This is not an article about how to market a shiny, worthless mineral.
A vast array of snake oil salesmen are busy trying to sell you marketing services or programs. They sound good, they make you salivate over getting rich.
They are also worthless.
Marketers market. The first thing they market is themselves.
Regardless of whether they actually have a valuable service to offer.
If you need marketing, you can’t just throw your hands up in disgust and skip it all. Or close your eyes, throw the dart at the wall and hope for a bullseye.
What to do?
RECOGNIZING FOOL’S GOLD
You know, “Fool’s Gold” is called that for a reason. Many have been fooled, thinking they had the real stuff.
The thing is, there are many reliable tests. They even smell different!
You need reliable ways of telling real marketing from fake.
The first ingredient is a healthy skepticism. The Romans use to say “Caveat Emptor” – “Let the buyer beware.” Unless you enjoy being victimized.
Only YOU can prevent flushing your hard-earned money down the toilet.
SIZE. FAME. RESPECTABILITY. WHATEVER.
Some things which don’t guarantee results:
- It’s a multi-billion-dollar company
- A household name, everyone’s heard of them
- Celebrity endorsements
- A slick, million-dollar TV advertising campaign
- Fancy offices
- Who they know and hang out with
- Expensive cars and $1000 suits
You get the idea.
Do you know the term “con game?” It is short for “confidence game.” A racket based on convincing someone you can be trusted.
People have been doing this for a long time. Exploiting, as the Wikipedia article says, “credulity, naivete, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, and greed.” A Chinese book of swindles dates from the 1600’s. Insurance fraud was a big problem in ancient Greece.
But yeah, maybe things are worse now.
It’s not hopeless. Like Fool’s Gold, fool’s marketing has a smell to it.
TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?
The first thing to consider. Is it too good to be true?
This is where that healthy skepticism really works. Put your thinking cap on and consider.
I’ve seen big-name company advertising on TV. “You can have a professional website with top search rankings for free.” Or $30 a month.
First of all, if it’s that easy, EVERYONE would have top rankings. Which makes it like the silly political promise, elect me and everyone will have above average income.
If it’s that good, why is it that cheap?
Someone wrote that ad, completely disconnected from reality. Their only thought was “will this ad sell?”
Make them wrong. Don’t fall for an obvious bunch of baloney.
Most of the time it is going to take hard work as well as intelligence to achieve successful marketing. It’s not a unicorn, and sure, great success does sometimes fall into someone’s lap. But if you want to depend on getting lucky, buy a lottery ticket. Or Publisher’s Clearing House.
I don’t want to be 100% about the negative. So let’s give you some positive tools to use.
How to tell The Real Deal when it comes to marketing.
Here are some evergreen marketing tools. Your prospective vendor should be talking about them AND using them in his own marketing. If they aren’t, alarm klaxons going off.
I’m going to do a separate article covering these in detail, but here’s the short version:
- A GOOD WEBSITE. Since the commercial internet is only 22 years old, maybe evergreen is a little rash of a word to use. But so far as I can tell, from here on out, if you don’t have a good website, you are wasting a large portion of your marketing dollar.
You aren’t going to get a good website, one with great search rankings, for $999. And it isn’t coming from some guy working out of his house with no employees. I bet his own website is awful. If he’s so good at marketing….
- THIRD PARTY REVIEWS AND TESTIMONIALS. Independent reviews are a big deal. By survey the single most trusted way of evaluating a product or service. Especially if there are a LOT of them.
So, if someone is trying to sell you marketing and they don’t have a LOT of excellent reviews….
Your own marketing program needs to include reviews and testimonials and if someone is proposing market for you, that better be an important part of their program. Else charge them with marketing malpractice.
- METRICS. Marketing effectiveness is measurable in many respects. And almost every marketing company offers some kind of reports or metrics.
The trick is, are these valuable and sensible?
This is an area where unfortunately there is no easy answer. It may sound good, but is it something you can take to the bank? More on this next week. Start by understanding the proposed metrics and use your common sense.
- CASE STUDIES. A sister to both metrics and testimonials/reviews. If they aren’t made up, and they are relevant to what you do, they are a great sign of effectiveness in a potential marketing vendor. Also likely a valuable tool of your own marketing.
THERE ARE MANY MORE of these. Probably the number one tool that I’ve not covered is STRATEGY. If you don’t have a marketing strategy, and a marketing vendor isn’t at least talking about strategy, something is deeply wrong. Because it is like trying to climb a mountain without a map.
I’ll cover these all in more detail in my follow-up article. So tune in next week….