It’s Still Just a Polished Turd

Written By Danielle Fauteaux

In my assessment, many of the activities marketing agencies spend their time implementing in effort to market themselves and generate new business is wasted because at the end, it’s still just a polished turd.

What is a Polished Turd?

In the context of marketing your creative services or advertising agency, polished turds are the campaigns you spend countless hours “perfecting” that don’t actually yield value to the intended audience when it comes time to launch the campaign.

When your client facing teams are polishing turds, usually the client leaves. But what about when your own agency’s offerings and marketing messaging is simply a shelf of polished turds?

They may look okay from the outside, but on the inside, everyone knows what it really is. That’s a really awesome looking piece of crap. Did your message resonate deeply such that any qualified customers decide they absolutely HAD to hire you?

You CAN Polish a Turd….

Back in the day, our friendly neighborhood Mythbusters proved that you can in fact polish a turd….but just because you CAN doesn’t mean you should.

Why do we keep kidding ourselves that if we just spend 2 more hours on the offer’s website page that we’ll land on the perfect UX to increase leads overnight when if fact, our ideal customer profile just isn’t interested?

Are we are distracting ourselves with what makes us comfortable and can pass for productive marketing efforts?

The ways in which successful marketing service providers go-to-market is fundamentally different than the way many of our own clients can successfully go-to-market. What drives real results for an eCommerce store may end up as a polished turd when we try it for ourselves.

Are Productized Services Polished Turds?

Productized services for your agency are only polished turds if they are based on what you want to generate instead of what your customers want to be getting. (You know what I’m saying.)

Ask yourself – are your offerings based on what YOU want to be doing for your ideal customer profile or based on an actual problem your ideal customer profile is searching for a solutions provider for? If the former, your efforts to market that offering has a high probability of being a polished turd. (Friends don’t lie to friends, so I’m telling you straight – your clients and prospects don’t want your polished turds.)

Are Relationships Polished Turds?

No. Since 70-80% of new business for most agencies, creatives, and consultants comes through referrals and all equivalents of word-of-mouth marketing, relationships are CRITICAL to your go-to-market strategy.

Sure, new leads may have reached out to you on LinkedIn or filled out the website form, but regularly it’s because someone you know, whether a client, partner, or peer in your network said they should reach out to you or they saw you are a certified implementation partner or the like.

Lean into that reality instead of wasting your time polishing turds.

How to Spend Less Time Polishing Turds

Have you considered calling your customers and asking what they want BEFORE deciding what you’re going to sell?

Have you considered what content pieces will drive the most impact and forgoing the rest in lieu of spending time building rapport with influencers in your space?

Have you considered launching an offering via invitation only and NOT publishing any sort of digital assets like landing pages, promotional posts, and special offer automations until you’ve proved your offering via the customers you invited to participate?

Just because every other agency around is doing it doesn’t mean it’s working for them. They may very well be polishing turds too!

Don’t Get Me Wrong

Don’t get me wrong – you SHOULD 127% communicate and promote your established offerings via digital and traditional marketing methodologies. You should 127% focus on search engine optimizing your website to improve visibility. You should 127% stick to a consistent content creation and promotional plan for your agency to generate leads and convert them into customers.

But that’s after you’ve established that the offering provides value to the ideal customer profile, gained the results and avenues necessary for social proof to support the wider release of your offering to the marketplace.

I propose that your process look a little like this:

  1. Ask around and actively listen.
  2. Identify the real need.
  3. Craft a solution (even if it’s not what you originally thought it would be).
  4. Invite ideal customer profiles to implement your solution.
  5. Verify your solution via tangible results and social proof.
  6. THEN go-to-market with a full inbound marketing strategy to generate top of the funnel leads that you can nurture into customers.

Avoid being distracted polishing a turd and instead take meaningful action to be more productive towards solving for your customers and driving revenue towards your bottom line.

We All Fall Into the Trap of Polishing Turds

I won’t lie – I’ve polished my fair share of turds. I sometimes start polishing a turd and have to remind myself to realize what I’m doing before I get too distracted by it.

It’s easier to want to optimize what comes natural to us and then hope there is value in the eyes of the beholder than it is to go find the relevant customer profile, forge a relationship, and provide a solution first. (Like when we build a beautiful website page for this awesome offering we want to release to the interwebs because we just KNOW that’s what’s holding our business back instead of seeking out ideal customers first and inviting them to evaluate your solution).

The relationships are where the payout is for your creative firm and marketing agency. Now, put down the turd and go forge a strategic relationship instead. Get out and start building relationships that will matter for your agency. Show your team members how to do likewise!

Go get coffee with a client. Reach out to that person on LinkedIn that serves the same industry as you in a different capacity (or even the same!). Pay for that in-person event. Go to a co-working space for a day and see who you meet. Just promise me you’ll do something this week other than polishing turds to market your agency.

Building a successful marketing agency takes grit, a focus on your value, and sometimes a *loving* kick in the pants.

Needing an ally as you achieve your long-term goals?

I’d be happy to help.

Danielle Fauteaux, Agency Coach

Danielle Fauteaux

Hi! I’m Danielle. I’m passionate about helping creatives recognize their value and place in this world, passionate about helping leaders regain control over their responsibilities, passionate about encouraging others to live more meaningful lives; and passionate about doing more with less. I guide creative firms through the Momentum Framework to achieve their revenue and profit goals while falling back in love with the mission they originally set out with.