If you have a business that operates online, there’s a good chance you have (or maybe need) a digital marketing agency helping you out. Hiring digital marketing services to help promote your business is a worthwhile investment– if the agency is actually legit. The downside might be that this industry is not regulated or liable against scammers. We all know someone who has gotten conned out of a big sum of money from an obnoxious advertisement or a false flag pyramid scheme. So how can you, as a business owner, know the potential signs a marketing agency is a scam?
Before we go over these warning signs, we want you to know that we’ve been there. We’ve been part of a company that promises money for our services only to take from us more than they promise to deliver.
We all want to earn an honest living for our specialties. Like you, we put in the daily effort, time, energy, and hard work so we can grow our company and provide for ourselves, our families (and our employees!). The sole intention of scammers, unfortunately, is to leech off the hard work of people in good standing.
How to Spot a Scammer
Unfortunately, every industry has its bad apples. The scammers. Whether these people are beginners in their field or experts, they try to get away with doing as little as possible for as much budget they can convince you into paying, with zero guilt for their selfish actions.
Scammers are smart. They know how to identify ignorant potential “clients” and pounce on businesses who seem vulnerable to needing extra help.
If you take your car to the mechanic and 50 miles later realize they left your engine without oil, your auto shop might be running a scam (this actually happened to me once and it cost me my entire vehicle!).
When you hire an HVAC service and they convince the poor old lady across the street she needs new filters even though she doesn’t have air conditioning, that’s a problem.
There are many subtle signs of scammers in daily life, but what about when it comes to digital marketing agencies?
What Are the Signs a Marketing Agency is a Scam?
1. They instantly seem too good to be true
The thing about promises that seem too good to be true, is that they often are. When initially considering the marketing company’s sales pitch, pay attention to your gut reaction. If they promise outlandish results like being on the TOP of Google search, getting you quick results, or a sure shot at ultimate success, there’s a good chance they’re B.S.ing you into giving them your money.
2. They avoid talking about negative outcomes or lie about worst-case possibilities
Every legitimate marketing expert is aware that the honest fact is: sometimes even the best strategies don’t work right away. And sometimes, they don’t work for a variety of reasons. Their job is to help you improve, but there’s no 100% promise they can land you the marketing of your dreams at #1 or #3 on a search results page!
If you want the honest truth, good marketing teams will be upfront about their efforts needing to take time to fully implement on most occasions. Yes, most marketers will highlight their benefits they can add to your business. But the honest ones will remain trust and tell you straight the odds of ROI and the timeframe.
3. Marketing frauds will often aim to “go big or go home”– or convince you to
Many internet marketing scammers put you in a position of guilt where you need to invest a ton of money with the promise of a higher return. If they try to persuade you into one of the highest campaigns they offer when you’re a small business starting out, beware.
You, as the business owner, have a full right to question and be part of the marketing navigation process. Anyone who sways you away from your marketing budget plan is already not interested in your needs, but their own. The goal is to HELP YOU, remember? Not to convince you into spending thousands of dollars you don’t actually need to.
4. They demand payment upfront but refuse to share results or campaign access with you
Any good ads or social media marketing team will want to show you the progress of the campaign. If they only wish to hide it, claiming “it’s a bunch of techy stuff you won’t understand”, run away! As the paying client, you get access to the analytics and stats while the ads are running, so you can be aware of what’s going on. No matter how well you’re equipped to read or understand the campaign graphs or analytics, chances are at least someone on your team can. It’s not difficult to figure out. No access = no transparency.
5. They use fancy buzzwords but can’t explain the numbers
Marketing scams are notorious for talking more than they can actually show up with. They might use trendy terms like “engagement” or brand awareness. But when you ask them, “how much will it cost for ____?” Or “what are the chances of search engine optimization (SEO) conversions over time?” They won’t be able to give straight-forward answers.
6. They spend your money in multiple places instead of just on ads (HUGE red flag)
If the marketing team you’re planning to work with makes excuses on any need to spend your dollars on other services, like buying backlinks, social media followers, or YouTube ads when you don’t need video… chances are, they’re trying to screw you over.
Bottom Line: Know the Signs A Marketing Agency is A Scam
It’s a dog-eat-dog internet world we live in and it’s important to realize the crap that happens on a daily basis. Since marketing can be a niche, seemingly complicated course of action, many businesses– especially within their first 12 months of operation– can give in to anxiety and rush to the most promising-sounding marketing deal.
By noticing these main red flags, we aim to educate contractors and companies to steer clear of scams. We’ve been there!
If you want an honest, FREE strategy session to walk away from any signs a marketing agency is a scam, contact us at Owl SEM and we’ll help you out. We’re SOOO done with fraud marketing agencies, and it’s time to make a change for the better of us all.