'Discount' Marketing: Just Say No.


Lately, there’s a plague of startup “marketing” companies that you’ve likely seen advertising on social media and other outlets. Companies that utilize these underhanded marketing ploys (Promo, Fiverr, Design Pickle, Scripted and many others) all claim to offer you a magical solution to your marketing needs for an insanely low price. Marketing is a service where you most definitely get what you pay for. As a small business owner, it’s very tempting to think that a quick, seemingly cheap solution is going to start making a huge difference right away. If you’ve ever been in a panic about your bottom line, these quick-fix lures are very appealing because they offer something that you need – video marketing, a new logo, better content writing and graphic design – at a very low price. Please don’t expect that you can achieve any kind of measurable ROI with half-baked discount marketing companies. In business there are three key factors that affect the end product in any industry: Time, Cost and Quality. If you’re being lured by a price that seems too good to be true, how does it balance out? Do you think lower cost equals better quality? No. So then If the cost is lower, does that mean you’re getting it more quickly than normal? No, sadly. Let’s look at the main culprits in further detail so you can see what we mean:

1 - Discount Video – Creative Director Mark Michael


There are many discount video production companies that make the reasonable statement that you need better video marketing to reach your customers. This is very true, especially for 2018. But unfortunately, these companies don’t follow up on this statement with anything of substance. And bad video IS NOT better than no video at all. Before these discount companies take even one minute to know your business, your customers, your industry, or you personally, they offer up a blanket package of $99 per month (in one example). How can they quote a price like that without knowing what you need or want? This $99 per month might give you four 15-second videos. Is that a great deal? Yes. Yes, it’s an astonishingly great deal for video content. So, what’s the catch? Well, for starters, these videos are 100% generic stock footage. There is no way to customize your video to include anything personal that relates directly to your company. They ARE NOT going to shoot any original footage for your company or products. Your video could (and probably will) be the same exact video as some other company. And good luck getting custom outputs for your various needs - you get one file, the way THEY want to send it to you. Digging a bit further, you see that almost all of these companies have no case studies to prove any kind of success rate with their video products. They use quotes on their website – not from customers – but from industry experts talking about the importance of using video in your marketing mix. Any reputable company, if using quotes on their website, will have their customers’ words do the praising for them. Bottom line - how much do you have to spend, and how long does it take, just to get a generic video that anyone can make? Find a video production team that can take the time to understand your needs and provide you with custom, professional video for your business. Your business, with its own footage, will sell what you do better than any quick stock-footage solution. Don’t go hundreds of dollars into your marketing budget to get a useless, ineffective video.

1 - Discount Copywriting – Writer Seth Garland


I recently came across a content writing company that claims “you’re not blogging enough.” Who has time for blogging – in addition to all of the other things expected of a business owner? Nobody, but it still remains vital for SEO and marketing. That’s what makes these discount services appealing. This is another example of a company preying on small business owners in a pinch for both time and money, offering something seemingly reasonable for a low price. Whether we’re talking about English, Spanish, Cantonese, or any other language, it is very important to have a writer who understands the culture (and pop-culture) of your audience. Beyond that, you want someone who can pen some creative, clever content for your brand.  Unfortunately, that’s not what you get with the vast majority of discount writing services. Lingual nuances aside, outsourcing your copywriting is problematic in that it creates a barrier of distance, making it more difficult to interact with your assigned writer during your own business hours. As far as pricing goes, you are offered a monthly plan fee before anyone has taken the time to know you or your brand. We’re not talking about small change here either – some of the companies’ high-end packages can cost as much as $1200. These monthly plan costs are only for membership, however. You still are required to pay for each blog post – and each blog post can START at $39. A post like the one I’m writing now could cost you hundreds of dollars based on the pricing models I observed. Not only that, but there’s a limitation on how many revisions you are allowed (two, in one case). What if you’re not satisfied with the final product after your allotted two revisions? I guess you’re stuck with a poorly written blog that will look great in your recycle bin. And to add insult to injury, you’re forced into a 10-day review period. If you don’t have time to provide adequate feedback, your blog is posted as-is after 10 days (regardless of whether you like it or not). How’s that for customer service? Bottom line – find a local, trusted content writer who can work with you to get you exactly what you need. Find someone who understands the time crunch of an entrepreneur, and is versatile enough to write different types of marketing copy.

1 - Discount Graphic Design/Logo Companies – Graphic Designer Shelby Merrick


There are a lot of companies that would fall under this heading, and they’re probably the most notorious offenders of discount marketing ploys. If you see an ad for an incredible deal on graphic design ($5 logos, $100 for unlimited designs, etc.) that seems too good to be true, it is.  We should probably actually thank companies like this; we have gotten a good bit of business from their former customers. One of these companies in particular markets itself as “freelance for the lean entrepreneur.” Translation: Poor quality work for companies who don’t care about their image. Several customers who have left these types of companies tell us that they became tired of trying to communicate what they wanted, only to have a faceless designer get it wrong time after time. They were sucked in by predatory low prices and promises of a quick fix, only to end up months behind schedule. There have also been instances where customers were sued for using a copyrighted logo! The contract that you sign with these logo companies relieves the “designer” from any repercussions of faults they commit, up to and including the theft of another company’s design! If you put your trust into these companies, you’re rolling the dice on a designer with whom you can never meet face-to-face, and who will not have time to understand your business, your customers or what you really want. Underlying the poor quality and lack of uniqueness that is thrust upon you by these companies is something a bit deeper. In business in general, there is an often-expressed concern that “robots will take your job one day.” This certainly applies more to industries in which menial tasks can be easily replaced by automation. However, the concept is still the same – quantity over quality, and the displacement of entire industries with a “quantity first” attitude. So, what these discounted, graphic design farms are doing – even if it’s not their intention – is mocking an entire industry of skilled professionals who went to school, have creativity and passion, care about their art, and enjoy working with customers on a personal level to understand their brand and message – to be proud of the work that they’re putting out into the world. Bottom line – Just don’t do it. Cheap will never be the way to go when it comes to graphic design, logos and branding. This does not mean a quality logo has to break the bank. But, you better believe that if you pay $5 for a logo, you’re going to get a $5 logo that you’ll be embarrassed to put on anything (and may already belong to someone else). Remember, how you treat your own company is a reflection of how you want others to recognize it and treat it.  Hire a professional, creative and passionate designer to really make your vision come to life.