Why I Fired a Billion Dollar Marketing Firm & Social Media Etiquette
The Journey started when I was a Junior in College and decided to launch my first company, an IT Company. My college friends told me I would need a reputable firm to market and advertise the company since they said that, as an Engineer, you would need to learn how to do that. My first mistake was to believe them and that I could not do it myself. Throughout this article, I will share my story of why and how I fired one of the largest Marketing/Advertising firms, unfortunately, still in existence today. Then I will share one of these firms' biggest mistakes and those of many beginnings social media creators and how to avoid them.
One of my friends in college was excited when I told him that I would open an IT Company and asked if he could help me get it off the ground since he was majoring in marketing. Hiring the company, my friend suggested, was the second mistake I made, and then, before I knew it, I hired the world's largest marketing & advertising firm to market and advertise my new business. Everyone told me it was a process and not to expect any return for at least a year. More days passed, years passed, bills kept coming in from this firm, and no indication that an ROI was even in sight.
Their first project was designing, writing, and printing my company's brochure. Something I felt would be an easy task for them that use a 12 x18 paper folded, thus giving us a four-page 8/12 by 11 pages folded booklet consisting of four pages: outside front cover, inside front cover, inside back cover, and outside back cover. First, I gave them the general concepts for what I wanted to feature on the brochure and a paragraph of text that could be expanded upon. They said it would take about two-four weeks to compile and print 5000 of them. The project didn't take two-four weeks but was not finished until about three months from the start date.
Years went by being patient and waiting for the promised ROI while bills kept racking up, and it seemed we still needed to gain more exposure or attract new clients. Still, nothing they did was working, and after about 14 years of their story, I decided the only thing they were good at was conning people into thinking they were professionals who understood marketing & advertising.
However, something else was a red flag that should have had me fire them in the first year: the types of meetings set up based on deposits given. I will use arbitrary numbers, for example, sake. After we signed up with them, they asked me for a deposit, and let us say I gave $100.00 toward it; they scheduled a breakfast meeting in their office with bagels or donuts and juice. Another time I had sent them $250.00, their office scheduled a meeting at a local Burger or Pub Place like when we used to have Bennigans. At a different time, $1000.00 was mailed to their office, and this time, I was invited to a dinner meeting at Ruth Chris Steak House. What is the big deal? That is what I thought too until my mind said wait a minute; something seems funny here, so I decided to do a test to satisfy curiosity and skepticism.
The next time I was going to mail a check, I called the office to speak to a secretary, and I now refer to her as Brenda. I informed her that I had just mailed a check for $100.00 when it was for $250.00. What do you think happened? Yes, you guessed it, she scheduled a meeting with me for lunch at Bennigans. Then once they received the check, she called back to say that Chris had asked if we could make it a lunch since he had a last-minute breakfast meeting with his boss, and it suddenly came up. If this didn't seem odd, I decided to test it again, but now I told them I was mailing $250.00 and sent them $1000.00. When the office received the check, she called me back again and said, "I don't know if you know that Chris & Mary have twins, Tod & Mark, and they are the age they are teething. Mary got into a fender bender last week and needs to take them both for a doctor's appointment. Chris needs to drive her as the only appointment she could get was 9 AM." The first thing going through my mind is TMI (too much information), and their personal lives should not be mixed with their business affairs if this is legitimate. Brenda also says; "oh and Chris's boss we just found is flying in tomorrow and will be with him from noon till 6 PM; thus I scheduled the last seating for you and him at Ruth Chris steak house to have your meeting and go over account updates." The lesson I learned here is 1) TMI is something that we should stay away from, and 2) Lying to our clients because you give different treatment based on a deposit is not only rude but highly unprofessional. I discovered that large advertising/marketing firms play the same game. I should have fired them right after this game, but I had overlooked this initially.
Thus, one morning, I realized they couldn’t even get a straightforward thing right, like printing or being to understand my needs. Why should I work with them anymore? Maybe it was because of what my so-called friends at school and other professionals told me “You will never be good at marketing or advertising; you are only an engineer.” Yes, that was it, and now it was time to change that program in my head, and I realized it was time to stop listening to other people’s beliefs about my capabilities.
One large manufacturer of Print Production Equipment was already a client of my IT Company, and I decided to reach out to them one morning. I knew that if I wanted a successful marketing & advertising company, it needed to be built by me and be all done in-house. After spending hours with them and reviewing the machines available for commercial production, I found one perfect for my business. I then went to my bank and asked for a loan, and strangely, my bank said yes, so I thought this must be a sign that I was supposed to enter into this new venture. I took over 40 hours of Fiery Training for the machine and EFI (Electronics for Imaging) from the company. This device rasterizes the image with perfect color before sending it to be printed.
I loved writing and decided to pursue that more within a few years. I submitted my work to the US Nation Press Association, and within a few weeks, I was told that my application was accepted. I was so elated to become a member of this prestigious association, and this would help people that read my works know that I’m serious about delivering high-quality, engaging content. Many people in this industry promised things they could not only provide but have no idea of how even to start the project.
Now that I was all set, I moved to visit this large agency one morning at 7:30 AM, knocked on the manager's door, and informed him, “We had a great run, and we are done.” He was not awake; he called in my sales rep, and then I repeated, "We had a great run, and we are done”; they all thought I meant we were done with the current project. Next, I politely told them, “Thank you, I don’t think you understand we had a great run, and we are done; you are all fired.” It was like the heaviest brick; I could see the air deplete out of them like helium in a balloon. Next, one of them said, “Hey John, we spent an entire week working on a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign for JMOR. Would you like to see it?” I replied, “No”. They thought they would sweet talk me or lure me back with a 50% discount on all new work and a 50% credit on all past work. You could see the desperation in their eyes that they were grappling with what to do as they all knew I would be out the door forever in seconds.
What did they do wrong? Plenty lied to me, missed deadlines, didn’t understand my business or even the campaign they were creating. It was as if they used a boilerplate template to market my business, and I started to see right through their clever web of deception. They couldn’t even get a simple flyer printed, designed, and printed quickly; sad and pitiful, if I do say so. Just because a company is publicly traded or nationally known doesn’t mean everyone knows what they are doing.
Today many marketing, advertising, or also under the umbrella of Social Media Management and creation are doing things like this or worse, showing their social media ignorance. According to Merriam-Webster, the word ignorance is a noun that means “the state or fact of being ignorant; lack of knowledge, education, or awareness.” Thus, I want to share a few big mistakes firms like this are making today, briefly describing each. The first one is creating content that doesn’t represent the brand and doesn’t engage or arouse curiosity without selling. Another is posting content or piggybacking irrelevant comments to an existing post hoping to lure someone away. They do this because they see the post getting a lot of traffic and figure; I will jump on this, and others will see me too. This is not only wrong, unprofessional, or unethical and will quickly decrease your reputation on social media. When posting content, take time to spell check, review grammar, and credit sources from comments or facts you found. Lastly, keep your hashtags to 5-7 quality relevant tags about the post you are including. Remember not to use words that will be clickbait; in other words, use a term that is not relevant or misleading. For example, creating a post about Banking and Ai should not contain a word about hiring for your company.
In short, don’t be a jerk; act responsibly and know that your online world is not a separate universe from your personal life. Working this way will cause issues and allow people to see that you are not genuine or have something to hide. In my experience, I have witnessed several large corporations go out of business because they didn’t deliver value to their clients. Building trust in a person in today’s world often starts with that first piece of social media one interacts with or the initial person they speak with and how they are treated at your company. My father had a saying in real estate, “location, location, location,” and in advertising/marketing, its: 's “quality content, quality content, quality content.” Remember that social media is the perfect vehicle to help others learn about their challenges and create awareness for your brand, which may offer a solution.
Check out more of my amazing creations at http://believmeachiev.com