigns.


    Bottom line? You can’t evaluate channel effectiveness by looking at a simplistic ad to sale analysis. You’ve got to map out the entire process and understand how each channel contributes to the overall customer journey leading to the final conversion.


    3) You’re Not Investing Enough for Growth


    You’ve been in business less than 3 years OR you’ve been in business more than 3 years, but still make under 250K per year in topline revenue. If you haven’t grown beyond 250K in 3 years, that signals to me as a business owner and marketer that either you don’t want to grow or you don’t know how to invest in order to grow. There’s a reason you’re still small. When clients come to us looking at daily sales (which don’t mean anything) rather than long term strategic growth, we know they still haven’t figured out their business or learned how to invest.


    Growth always eats cash flow. To really grow your business, you’re almost always going to have to take a cut in margins. When I see businesses stuck in the low 6-figure range, I almost always come across an owner who is running around like a chicken with their head cut off trying to do everything as cheap as possible and only investing if they can see an immediate return.


    Since that’s not the real world of how growing a successful business works, they don’t grow. They bounce from attempt to attempt, constantly seeking some magical formula or immediate return that doesn’t exist. Instead, they shoot themselves in the foot by never giving their business a chance to gain any momentum or traction.


    Any owner coming to us looking for crazy short-term results or that doesn’t want to invest to get results receives an automatic no from my team.


    4) Can You Just Build My Business for Me, But I Don’t Want to Pay You?


    You basically ask the marketing agency to build your entire business for you. You’ll set a ridiculously low budget connected to an unrealistic objective like paying my marketing agency $ 1,000 a month plus $ 1,000 a month ad spend and expecting to get $ 10,000 a month return.


    So you’re making $ 8,000 a month and, in exchange, my agency makes about 1% profit? That’s not a deal any business person would ever take. If my agency helped you 10X your business in 3 months, which is not even realistic for 99% of businesses, why would we be willing to get paid so little? You want serious results, you better be willing to pay top dollar for them.


    We get this all the time. Some business owner comes to us and wants some ridiculously high profit margins. Your average radio station is happy if they make a 1.5X Return on Ad Spend (not even full ROI), so any client that expects more than that is usually not realistic about business goals or how marketing works. Not saying you can’t get 12X RoAS, we’ve done it for several of our clients, but it’s never the norm and usually took us a year or more of serious work to get to that result.


    Plus, seriously, tell me anyone that knows where to invest $ 1,000 today and get an automatic 10X return in 1-2 months. That’s not how business usually works, so you’re showing yourself to be a dreamer rather than a serious business owner.


    5) Desiring Guaranteed, Consistent Growth


    You expect continuous leads at the same cost. It’s super easy to rock a client account in the first month or two sometimes if they’ve never marketed before. You can hit the low hanging fruit through retargeting, but, once you burn through that audience, you hit the tough middle where people actually need convincing.


    However, like in number 1, if you don’t have anything built up or we’re starting from scratch, immediate results are almost never going to happen.


    As a client you need to understand that there is no magic formula to just generate “leads on tap.” It takes work, strategy, time, constant effort, and money. Audiences get tired, bored, burn out, saturate. Trends change, the market changes. Good marketing is agile and no one strategy will always work.


    Think about it. If anyone knew how to just generate leads and sales on tap, they’d be growing businesses left and right. That’s the entire challenge of business. People have growth years and slump years. Maintaining growing profits is a constant challenge for every business and only the rare few can maintain long-term, consistent growth.


    So just like businesses are constantly struggling to grow, a marketing agency is going to struggle right alongside you. Again, there’s no magic formula or secret strategy that guarantees consistent business growth.


    This is why you need to partner with your marketing agency. There should be regular collaboration that allows for pivots and changes of direction as needed. At Circle Social, we don’t just execute marketing strategies, we become integral parts of our clients’ businesses. We act as one team to grow the business and meet objectives. That’s why we’re so good at getting results for our clients.


    Without that kind of close collaboration, you’re unlikely to see much success, regardless of who you work with.


    6) You’re a One Trick Pony


    You’re relying only on one channel, like just Facebook or just Adwords. This can work, but clients should never rely on a single channel. It’s just bad business sense.


    Make Sure Your House Is in Order


    To summarize, before you go around blaming your staff or your marketing agency for lack of results, make sure you’re not sabotaging results by holding any of the misconceptions above. By having a realistic sense of where you need to be and what to expect from your marketing agency, you can strategically plan for success.


    I’ve helped many of our clients grow their businesses, sometimes by a million or more per year in revenue. But it wasn’t just me and my team. It was due to ensuring we pick the right clients that do have their houses in order and that worked closely with us, so that we achieved results together. Make sure you do the same.

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    Author: Nick Jaworski


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