Problem 1: Salespeople, false promises & miss-selling

Why most marketing agencies are con artists - part 1:

This is part 1 of our guide explaining why almost all marketing agencies are con artists.


Almost every business has had at least 1 terrible experience with a marketing agency - but why is this so common?

The sad story of the salespeople in marketing:

It goes without saying, but as a business you want the greatest result in the shortest time for the lowest cost. This is the complete opposite of a salesperson's goal. These are professionals who are paid a low salary and have to hit targets to get their commission. Their goal is to get you to spend as much as you can for their own benefit. It's the first reason we believe most marketing agencies are con artists.

Their goal is to sell to you, regardless if it will work or not.

Almost every digital marketing agency has some form of sales team (or a salesperson at a minimum). It is the salesperson that you will deal with at the beginning, and it is this salesperson who will decide what services you sign up for and how much you spend.


These are professionals who are paid a very low salary and have to hit a target in order to qualify for commission. In other words, they have to sell as much as possible to as many people as possible to make a decent living. See the problem yet?

A "successful" salesperson is not measured by the quality of the results that their solutions got a client or how long a client stayed with the agency. They are measured by the volume of sales. The more money they bring in, the "better" they are.


They really have no idea how the intricacies of business, strategy & marketing work - but a little issue like that won't stop them. They have a job to do and they need to hit that target so they will hit the phones, visit businesses and listen to what you have to say. They will discover opportunities for sales, not success. They will qualify you for the budget, not qualify your business for the potential to scale. 


They will build up your confidence, get you to sign the dotted line and walk away with your money - then straight to the next appointment. This is one of the greatest reasons I think that most marketing agencies are con artists. These sales people are truly playing a confidence game to take your money for their own benefit without any clue what they are talking about.

They sell "things" - but that's not how marketing works. There are too many variables and no guarantees.

Professional sales people are fantastic at selling "things", which is fine when someone has a problem and the solution is a "thing" designed to fix that problem. Furthermore, once you buy a "thing", you then own it. It does what you paid for.


You want an economical, affordable & super-safe car? This one is the best, and this is why. You want a comfortable flat to rent with 2 bedrooms for £750 a month? This is the best flat in the best area for you, and this is why, You pay your money and you have the car/flat.

The big issue here is that successful marketing (as well as business & strategy), is not a "thing" with finite options to easily satisfy a problem. Also, it has no value if it isn't working. If it fails then that's wasted money with nothing to show for it. This is where the confidence (con) happens, and the salesperson brings the artistry.


This is why when a salesperson speaks to a business and they say "To get more sales you need more traffic, and running Facebook Ads will get you more traffic, and therefore, more sales", it logically makes sense. The problem; But, what type of advert (there are 11 basic options just in Facebook Ads), with what content? What images/video to which groups of people in what locations? How well does each of your web pages actually perform, in other words, which might be the best page to send the traffic to? What questions, problems or products/services are your customers looking for? Do you have that information available for the visitor once they get to your site?


Spending money on adverts without the right information for your customers is a really quick way to waste your money, get no sales & give up quickly. The logic and confidence made sense when the salesperson spoke to you, but it isn't working for your business. But, why?

Your industry, costs & the information you provide - all things salespeople have no idea about.

The cost of advertising can vary massively depending on your industry/niche. In the competitive craft/bead industry Google Ads averages at £0.25-£0.35 per click, whereas insurance ranges from £15-£60+ per click. Depending on your goal there might be better places to advertise than Google Ads, or it might be the best place for you.

There might be thousands of people that are ready to buy and they're looking for the best business to buy "it" from - or there might be thousands of people looking for more information, reviews or demonstrations. Do you have that sort of information available on your website? In other words, if you run adverts or do any form of marketing activity, is your website actually in a position to turn those visitors into sales?


In theory more traffic is a good thing, but having a successful advertising campaign that actually generates you more in revenue than you are spending for the ads is more complicated than just "run some adverts because more traffic = more sales". There are lots of moving parts, but salespeople don't appreciate that these other moving parts matter just as much as the marketing activity that you will be signing up for.


It's easier for them to sell to you if they keep it simple - and they only care about hitting their target so they can get their commission. It's not about getting you the best solution or getting you the best result, it's about them keeping their job by miss-selling services at the highest price that you will pay so they get the greatest reward. It's a con.

Without an agency; Why some businesses succeed in marketing & rapidly growing their businesses, and why others fail:

We go into this more fully in a later section of our guide, but marketing activity and an effective strategy are 2 completely different things. Anyone can do the activity with varying degrees of success dependent on their knowledge, but fundamentally; anyone can put an advert on Facebook, send an email or do some basic SEO on their website.

This is why there are business people who are not experts in the marketing activity (getting the most out of paid ads, email multivariate testing or technical, onsite & offsite SEO experts), but grow their sales rapidly because they understand how to reach their customers with the right information at the right stage of their journey. This is also why there are many businesses who don't understand how to grow through developing relationships with their customers, but they write a lot on social media and try running some adverts yet they never move forwards. They do the marketing activity - the "things" - but don't see success.


Strategy and how to engage with your customers at each stage of their journey is critical - doing the activity for the sake of it is not. Sun Tzu, one of the greatest tacticians of all time said: "Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought. Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat". The same is true in digital marketing and business growth.


It's not about the activity or the tools available to grow your business, but it's about the initial research of what to do, where to do the activity, how to do it and who for - and then the plan of how to build the business with the lowest cost and the highest probability of success.


Salespeople don't research, plan or create a strategy. They just listen to what you're not doing, what your budget is and what you are happy to spend it on.

In summary:

I think it is a sad state of affairs that a "successful" salesperson is measured on the amount of business they bring on board without any relation to how well the solutions that they sold worked, or how long the client stayed on board with the agency. I understand how it is effective for cars, real estate and any physical purchase - but you spend your money on those things and you get what you have paid for. It just isn't the same thing with marketing.


I find it shocking that the vast majority of businesses are forced to put their trust & faith in people who have no idea what they are talking about. I find it disgusting that there are people who are paid more depending on the volume & value of services that they sell without any thought to the long term effects that it has on the client, their business or their livelihood.


This is the 1st of 5 main reasons that we believe that most digital marketing agencies are con artists, and we encourage you to read the remaining 4 reasons.

The next section:


How the business model of marketing agencies fails their clients.

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