Justifying Internet Marketing

Ian Lurie

Today’s post will be very short.
Potential clients ask me more and more, “Why should I spend $10,000 [or any other amount] on internet marketing every month? What will I get for it?”
I don’t know.
I’ll say it again:
I. Don’t. Know.
I can no more predict the results of an internet marketing campaign than I can predict the price of oil 10 years from now. There are no guarantees. So, when you ask this annoying, annoying question, you give me 2 choices: I can lie. Or I can be honest and lose the job to the next guy, who will undoubtedly lie.
What I can tell you is:

  • However your campaign starts, it will consistently improve, because we can test stuff;
  • It will cost you a fraction of an equally-impactful offline campaign;
  • At least as far as search engine optimization and pay per click, if you ignore it you’re turning away 75% of your potential online audience;
  • I’ve never seen anyone say “Damn, I wish I’d gotten less visitors to my web site.”; and
  • Hesitation will only hurt you.

So, instead of asking me a question you bloody well know (or should know) is unanswerable, ask me:

  • How will you report results to me?
  • What are you going to do to get those results, in general terms?
  • How will you track changes and adjust to them?

[Ian stomps off]

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is 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 Lynda.com, 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 www.ianlurie.com

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  1. This is so right on, I really just want to repurpose your genius and use it on our blog too. But, they’ll be enough scrapers coming by any minute to do that for me. 🙂
    But, I’ll probably quote you if that’s cool? Keep em’ coming, priceless stuff (the valuable kind).

  2. Brilliant post, Ian. Luckily I don’t have to fight too many of these battles with my small business clients, but I can imagine that marketing departments might be a nightmare to deal with…

  3. I find the best way to answer this question is to point to past successes. You’re not a magician, but you are an experienced professional. If they can’t handle that, you have to wonder if they’re the kind of client you want!

  4. Good advice. Your way of handling the situation is dead on. Keep them focused, direct their attention to what you can and cannot do, and speak to strategy, execution, analysis, reporting and then back to strategy to repeat the cycle. The clients that can’t reconcile with the truth when you take the time to explain it usually won’t make for a healthy ongoing relationship.

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