How To Be Overcharged For Web Services

advertising marketing sioux falls

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Now… I’m not exactly sure this local company is being overcharged by one of my favorite local advertising agencies… I’m only 97.5% sure of it.

Here’s something I read on this particular advertising agency’s website. Their words are in bold in the paragraphs below.  My breakdown of their words is in RED)


[______________ company] partnered with us to increase their profits. (Because this agency used the words “partnered with us”, I would automatically NOT want them as my ad agency. They also said “profits”. It bugs me. I’m pretty sure the company didn’t call up this agency and say, “We’d like to partner with you to increase our profits.” Sure, maybe I’m being nit-picky, but it just bugs me, ok?!  We developed a website for them on an easy to use content management system, and we drive traffic to their website through Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing. [____________ company] is now ranking number one on the popular search engines!  (This agency is hoping business prospects reading this are not “with it” in the “Interwebs” language – because which keywords is this company ranking #1 for? Even I can build a website and get any local company to rank #1 pretty fast and easy for an obscure enough keyword. Bottom line – just be honest with us, please. And I searched the top 6 or 7 keywords and different variations of those keywords that most people would type into Google – this business was not even close to ranking #1.)

We also support their social media efforts, keeping top of mind awareness with their followers. (First of all, this company is not in an industry where people are breaking down doors to Like their Facebook and Twitter pages – aside from their wives and mothers. But this agency I’m sure told them they needed a consistent social media presence. And that they’re really good with social media, and they’d be more than happy to handle it for them. Of course, charging them a stupid amount of money for absolutely zero value in return.) We track their incoming traffic, so [_____________ company] can see exactly what their marketing dollars are providing for a return on their investment.  (So, technically, yes, if you add to someone’s website traffic, that’s a “return” on investment. But this industry that I’m naming unnamed, is one where there’s not a ton of competition. And the competition they do have…don’t have a lot of web marketing going on at all. So, getting more traffic to the website, and showing them the numbers is great. But it wasn’t difficult for them to do, yet they’re charging a pretty penny for it. They’re slick. And I’m not a fan of “slick” advertising agencies and marketing people.) 

Isn’t that almost PSYCHOTIC that I looked into those two small paragraphs so deeply? I know. Dude, get a life. I needed a break- and had half an hour to spare, ok? And I don’t like it when small business owners get taken advantage of.


  • Please be careful before you buy any kind of marketing service or advertising.
  • Ask TWICE as many QUESTIONS as you think you should.
  • Sleep on it. Then, ask more questions.
  • Keep your “radar” up for buzzwords that mean nothing.
  • Keep your “radar” up for sales-ey type of talk. Look for sincerity.

Gotta run.  Have a great day!


Duane Christensen

Your favorite marketing dude at Results Radio Townsquare Media

Sioux Falls, SD


Advertising Sales People


You advertised in the past by buying some “ads”. And the ad rep wrote down some notes in their meeting with you. They took those notes and gave them to someone in a creative department to conjure up a magical ad.  The ad included some creative wit, what you sell, your business name, maybe your logo, maybe some cutesy sound effects if it was a radio ad, and then your contact information. Voila!

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You were told by your advertising representative that the people you’re reaching “are just the right people you’re looking for.” The ad rep said that their audience fit with your customer profile perfectly. So, then, when the advertisements didn’t bring you any new customers, you blamed it on the advertising medium. You say, “Radio, TV, newspaper, direct mail, online, etc…doesn’t work!”

But that’s how you think the world of advertising operates. You keep trying new and sparkly things and give new ad people a shot. Eventually, you get frustrated, you waste a lot of money, and yell at every new advertising salesperson who calls or walks into your place of business.

You might even get frustrated to the point you consider hiring an advertising agency so they’ll just “handle” everything. Sometimes that’s a great move. Other times it’s not. The ad agency will take your ad budget and a lot of it will be used for their creative services. And you believe them when they say it takes a lot of money to create something great, because after all…they’re the experts.

In my experience with local ad agencies, you’ve got a bunch of graphic designers and creative types producing ads with a lot of glitter and smoothness. Pretty soon you’ve wasted half your budget on their creative production work, and have very little budget left to actually pay for any ad placement. And instead of FOCUSING your ad dollars, they spread your ads around in a bunch of different places, not making much of an impact at all. You just get charged for more creative work.

A media “mix” is great for huge companies and national brands that have hundreds of thousands or millions in their ad budget. But when you spread your ad budget too thin, it’s like trying to put out a raging 4-alarm fire with your garden hose. Your “sprinkling” isn’t going to do any good.

And when it costs a lot of money to actually create or produce your ads, you won’t want to spend the money to have the agency freshen things up with new ads. Pretty soon you’re using the same ad or ads over and over. Sometimes for years. This isn’t doing you any justice because after your ad has been seen or heard a dozen or twenty times, the effectiveness of that ad drops off sharply.

You have a lot of different stories and ways to communicate your message to people. It’s important to keep teaching people about you. Teach them why to buy from YOU instead of your competition. And you do that with a new ad fairly often within your annual advertising plan. Or you do it with a different direct mail piece every few months or so that will teach them more about you, and move them closer to doing business with you.

Whether you have drab, lame, cliché ads from your local ad rep that look and sound like every other ad, or you have smooth and glittery ads from an agency that entertain but fail to sell, you’re going to have a tough road ahead.

Just to make sure I don’t get a nasty email from any advertising agency people, I’ll say this – not every advertising agency is bad. Some are quite good. Maybe an agency would be right for you. If that’s the case, I want you to find a good one. I have very good relationships with some ad agencies here in Sioux Falls.  Just don’t assume an advertising agency is good at what they do because they call themselves an “ad agency” or “marketing firm”.

But it’s everywhere. There are advertising reps, marketing groups, and ad agencies who don’t know what they’re doing. I just want you to beware. I want you to know a little bit about the local advertising scene so you can begin to STOP wasting your advertising dollars.

You’ll hear advertising salespeople bragging to you about their demographics and “reach” and show you a bunch of charts and graphs. Yuck. It’s a forecast for crappy advertising results. And a few ad agencies’ main selling point is that they can buy advertising cheaper than you can directly. First, it’s not a good selling point. Second, it’s not true. You can negotiate your advertising rates and any bonus structure, just like anyone else can.

Is there a way to know if an ad rep or an ad agency is any good? Yes. If they know that your ad strategy and what you SAY in your advertising message is most important, then they’re a keeper. 

Have a great day!

Duane Christensen

Results Radio Townsquare Media

Sioux Falls