We’ve all heard the expression ‘you’ve gotta spend money to make money’ and we all know it’s true. The problem is that nobody ever tells you why or how much.
Well, that’s what I’m here to talk about today: why you shouldn’t cheap out on your digital marketing tools and platforms and what might happen if you do.
Before we dig in, this article is not saying ‘go out and break the bank on the most bells and whistles, whirligigs and shiny paint’ but it is saying if all of your marketing tools are of the, let’s say, ‘Great Value Brand’ variety or the ‘We mainly do XYZ but we also threw in some marketing crap as an afterthought!’ tacked on to something else stuff, you probably will be a very sad person down the road.
5. You Get What You Pay For
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: if you don’t pay for quality, you don’t get quality.
Think about it this way, if someone on the street said, “Hey, I’m selling a car for $200. It’s just as fast, reliable and slick looking as a brand new Porsche! Trust me!!!”, what would you say?
Well, if you’re smart, it would be one of two things. Either “What’s wrong with it?” or “You’re full of it.”
So why people who make decisions on which marketing products to buy don’t ask these same questions when confronted with these Great Value, generic, off-brand type ‘digital marketing suites’ don’t ask these same questions is and will forever be beyond me.
If you think you’re going to get the same service as say a Salesforce Marketing Cloud or a Marketo from a place like ‘BrightBluBunny EMS’ (I totally made that name up..) at a third of the price, just stop it.
It will not happen.
It’s just like when we talked about Fiverr SEO services that promise the moon for twenty bucks. Yeah, it sounds good on paper and they may even have ‘success stories’ and a shiny sales pitch or demo but when it comes down a flat-out side by side comparison, it just cannot stack up. Someone in your organization, whether it’s your reporting and analytics team, social media team, SEO team or PPC team, is going to get shorted big time.
How do you think a no-name company can offer services like that at a ridiculously low cost or, even worse, ‘built-in’ to something else?
IT’S BECAUSE THEY DON’T HAVE EITHER THE SKILLED EMPLOYEES LIKE CODERS TO BUILD THE SYSTEM, SUPPORT STAFF TO HELP YOU MAINTAIN THE SYSTEM SO THEY DON’T NEED THE MONEY FOR PAYROLL FOR HIGHLY-SKILLED EMPLOYEES OR THE SYSTEM ITSELF DOESN’T DO ANYTHING CORRECTLY OR DOESN’T DO ANYTHING USEFUL OUTSIDE OF ONE OR TWO FEATURES BECAUSE THEY CHEAPED OUT ON BUILDING IT
Also, let me tell you something about those ‘we have digital marketing tools built in’ systems that are really something else (e.g.: its main function is a CMS or a shopping cart, etc.): They usually aren’t worth a damn and getting support is nearly impossible because that is NOT how the company makes their money so there is not much of an investment in it.
How do I know?
I personally used to work at a company where my entire department was an afterthought service. We had no corporate buy-in, we didn’t really have anyone aside from us in the building that understood the service and we definitely didn’t have the things we needed to move forward.
Your company doesn’t spend money on upgrades or customer support or tools if only literally three people in the building even know what that service is or what it does. That leads me to the next point…
4. No Future-scaling or Reliability
So let’s say you somehow find a bargain basement service, compare it side by side with the big boys and you say ‘well, it doesn’t have everything the others have but, you know what, my company doesn’t need all that. We probably wouldn’t use all the extra features anyway.”
First, good luck because that’s not going to happen unless you don’t completely understand what all the ‘extra features’ do and why you would use them if you had them and second, this is about the time when your digital marketing team starts grumbling intensely behind the scenes because they do know why you would use all those features, know that there’s no such thing as an “extra” feature and they realize that they’re not being listened to.
But anyway, let’s say you did anyway and signed on the dotted line with ‘Cheap Garbage Tools, Inc.”
And you’re happy today because now you can do all the stuff you couldn’t do yesterday. Everything is good in your world – for about three years.
Then things like the GDPR hit.
Search and social algorithms change.
Privacy and data storage laws change.
And your service isn’t compliant so now you have to manually get compliant. So you call up “Cheap Garbage Tools, Inc” and you get not a support or upgrade team rep but you get…your sales rep. Who immediately tells you ‘Oh yeah, we’re working on something in the next release!”
And you ask “when’s the next release?”
And they say “Well, we don’t have a firm date yet, it’s in scrum with the agile teams who have to run it in beta and they need to parse the SQL databases with the synergy of our overseas markets to maintain positive ROI for our stakeholders so let’s put a pin in this for now and circle back……”
and your eyes glaze over and the call ends and its six months later and there’s no release and you’re still not compliant.
This is what I was talking about earlier. This happens especially with companies with ‘added on’ tools to a separate main product. They don’t really do marketing tools so they really don’t care about your compliance. It’s not their company on the line with things like the GDPR, it’s 100% YOURS. If it really came down to it, they could discontinue those tools and services tomorrow and be just fine and still keep money coming in from their main product line. Trust me, I’ve seen this happen with my own two eyes.
Companies with garbage tools just simply don’t have the resources to keep maintaining and updating their product to the latest versions. They can talk all they want about keeping a ‘small team’ so they’re ‘agile’ and whatnot, but when something hits that changes the entire game, the three coders they have somewhere overseas they farm all their work out to just won’t be able to keep up.
This is why when you call in about this sort of thing, instead of getting support, you get your sales rep. The sales rep can talk you down because that’s their job.
Imagine if you took your car in for service and instead of a mechanic, a car salesman came out to tell you all the reasons why they can’t fix your car today but in a few months your car will probably be fixed…this is the same type of thing.
But let’s say we don’t get another GDPR. There is another huge issue when it comes to future-proofing your marketing solution and that is…
3. Literally Everyone Is Better Than You
So you saved a few grand on the front end by going with “Cheap Garbage Tools, Inc.”, bully for you! I bet you’re the hero of the company! You got new tools that are better than what you had and you even saved a ton of money by switching to Crapco!
Well, save the applause and cancel the parade because in a year or two you’re going to be right back where you started.
Well, how quick we forget one simple fact – even whatever hot garbage platform you have today was once brand new and shiny, right?
Look, the big companies like Salesforce and whatnot update and upgrade their features, improve their marketing machine learning and lean more on artificial intelligence algorithms that can do things that your team never could manually….and let’s just say your competitor’s bought those services and you didn’t. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what’s going to happen. In fact, its so obvious I won’t even spend a lot of time on this one.
They win. You lose.
They are everywhere you should be but aren’t because they got there first and got that click or conversion.
They are now a household name. They are using their omnichannel machine learning automation to get the right type of message to the right person on the right device at the right time while you’re just happy to be able to send out abandoned shopping cart emails like this was still 2010.
Get with it, man.
Digital Marketing is about being there for every moment and Garbage Tools, Inc’s platform won’t take you there.
Three to five years, you’ll be right back in the steaming pile you were in before you bought this mess but hey, you saved a few bucks, amirite?
2. Hidden Fees, Much?
Another issue you might have with going for these off-brand services is that they lie about what they can do. They either lie by omission, flat out lie or lie by not telling you that all of the ‘really cool features’ come either at an additional cost per month or you have to upgrade to another pricing tier or package that costs so much more than the initial price.
Real talk: The big companies do this too but the smaller ones do it all the time for nearly every single thing.
Perfect example: the number of email sends or email contacts you can have in a database.
Let’s say Garbage Tools, Inc. says they have a great email marketing solution for $1,000 per month. Ok, great.
What they don’t tell you is that you can only have 1000 contacts on your list and you can only send a total of 3000 emails per month.
That’s literally only three sends per month to your entire list. Let’s say you usually send about five messages per month not including transactional emails like shipping notifications and receipts.
And you have a list of 60,000 contacts.
“No problem!” Your Garbage Tools sales rep says, “Let’s talk about purchasing additional contact blocks and sends…”
And there you have it. Next thing you know with your additional contact blocks and email sends that $1000 is costing you $10,000.
Not so great, huh?
It’s basic garbage company tactics 101. Hook people in with what they think is a good deal and then hit them with the real price.
After all is said and done, you would be far better off spending that same amount with a company you have heard of and that you know will give you quality service and support.
1. Spit and Toothpaste WILL FAIL
The bottom line this week is simply this: Spit and Toothpaste digital marketing will fail.
There’s a saying that I love to throw around in situations like this and it’s a fact:
You pay peanuts and you get monkeys.
It’s true with employees, services, products, goods and anything else and this is no exception. In fact, this might be where that statement holds true most of all because you can believe your competitors are shelling out for the best and if you’re not, you’re done.
It’s understandable that you can’t sit there and pay out ten grand a month if you’re a mom and pop selling ten dollar T-Shirts but if you’re selling large ticket items or selling on a massive scale, you need the best you can afford. Don’t put yourself in the hole doing it but you need to not be an idiot too. Your marketing team isn’t staffed with wizards who can just wave magic wands and turn garbage into gold and they need good things to work with.
Imagine if you had a construction company and you staffed your employees with big rocks to use as hammers. Your buildings would fall a lot, huh? You wouldn’t get many employees or customers, huh? Your reputation would probably suffer, huh?
THIS IS NO DIFFERENT.
Sure your customers might not know what tools you use for marketing and won’t care but this will effect them because they’re going to know your competitor’s names, not yours.
Digital marketing is a competition and if you’re too cheap to get the best you can afford, you might as well keep whatever it is you’re using now because if you don’t you’re going to be no better off than when you started five years from now.