It sounded great, and I didn’t imagine that it would be much of a hassle. My wife and I had been on several of these “listen to the pitch, tour the place, and get your free gift” deals in the past, and the secret was always the same: smile, nod, say no repeatedly, get gift, go home.


This time was different however, as I was soon to discover. The problem was not the holiday company that we visited – we actually signed up this time because the deal was good and the offer fit into our new, empty-nester lifestyle. The problem was the marketing company they had hired.

Traditionally, in Europe, when a monarch died and their heir replaced them on the throne the phrase “The King is dead! Long live the King!” was used to announce the passing of the old monarch and the ascension to the throne of the new. Well, the old marketing is dead, long live the new marketing.

Someone needs to tell that to a whole bunch of marketers out there.

Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing is one of the standards for understanding the new world of marketing. It’s a new world, where consumers are more savvy and relationship marketing has replaced “bait and switch” tactics and high-pressure sales.

In a nutshell, the marketing company that contacted us had practically zero knowledge of the area we are in and gave us horrible directions (which caused us to miss our scheduled appointment), they were extremely rude when we called them for help, and they promised us a gift which was not offered at the location. (a 10’ Samsung or Acer tablet, dagnabbit)

Imagine this conversation: “Hi, we’re trying to find the location of our appointment, can you help us? The address you gave us doesn’t exist.”

them: “Where are you now?”

me: “We’re at the corner of x and y. Should we go straight or head back over the bridge off of the island?”

them: “Yes, you want to go back across the bridge, and then…”

You can see how this could be problematic already. Once we finally found the building, after 45 minutes of driving around (we had been only a few blocks away), we were told that we had missed the appointment and would have to reschedule. I picked up the phone and called the marketing company back.

After complaining (heavily) to the ‘manager’ that I got on the phone eventually, this exchange took place:

me: “We shouldn’t be held responsible for this, we were given bad instructions by your office and would have been early otherwise.”

them: “Your email should have had good directions.”

me: “It had a non-existent address, and when I called for help I was told that it wasn’t even on the island.”

them:  “Which island are you referring to?”

me: “There’s only one here.”

them: “I’m sorry, but if you can’t be more specific than that, I’m afraid I can’t help you.”


This is a marketing company at it’s worst. Hard sell, promise the moon, deliver dirt, and don’t provide service or help after the initial contact.

So how do you judge a marketing company? Here’s my two cents.

First, what are their methods?

If they engage in over-the-phone marketing, particularly cold calls based on data mining, fire them. They are ruining your company’s reputation.

If they have to use skeptical tactics to get people to try your product or services, fire them. I don’t care if it has given you results on paper and/or ended with sales. The tactics will come back to bite you in the long run. Reputation will win in the end.

If they aren’t maintaining an online presence for you on at least two or three social sites, fire them. They are operating two decades behind the rest of the world.

The best method for marketing, of course, is to hire someone in-house to do it for you. Find someone who is great at social media (and preferably knowledgeable about traditional marketing as well), set them up with a quality piece of social media marketing software, and develop a good strategy.

Otherwise, quite frankly, you are wasting a lot of money. Tell me your worst and/or best experience with a marketing company in the comments. Does it top mine?

Wally Peterson

Christ follower, freelance writer, entrepreneur, Android lover, family man, political conservative, generally nice guy.

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