The Shady Truth About The Old Guard's Digital Marketing Makeover

    May 16, 2023

    In an era where digital marketing reigns supreme, many old media companies that once thrived on phone book, radio, and TV advertising have scrambled to reinvent themselves as so-called digital marketing providers. However, beneath their surface-level rebranding efforts lies a harsh truth. These companies, armed with their vast networks of experienced salespeople, have devised a mousetrap that locks clients into long-term, auto-renewing contracts for subpar bundling of software and marketing services, that will never achieve real results.

    Let’s dive into the deceptive practices, poor quality, and frustrating experiences often associated with these old media giants turned digital marketers.

    The Hollow Transformation

    At first glance, these rebranded media companies pitching bundled, low-cost marketing services, can seem appealing. However, their outdated models and inherent flaws really hinder their ability to deliver results. Why? The very elements that once made them successful in traditional media become their own Achilles’ heel in the digital realm. The old guard, burdened by their bloated and convoluted past, struggle to adapt and keep pace with the agility, talent, and innovation required to truly deliver a quality experience and the results clients need.

    Deceptive Sales Practices

    In their pursuit to gain business, the sales reps at these rebranded old media companies often employ extremely deceptive tactics. They utilize complicated auditing reports, filled with technical jargon, to create an illusion of expertise and to confuse clients into believing they have problems that may not even exist. These reports may be used as a means to upsell additional services or make false claims about the effectiveness of their existing online presence. Through persuasive promises, they attempt to convince clients that the grass is greener on their side. However, the reality rarely lives up to their hype, leaving clients disillusioned, skeptical, and questioning the integrity of the entire digital marketing industry.

    Centralized Conglomerates and Outsourced Mediocrity

    A key aspect of old media’s presence is their centralized conglomerate structure, operating multiple stations across various markets nationwide. While local salespeople may promise personalized service, the reality is that the actual work is typically funneled back to a central operations hub or, in many cases, outsourced overseas. This disconnect results in a decline in quality as random individuals churn out campaigns without a genuine stake in their success. Clients are often several layers removed from the actual work, unable to communicate directly with those building their campaigns. This lack of transparency and direct contact creates a frustrating experience for clients, eroding trust and hindering effective collaboration.

    Furthermore, these companies often struggle to attract top talent in the digital marketing industry. Their reputation, legacy structures, and outdated practices pose serious challenges when recruiting skilled professionals seeking dynamic and innovative work environments. Ambitious, talented individuals are drawn to companies that embrace the latest digital strategies and technologies, which can lead to a talent gap within these rebranded media companies. This lack of necessary expertise and enthusiasm, further intensifies the disconnect between these companies and their clients.

    Poor Quality and Frustrating Experiences

    The rushed, factory-like nature of campaign creation within these old media companies often leads to subpar results. Whether it’s websites, landing pages, ad campaigns, or social media posts, the work is characterized by low quality and a lack of attention to detail. Furthermore, the frustrating experience for clients is compounded by the extensive bureaucracy and massive hierarchy at these companies. Changes or client requests have to be sent “up the ladder” to get done, and usually require multiple rounds before it’s remotely close to being right.

    The Illusion of Comprehensive Solutions

    Most of these reinvented mass media companies are selling a bundle of marketing services, often accompanied by an all-in-one software platform touted as an innovative solution for managing everything your business does online. These platforms often claim to offer everything from content management to booking, CRM, and social posting, but fall short in excelling in any of these areas. The real scheme behind offering these proprietary tools is to lock clients into their platform, making it painful to leave behind due to the significant time investment and loss of historical data. Instead of empowering businesses, these platforms become a hindrance, trapping them in an ecosystem that fails to deliver on its promises.

    Adding insult to injury, these so-called marketing companies lock clients into long-term contracts that are difficult to escape. With auto-renewal clauses and hidden fees, clients get trapped in agreements they can’t easily terminate. These companies know that if given a choice, clients would run away screaming after experiencing the chaotic nature of dealing with them more than a few billing cycles, and that’s why these terms exist.

    You’ve Been Warned

    The struggle of the old guard to adapt and survive is reminiscent of the age-old adage: “Can a leopard change its spots?” While change is possible, it would require a fundamental shift in culture, business practices, and organizational structure. As long as these companies continue to base their business models around deception and holding clients hostage, we’d recommend steering clear of them.

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