Why Content Marketers Should Never Guarantee Results


Thinking of investing in a long-term marketing strategy for your business? Perhaps something like content (or inbound) marketing?

Perhaps a content marketing agency has told you they don’t offer any guarantees of results. 

If you own a business, this is generally not really something you ever want to hear, as content marketing does involve investing a good amount of money, and you want to ensure that your investment comes with as little risk as possible.

The general reaction when we tell people that we don’t offer guarantees goes something along the lines of:

“You seriously don’t offer any guarantees? Then I'll be taking all the risks!”

Although I understand the thinking behind it, it's not entirely true. The agency does take on board some of the risk, but yes: most of the risk will be on you. 

This is why you must choose your agency wisely, and make sure they demonstrate not only the risks to you but also the gains you can realistically expect.

In this post, I'm going to talk about why great marketing agencies don’t offer guarantees, and the reasons why.

Every investment has risks

Every time you make an investment, there is an element of risk involved. To be honest, if there was no risks in content marketing, and we could guarantee results, it would be a lot more expensive.

Not only this, but absolutely everyone would be doing it. However, my job as a marketer is always to try and remove as much risk as possible.

Think back only a few years and you would find it hard for any digital marketing agency to give you a good idea of expected results, as it was difficult for them to join the dots and calculate return on investment for what they were doing.

I mean, even TV, radio and newspapers ads still can’t tell you.

In today's world, we have tools like HubSpot that do a fantastic job of giving us the data we need to work all these things out.

This means that your agency should be able to give you a good indication of results you can expect.

Granted, it’s still not a guarantee, but I think it is the next best thing.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Before I move on, I would just like to say that you should always be very wary of anyone who is offering you guaranteed results. This is usually just a tactic to differentiate themselves from other agencies and tell you what you want to hear.

But how can an agency guarantee something that they are not in control of?

Trust your gut. And don't trust anyone who promises to get you results, because SPOILER ALERT: they're lying. 

Can your sales team sell?

When we get down to it, content marketing can get you leads, but ultimately it’s your sales team’s ability to be able to close sales that really matters.

You could argue that it is the quality of the leads that should be in question, and you would be correct. It’s not only the job of content to bring you leads, it should deliver quality leads, leads that are most likely to buy.

However, being able to sell is a skill every business needs to survive. When I first started in business I was terrible at sales, but I learned that content marketing is a methodology that is not limited to marketing. 

There is no point having a fantastic content marketing strategy just for your sales team to resort to tired old tactics of selling when these leads make contact with you.

With this type of marketing, you have to know when to back off and let the prospect make up their own minds.

You're not fully committed 

Content marketing is changing marketing and sales forever, but for it to work you and the agency have to form a strong partnership and be committed to its success.

I see this time and time again; the people who see the most success with content marketing are the ones that are fully committed to the methodology.

If you are looking for old school marketing where you pay and don’t have to do anything more, then sorry to tell you, but those days are over. 

You lose track of what's important 

The most important thing for your business is to get more leads and sales, as this is the real reason you're considering this type of strategy in the first place. 

It’s the number one reason most businesses come to me, and you shouldn’t lose sight of that main goal. 

In the past, I've parted company with people who lose sight of this and get far too bogged down with the small things.

If you are waiting for everything to be perfect, then you will never get anything done. Content that you ship in the early days may not be perfect; expect that and just let it go.

It is better to be 80% perfect and out there than 100% and not.

I always tell my partners this, as the path to marketing success is littered with the bodies of people who just won’t let go and trust the agency - let them do what they do best.

I personally can’t guarantee anything if you don’t follow my lead.

Businesses come to me because they need help reaching their customers and don’t know what to do, but some become content marketing experts as soon as you try to help them.

This all comes down to trust, and you should never hire an agency you don’t trust.

Why don’t they offer pay per performance?

This is a great question, and this is something I would love to offer clients. You only pay for the leads the agency get you.

There are a few problems with this model that would need to be worked out before I would considering offering it to my clients.

  1. Content marketing is not like Google Ads where you pay for a click and you know how many leads it gets you. One piece of content could generate you leads and sales for years to come. So how do you measure this?

  2. Leads don’t equal guaranteed sales - like I mentioned before, it comes down to your sales team, not the agency.

I for one am always looking for ways to offer partners a better service and remove the risk involved in content marketing. 

Pay per performance is an interesting method, and I’m sure someone will work it out eventually, but until then you need to weigh content marketing up and see if it is worth the investment to your business.

Sometimes content marketing might not be the best fit for your business, but that’s okay.

Conclusion

Every investment comes with risk, but content marketing can give you good indications of what results you can expect to limit this risk. An agency can’t offer guarantees because they have no control over your ability to sell.

Not only this, you need to be fully committed to its success and you need to stay focused on what is important. 

Apart from offering guarantees, what else could we content (or inbound) marketers offer you to reduce the risk and make you feel more comfortable in trying a holistic content marketing strategy?

Marketing & Advertising