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What Happens When Marketing Companies Ghost You

Every industry has bad actors who screw over clients. This is particularly true in marketing. I have heard some horror stories, most involving marketing companies who ghost clients.

Some people are super sneaky – what we call “an eel in snake’s clothing” (h/t to Disney’s Robin Hood). However, it is fairly easy to weed out the bad guys.

One, do not hire a friend, neighbor, niece or best friend’s high school-age son who is going to “do this on the side” or worse – work for free. This means your project is not a priority.

Two, get references. And call those references. This might seem like overkill, but we’re talking about your company’s brand, reputation and future growth here. Don’t take short cuts.

Three, if they make any guarantees, run. Just like a financial advisor cannot guarantee returns, a marketer cannot guarantee results.

Here’s what happens when marketing companies ghost you

Graphic Designer

When graphic designers ghost, fixing the mess can get expensive. You probably already paid the graphic designer for some or all of their work. If they ghost before they finish or give you the files, you will need to pay someone else to re-create everything.

How to prevent the damage: Insist on receiving all graphic files – including drafts – in a high-res, printer-ready format (this is an .eps format, not .jpg or .png). If something should happen, another graphic designer can work with the .eps files.

Web Designer/Developer

When a web designer and/or developer ghosts, you’re in a similar situation to the graphic designer. It’s worse, though, because re-creating a website is expensive. Even a basic website with just a few pages and no bells-and-whistles will run you $2,500.

How to prevent the damage: Don’t pay the full balance due til AFTER the website launches. Get training on how it works so you can make small updates yourself. And definitely make sure you can access the back-end of your website, which means you need log-in credentials.

SEO Company

Proper search engine optimization (SEO) can be expensive, and because it’s so technical, an eel in snake’s clothing can easily slip through. You could end up paying thousands of dollars – and have nothing to show for it.

How to prevent the damage: When you interview the SEO company, look for instances of transparency in their processes. Do they explain what they’re doing? Will you have access to Google Analytics? Will they send regular reports that detail progress?

Social Media Marketer

When a social media person ghosts, an important chunk of your marketing grinds to a halt. It is super hard to find a good person, so transparency here is key to not getting totally screwed.

How to prevent the damage: Insist on having access to a shared editorial calendar. Ask that content be prepared at least one month in advance. Make sure you have log-in credentials for every social platform you’re on.


A lot of people hate to write, so I know that a MIA blogger can be particularly painful. When content creation – and especially blogging – suddenly stops, it affects your social media and email marketing.

How to prevent the damage: My advice is similar to the social media marketer advice: Insist on having access to a shared editorial calendar. Ask that topics be filled in at least one month in advance.

Web Hosting

Issues with web hosting typically arise when a website is hosted on the web developer’s server. If your web developer disappears, your site could easily get hacked or go down.

How to prevent the damage: Never host a website on an individual’s server. Always choose a big company.

Photo by Pedro Figueras from pexels

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