My Journal



Hey marketers! Want to ruin a small business? Be one of these people.

After numerous meetings with our clients—many of which have been operating for 20+ years—they have told us how they lost out with marketing providers. Apart from the hours wasted and lack of ROI, SMEs experience an absence of transparency, work delivered late (or not at all), inability to access their own IP, oh I could go on… I’ve found that these instances aren’t isolated to any one part of marketing, but throughout the entire industry. To take a deeper view into our observations, we put a call out in the media and spoke with small business owners we had never worked with to uncover their experiences. In a matter of minutes, we had countless responses in our inbox ranging from anger to sadness – from people who were affected financially and emotionally by our industry.

The stories we received made us feel outraged and embarrassed. Here’s a snippet of the recurrent trouble makers in our industry:

The Disappearer : This marketing provider is one that tends to be unreachable and enjoys taking frequent holidays. When working with The Disappearer, small business owners may ask questions like: It’s been 12 months… why isn’t my website finished? or where the hell is my web developer?

The Scammer : This type of provider often comes off as cunning upon first impression, but this master of manipulation has absolutely no desire to deliver. The Scammer is 100% self-serving and will benefit from a client’s ignorance by charging unreasonably high fees for words such as ‘guru’ or ‘world-leading’. More times than not, you aren’t the first client they’ve ripped off and this whole smoke and mirrors thing – they’ve got that down-packed.

The Hand-Cuffer : In this case, the marketer tends to be good at what they do. However, their ethics are let’s say – questionable. When working with The Hand-Cuffer, you will lose complete control over your company. This type of provider keeps all of the passwords and all of the pages, assets or systems closed—leaving nothing accessible for the client. They will make the simplest tasks seem more difficult than they are in order to squeeze every possible cent.

The Guru (common among mediocre freelancers) : Generally working by themselves, The Guru claims to have a combined skillset of a dozen people and is a superhuman. The Guru doesn’t specialise in a particular topic because he/she knows all the topics. They are able to help you with everything – design, coding, writing, testing, styling and so much more. How could one person be capable of delivering all of that? The answer is—they can’t. The Guru will fail to deliver on time, and when/if they ever deliver, it will be mediocre work at best. You are better off stopping at their $49.99 e-book and investing a little more in another service. People who take their business seriously… have a business – that expands beyond an e-guide.

The Over-Charger : When hiring someone of this persona, it is common that their will be no service agreement outlining fees, so the client never knows how much to expect in terms of a charge. The Over-Charger likes to turn everything into a variable cost. Every revision (regardless of how small it is) will cost an additional and significant fee. By the end of your time working with The Over-Charger, your expense incurred will be WAY ABOVE that of what the market indicates as fair.

The Coach : Coaches are popping up everywhere now. If you check their credentials, many of them have never started a business. They refer to themselves as coaches just because they were able to take an e-course of some sort, which was most likely taught by a Guru. Before hiring The Coach, think about what they’re preaching and ask for real tangible credentials. My team and I work with some amazing coaches who have spent years building businesses –  they will stand in your shoes better than anyone else with a nice logo.

-How would they understand the pressures of making payroll if they’ve never experienced them?

-How would they understand the intricacies of building a team if they’ve never built a real team of their own?

-How would they understand what it takes to start a company if they’ve never actually started one?

Anyone can take a course and tell you what they learnt from it, but paying someone to recite textbook information is a waste of your money. The reality of the situation is that these coaches have never lived through the real day-to-day operations and lack an understanding of what’s occurring in-between the lines.  It’s all the between-the-line stuff that makes a great leader.

This type of somewhat criminal behaviour in our industry is completely unacceptable and occurs way too much. It is no wonder that most businesses don’t take marketers  seriously. For every customer who has had a bad experience, good companies like us go into a meeting with a person we can genuinely help who will NOT take the help because they have grown sceptical of creative types.

If you’ve encountered someone who you think qualifies for one of the titles in this article, hit me up, I’d love to hear about it.

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