“I Don’t Trust You”: What to Do When Prospective Clients are Skeptical of the Digital Marketing Industry

Trust is Earned Not Given

Trust is a simple concept first introduced to many of us when we’re quite young. And yet, in the digital marketing industry it’s quite often turned topsy-turvy as service providers demand contracts upfront without first demonstrating that they can deliver a positive return-on-investment. Often they don’t even offer historical data showcasing performance they’ve achieved on other accounts.

In my years working as a Digital Marketing Consultant I have witnessed the unflattering underbelly of the industry:

  • Grossly swollen contracts paired with crippling cancellation penalties that keep clients suffocated and suitably helpless as they’re unable to look for help elsewhere.
  • Aggressive salesmen hired by media agencies to sell advertising packages on platforms they have never worked with; incentivized by long-term commissions on heinous mark ups the client will never know about.
  • The sub-sub-sub-contracting of work that was originally purchased by clients looking to work with the over-hyped “big Media Moguls in town”. They will never know that in reality 4 different intermediaries are simply skimming a little off the top of the contract. There’s so little left in the contract that the bottom feeder in the sub-contracting chain can only afford to hire off-shore workers. These off-shore workers often deliver ineffective and damaging work to unknowing businesses who are kept conveniently ignorant by professionals who intimidate and baffle them with industry jargon.

Those are just the bear-traps I am safe to mention as long as I don’t name names. There is no doubt in my mind that looking for a Digital Service Provider is a perilous process for most businesses regardless of whether you’re looking to hire talent in-house or out-of-house (more on the in-house vs. out-of-house debate in a later blog post).

These forms of abuse have been experienced by too many businesses first-hand and the misleading nature of the infractions have not gone unnoticed. Naturally this has created an environment of suspicion and distrust among business owners who feel trapped and taken-advantage of. If they are lucky enough to escape their captors they’ll be hostile towards anything that even moderately resembles their previous entanglement. As well they should be.

Which gives me a convenient segue into my next point:

As a Business Owner It’s OK to be Suspicious and Skeptical

If you’re a business looking for help with Digital Marketing – it’s OK to be suspicious and skeptical of professionals that try to sell you services without showing you results. If you’re a Digital Marketing Service provider that offers quality performance, it’s important to remember not to take this suspicion personally. Use it as an opportunity to juxtapose the performance of the strategies you build with the strategies they were previously burned by. If you offer your clients an immediate return-on-investment, open-communication, and full-transparency in due time these clients will become your biggest advocates. There should be nothing about that list of deliverables that intimidates you in the slightest.

digital marketing industry

Businesses Should Return for Digital Marketing Services Voluntarily

There is nothing more valuable to a digital marketing service provider than clients who return for services of their own volition and not because a contract stipulated it. The truth is, businesses should start to feel an impact from their Digital Marketing Services within the first month of service. If they’re not seeing results, something is wrong and it should be discussed. Don’t get me wrong, the longer campaigns run, the better the performance tends to be. However, but the business should feel a positive impact within the first month, therefore, there’s no need for contracts demanding minimum trail periods of six months or longer.

In reality, contracts are often used by Digital Marketing Service Providers to secure their own interests. If a Digital Marketing Service Provider is insisting on long-term contracts, maybe start looking for service elsewhere.

The Takeaways for Digital Marketing Service Providers:

  1. If a prospective client is skeptical – never take it personally, use it as an opportunity to surpass their expectations with the effectiveness of your work.
  2. Don’t demand long term contracts. Honestly, how long could you possibly hope to trap a business in a contract that wasn’t delivering a positive return-on-investment? Six months? A Year? Even the most optimistic business owners will be reluctant to sign-on for longer than that right-off-the bat. Is the long-term game-plan to source new contracts every six months? What an exhausting process! Wouldn’t it be far easier to simply deliver quality services in the first place that clients return for voluntarily? Wouldn’t you find it a much more rewarding process if you could look back at the history of a company and see the areas of growth your strategies helped bring about? The point is – spend your time learning to do good work and you won’t have to “trap” anyone in offensive contracts.
  3. Don’t sub-sub-sub contract without informing your clients. Your client has chosen to work with you and your business directly. They should be introduced to the person that will be directly completing the work they are paying for. Bringing on a sub-contractor to help provide better performance for your clients is fine! But outsourcing contracts you don’t know how to fulfill to off-shore workers who can’t be held accountable isn’t. In time and with good performance, your clients will genuinely appreciate you and continuously solicit your services because you deliver them an ROI they can’t find elsewhere.

The Takeaways for Businesses

  1. It’s OK to be skeptical. In fact, it’s healthy and can save you a lot of grief.
  2. Never sign long-term contracts.
  3. Always ask to speak with the person who will directly be completing the work you’re paying for.
  4. Manage your own expectations. Yes you should feel an impact from the services you’re paying for immediately, but try not to micromanage your contractor. If they’ve agreed to the three points above – they’re probably not up to anything nefarious. Give them some breathing room and they’ll likely deliver even better results for your business!

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