Why Marketing Has a Bad Name

Wrong way sign on a road

Why Marketing Has a Bad Name

Wrong way sign on a road


I’ve recently learned what a bad reputation marketing has in the minds of most people. It doesn’t really surprise me, given what I’ve learned and heard from clients over the years. But it is frustrating, since marketing can be the most helpful tool to increasing sales and revenue growth.

Here two ways that I’ve heard, or seen, ‘black-hat’ practices, versus how marketing is supposed to work.


  1. Deception: Buying “Organic” Web Traffic      

The worst offense I’ve seen so far is deception. There’s no excuse for faking results.

The goal of most B2B websites is to draw people into the site and have them learn enough about the company to want to work with them or buy their products/services. The practice of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to create the perfect website structure (tagging, etc.) and to provide enough new, ongoing content that the search engines (specifically Google) recognize the site’s “authority” and send more traffic to the site.

Google Analytics tracks where website traffic is coming from and is sophisticated enough to know if traffic is coming from organic search, a referral bot, or paid ads traffic. Recently, I found a site that guarantees “paid traffic” that actually looks like “organic” traffic in Google Analytics; and this site had been used on my client’s site by the previous marketing agency.

This is how dishonest marketing agencies work: they pay for a service to make it look like they’re doing their job. I was surprised when I came across this, since it does nothing but cheat the client, but perhaps I shouldn’t be. It’s one reason that marketing has a bad reputation, alongside pushy or dishonest salespeople.

How should it be, instead?

I work closely with SEO experts who do all the right things to generate more traffic, which is hard work. We don’t take quickie shortcuts to deceive our clients. Instead, we study the way people are searching for my client’s services, and we stay in touch with our client to ensure that the calls and inquiries they receive from the website are “the ideal client” for them.  We consistently “tweak” the SEO so that the new traffic coming to the site is comprised of the best target market. That’s how it’s supposed to be.


2) Not Reviewing Reports – or Hiding Behind Bad Reporting       

The other practice I’ve seen, which isn’t outright deceit but is still not right, is not reviewing the analytical reports with clients, explaining what the data means. In fact, I’ve seen many instances where:

  • A monthly report is generated automatically by a system
  • The data is difficult to read or interpret in the report
  • There’s no “in person” or written explanation of the report

In almost every instance, the client is emailed a report and they’re supposed to figure out what it means. No wonder marketing has a bad reputation! An agency’s job is to not only do the work but to report on how the work went. It’s a great opportunity to share successes and shine!

Most of the time, when agencies don’t review the data in person, it’s because they either don’t understand the data or they can’t defend it.

How should it be, instead?

Every month, all the reporting: SEO, website, email, social media, events, leads, etc. should be reviewed with a client. Everything should be explained and all questions answered. If the data isn’t clear (in a simple, clean graph, for example), then it should have a written explanation.

Even if the reporting or data indicates that something is wrong, or the desired results weren’t generated, it’s a great opportunity to learn and share why and to readjust tactics moving forward.  But without good data, it’s hard to know exactly how well (or how poorly) marketing dollars are being spent.

Do you have a bad taste in your mouth from experiences with marketing? I don’t blame you! If you’d like to talk about it, feel free to contact me. And please share this if you find it helpful!

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