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4 Scare Tactics Your Agency Uses Against You

Scare Tactics

Digital marketing seems scary to a lot of clients.  The fact that you can look at an item online and then be targeted by a company selling that and then shown ads on different devices sometimes freaks people out.  This seems like a highly targeted ad tactic that is expensive and only big companies can do it.  Thankfully, that’s not even a little bit true.  The fact is that we leave or willingly give digital information about ourselves all the time.  Much of this information can be correlated together for marketing purposes.  It works exactly how Spotify and Apple Music suggest music; it takes trends and commonalities between what you listen to and just serves you similar music.  You’ll also notice that the more music you listen to, the closer all the suggestions are to being something you’ll enjoy.  The same goes for digital marketing.  You’ve been using Google for years, you are on social media daily, you buy from Amazon and you have a gmail.  All of these build a digital identity for you, thus putting you in multiple categories to be serviced by ads.   It really is that simple.  The complex part is the gathering and sorting of the information.  Google and Facebook are amazing at it, that’s why they are so huge.  Agencies will often try and make digital marketing tactics seem so complex that you would never understand.  They use information, charts and data to scare you so that you feel helpless and have to use them or else.  Here’s 4 common ways they will try to bully you into a contract.

1. Error, Warning, Notice, Danger, Alert!

You’ve probably seen or been called by someone overseas (often calling themselves something like Microsoft Security Department) trying to tell you that your computer is infected with a virus or that you have been hacked.  They will tell you that they want to show you and will ask you to go to a website where they can connect to your computer.  Once you’ve done that they open programs that just give you information about processes happening on the PC.  In these reports you will find where processes have stopped, show errors or have other “negative” keywords.  Since the vast majority of people have no idea of the context of this report, it’s easy to convince them something is very wrong.  In reality, what you see is very common and nothing is wrong, it’s just how windows operates on the back end.  This is exactly how agencies will come after you, with something like this:

At first glance this seems as if your website is falling apart.  Without context, how would you know what to do next?  Agencies often want you to feel helpless and charts with red text really helps.  In regards to this report above, the site is is referring to has inventory that moves in and out of the site.  This triggers multiple warnings that really aren’t an issue.   In reality this site is extremely healthy and doing very well.

2. We Have A Million Years Experience.

Here’s a conversation we have all the time with other businesses in the marketing industry.   There’s a concept called accelerating change that you can read about here.  Essentially the way that business worked a decade ago is not how business works now.  Specifically in the marketing industry, many high level professionals didn’t recognize or address the pace at which technology was changing and the impact on marketing as whole.  In turn, companies run by these individuals still mistakenly perceive themselves as relevant experts in the field.  This mistake causes all types of chaos when suddenly campaigns aren’t going well or there are many questions that cannot be answered.  So agencies will come in and use their combined years of experience as a tool to make their claims valid.  Yes, experience does matter but not in the same way as many other industries.  In a similar way that the print industry is dying, there are many agencies hanging on to old tactics that simply are no longer relevant.  Look for passion, not year of experience.

3. You Need to Sign A Long Contract.

Agencies will often tell you that every service they offers requires a long time to show results.  This is just a buffer so that when they have no idea how to setup your campaigns, they can say “see it takes a long time”.  Certainly some processes like SEO take longer purely based on how search engines log backlinks, but generally, you should see results quickly.  Don’t allow someone in a digital sales pitch to make you believe that signing a contract for a long term is necessary, even if the person leads you to believe that everyone in the industry does that and it’s necessary.  Instead ask them questions about other clients they have in a similar industry.

  • How long did it take for other businesses like me to see results?
  • Why do you think these services are best suited for me?
  • How often should I expect reporting?
  • Do you daily monitor the campaigns?
  • What happens if I want to stop using you?

These questions will give you some confidence about the agency you are using, especially if the person selling knows detailed answers.  Having thorough knowledge and certifications in a company top to bottom makes a huge difference in the results of the builds and outcome of their campaigns.

4. This is a One Time Only Special.

This isn’t specific to the digital marketing industry.  Businesses will try and push specials because they are having a hard time selling that product or service.  If they had a line of people waiting for it, they wouldn’t need to discount the price.  This doesn’t mean that sales or incentives are bad it just means that when an agency comes to you and pushes a service because it’s “amazing” and currently at a discounted price, be skeptical.  Agencies who are in demand will be growing quickly.  As a byproduct of that they won’t discount services because they already are having growing pains with the large amount of current clients.  In fact, INCREASING pricing is often a sign that an agency is having strong positive results.  One of the most telling signs of someone who doesn’t know what they are doing is extremely low-ball pricing or specials.  Good agencies have overhead just like other businesses but should be able to express why services are priced as they are.  AD-IOS always discloses pricing and how it compares to others in the industry both locally and nationally.  If something seems fishy about the cost model, it probably is.

I want to reiterate that every business should have a digital marketing budget;  currently, that is the best way to reach your existing and new customers.  Still, it’s your money and your business.  Just like any other relationship rooted in your success, you need to be able to express varied emotions.  Feeling uneasy, frustrated and fearful are all ok.  It’s your agency’s job to come along side you and arm you with the knowledge you need to begin to build a trust.  If they can’t do that in an authentic way, don’t work with them.  The new leading digital marketers will be advocates, not salespeople.



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Faith Kolberg - Business Development Coordinator


Enjoys the outdoors, traveling, and visiting local coffee shops! 

Lisa Annunziata - Director Of Operations


I am a God-fearing mother! I love me some cats. My family keeps me going, I love to be in the sun and just really enjoy life wherever I am and no matter the situation!

Crysta Geis - President/Founder of Ad-ios


Mom of 3 and Nana to one grandbaby so I’m obsessed with my little family whether it be at the baseball fields or on the lake my kids keep me on the go 24/7. Anytime we get away from the kids we love to travel.