SCAM or not?

Whilst working for a promising European brand for the China market, which hired me for my strategical consultation and branding plan design, I got to face the ugliest side of my job that I ignored.

Just like those mornings when you get up from the bed and stand in front of the mirror, and what you see is totally unpleasant to your eyes. Because your hair is so messy, the bags under the eyes, that jelly belly, and the morning breath are just ugly!

Just like that, I got to face my marketing and branding services when I was brought, as the right hand of the business owner, to another marketing agency which may offer same or similar services that my company offers.

Don’t get me wrong, this article doesn’t have the purpose of blaming either agency.

This article is to open my eyes and most importantly, your eyes business owner!

Also, for the sake of respect and less distraction, I preferred to omit companies’ names. As for the client I mention in here, we will call him Max.

Let me break down the takeaways I had during the encountering with the head of the digital marketing campaigns. Before that, you must have a bit of the context for a better understanding.

Back to my current client, who also reached out to this other reputable digital marketing agency. He specifically hired the services of SEO, PPC, and optimization for his local e-shop four months ago. While he hired me for the service of branding and promotion.

Max requested this appointment with all of us so we can actually find points to match campaigns and be able to move the brand to the next level smoothly. However, half of the participant didn't know that we were at the beginning of an unpleasant discovery.

We all sat down in an empty small office inside the main working space of this digital marketing agency.

Max began with some complaints; the uploaded images were poor, the prices were altered for “better attraction” without discussing it with the business owner, and finally, during the expected high sales season, no one sale happened because the agent behind the campaign left the company unexpectedly.

This last fact was something I totally ignored and when I heard Max saying "during the hot season, we didn't have any item sold coming from the e-shop" my eyes and lips opened to show my shocking emotions.

How I describe that moment, the meeting was the tensest I have ever taken part. Max had too many complaints to vent during the meeting and politeness and kindness was forgotten for a bit while.

Before that moment, I was pasively listening until this point when I had to agree with Max's discomfort and upsetness.

A very quick stream of malicious happiness run in me because that is what every business owner want right?

You surely want to be proven right and better than the competitor on his/her presence.

Then my thoughts brought me to think of other clients of mine and even the moments when I had their complaints to me. So, now my whole self changed to feel a sort of understanding. I even started questioning myself, what are we marketing agencies doing wrong? What does upset the clients the most?

In my surprising state, I called wisdom to me. The best thing to do was to stand on the client's shoes for a while and looked for answers that would help. Immediately, I quickly listed some question for the digital marketing team sitting across the round table in this 5 m2 yellow room.

How are you attracting visitors?

What are the products with more visits?

How long do the visitors remain in the shop?

What is the theme of the e-shop?

What are the focused words or keywords you are using for building content? What the CTAs you are currently using? Do you have AB tests done?

Once more time, the answer was the same "The last person in charge is gone. We plan to make a total change because everything is wrong"

Max couldn't handle it anymore, he threatened them for total reimbursement or he would sue them. I don't blame him, he paid many tens of thousands of RMB to this company four months ago. Max expected to sell more.

The team also defending themselves saying they have a plan. Max didn't want to hear about any plan. I was on his side. An inner voice telling me, "this can be you, so you better cool down and learn what you have to learn here and now". So, I did. I kindly tried to relax Max and accept to hear their plan.

He finally agreed.

They proceeded after a quick smoking break. (My first lesson and recommendation to any business owners is; if you are a smoker, NEVER smoke before a meeting or during a meeting with your clients. It is totally unpleasant and disrespectful)

Consequently, with a single printed copy of "their plan" in hand, I opened my computer to take notes for my own sake and Max's future campaigns too.

One of the staff spoke about the steps to gain buyers.

He talked about the campaign for the awareness and the keywords that needed to be used.

I asked about the precise tactics to the campaign. They stopped me saying they wanted to finish their explanation. So I showed my respect and kept quiet.

They moved to the facade of the e-shop, saying it needed a theme and concept.

I had to interrupt again because that is something I came for, to match the concept or theme that will communicate to the potential buyers.

The answer was, "we have to brainstorm first".

Then, they moved to the SEO and keywords, mentioning they will make exhaustive research on the accurate most used words that match the products. I asked again "have you made any research yet?" One more time the disappointment arrived when they answered; "No, this is in the plan, we will do it"

That was it! I got it!

That was not a plan, that was a sales speech.

And this time, the lesson was cleared to me. Since the services or Marketing and Branding is a very intangible and hard to measure, (NOT IMPOSSIBLE) it can be so easy to confuse clients who expect positive results in their buyers.

Back to to the discussion, I had a flight to catch so, I excused myself and left the room because there was nothing else for me to do there. I closed my computer and adviced Max to get his money back if possible.

I crossed the door of their office with my bag in had and sadness within for my client because I am a business owner and entrepreneur too. I also know that every effort and penny matters and it really hurts when the investment ends being a loss.

Once back home and with this amazing learning I call my small staff for a meeting to share the news. We all agreed to make a change because we do care about the success of our clients. At Smart Marketing we listen to our clients' needs and find the best solution as if it was our business.

So we made some adjustments in the presentation of our services, steps, and prices. Our clients can now see the prices and tools we use for every campaign.

We invite every entrepreneur to be aware of the real impact the different promo action may offer to the business.

Dear reader and business owner, please believe me that I don't share this experience of mine to scare you or spread negativism. My main purpose is to ENCOURAGE you to educate yourself better about the process.

The sales funnel is a process and it requires time and investment. Every business is like a little plant. You may deposit a tiny seed in the ground. The frequent care, suitable nourishment, right sunlight timing, and watering are the main factors for the plant to grow healthily. It will take months or even years for it to be a strong tree. At last, when it is big and strong enough it will offer you some juicy fruits.

Treat your business like a plant. Invest time and resources correctly. Keep your patience and listen to the people who know better.

Do you agree? We would love to hear your stories, please share with us your promo experiences.

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