Updated: Jun 8
I decided to write this article after speaking to a frustrated small business owner. She couldn't understand why a marketer could quote a price, but not provide a guarantee on her marketing investment.
I had to tell her that any marketer who guarantees a return is lying. No marketer can guarantee results because of what marketing is.
What marketing really is.
The creation of anything marketing related is (or should be) based on educated guesses grounded in primary or secondary research, or as I like to call it, majority rules principles.
Marketers then pair their educated guesses with their experience in and knowledge of the field to guide marketing for others.
So, what about the ROI?
The question isn't, do you guarantee a particular result, be it:
If I invest $20,000 into creating a marketing plan, will I make $60,000 this year?
If I send out ten new emails this month, will I double my clients?
If we create a month of social media posts, will my followers grow by 200%?
The question should be, will you continue to help me position my business strategically and with a level of professionalism that will help me reach my business goals for as long as I pay you your worth?
Instead, to ask what your marketing ROI will be lets most marketers know two things:
You don't know how marketing works, or you would never ask the question.
You’re operating your business without confidence. Either because your service is not that great, or you don't believe in yourself or business 100%.
So, what CAN a marketer do for me?
Think about it this way. If you have a child, you’re responsible for feeding your child and taking care of it. And one day, you send that child off to college.
You or someone pays for that child to receive a great education that will pave the way for that child's future.
At school, professors teach your child what they need to know for a career.
But there's no guarantee that when that child graduates that they will be a millionaire.
Your business is the child, and you are its parent.
Marketers are the teachers you send your child to with hopes of them picking a great career path with a high earning potential.
Although it is a process-based discipline, it will always have inherent risks because PEOPLE are unpredictable. Your clients or customers are not predictable, and neither are you.
Hard Questions to Answer
Just like you, your customers are looking for more than flashy marketing images and nice language. If you can’t deliver on your brand promise, there’s no point in investing money in marketing.
So, what you have to ask yourself before you engage a marketer should be:
Are you are wasting everybody’s time because your business is rocky in more ways than one?
Are your services competitive?
Are you wowing those who do business with you with your services?
Do people like you?
Because if you are not likable and/or your service delivery is trash, marketing will do nothing for you.
Marketing isn't a magic wand.
Marketers are Like Scientists
Better yet, think of marketing as a science experiment. The more trained the scientist, the more likely you will get the results you desire.
Like a scientist, marketers lean on data, experience, education, and best practices. We use all of the above to find the best possible solution.
But, like any science experiment, or even a survey, there is always a margin of error to be expected.
Does this mean you then put, let's say, a cure in the hands of someone who knows nothing about science? No, you trust the scientists because they've studied long enough to have a fighting chance of figuring things out.
Treat educated, seasoned marketers like scientists.
If you don't know this, marketing is called "an art and a science." Solid marketers are here to give you THE BEST SHOT at achieving the level of business success you strive for.
Other Things You Take Risk On
Let me give you more examples of things you spend money on without an ROI.
You spend money on trips with no guarantee of a good time.
You spend money on a car with no guarantee that it will always work.
You spend money on movies with no guarantee that you will like it.
You spend money on a home with no guarantee that the roof won't leak.
You spend money on rent with no guarantee that you will have peace and quiet.
You go to a doctor with no guarantee that you will feel better after seeing them.
You spend money eating out with no guarantee you won't get sick.
You are brought into this world, and there’s no guarantee that you will live to 100 years old.
Life, for many of us, is just the process of trusting those who know more than us to do their best to do right by us.
We trust the concierge has been at the hotel long enough to tell us the best places to go.
We trust the car dealer that we are getting the best car on the lot.
We trust the roofer that he sealed the roof well for no leaks.
Yet, life happens.
Better yet, do you go back to your doctor asking for your deductible back when the doctor said you should feel well in a week, but it took two weeks?
Did the doctor not give you the best possible medical options given their expertise?
Do they not deserve to get paid if what worked for others happened not to work for you?
What You Should Look for in a Marketer
I am not saying you’re to spend your money on marketing blindly.
Do your due diligence to find out if the marketer you’re interested in working with knows marketing.
Find out if they have helped anyone achieve any business growth. What a marketer can and should speak to are the results they've achieved for others.
This could be from their past jobs or as a freelancer or business owner.
You can only look at past performance to trust that the marketer is more likely able to give you a similar return on your investment.
But an ROI cannot be predicted or guaranteed when it comes to marketing, especially since every company is different on some level. And how they connect to an audience will not be the same as another.
A marketer should also:
Garner your trust
Help you make an informed buying decision
Educate you on their process
Provide you with testimonials/social proof
Let you talk to other clients about their experience
And deliver excellent customer service from the very beginning
The marketer you want to work with should also be someone honest with integrity. You want someone who won't make false promises. Instead, work with someone not afraid to set realistic expectations for your marketing.
You want transparency, and that is what Brazen Marketer promises, along with promises to:
Be a partner to a healthy business relationship
Gain an understanding of your business and audience to make informed marketing decisions
Test and measure marketing efforts and pivot quickly when necessary
Bring ideas to the table informed by consumer insights
Keep you "in-the-know" about marketing progress
What to do if a marketer makes a guarantee?
If a marketer tells you that they can guarantee any ROI, you need to run or get ready for many disappointments.