Buyer Beware: Marketing Is the New Hosted VoIP
By Angela Leavitt
Back in my Telesphere days, we would frequently come up against competitors who we lovingly referred to as “two dudes and a server" — because that’s exactly what they were.
Charmed by lower prices or a previous relationship, customers would sometimes sign on with these “mom and pop" hosted VoIP providers. When things went wrong, the two dudes didn’t have the proper infrastructure to correct the issues, or worse — they were nowhere to be found. It was a mess we frequently got called upon to clean up, and it left many customers without phone service for long periods of time.
It’s Taco Time
Fast forward to a few months ago when I was standing in line at a taco shop. (I live in San Diego. We have the best tacos.) Two guys behind me were chatting and the one told the other he’s “getting into digital marketing." As the owner of a marketing agency, my curiosity was naturally piqued.
Apparently he had attended a weekend workshop on Facebook ads and now had a client entrusting him with $10,000 a month to manage. I threw up in my mouth a little (that is a LOT of money). So much for tacos.
The Zero Hero
Around the same time, an acquaintance of mine, who has been unsuccessful at several other ventures, decided to throw his anchor into the digital marketing harbor as well. With ZERO previous marketing experience besides attending a conference or two, he’s now positioning himself as a marketing expert — and some poor, unfortunate souls are buying into it.
This is unsettling.
Not because I’m gaining competitors (there’s plenty of work for everyone), but because the chances of these “weekend workshop warriors" creating anything of value for their customers is extremely slim. I’ve heard story after story of companies getting burned by these marketing moonlighters, and frankly, it makes me sad for the customers and embarrassed for my profession. These guys and gals are tarnishing the marketing profession as a whole.
What a Good Marketer Isn’t
Look, I get it. Marketing is sexy and there’s a low barrier to entry. If you have a laptop and an internet connection, you can pretty much be in business. But I would be remiss if I didn’t warn potential marketing buyers that a bunch of amateurs are now running around declaring themselves marketing gurus.
- A good writer is not necessarily a good marketer, although you need good writing.
- A good designer is not necessarily a good marketer, although you need good design.
- A good schmoozer is not necessarily a good marketer, although you need good schmoozers.
- A good party-thrower is not necessarily a good marketer, and yes, you absolutely need good parties.
Cue the Symphony
A good marketer understands the psychology behind what grabs your potential buyer’s attention and gets that person to take an action. Then, like an orchestra conductor, he or she works with a variety of strategies, tactics, platforms and team members to help you reach your goals.
Yes, you need good writers and designers and schmoozers and party throwers, as well as social experts and email experts and marketing tech experts, and so on. But the biggest question should be: Who’s conducting the orchestra? What’s the overall strategy?
You can’t learn to conduct an orchestra in a weekend and you certainly can’t become a marketing expert in a weekend. These conference attendees are learning the basics of one or two instruments and suddenly think they can write symphonies. In reality, it takes years of experience, trial and error, study and experimentation to become a seasoned marketing professional.
Getting Down to the Truth
Do I attend marketing workshops and conferences? Absolutely. I need to sharpen my skills just as much as anyone else. But I’ve been at this long enough to decipher what is real and what isn’t. And let me tell you, a lot of these conferences are high on hype and low on actual education.
So if you or someone you know is shopping for marketing services, please do the proper due diligence with your potential providers. Find out things like:
- How long have they been in business?
- How many people on the team (FT / PT employees and contractors)?
- What other clients have they worked with?
- Can you speak to those clients?
- Can they show you tangible results? Reports?
- Any case studies or testimonials?
- What has their growth been in the last year?
Doing your homework up front will save you thousands of dollars and tons of frustration. Do your company a favor and don’t fall for these wolves in “marketing guru" clothing. Your budget and your sanity will thank you.