My Bad Experience in Marketing – Hire Professionals

In addiction treatment marketing it is all about testing. Do what works and do more of it, and do it better than you have before. If it does not work, do less of it or cut it all together, or make some major changes so you can test and track it. The name of the marketing game is testing and tracking. If you aren’t able to measure what you are doing, get help fast, really fast.

Over the years we all have probably had a few bad experiences in marketing. I’ve got a story that is about 20 years old so I feel OK about publishing it now. When I was a print broker (I bought and sold large printing contracts in my own company, Peake Graphics, Inc.) I had several large clients one of which was a large pharmaceutical client, household name. They gave me an order of 72 Million coupons to print for them, or 36 million each of 2 versions.

The client and I flew out to the Midwest printing plant and did the press check which was standard operating procedure. I “managed the client” and the printer “managed the press run.” Needless to say this was a lot of paper, more than you can fit into a single 18 wheeler tractor trailer. The client was focused on “print quality” things like color and registration. I was focused on things like getting the client signature and flying back home to New York.

The printer furnished us the “blue line” which is a technical term for “this is what you are going to get before we print it do you want it?” (Once a client sign’s off on this, they own it). Sure thing, the client signed off on it and I was half to way planning my next flight home. The client was so focused on the color (which really didn’t matter because this was nothing but junk mail and not an annual report) he forgot to take a look at the “whole coupon” and actually cut it out of the sheet (and so did I) and was not focused on the “other side of the sheet or the coupon” that he approved the blue line. Long story short, the one version of the 36 Million coupons did not back up correctly the artwork was flopped, hence we created another 36 Million $0.35 coupons unbeknownst to us. But we got the color approved and flew home, meanwhile the presses were running at 1,800 feet per minute. So we had 108 Million coupons being run instead of 72 Million.

For me as the print broker I had only run about 100 jobs before this so I was not the most experienced, but I had all the right intentions, get the client to sign and I was going to see a pay day.

Back in New York, I got the call the next day. “Jim, are the presses still running!?” Yes they were, 24/7 these big web presses never stop unless there is a web break, many of the plants I ran in were 365 day per year shops, forget about seeing your family on Christmas Day. He shouted to me “stop the presses!” (He never used foul language, I definitely would have). I called the plant and told them the problem. But it was too late. 85% of the job was run and in the bindery being cut and ready for shipping to the fulfillment house. Meaning, what the client signed off on was now owned by him. We now have a huge headache on our hands managing the coupon clearing houses in El Paso, Texas some coupons with barcodes and others without and politics of the client and not to mention the $100’s of thousands in dollars lost. (BTW, I still kept the client after this project).

I bet many of us can relate to a similar SNAFU probably just not to the same magnitude, please share some of your own stories in the comments below. In 2006 as I was building my own internet publishing business called My Success Gateway I made many similar mistakes but this time as the client. I wanted PPC for my web products; I wanted SEO traffic for my web site, etc. I hired 3 firms and each time it was a total disaster, I mean financial disaster. I’ve made all of the mistakes that I still see clients making every day, I’ve been there and done that and watched Google vacuum out as much as $4,000 in one day on a single PPC campaign which netted me nothing but a goose egg. The numbers actually get worse but I really don’t feel like going there, I think I’ve made the point.

The Secret of Letting Go

I had to let go of the past. Do you see any parallels here to drug addiction treatment? (Guy Finley, my mentor wrote a book called “The Secret of Letting Go” a fantastic read). I finally figured out that if I was going to hire someone I was going to have to know what the heck I was doing and know what were the right questions to ask. I had to learn this business for survival, because I was not about to enter the oil business, as I had an opportunity to do so and live the rest of my adult life on the road. One of the things I realized was, many of the vendors I found didn’t know what they were doing, however they believed that they did now what they were doing. So they weren’t really trying to dupe me, they were just as clueless as I was which was a really bad combination.

I’m an experiential learner so sitting in a classroom was not going to do it for me. I had to learn from people who actually knew how to do SEO. I stopped doing PPC because it was just too tedious and I had a couple of friends who were masters at it and I’d just use them because for their monthly fee to manage the campaigns it was much safer and cheaper. My point here is I took the time to learn SEO and to be totally honest it is not that difficult. I can teach someone the full basics of SEO in an afternoon.

So in my Internet Journey I’ve had to really learn how to master Internet Marketing, I have spent a lot of time and worked with the very best to master my craft. As a client, I had to learn it or else I was screwed. I realized this as a consultant. My clients must be coachable and trainable and learn how to do this as well, if they are going to get the optimal results. My whole premise is that I must be able to “teach” my clients to fish for themselves. If I do my job right they will become better at this than I and hopefully refer a few new clients along the way.

Do Your Homework and Hire Professionals

On the flip side there are just some either lazy or unscrupulous folks out there who are looking to make a fast buck. I found a company the other day that was marketing themselves as a “Google Certified Company.” I asked my friends at Google, “is there such a thing?” Answer, NOPE.

They can rest assured they might contacted by Google about this “certified company” practice because there is no such certification, usually it is a death sentence in Internet Speak. I can also tell you that every day I am still learning, no one knows it all. What I can tell you is that if I don’t have an answer for it I probably know where to go get the answer, we all have that ability.

So where do we go from here? We chalk up all of our bad experiences to our “informal education.” Probably more expensive than a Harvard Education, but hey, at least we now know what NOT to do. Here is a good question to ask your internet marketing vendors if you are seeking to grow your business. “How many leads in the drug addiction treatment space did you generate last month?” Ask to see some of them. If you like their answers hire them, if not keep searching for the right folks otherwise you will be paying for their education and yours. If they change the subject or go off on another tangent bring them back to this question if you are looking for results, do not let them off the hook.

Finally, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes. “If you think it is expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.” Red Adair

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