What Does Marketing Do!?
Let’s start with an anecdote about Picasso:
The story goes that Picasso was sitting in a Paris café when an admirer approached and asked if he would do a quick sketch on a paper napkin. Picasso politely agreed, swiftly executed the work, and handed back the napkin — but not before asking for a rather significant amount of money. The admirer was shocked: “How can you ask for so much? It took you a minute to draw this!” “No”, Picasso replied, “It took me 40 years.”
Today is an interesting subject. I’m going to twist it a bit, and instead of answering the question of “What does marketing do?”, I’m going to answer the question of: “What does digital marketing entail?”
Or more specifically, what do we do for our clients?
Let me preface this article with an admission that few people in my position really want to talk about – digital marketing is hard. And quite frankly, a lot of it sucks!
Why is that, you ask? Because each year, each month, and each hour, more and more people are learning about it.
Each year, each month, and each hour, the internet is becoming less of a “new thing” and more of an “old thing”.
Since the internet came about, we’ve gone through tremendous changes as a society:
We TRUSTED every email until spammers came along!
We were so EXCITED to type in our credit card on Amazon and have a CD shipped our way!
We couldn’t WAIT to bid on eBay for a precious Beanie Baby!
We were so THRILLED to sign up for every mailing list!
We couldn’t BELIEVE we could watch Lost on our iPod!
Videos on YouTube? UNBELIEVABLE!
And yet now… How do we feel about all that now?
As Google marches ever towards sentience, it’s hard not to think that a great deal of “marketing” will just be handing money to Google and trusting them to do… something for you. After all, big data is smarter than you are right!?
With each passing year, we get increasingly bored with the internet, and we get increasingly tired of the scams that used to work. How many crappy ecommerce stores do you have to visit now before you default to Amazon and never look back?
As the gimmicks wear off, the tricks don’t work anymore. In 1999, I could have made hundreds of thousands of dollars just jamming keywords into pages for big companies, fooling Google, and getting those sweet sweet results.
Now, we need links, social shares, and in short, we need to be popular in order to be popular. And as the Kardashians are well aware, being popular is a full-time job.
So many people promise quick wins
We are bombarded every day with internet marketers who promise us first page results, who promise us $$$$ online – the snake oil factor in this business is higher than ever. And truth be told, most of those peddling this garbage are idiots. There, I said it. They categorically have a low IQ, but darn it! Aren’t they enthusiastic!?
Quick wins are a myth.
I haven’t created quick wins, but I’ve created wins. I’ve created the kind of wins that make sense. Put a TON of work into something, and you’ll get some decent sales. The same is true if you go to the street corner and yell at people all day. *Somebody* will probably buy your product. That’s what I’m here to do. The hard work for you so you don’t have to.
Business owners often expect to be #1 in everything for a couple hundred dollars a month.
And when they aren’t, they’re disappointed and say that their digital agency is doing a terrible job. Of course, this is compounded by the reality above that many digital agencies truly ARE doing a terrible job. It’s a tough chicken-or-egg problem. In some cases business owners are justified with their frustration, in other cases, they aren’t.
For some reason, people expect that hiring an agency will automatically solve every single business problem they ever had. Who cares if you have a nice product? Who cares if you have a good company? Who cares about anything YOU do, right? When you hire an agency for a few hundred dollars, you expect to make a million back in the first month.
Sadly, the kind of returns business owners hope for just aren’t possible with AdWords, Facebook Ads, SEO, or any digital agency you can find.
Even spending $25,000/mo. on a major agency won’t necessarily get you to the #1 position for some terms, and even for Fortune 500 companies, it might be money down the drain. But at least the PDF reports look convincing, right!?
On the opposite end of the spectrum, people are so convinced that someone from UpWork can do the small agency’s job at least as well as they can for $3/hr it’s shocking. It’s also patently false. As a result of the increased perception that digital marketing is an easy, commoditized skill, the hard-working smaller agencies have to try even harder to convince someone they should be worth more per hour than an 18 year old fry cook at McDonald’s.
For an agency, costs are fixed each month, and time truly is money. Literally.
Most business owners want to draw out processes so they last forever. A one-month SEO fix becomes months and months of maintenance work, because many business owners don’t fully appreciate how good it is to have a “web guy” until they don’t anymore and everything starts mysteriously breaking… When you factor rent and expenses in a major city, like office space, computers, software, and everything else that the agency is paying for and not you, suddenly $1,000 doesn’t seem so large.
When many business owners see a price tag like $2,499 for SEO services on a monthly basis, they balk. It seems like a lot.
But what are you actually getting, if you hire me, for example? Here’s a breakdown of everything it takes to do the BARE MINIMUM online needed to play in the arena of the big dogs.
So what does marketing do? Here:
- Hours and hours spent reading books on AdWords, Digital Marketing, getting certifications, reading every blog, watching Rand Fishkin every Friday for *something* new.
- Intimate knowledge of WordPress, its quirks, errors, and how to avoid the most terrible mistakes.
- FTP, Chrome Extensions, Developer Tools… Check.
- Truly exceptional copywriting, done quickly and without thought.
- A world-class eye for design, changing with the design trends of the time.
- CSS, to implement those design and UI ideas.
- Deep understanding of PageSpeed.
- Ability to manage a complex web of 301 redirects.
- Ability to fix crawl errors, such as 404s, dead links, and more.
- Constantly juggling: AdWords campaigns, SEO campaigns, analytics, and more.
- The ability to keep an overview of hundreds of pages and keywords in your head, with a clear mental map of all and their progress over time.
- Insane problem-solving skills.
- Photoshop, Illustrator, Final Cut, audio editing, and every other digital suite.
- Social media content generation and “taste”.
- Knowledge and deep understanding of modern analytics, both Google and otherwise.
- Explorations and deep understanding of emerging and established SEO tools and SaaS tools, monitored constantly.
- An ingrained understanding of general “trends”.
- The ability to not freak out when things go haywire.
- Understanding CTAs, CTRs, CRO and how they are all related but completely different.
- Understanding the complete evolution of digital marketing from Geocities pages and winelibrary.com through now.
- Customer-service skills.
- An IRS-level eye for mundane detail.
- Never getting to cut a corner, even if the image is 1 pixel by 1 pixel.
- Mathematics, phone skills, PDF generation, etc.
- Oh, and typing 100WPM plus.
Of course, there’s more than this, but this is a fairly accurate starting point.
And ALL that, ladies and gentlemen, is what it takes just to play the game of digital marketing.
To generate sales. Maybe not millions per month, but sales in the thousands for sure.
To barely stay afloat, for businesses in tough industries.
For many years, I valued my time lower, because other fraudsters charge so low for “SEO packages” all over.
Now, I charge $100/hour, which is actually quite low for my skill-set and 10 years of experience. But I know I’m worth it, and maybe now, you have a better understanding of what it takes to even play this game, let alone win it.
Unfortunately, on some fronts the prognosis is not good. Long gone are the days of buying beer.com and being the first to think of just about anything. In the future, it’s going to be harder and harder to generate fewer and fewer sales as competition increases year over year, and the internet becomes “old”. But it’s still possible to win, with hard work, and I would argue, intelligence at the helm.
I’m not responsible for the success or failure of your business when we work together. But I can be a VERY helpful, trusted partner. I can help you cover a LOT of different bases. I can fix behind-the-scenes issues that you’re not even aware of, before you even see them, and I’ll do a million little things that you’ll never even know about.
At the very least, I’ve seen and helped the struggle of companies like yours at various phases of operation, from start-up to well-established. At the very least, I’ve seen the map firsthand, and I can share it with you if you like.
All this, just to compete! What does marketing do? That and more.
If you still think $2,499 per month is high for 25 hours of the expertise of a highly-experienced digital marketer, I’m not the right fit for you.