Firewater Logo

Digital marketing shouldn’t be a grudge purchase

By Mark Stecker


You know you need digital marketing – yet there’s still resistance to paying for it.


Maybe you have a superstar salesperson. Sure, they bring in leads – but they command coin, commission, and a company car. They’re also just one person. They can schmooze mates in their network (Paula from PwC; Bhaskar from Ballbreakers) but their visibility can only go so far. Plus, those leads aren’t always quality that converts.


You’ve been doing business for a while, but have you been skimping on digital marketing? Because marketing that’s integrated and strategic – with realistic KPIs – can help Steve from sales reach people that he couldn’t before.


As digital marketers, our job is to understand who you’re selling to and show you what’s possible. We reinforce your brand, build behaviour profiles, and quantify the results. But you need the right partner to guide your marketing team (and yes, even the CMO) through these metrics – because they can’t do it all, and it will pay off.


Digital marketing remains a grudge purchase for many business leaders. We hear it all the time, from solopreneurs to the C-Suite. And it isn’t just anecdotal: according to Ornicio’s 2022 SA Social Media Landscape Report, the percentage of companies using agencies to handle their social media accounts has dropped from 27 to 16 percent.


drop in companies


No one’s forcing you to sign up with an agency or run a social ad campaign. But why wouldn’t you?

If implemented with the right metrics in place, digital marketing can be measured and yield the biggest results. You'll get a real ROI or return on ad spend. Digital marketing allows for data-led decisions, so you can adjust as you go based on how things are performing and who you are targeting.

The information is all there – effective digital marketing is something everyone should be demanding and paying top dollar for. Because the results speak for themselves.


Mind the gap


There’s resistance because many people find digital complicated, plus they’re often unsure about what they want out of their marketing in the first place – apart from “more sales”. There’s also a perception that digital marketing is just Facebook and Instagram, but it can be thought leadership, email, podcasts, and everything in-between.


Digital marketing is an ecosystem where everything works together to achieve the same goal, whether through relevance, visibility, share of voice, or conversions. Social media is just one aspect of that ecosystem – and social encompasses everything from Google business listings to WhatsApp.


digital marketing is an ecosystem


These platforms are where your customers are, and nothing happens in isolation, yet there’s a knowledge gap about the interconnectedness. If it’s not all brought together by a solid digital marketing strategy – led by specialists and not your direct report's insourced son who “knows IT” – then it’s like herding cats. We have nothing against Jared. It’s just that he’s 20, and Firewater has more than 20 years’ experience.


There's an assumption that the likes of Google ads and SEO can yield results on their own, but as we said, everything works together, and visibility is needed across all channels. That’s why you need experts to guide a consolidated digital marketing strategy – and that’s where agencies like Firewater come in.

Have you been burnt?


Maybe you’ve had a bad experience with an agency in the past. It happens. Digital marketing is a process and not a quick fix. And a big part of the process is about how the client feels: if you find the experience aggravating, you’re with the wrong partner.


We’ve worked with many businesses over the years, and time and again, we see how important it is to educate the client, and for them to educate us. It’s give and take. The right digital marketing partner will dig deep to help you understand your business’s needs, and you’ll help them understand exactly what your business does.


Just because you had a bad experience, you can't paint all agencies with the same brush. Did they get the right brief, was there a communication breakdown, or were they simply bad at what they do? Our job is to translate your business's needs into results. But sometimes you won't get those results due to unrealistic expectations – and it’s the agency’s job to tell you that upfront.


Dont paint us with the same brush


If you join a boxing gym and want to get ripped, will you look like Jason Momoa overnight? Probably not. It depends on many variables, like how fit you are to start with, your metabolism, and if you keep drinking an Amstel every night after work. It’s the same with digital marketing – you won’t get insane, instant results (if you are, your agency is juicing those numbers).


Sometimes the digital marketing partner can get lost, too, as they just want to get the client to sign on. An inexperienced partner will say yes, claim they can match unrealistic expectations, and ask questions later (again, Jared, no hard feelings).


It's a question of trust


Using specialists will unlock results, but you must trust them to help you navigate the complexities of digital marketing. Importantly, by the time you get into a meeting room, you need credibility and awareness of who you are and what you do, so that people want to do business with you, right off the bat.


Because people do business with people.  


But this can only happen if you have visibility, and in the B2B space a customer is still a consumer, and their lives are now digital. 


In this economy, you also need to be tactical with your digital marketing budget, and you can't do that with partners who aren't specialists or who lack experience. Some efficiencies come with expertise – which is why being able to trust the agency to make the right decisions is everything.




You don't have to do digital marketing, but you will be left behind. And your competitors, who are a tenth of your size, will come along and eat your lunch (or drink your Amstel). But with the right digital marketing, you’ll get more content out there that lands, so you’re more visible, relevant, and credible.


Don’t lose market share by skimping on digital marketing; you’ll thank yourself for biting the bullet and getting experts on board.


Stop resisting; contact us to see how we can take your digital marketing strategy to new heights.  


Why not drop us a message?