Recently, I had a very interesting experience with another marketing firm and learned a lesson from them. I was trying to do the right thing by letting them know they were having an issue with the home page of their website.
As you know if you read our articles, having issues on your website will lead to lost sales and missing out on potential customers.
As a courtesy, I reached out via the contact form on their website and gave them a heads up that said their website home page is broken and is showing shortcodes to visitors. As a quick aside, here is an example of what a shortcode looks like:
[shortcode that is meant for the backend of website]
The next day I got back a reply from this agency. This was their reply:
Do not solicit us again through our website or any other means.
Being the optimist that I am, I figured they were probably getting spammed with messages and thought I was one of them. I replied again trying to help them. Here is my reply:
I’m not soliciting. I get those messages too from spammers.
I was on your website and the home page was broken and showing short codes.
(I then included a screenshot showing the error on the website)
A short while later I got the reply to my message:
Yes, we know and our new site is in production as we speak, so don’t worry about it. No one asked you to review our site.
Wow. Just wow. I am literally blown away at these responses.
This is a very small marketing business based here in the United States. They claim on their website that they are here to provide customer service and take good care of their customers.
However, in this interaction, they made it very clear they don’t care about feedback.
I then looked at the email again and the disclaimer at the footer of EVERY email caught my attention. Here is the word for word copy of what it says:
DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that the use of email is to convey ideas and thoughts in a quick, efficient manner. It is generally considered an abbreviated, expedited form of communication. In my case, they are sometimes short, direct and to the point without the use of pleasantries and intonations. Please do not read more into them, make assumptions, or place any specific emotional value to them other than the point trying to be conveyed. Any in-depth conversation or dialogue needs to take place telephonically please. Thank you.
Even Further Backstory:
I am sure you are curious now: How did I wind up on their website?
The short answer is that I had their company website bookmarked (from a year prior) because I discovered they implemented some ADA web accessibility features well on their website. I wanted to research the solution they were using for this functionality.
I was then curious how I heard about this company as they are geographically a long way away from where we are.
I did some digging through our internal tech and found an answer. I first heard about this company after they visited our website and downloaded our free guide on 5 Mistakes Your Website Is Making back in September 2020.
I had briefly replied to them at that point as it looked like we were doing similar things in different parts of the country. It is always good to network and see if you can learn from others. During a few emails, we had a pleasant conversation.
As I learned more recently, this interaction was not a good representation of their company or their culture.
The Lessons Learned:
In our article, 10 Qualities of a Professional Web Designer (this applies to all marketing), we talk about the essential qualities you should look for when working with a website designer or marketing agency.
There are a few relevant ones to this discussion:
- Empathy – This means putting yourself in the shoes of your customers and viewing things through how they will view them.
- Good Listener – This means acknowledging the feedback (and ideas) other people give you and working to understand their feedback (and ideas).
- Effective Communicator – An effective communicator knows how to relay opposing viewpoints without discouraging or embarrassing the client
As you can see, this agency doesn’t embody any of these characteristics.
The email responses I received from them were the exact opposite of empathy, good listening, and effective communication.
After pondering this interaction for a while, I also started thinking more about the disclaimer that appears to be included in every email from their business. I had a few thoughts:
- It appears from this disclaimer that they make a regular habit of sending short, rude, and unfriendly emails to their clients.
- This is apparently so frequent and has caused so many issues for them that they decided their best option was to include a “rudeness” disclaimer at the bottom of all emails
I am not sure about you, but if I was the customer of a company that regularly sent me rude emails, I would not stick around very long, even if they were good at their work.
Unfortunately, this is similar to the stories we have heard from many of our clients that have come to us after bad experiences with other agencies.
The interaction with this agency makes me question how effective they actually are in their marketing.
Marketing is based upon having the empathy to understand your potential customers and the problems they are experiencing. It is only after understanding your customers that you can then craft marketing messages that clearly communicate how you will solve the problem(s) that they have.
It has been proven countless times that collaboration usually results in outcomes that are better, cheaper, and more efficient than if someone tried doing this on their own. However, a core element of collaboration is communication.
If you run a small business, you likely know your customers and the problems they face better than anyone else. If you hire a marketing agency, it is important that they are able to listen to your ideas and feedback as you are the one that knows your business best. A marketer needs to have the empathy to understand not only your needs but also the needs of your customers.
If a marketing agency will not listen to your ideas or feedback, or they cannot communicate well with you, this is a clear warning sign that you may be wasting your hard-earned money on marketing that is not working.
It may be time to find another agency that will make the effort to understand your business, the challenges you face, and most importantly your customers.
If you are a company that is working with an agency that is rude, ignores you, or is bad at communicating, YOU DESERVE BETTER.