Sketchy Digital Marketers Are Ruining Our Industry

— January 5, 2017

I believe a majority of digital marketing companies are sketchy. That’s right, I said it. Our industry is full of underqualified and self-proclaimed experts. Be weary of anyone that calls themselves a social media expert, AdWords guru or content evangelist. How do we know this? Because our company Stryve has to clean up the remnants of their bad client engagements. Oh we’ve seen it all. AdWords campaigns that were never run. Google analytics accounts that were never set up. Campaigns without tracking codes. Blogs with duplicate or stolen content. Websites that were set up on an obscure, proprietary CMS. Change requests for simple content updates that take weeks and cost thousands of dollars.

We don’t just see the mess, we get the emails from these agencies promising to get us leads or SEO our website for bargain basement prices. It’s not possible to deliver the results they promise at that price in that time frame.

I’ve grown tired of the hucksters, the quacks, and the pretenders. I’m tired of the slick “marketing guy” speaking in clichés about social media strategies or content marketing. He’s probably never run a successful campaign before. I’m tired of all the talk about tactics before objectives. “Let’s do a video.” “You should be on Instagram.”

Here’s the thing. You need a team focused on solving a problem or an objective first. Tactics will follow. But what you need the most is solid thinking.

The Sketch Test

Here’s a sketch test: ask an agency, “Does my company need to be on social media?” If the immediate answer is yes, proceed to karate chop them in the mouth. Make sure you land one right on the kisser.

Our answer to that question is NO – a big fat no. Your company can thrive without being on social. But, if you’re going to do it, do it really well and strategically choose which platforms to invest your time in. Don’t half-ass it. Aim to be the best in your industry at it. Our belief is to do less, but do it better. That’s the answer you should hear.

Same with blogging. We love blogging, but it doesn’t align with every company’s objectives. If you’re looking to amp up SEO and drive thought leadership, go for it. But consider the opportunity cost of your time, if all you’re doing is writing useless blogs no one will ever read.

We Need to Clean Up Our Industry

It’s time to clean up our industry. I don’t have the solution yet, but I’m thinking the technical and creative nature of this industry requires a level of certification. Something that is akin to project management certification. Something that requires continuing education certification. That might not be the perfect situation, but Google Partner certifications just don’t cut it. We need a way to filter out the pretenders and bring a level of professional standards to our industry. If we don’t, we’ll continue to be labelled as hucksters. And that’s not good for anyone.

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