The “Turn It Off” Challenge

The turn it off challenge

Why not ask your provider to turn off all of the marketing or advertising that they do for you?

(Yes, you read that correctly!)

What would happen if they stopped doing what they’re doing?

Do you KNOW the value you get from your marketing spend?

Think about the money you spend on advertisements in publications, or on Search Engine Optimisation, Pay Per Click online ads, or any other form of marketing.

For every £1 you have spent in the last 12 months, do you know how many pounds you have made in your business that you wouldn’t have made without the marketing?

This thought experiment came about when we were talking to one of our clients about the results we’ve achieved for them from local digital marketing. We were saying that it would be very interesting to simply turn off everything we’re doing, and measure exactly how much money the business lost as a result.

We’re not going to of course, much to the client’s relief, but it is interesting.

It’s interesting because while much digital marketing can be tracked very precisely to prove that it is getting results that matter, not everything can be tracked.

For example, you have no way to know whether a post you put on Facebook was seen by someone who then told their neighbour, who came in the next day and spent money with you. The only way to know for sure that marketing is working is to turn it off and compare the results.

It’s a thought experiment, and like most thought experiments the real life situation is more complex. For example, if a marketing company has been working on improving your website’s visibility or ability to turn visitors into customers (conversion rate), that can’t be turned off without taking your website offline.

However, it’s quite a useful idea, and maybe you should consider trying it out!

How would your marketing company react? (A real life example)

We advised one local business to tell a major national marketing company to turn everything off in real life. The reason for this advice was that we had analysed the data and could see that the money being spent was achieving nothing, and in some cases even worse (think incorrect phone number listed all over the internet…)

The reaction was, as you might expect for a business about to lose a customer, reluctant. The marketing company sales people started to get a bit pushy, and used scare tactics to suggest that turning off the digital marketing would result in a huge loss of business.

But here’s the key: there was no proof offered. No numbers and data to show that the marketing spend was producing new customers, revenue and profit. No proof of return on investment.

Now, even if they didn’t have proof (or the client didn’t understand or accept it), surely something is wrong here? If marketing services genuinely are producing great results, surely turning them off will be the fastest way to get the customer to sign back up and stay for good, and probably even increase their spend? Could it be that the company knew that they weren’t delivering real value, but were happy to take money because their clients were none the wiser?

If your marketing company’s reaction is to either show real, tangible evidence of results, or to willingly turn things off to let you see the resulting dip in enquiries, sales, revenue and profit, then congratulations, you’ve found one of the good ones! Stick with them, and recommend them far and wide so other local businesses can benefit too.

Any other reaction might just be a warning signal that you’re paying out money but getting nothing valuable back.

The Digital Marketing Wild West

Many people have likened the digital marketing world to the early days of the Wild West. There’s no real law and order, few structures and best practices, and things are changing so fast that it’s just not clear who can be trusted, and who is in charge.

If you currently pay a marketing company to do anything for you and you’re not sure you’re getting a return on investment, don’t settle for a vague sense that you’re better spending the money and hoping that it’s helping you get more customers.

Instead, get some evidence. Get some data and numbers you understand and can trust.

And maybe, if all else fails, ask them to turn it all off!

Geoff Todd
Author: Geoff Todd
Founder, Digital Marketing Consultant
Before founding Groweb, Geoff worked in IT for a number of years, though he originally studied Philosophy at Stirling University. Geoff lives in Stirling with his wife and two children, and helped start the new Cornerstone Community Church in Stirling in 2015.