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How Most Marketing Agency's Shiest You

As a business owner, you've probably received countless calls and emails from marketing agency's promising to help you grow your business. While there are many reputable marketing companies out there, unfortunately, there are also many that shiest their clients. In this blog post, we'll discuss some common ways that marketing companies shiest their clients and how to avoid falling victim to these tactics.

I worked in a large billion dollar company who hired a marketing agency for $30,000 to bring in some extra leads to the business. They had an amazing presentation and were great sales people. However, they only brought in 5 leads. That's right, 5 TOTAL LEADS with $30,000. That's $6k per lead. Granted this was a free trade show, this was absurd to me.

In my opinion that is highway robbery. But companies like this get away with it time and time again. Do not be sold by words, be sold by results as they speak for themselves. Some of the best marketers are not great sales people, while some of the best sales people are not the greatest marketers.

I also have done consulting for other clients with other marketing agencies on the phone line. They'll tell the end client, "hey clicks are looking great, campaign is going well. We have "x" amount of impressions." Really? Clicks are looking great? You have impressions? What does that even mean? Of course you are going to have clicks and impressions if you are running ads.

As a client, you want to be hearing something like, "hey we are getting "x" amount of conversions for "x" price. Anything else is them either not knowing what they are talking about or purposely trying to spin the campaigns to show they are doing well when they aren't. Don't be fooled by buzzwords like clicks, impressions, click through rate, etc.

Look for companies that say, "hey we've spent $1,000 so far and we've got 100 leads so $10 per lead. How are leads looking on your end? Every lead is not going to convert so let's try to figure out the cost per converted lead so we can optimize our ads. How does your backend look? Are leads we are bringing in converting?" If they say anything other than something along these lines, you are probably working with people who don't know what they are doing.

Promising Results That Are Too Good to Be True

One of the most common ways that marketing companies shiest their clients is by promising results that are too good to be true. For example, they may promise to get you to the top of Google search results within a week or guarantee a specific number of leads or sales. It's important to remember that there are no shortcuts to success in marketing, and any company that promises immediate or unrealistic results is likely not being truthful.

Big Agencies Use College Grads to Run Your Campaigns

Some of the most successful marketing agencies use college grads or entry-level people to run your advertising campaigns. And these entry-level people are working on several accounts at once. So you are getting sold by a great sales person initially, but in reality you are having someone with little experience spend only a tiny part of their week on your campaigns.

The success of your thousands of dollars of monthly ad spend could hinge on 22-year old Lucy knowing exactly what she's doing and also having time to do it. Six months later you could wind up with no increase in leads or sales because your account manager has convinced you "it just takes time."

You will usually get more value and better results from a smaller company whos trying to make a name for themselves. This is because they don't have the resources to hire tons of people to run your ads and will most likely do it themselves. Remember, the best marketing agencies will not be the best sales people, but they will get you the best results which is all the matters.

Even Google Uses a Marketing Agency to Run Their Ads

Did you know that Google doesn't even run their own ads, even though they developed their own platform? My older brother worked at an ad agency and told me this and it blew my mind. Google doesn't even run their own Google Ads. Crazy! Most of these bigger companies like Google get pitched by top agencies with the best sales people in the world. Going after big clients like this is extremely hard because of this.

Guaranteeing Results or You Don't Pay

One of the biggest fads going around is guaranteeing you results or you don't pay them at all. The problem with this is that how can a company guarantee you results if they don't even know you have a good service or product to sell? Usually these are bait tactics to get your information, sell you, then lock you into their services.

Most legit companies don't guarantee anything, because at the end of the day you can have the best marketing in the world, but if your service or product is priced too high or doesn't have a great offering, it's not going to work and is out of the marketing companies control.

Even though it might seem extremely enticing as a business owner, its best to steer away from ads that say "guaranteed sales or you don't pay."

Locking Clients into Long-Term Contracts

Another tactic that some marketing companies use to shiest their clients is locking them into long-term contracts. They may promise a discount or other incentive for signing a contract, but then make it difficult or impossible for the client to cancel the contract or make changes to the services provided.

Before signing any contract, make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions and are comfortable with the length and scope of the agreement. A 3 month minimum is okay and longer term contracts can be okay if it's related to SEO, but usually nothing else. At McFarland Marketing we only do month-to-month where we or the client reserve the write to cancel anytime via email.

Overcharging or Bundling Services

Some marketing companies shiest their clients by overcharging or bundling their services. They may offer a low initial price to attract clients, but then tack on hidden fees or charge exorbitant rates for additional services. It's important to get a clear breakdown of all costs upfront and to compare prices with other companies to ensure you're getting a fair deal.

Usually, you want to see how much you are spending in media spend (money going directly to ad platforms like Google/Facebook) separate from how much the consultant fee is. Companies that bundle this are deceptive and could be charging you more than they are even spending on ads.

Providing Poor Quality Services

Finally, some marketing companies shiest their clients by providing poor quality services. They may use outdated or ineffective marketing tactics, fail to deliver on promises, or provide subpar customer service.

Most accounts I take over don't have conversion tracking setup, are using the wrong bidding tactic (e.g. bidding on clicks instead of conversions) or are using the wrong targeting. I'm always so surprised these clients stick with these agencies for so long as there are zero results to show for their work. But again, they are probably just amazing sales people.

Before hiring any marketing company, do your research and read reviews from other clients to ensure they have a good reputation for providing quality services.

How to Avoid Being Shiested by Marketing Companies

To avoid being shiested by marketing companies, there are a few things you can do:

  • Educate yourself on the basics of digital marketing. If you know the basics of PPC & Facebook Ads, it's impossible to get BS'ed by anyone. McFarland Marketing has several free guides on our website where you can learn the basics. You could always book a free call with us to review your campaigns and see if your being shiasted.

  • Do your research and read reviews from other clients before hiring a marketing company. Note that many reviews can be faked so do not rely solely on that. Further, don't believe anything that seems too good to be true.

  • Get a clear breakdown of all costs and services upfront. Make sure they separate out media spend and how much of a consultant fee they are taking.

  • Avoid signing long-term contracts unless you're comfortable with the terms and conditions. A 3 month minimum is pretty standard, but long-term contracts are a red-flag unless its related to SEO.

  • Don't be swayed by promises or guarantees of immediate or unrealistic results

  • Ask for references and case studies to see examples of the company's past work


Marketing is an important investment for any business, but it's important to be cautious when choosing a marketing company to work with. By being aware of common shiesting tactics and doing your due diligence, you can find a reputable marketing company that will help you achieve your goals. Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Contact Us if you think you or someone you know is being shiested!



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