In a recent discussion with a potential client, the issue about whether “we provide a marketing guarantee that we would make him money” was raised. This is not the first time that a potential client has asked us this question.
Consumers LOVE guarantees. If you buy a product and don’t like it, having the option to return it and get your money back is something we expect. The “dirty little secret” is that most consumers NEVER take companies up on these options.
We live in a society that finds comfort in the concept of mostly empty and meaningless guarantees. Click here to find out why these promises mostly benefit sellers and not buyers, and are rarely ever exercised.
But, just to be clear here, with marketing...we are not talking about “money back guarantees,” “customer satisfaction guarantees,” or “30 minutes or less, or it’s free” pizza guarantees.
When it comes to investing in corporate marketing, when we receive a question from a prospective customer concerning a guarantee, it usually signifies two things:
- They don’t quite understand marketing and how it works today
- They have a high level of fear
Times Are Changing
Given these ever-changing, technology-driven times, the lack of relevant knowledge about how marketing works today puts business owners in a fearful position. And, fear is really the issue when business owners ask for a guarantee.
So what is their greatest fear?
Fear of Making a Mistake.
Talk to any business owner about marketing and you will hear a story about getting burned by some fly-by-night outfit making “too good to be true” promises that cannot possibly be delivered. Things like guaranteed first page Google results or X number of leads in the next 30 days.
For many small companies, these types of marketing promises are NOT deliverable because you are competing with large companies with unlimited marketing budgets that will eat you for lunch.
Inherently, business owners tend to know these promises are not attainable, but many choose to invest in them and get burned because the investment is relatively low. Pulling the trigger on these types of marketing campaigns feels good, because it makes small business owners believe that they are doing something about their lack of qualified leads.
However, these types of marketing programs RARELY, if ever, bear fruit.
Performance Guarantees Are Worthless
For example, if you get a guarantee from a marketing company that guarantees an increase in revenue of say $200,000 in 12 months for $500 per month run the other way. Or, just stop at the next stop light you see and give the person begging for money the $500.
The result will be the same.
Think for a second about your business. Could you give a guarantee on your product or service and live up to it 100%? If not, then why are you looking for someone else to give you one when you can’t give one yourself?
So, you are probably asking yourself about now...If I can’t get a guarantee, then what should I look for to determine if my investment is going to deliver the results I am looking for?
Ask For Past results
Get proof that the company you are thinking of working with can deliver on its promises. Any marketing agency worth its salt should be able to point to several of their clients that have achieved similar results to what you are looking for.
Get contact information for these customers and call them. Ask them how that marketing agency is to work with and if they lived up to their expectations. Find out if they have a proven process in place that has the ability to be flexible, if goals and processes change.
This investigative process into how a marketing company operates and delivers on their promises can help you get a much better sense if the company is the right fit and can produce the results you need.
Can ROI Give You Any Insight?
Let's say that you talked to a few marketing companies and got some quotes from them to market your product or service. In order to keep things simple here, we will assume that all of the quotes came back using inbound marketing as the main marketing process to deliver your results.
The quotes may be very different, and you are trying to figure out which one seems more viable.
They all have the same basic goal:
The Goal = Increase revenue by $200,000 over 12 months.
|Quote 1||Quote 2||Quote 3|
|Current Gross Revenue||$2,000,000||$2,000,000||$2,000,000|
|Annual Marketing Fee||$6,000||$1,000||$60,000|
|Projected Net Revenue||$194,000||$188,000||$140,000|
|Return On Investment (ROI)||3,233%||1,566%||233%|
While we would all love a 1,566% - 3,233% return on investment, is it too good to be true? Does it pass the smell test?
Which of these scenarios seem more realistic?
Let’s be clear, a 233% ROI is still incredible. Can you stick that money in real estate or the stock market and generate that type of return?
Let’s face it, many people still get pulled in by the promises of big results for little to no investment.
Get rich quick is the American Way!!
This concept tends to fit the fear factor business owners have of making a mistake. So, if you spend a little up front and get no results, then it’s no big deal because you didn’t spend that much.
Everyone wants a good deal. But, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck….IT’S A DUCK!!
You can’t get something for nothing.
But Their Numbers Look Good!
One of the tricks of unscrupulous marketing companies is the “empty promise.” You may recognize some of them from past experience. For instance, they tell you that they can increase your web traffic.
Be careful here!
Really investigate what they mean by the numbers. An additional 5,000 website visitors sounds great. But you need to find out if these are targeted visitors. In other words, are they the types of visitors you want to do business with?
If you are selling business accounting services, you don’t want to end up with 5,000 website visitors from 18-23 year old girls who don’t even know what accounting is.
Unfortunately, unscrupulous marketing companies will sell you on the idea of visitors as success and may even deliver on those visitors. But, in reality, visitors are worthless to you, unless they are looking for the products and services you offer.
Another common “empty promise” is increasing lead conversions. How are these visitors going to be converted into leads?
They tell you that they will get you 500 conversions a month. Based on what? What will they do to help convert these visitors into leads?
Again, look at the numbers, do they make sense. 500 conversions from 5,000 visitors is a 10% conversion rate. Is that good or bad?
If they are not doing anything to your website to help convert these visitors, then a 10% conversion rate is a pipe dream. (Click to learn more about “Is Your B2B Website Working For You )
Leap of Faith
No matter how much research you do or how many people you talk to, you will ultimately need to make a leap of faith with your decision. By spending the time to thoroughly research prospective marketing companies, you will find one that is the best fit for you.
Perform your due diligence. If what the company is offering sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If, on the other hand, what a company has to offer is reasonable, filled with common sense strategies and backed up by previous performance with other companies, this is a company you really want to consider.
And, when you are satisfied that you have found the right company... then Jump! Your company’s future could depend on it.
Bill is the CEO and Founder of InTouch Marketing. Bill drives the vision and direction of InTouch except when England's playing in a soccer tournament, because everything stops!