Leland Dieno

Marketing Agencies Have Been Getting Away With Too Much For Too Long
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Over Promising And Under Delivering Has Become Has Become An Accepted Practice by Digital Marketing Agencies


I remember when I started working on websites in 1998. I was creating files in Dreamweaver or Frontpage and uploading them to a server. Then I’d index them manually in Yahoo and AltaVista and watch the hit counter on the page start to go up in every niche I launched a website in. I would never have thought that this would be where my career would lead me, though I knew I would be involved in Marketing in some way and most importantly business. I loved the idea of creating online entities and then using data to watch them perform.  I started my career in IT, but continually built websites and ran online marketing strategies on the side while I was working my way through a hip hop career (half part time musician) and working my way up to IT Management. Then I shifted into marketing as it was just a natural fit and I’ve been working on executing digital strategy for the past decade mostly relating to web development, strategic content creation and online advertising.

Before I continue, I need to point out that I have worked with some of the most brilliant marketers (traditional and digital) over the past few years. I’m not saying this as a “cop out” but rather because we have worked together or I have watched them execute campaigns or strategies that performed insanely well.

However, I quickly became aware of something. Digital Marketing Agencies continually seemed to over promise and under deliver. Whether it was a SEO consultant, a social media “expert” or a video content creation agency, there always seemed to be great starts to projects and then throughout as the lack of performance became a reality a whole-lot-of-excuses.

As a 30-something year old businessman this doesn’t surprise me. Companies can not exist without some sort of digital presence. Whether it be a website, a directory listing, or a social media page these fundamental digital channels have become absolutely necessary. With any absolutely necessary comes the opportunity for businesses to provide lack-luster performance and take advantage of businesses understanding of their specific skillset. Look at the mechanics industry for example.  Personally, if it’s anything beyond an oil change conversations regarding mechanical work sounds like a foreign language to me. So when I go in to my mechanics to get my clutch replaced, I really have no idea what they should be charging me or the technical work they are doing. I can only base it off of the price point of other mechanics in the area. So, as long as I feel that its reasonably priced and competitive, that is how I make my decision. Fortunately, as this is just a comparison I also have a great Mechanic. Thanks MIke! But we can see how this relates to the marketing industry as a whole.


Take this conversation as an example:

Agency Expert: Well Mrs. Client your website isn’t ranking because you need to increase your backlink strategy and make sure that you are targeting keywords correctly. (this is correct and right).

Mrs Client: Ok, I don’t fully understand, but I will take your word for it.  My competitors are ranking above me on Google when my customers are searching for my service offering, can you fix that?

Agency Expert: Of Course, we can strategically target keywords and guarantee you will rank #1 on Google SERPS for at least 10 keywords that will increase your website traffic.

Mrs Client pays Agency Expert $10,000 and 6 months goes by.

Mrs Client: I have not seen an increase in leads at all and the traffic on my website is not increasing. You also said that we would out rank my competitors for 10 keywords but I don’t see that when I search on Google.

Agency Expert: Well, to be honest Mrs Client, your website does not have enough domain authority to outrank your competitors, but we have ranked you for 10 keywords as #1.

Mrs Client: What are the keywords and how do I increase my domain authority?

Agency Expert: Well, you’d have to talk to your web developer about your domain authority as there are several technical issues with your website and here is the list of keywords [list].

Mrs Client: I paid you a lot of money please cancel my contract.


Now, I only used SEO as an example above because its a rather simple situation that happens a lot. But this same sort of conversation is had every day by thousands upon thousands of clients and their digital marketing agencies across all digital and marketing verticals. It’s kind of funny to me because about 10 years ago Digital Marketer’s big “thing” was saying that you should stop using Television and Radio because you cant REALLY measure their results. You can see shifts but you can’t directly measure the attribution. And now you see marketers solely selling their services on digital ad impressions (which is essentially the same thing as TV in terms of the impact to a brand theoretically).  The truth is there is a place for TV and Radio in a company’s marketing mix if they can afford it, impressions do matter, but so do conversions and measurable KPIS.

Digital Marketing has turned into a sales game of who can sell the best and work the least and churn through customers quick on profit because you know that there are thousands of businesses who absolutely need you to help them. Now we are left with a saturated market of over promising, under delivering and as I see it a sincere lack of compassion for what they do.

I’ve fired a few agencies and I’ve wished I had the budget to continue working with some of the greats when the project was over.  As I also work as\in an Agency myself I have seen the business from the inside and how easily it could turn into this model and under deliver consistently. 

As I see it its quite simple. Going back to my mechanic example, you choose a mechanic who treats you right, cares about your car, gets the job done, offers a fair price and is transparent. The same principals should happen in any client\customer relationship in business. It should be no different with marketing agencies. If you are transparent from the get go, provide quality service at a good price point, you can help businesses and you can deliver upon their expectations. 







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