The Dirty Little Secret Of Advertising That Most Marketing Consultants Never Address

In the ’70s pop-culture movie Animal House, there’s an infamous scene where Kevin Bacon, attempting to join a fraternity, is being put through a hazing of getting his ass whacked several times with a huge wooden paddle by a senior member and is forced to say through gritted teeth after each smack, “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”

This phrase has become the funny punch line for all sorts of painful experiences – but it is never uttered when a customer has a bad experience with an organization. No client who gets punished with no or low-value service or receives a less-than-excellent experience will come back saying, “Yes, sir, may I have another?” They’re gone.

Yet I feel as though I’m alone on an island in being the only marketing consultant who FIRST looks at the product or service a client is selling and makes suggestions on how to make it EXCEPTIONAL before creating marketing campaigns that attempt to get someone to buy – or at least suggests some things to do immediately to provide more value. THIS is the “dirty little secret” of the marketing and advertising world – most of the ads you see are about spin and veneer, overlooking the single most critical aspect of service marketing: the service itself.

I always tell new clients that service marketing STARTS with the service – and if the sales letter is hard to write, the product or service is flawed. A crude Robinism: You can’t polish a turd. This is definitely not a welcome message for most of the small (or even midsize) MSPs who come to me for a trick or two for getting more clients to buy. They want the Facebook ad or website that will just bring clients in the door, profitably and consistently, not a discussion about how to transform their services and business to one that is uniquely beneficial. A true value proposition.

Note this: No marketing campaign, regardless of how clever it is, will make up for a mediocre to fundamentally flawed service. Yes, you can trick people into buying by hiding the ugly and dysfunctional parts, using exceptionally powerful copy, offers and salesmanship, selling to a grossly ignorant client, but that will only get you short-term results, accelerating the pace of getting a bad reputation for failing clients and shoddy service.

The other day, one of my staff sent me a post from someone on a Facebook group for social media marketing consultants. This guy posted his elation over getting a client to agree to pay him several thousands of dollars to manage his Google PPC account – but then, simultaneously, in the same post, asked for someone to reach out to him and show him how to do Google PPC advertising. To me, this is highly unethical and one of the reasons marketers rightfully get a bad rap.

As a professional marketing consultant and entrepreneur, I find it intensely frustrating when marketing gets the blame for poor results in a business, when very often it’s that the business owner is selling a very average, unexciting, unenticing product or service to begin with. For marketing to deliver exceptional results, it must be paired with a product or service that truthfully allows for big, bold claims, reassuring promises and guarantees, and then DELIVERS (at a minimum) on those promises made.

In IT services, I constantly harp on answering phones live with a trained, competent, friendly and entirely professional person. Why? Because it’s the first “win” or “lose” of your marketing’s promise. You’re saying you’re proactive and responsive – but the first time I call your office, I get voice mail or worse. You’ve failed on your promise before any money has been exchanged. There’s no point in doing all the work to get the phone to ring with a “shy” prospect, only to kill any and all enthusiasm with a complete and utter failure to follow through.

So, let me leave you with two important points. First, always strive to make the biggest, boldest claim you can as to why a prospect should favor you with their business, then work hard on stretching yourself to meet those claims. Second, always assume your service sucks. It’s a safe assumption – then work tirelessly on improving it, providing more value than any of your competitors can deliver or are willing to deliver. That combination is essential to marketing success and is the real secret to getting a flood of high-paying MSP clients.

Want to see Chris Voss in action talking about how to deeply understand your clients and influence their decisions in a non-salesy, non-manipulative way? Go to

Do you want more leads, more clients, more profits now but don’t know where to start? Click here and watch a quick video about the three biggest problems IT Service Businesses face and how to solve them.

There’s no doubt about it: Robin Robins has helped more MSPs and IT services companies to grow and prosper, liberating them from stagnation, frustration, drudgery and low incomes. For over 20 years, Robin has been showing MSPs and IT services firms how to implement marketing plans that attract higher-quality clients, lock in recurring revenue streams and secure high-profit contracts. Her methods have been used by over 10,000 IT services firms around the world, from start-ups to multimillion-dollar MSPs. For more information and a FREE copy of The MSP’s Ultimate Guide To IT Services Marketing And Lead Generation, go to


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