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Why Digital Marketing Is Not A Commodity

May 1, 2017
Rick Iorio

A lot of marketing agencies are in the midst of an identity crisis.

In an effort to stay relevant, some of the older agencies have had to rapidly shift their focus from traditional to digital tactics.

Which is fine.

I mean, we all have to adapt.

Unfortunately for those of you looking to hire a strategic marketing team, a large portion of those marketing agencies built their reputations and honed their chops selling commodities.

Billboards, radio spots, T.V. commercials — commoditized awareness advertising.

So in much the same way they once championed the sale of overpriced billboards and commercial slots, they’re now trying to commoditize digital marketing services. Selling piecemeal tactics with mostly surface-level returns.

Saying, ‘Yes, of course, we’ll manage your facebook – and for a small sum, we’ll even post daily! You’re going to get so much engagement!

Don’t be fooled.

Real Digital Marketing is not a commodity with daily quotas. It’s a means-to-an end, a set of tools your marketing team can use to help drive your business forward.

And these clunky agencies that call themselves ‘your local digital marketing experts,’ are increasingly a dime a dozen — money pits.

Commoditized Marketing is A Big Red Flag

Humor me here.

If you Google “digital marketing agency (your city)” and explore the first five results, I guarantee most of what you read will be nearly identical language, repackaged and rearranged.

In 2017, you can’t escape phrases like:

  • Data-driven decision making
  • Focused on ROI
  • Strategy first

Which is a shame, because they used to mean something before they were adopted by every single marketing agency out there — whether they mean it or not.

It’s increasingly difficult to discern which marketing agencies have the chops to help you achieve real success, especially when most are listing identical marketing-service buzzwords on their website. The truth is, a company can list anything they want on their Services page, but that doesn’t make it true – or effective.

Use A Critical Eye

It’s up to you, as a business owner, a marketing manager, or whatever your job is, to look past every marketing agency’s laundry list of commoditized services to understand what they’re really all about.

It’s important to pay attention to how these agencies sell themselves. Look for substance in how they explain their work, and avoid surface-level, repetitive language.

  • Are they a one trick pony, focusing exclusively on a single aspect of the digital marketing ecosystem like social media or email marketing?
  • Are they an older, traditional marketing agency trying like hell to leverage their notoriety and pivot into digital?
  • Are they a tech company dressed-up like a marketing agency so they can bundle their web services with lackadaisical marketing?
  • Or are they an agency that uses digital marketing and strategy to focus on growing your business, meeting your goals, and driving real results?

Facebook follows alone won’t pay the bills, so if you’re seriously looking to move the needle on your business’ bottom line, choose a marketing agency that prioritizes and works towards your business goals instead of schmoozing you with buzzwords.

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