How not to get ripped off by marketers

“Why is everyone in marketing so shit?”

I actually got asked this question recently – it wasn’t aimed at me. It was from someone who was moving on to their third marketing agency after, once again, not getting what they wanted from their current one.

It’s not uncommon for people to feel let down, ripped off, frustrated, disappointed or completely exasperated when they work with marketers, whether it’s a full-service agency, a web designer, a social media company, an SEO or PPC expert, or a videographer, content creator or copywriter.

And it makes me sad.

Marketing is an unregulated industry. Unfortunately, it means anyone can wake up one morning and decide they want to sell some kind of marketing service.

Sure, some people have professional qualifications or formal training in their specific areas, but even those guys can get it wrong sometimes.

But here’s the thing – marketing isn’t actually as complex as it seems. It doesn’t have to be difficult. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. And you don’t have to get ripped off…

Why are you getting ripped off?

First up, let’s look at why people get ripped off so often

Yes, there are some absolute charlatans out there who will take your money with no intention of getting you results. But these aren’t as common as you might think. And they aren’t the biggest cause of the problem.

Marketing is a big industry filled with lots of specialisms – designers, copywriters, strategists, social media managers, content creators, and on it goes.

Even within each specialism are more specialists. Copywriters who specialise in direct mail. Social media experts who specialise in a single platform. Web designers who specialise in eCommerce sites.

And some of those specialists only understand the area they specialise in.

They can create awesome content for you, but it’s up to you to work out how to get it in front of the right people.

They can build you a brilliant website, but you need a plan to get people to that website.  

They can build an audience for you on social media, but you need to have an offer good enough to convert followers into customers.

Unfortunately, many people don’t understand they are only investing in one part of the marketing and sales process. And so, when the thing they have invested in doesn’t generate lots of new leads or sales, they think it has failed.

But has it really failed?

If you get a fancy promo video, but don’t have a strategy for getting it in front of the right people, has your videographer ripped you off?

If a web designer builds you a brilliant website, but that website doesn’t get any visitors, is that web designer rubbish?

If you pay a social media consultant to build a social media following for you and they grow your audience, but none of your followers become paying clients, has the consultant failed?

You got the thing you asked for, just not the results you wanted. So who is at fault?

Yes – marketers should ask the right questions to ensure they are able to deliver what the client actually needs. But clients also need to be clear about exactly what they want to achieve.

And to do that, you need to understand how the thing you’re investing in fits with your marketing and sales process.

It’s too easy to jump on the latest trend or do something because it works for other people without considering whether it’s right for your business.

Even if you aren’t paying an expert, you’ll get better results from your marketing if you understand the basics of marketing and sales.

Marketing and sales simplified

When you look at marketing and sales, it’s one big process. You might hear it referred to as a marketing funnel or a sales funnel – I hate the term funnel, so I refer to it as a process. But whatever you call it, here’s how it works.

First, something gets the attention of a potential buyer – a social media post, an ad, a direct message, an email, a leaflet through their door. This is the attract stage – you attracted their attention, got on their radar, made them aware of your existence.

So they follow you, connect with you, click through to your website, subscribe to your emails, download your brochure or make an enquiry – and now they are in the nurture stage.

This is where you get them interested in what you’re offering, make them want it and earn their trust enough for them to buy from you. You can do this with your website, brochures, social media content, videos, blogs, emails, webinars etc.

Then comes the conversion part – getting them to take action, agree to your terms and part with their cash.

How long they stay in the nurture stage depends on several factors, including what you sell and how urgently they need it.

For example, if you offer urgent boiler repair and someone has a broken boiler, they will usually make a buying decision pretty quickly. This means you’ll probably focus most of your marketing efforts on the attract stage – investing in SEO or ads to make sure you’re in front of them at the right time. 

If you sell coaching or consulting, you might need to spend a little longer showing people the benefits of working with you and gaining their trust through your content.

Understanding your customers will help you figure out the best marketing activities to invest in at each stage and how to join them up so people move through the process smoothly.  

And that leads us to one of the most overlooked elements of marketing – understanding who your ideal clients are and their needs, challenges, and motivations.

If you don’t understand who you want to attract or why they would buy whatever it is you sell, it makes the entire marketing process extremely difficult.

This is another reason so many marketing efforts fail. If you invest in a marketing service without being clear about who you want to attract or how you help them, you usually end up attracting the wrong people.

Then you end up with loads of followers or connections who will never buy, lots of website traffic but no enquiries, or a huge email list that never converts into sales.

Work out who you want to attract, and the rest of the process becomes much easier.

If you know who you want to attract and how to create the right processes (or funnels), you’re less likely to invest time or money in the wrong things.

Get your clients across the river

Think of marketing like a huge river. Your ideal clients are all on one side, and your products and services are on the other.  

All you need to do is get your ideal clients across the river by creating stepping stones, building bridges, or providing boats.

If you have a website but no strategy for getting people to it, it’s like only building the second half of a bridge. Growing a social media following but not selling to them is like having stepping stones that don’t lead anywhere. And creating content but not sharing it is like providing a rowing boat with no oars.

You need to figure out how to get your ideal clients across that river. And the more ways there are for them to cross – the more bridges, stepping stones and boats – the more likely they are to make it.

In other words, the more marketing processes (or funnels) you have in place, the better chance you have of winning more of the clients you want.

And if you’d like to learn how to create those funnels, book a session with me.

We can look at what stepping stones you can put in places quickly and easily to start getting your clients across that river. 

Buy the Book

Despite the title, The Freelance Fairytale is not a fluffy bedtime story. It’s packed full of practical advice to help you create a business that makes you happy. 

Borrow my Brain

 Struggling to get the clients you want? Fallen out of love with freelancing? Book 90 minutes with me and get back on track to your happy ever after. 

Bespoke support

Tired of trying to slay the dragon alone? Want a business mentor who knows how to get you where you want to be? Let me help you create your happy ever after.