• Daniel Friedman

Digital Marketing Has Been Hijacked by Poor Quality & Misdirection

When I started Koncepte, I knew I was entering a crowded field.

All you have to do is search for “social media marketing companies” on Google and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.

Do it more than once and you might even start seeing ads from agencies on your Facebook news feed, the same way you see ads almost exclusively depicting shoes after you browse or buy shoes online.

My point is, there are A LOT of these firms popping up. And, while more choices and competition is generally a good thing, it only really helps if you can filter out the noise and recognize which agencies are actually worth looking into.

There are a plethora of reasons why the digital marketing industry has grown exponentially over the past several years. The benefits of maintaining a social media presence are numerous for businesses of all shapes and sizes and it should be noted that there are, of course, digital agencies that produce high-quality work for their clients. This article is not about them.

This is about the dime-a-dozen agencies that charge low monthly fees and profess that marketing is suddenly the easiest thing in the world. All you need is basic content, funnels, influencers, and algorithms. It’s all about capital letters, exclamation points and, apparently, ad copy that only briefly describes your business and/or product as “the best,” or something to that effect.

Better yet, just throw the whole playbook out the window and focus solely on influencer marketing. Who needs to strategize or be creative?

You might get a spike in sales or interaction each time one of these influencers promotes your product, but you’ll never actually understand why your current and potential customers like your product or what makes them respond to your branding. So, the truth is, influencer marketing can be helpful, but only if it’s part of an overarching marketing strategy.

A lot of these firms appear to have convinced business owners that they don’t really need unique or creative content, mostly because they’re trying to cash in on the social media gold rush despite lacking the creativity or imagination necessary to produce truly great marketing ideas that allow their clients to stand out.

They’ve declared that Mad Men-esque advertising is a relic of a time gone by, mainly because they wouldn’t stand a chance during that era. The minute you realize your business needs something better than what they’re peddling is the minute their usefulness ceases to exist.

And the best way to see how great advertising is still alive and well is to look at what the bigger players are doing with their social media ads. They’re still very impressive, with witty writing and eye-popping graphics. The landscape may be different, but lots of parallels still remain.

It is extremely important that you ask these firms how they’re generating content for their clients. I’ve seen cases where an agency literally posted the same exact articles and pictures to each of their clients’ Facebook pages within a specific industry. I’ve seen examples of agencies just posting generic graphics that don’t even attempt to incorporate any sort of company branding. I’ve seen agencies just share a couple of Google reviews each week and then consider it a job well done.

And, heaven forbid you should want more than four or five posts a week, you’ll be nickeled and dimed to no end while continuing to receive lower quality content — just more of it than you were before — because that would require more than a minimal effort, which should beg the question:

Why is a minimal effort being tolerated, let alone offered?

Ask yourself why they’re charging so little for something that should take a lot of time and energy. When it’s done right, marketing takes hard work and attention to detail. There’s also a higher cost for agencies to produce higher-quality content in terms of design tools and research, among other things. If someone’s charging you a monthly fee that looks more like your cable bill, they’re cutting more than just their own expenses.

In what is likely the worst offense I’ve seen, there’s a firm out there that is advertising on Facebook to other digital marketing agencies, trying to convince them to OUTSOURCE THEIR CLIENTS’ SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT TO THEM for under $100 per month.

So, to summarize: The client would be paying to outsource their social media efforts to an agency that would be paying to outsource those social media efforts to an agency.

This is really happening and, when we entered the marketplace, we looked at what all of these other agencies were doing and proceeded to base our business strategy around doing precisely the opposite of what the competition was. For example, other firms offer pricing packages based on specific numbers of weekly posts; we don’t. Who’s to say how many weekly posts your marketing strategy needs, as if there’s some one-size-fits-all approach that works for every business?

We also saw that there wasn’t much of a middle ground for smaller businesses; that you either had to pony up for real marketing or settle for cookie-cutter content. You shouldn’t have to make that kind of a choice. There should be a more flexible option that still provides you with quality creative and a marketing team that actually gives a damn.

Almost every client we’ve worked with has mentioned a previous negative experience with another digital agency prior to our engagement. That has only served to reaffirm what we’d already learned from talking to business owners around the time we first started up: Nobody likes the way these social media marketing agencies are operating and dealing with their clients.

For us, it was a no-brainer to take a decidedly different approach. We’ve learned from the mistakes of others and developed a business strategy that took everything business owners hated about these agencies and threw it in the trash.

Marketing has never been easy and it never will be, no matter where companies are advertising or how much we continue to advance digitally and technologically.

Creativity and the ability to tap into what truly interests people will always be the heart of this business and that’s not something you can just walk right into. You either have those talents or you don’t. There’s no such thing as “growth hacking” when it comes to marketing.

Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise — or take your money after doing so.

Daniel Friedman is the Founder & CEO of Koncepte Digital Marketing. He has previously written for SI.com, CBS New York and Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter at @danjfriedman

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