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The truth about marketing

In the agency world and especially in the marketing world there are a lot of lies. We say that people don’t believe in advertising, people don’t trust people any more never mind brands. Let’s back it up with data. According to a recent study conducted by the BBB, 93% of respondents ages 25 to 34 said that they use a search engine to find a company with which to do business. Company websites were listed as the most trusted advertising medium.

How many people do actually believe in advertising? 76% of respondents said ads in general were either “very exaggerated” or “somewhat exaggerated”, 87% think half or more cleaning ads are photoshopped, research from Lab 42 revealed.

I would ask a different question; do people pay attention to advertising at all? I don’t have big data in front of me but this week I asked 10 people to tell me what was the last advert they remember. They all said that they didn’t remember any.

Marketing agencies love to complicate things because it makes more money. We love to complicate things because when you complicate things and speak in technical language we think that we sound smart; which is not true.

Last year I had a meeting with a potential client, it looked like it was a good account and I was excited. There were three agencies involved in getting the account. We didn’t win the deal, another agency did. I asked them why and the CEO of the company explained to me that they preferred the other agency because they were cheaper and didn’t charge for story development.


One year later I stumbled across the agency that won the account and saw they had a case study about the brand that we didn’t win. Of course I clicked to see, I know I have other things to do but it was tempting.

Their case study had some mind blowing numbers: 300% increase in sales, 500% increase in web traffic, the funniest part was: More than 3,000 people subscribed to their newsletter (they don’t have a content strategy in place). In the description they wrote by sending newsletters we increase web traffic. When we met they said they didn’t have an email list. Of course, they might have bought the list but that’s unethical and it’s not good practice. So basically what they are saying is  that more than 3,000 people want to receive adverts from that brand.

Don’t get me wrong, there are brands that grow their email list on a daily basis but they have an amazing content marketing strategy that adds value to the end user. For me, the worst part was that the client had a testimonial saying he was happy about the service they provided and how they increased their sales.

There are two ways you can increase sales: one way is run adverts, create more noise and create a story and engaging content that people want to read and get value from it. Most companies think short term, that’s why they use strategies that are short term strategies.

What the majority of digital marketing agencies, advertising agencies and social media agencies in Cyprus do is they put a bandage on a scar. They don’t start working from the inside-out but from the outside in.

What this creates is just a temporary solution. Today, clients might need €50,000 to acquire new clients and to stay at the forefront of people’s minds. Tomorrow, they will need €100,000 because people don’t believe advertising and they are not emotionally connected with the brand.

Of course you can run more adverts, more campaigns, more tactics but at the end of the day, to win the heart you need emotional storytelling, you need authentic storytelling and great content marketing to get people’s attention.

What agencies show is the following: look how many website visitors, look at those impressions, look at those likes, look at those shares, look at those people watching XYZ and another BS things to get you thinking that they are a success.


Nice designs and nice websites help, but if there is no business strategy behind your marketing your money is thrown down the toilet. You are better off going on a holiday, at least you will have some great memories.

It’s a very hard job to communicate authenticity and promote authenticity because the majority want short term success. Marketers have learned that if you tell the client what he wants to hear, you win. Smart marketers educate and have empathy towards the other person.

I believe we all need to take a step back and tell the truth to our clients, to our friends and most importantly tell the truth to ourselves. For us to win in the long run we need to care about the other person.

Yesterday, I was at Starbucks Mall and saw advertising messages from a bank promoting their new fast loans from €5,000 to €100,000. I wonder why the ad was outside of a mall. Get our loan, spend it on meaningless things; buy more things and then work to pay off your loan. I would change that campaign to get a fast loan but educate yourself; buy books, attend a workshop, get a coach and learn more.

To promote a brand, first we need to get people’s attention, then storytell our truth and then sell. Every brand and every person has different goals and ambitions, that’s why the best strategy is authenticity. If you need help with your digital marketing, content marketing and social media you can always contact us, (IQD Agency).

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