In Marketing, There Are No Guarantees

Ian Lurie

If you’re looking for an internet marketing firm that’ll guarantee results, you’re probably making a mistake.
In this business, anyone who guarantees results is sneaky at best. There’s fine print somewhere. A internet marketer can no more guarantee the results of a campaign than predict the weather.
If I were marketing to computers, I could learn the system and guarantee the outcome. But I’m not helping you convince automatons. I’m helping you:

  • Tell a great story;
  • About a great product;
  • To the folks who want it;
  • When they want it.

And those ‘folks’ are human beings. They’re fickle buggers. If I could predict their actions, I wouldn’t be a marketer. I’d be an emperor.
I can’t even predict what Google will do with 100% accuracy. Why? Because search engines are programmed by people. Google and Yahoo!’s thousands of servers faithfully carry out the flawed, judgment-ridden, subjectively-based instructions they’re given. Somewhere a group of plain old human beings had to decide ‘link trading is bad’ or ‘title tags are important’. So search engines aren’t all the predictable, either.
But don’t fire your internet marketer just yet.

Our Real Job

We have a critical job. We work to maximize the chances of a good result by ensuring discoverability. We make sure that your message resonates with your audience and that it’s in front of them when they’re ready to act.
That’s marketing in the 21st century.
Some marketers are great at it. Some aren’t. But none can say “I guarantee a top 5 ranking” or “I guarantee your sales will double”.
What we can and should guarantee is effective transmission of an authentic message to the best possible audience. That’s a guarantee you can believe.

I do not guarantee results. Ever. Not for search engine optimization, not internet marketing, not design. Sorry to disappoint.

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Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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  1. Once again, great post. I post about this all the time — unrealistic, confused expectations.
    But don’t you find, that is often perpetuated by the “sneaky” Internet Marketers you mentioned?
    Maria 🙂

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