I get asked this all the time: “can you guarantee SEO or marketing results?”

As soon as I even think the client is serious, I know it’s never going to be a productive relationship!

No agency can guarantee results across all marketing initiatives. We don’t control product pricing, technical and marketing infrastructure, branding positioning, manage your staff or make strategic decisions.

If your asking an agency for guaranteed results you either have no confidence in your own products/services or, worse, you want to put all the risk on the agency. That’s not cricket and in the long run it’s going to hurt your business more than help it.

Agencies, especially unscrupulous types that guarantee results are just gaming your business. Results, especially SEO can be artificially generated and/or structured so they look like “results” when they really aren’t.

Your results in most cases (if there are any at all) are just going to last as long as you keep paying a contractor or agency. They will disappear like a mirage in the desert once you sever ties.

Today, more than ever, great marketing is iterative and subject to lots of variables. “Guaranteed results” are inherently time limited and the negative economic bias that’s set up at the outset means there is no budget or time for iteration.

Market speed (movement!) is so fast today it’s virtually impossible to define “guaranteed results” that really move your business forward – they are obsolete within a matter of days or weeks.

Competitive forces are never ever static and you are going to make some assumptions about competitors at the outset of this kind of funky relationship. But, the savvy competitors are watching you (it’s Spy vs. Spy) and adjusting their strategy accordingly.

In spite of the terabytes of blog posts (self included too) written about the wonders of “social media traffic” the one statistic that never gets mentioned is how fickle this traffic is. If you are not morphing your marketing continually you are probably never going to see any real ROI.

Static bogus “guaranteed marketing results” are inherently limited by the vary nature of the structure of the relationship. Cheap one off theatrical marketing is not going to resonate with today’s social consumer.

Should you have a results driven relationship with an agency? Yes, but it needs to be risk and reward balanced.

But, relationship expectations need to be set properly at the outset or your are not saving yourself any marketing expenditures.

Just the opposite, you are costing yourself marketing upside by spinning your wheels with someone who does not value their work properly.

Again, risk and reward always live together, in spite of what you may read and hear.