Quite some time ago I had what I thought would be the great privilege to work with a huge marketing firm. I was very excited about the project as I was going to get the opportunity to see how one of the “world’s leading global public relations firms” handles marketing, social media and the like.
I was thrilled to have such a great opportunity to look inside such a huge marketing juggernaut and to learn from them whatever there was to be learned. But more importantly, I was extremely excited about a specific project they were suggesting for the tiny nonprofit I was working with at the time as a consultant.
Learning from the “Gurus”?
You see, just prior to this consulting gig, I worked with TechSoup Global and helped to run their Digital Storytelling Challenge. We had a very small team of folks to run this international competition. While we had, in my opinion, knocked it out of the park, like any other huge project done by a small group of people with a ton of other projects going on at the same time, there was certainly room for improvement.
This huge international marketing firm was suggesting something fairly similar to the digital storytelling event we had just completed at TechSoup. It would be easier to run as it only involved photography rather than both a video and photography component as we had done at TechSoup. Unlike the TechSoup Challenge, it was only going to be open to folks in the US rather than all over the globe, cutting out a ton of complexity.
And of course, with the HUGE global presence of a marketing firm with over 70 offices worldwide who contests all the time, marketing for some of the biggest companies in the world, watching them run something like this should be amazingly educational. Right?
As I sat in on the meeting a ton of the logistics about the contest didn’t seem to come up so I asked about them. There didn’t seem to be much thought or knowledge about how these basics would work. These things hadn’t even been considered. I should add that I wasn’t talking to the high level idea people. No, these were the people who would make this project happen for us.
Finally I asked the big question, the one we had struggled with at Tech Soup and the one that provides for a ton of really tricky concern as, if you do it wrong, you can get into a TON of hot water… RULES.
You see each state has a ton of different rules about what is allowed when it comes to contests. Use the word raffle in some states and you’ll be in serious trouble… cause now you’re gambling. Aka no one can pay to enter your contest and your contest has to be a contest of skill, not chance.
And this is where my mind was blown. It wasn’t that they didn’t know off-hand about how rules for each state would be handled. No, that wasn’t the shocker.
They Didn’t Even Know…
They didn’t know that there was even a concern about rules regarding contests. They didn’t even know that there were rules that existed for contests. They didn’t know this would be an issue or something to even consider.
I’m not sure if I did a decent job of hiding my shock at this or not. I doubt it.
These people are paid BIG BUCKS… in this case more than $350 for a blog post with a few words and some pictures (as an example) and they didn’t even know that contests have rules? I can’t recall how much they were charging for the contest portion of the marketing contract. It was a lot.
That may not seem like a huge problem but if they don’t know that there are rules around this sort of thing what other hot water might they get our tiny nonprofit into? What other thing might I need to watch for?
Is it possible that we could get into serious legal issues because they don’t even know what they don’t know?
And with the HUGE cost of what we were paying for, shouldn’t we be able to expect they would have our back legally? Shouldn’t that kind of thing be a given from a major global marketing firm?
The answer is no. You shouldn’t expect that from a major marketing firm apparently. You shouldn’t expect that from the majority of marketers you work with.
So find someone who knows better. Find someone who thinks “is there something we need to look into here legally before we do this thing?”
Just because you pay through the nose doesn’t mean you’re getting what you pay for.