The Electromagnetic Marketing Transparency Pledge


Electromagnetic Marketing delivers value and ROI to our clients with complete transparency and open communication. We give our clients clear and easy to understand reports on campaign results, accounting related to ad spend, and any compensation that we receive from ad networks and other 3rd parties.

We forego financial incentives except for the compensation that our clients give us in exchange for the services that we provide. When we receive payment or credits from advertising networks, software vendors, or other 3rd parties, we credit these funds to our client’s account or donate it to the charity of their choice.


One of the most common things that I hear from friends that own businesses is “I don’t understand how your business works.” The accounting for marketing and advertising agencies looks a lot different than accounting for landscape companies or manufacturers. The lack of clarity on how agencies operate leaves a lot of gray area in the agency/client relationship.

Ken Auletta describes these problems in “Frenemies”, his book on agency/client relationships. He tells a dramatic story about the Association of National Advertisers Convention on March 4, 2015. Industry insider Jon Mandel played the role of whistleblower, taking the stage to deliver a keynote address that exposed a system of kickbacks and payments that he characterized as “criminal extortion”.

We are small potatoes compared to the agencies at the ANA convention, but we have seen similar problems. I have observed 3 primary areas where small and medium-size agencies are not always transparent with their customers:

  • Measuring results

  • Accounting for ad spend

  • Compensation from 3rd parties

Here are some of the ways that transparency and accountability get off the tracks in those areas.

Measuring Results

The things that have come up consistently over the years fall under something I created called “Jamie’s Laws.” For example:

Jamie’s Law of Programmers
All programmers truly believe they are more experienced than they really are.

If someone says they are a mid-level programmer, they usually are an entry-level programmer on the programming skills ladder.

The law that is relevant to measuring results is:

Jamie’s Law of Analytics
If you look hard enough, you can find a positive story somewhere in the campaign results.

Modern marketing generates so much data that there is always something somewhere trending in the right direction.

Even marketers that have integrity and the best intentions spend less time talking about the negative aspects of a monthly report because it’s so much easier (and more comfortable) to talk about the positive ones.

This works for a while, but eventually, clients realize that all of this data doesn’t seem to be related to improvements in their bottom line. At this point, they are usually disillusioned and ready to move on to the next agency with big ideas and promises of ROI.

Electromagnetic Transparency Strategies

We have 2 strategies to help us avoid the temptation to report only positive numbers and minimize the negative numbers.

  1. We determine the metrics that we are going to measure in advance. It’s really that simple. If we tell you what we are going to measure next month and the month after, we limit our own freedom to mine the data for anomalies that seem to tell a positive story. If we identify new metrics worth measuring, we let our clients know what we hope to see in this data in the future and then add it to our reporting routine.

  2. We work closely with our clients to identify the metrics that deliver true ROI. We love metrics like ad impressions, but impressions don’t automatically turn into sales. We identify a broad set of metrics that are affected by the campaign AND directly contribute to our customer’s sales and revenue goals.

Ad Spend: A Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy

Ad spend is at the heart of a lot of questions that can erode the relationship between agencies and clients. I have seen a number of problems over the years.

  • Problems reconciling the exact amount of advertising purchased relative to the amount budgeted

  • Kickbacks from ad networks give agencies incentives that might conflict with a client’s best interest

  • Credits, bonuses, and incentives from advertising networks get applied to the agency’s bottom line instead of the client’s account.

In the spirit of complete transparency, I will say that I have struggled in this area. My intentions have always been good, but my disorganization has made this a real challenge. That is why Scott Elliott has been such a game changer for Electromagnetic Marketing. It seems that Scott is good at all of the things that I am not. He has transformed our accounting from top to bottom. This gives us a level of insight into ad spend that I couldn’t have imagined.

Because of the work that Scott has done in QuickBooks, we are now able to provide ad spend reports that are up to date and more accurate than ever before. These reports include any kickbacks, grants, bonuses, or incentives that we receive from the ad networks. This gives me peace of mind, and it makes me proud to look my clients in the eye when we meet.

3rd Party Services: Keys to Success or Kickback Machine?

We use a lot of software tools for tasks ranging from ad spend management to email marketing. Some of these software vendors pay a commission or offer different kinds of incentives. For example, Constant Contact compensates agencies for the accounts that they manage. This can include incentives for new accounts, rewards for revenue growth, and a percentage of recurring revenue. For the record, we don’t really think that there is anything wrong with this.

As long as it is clear to the client.

We believe that clients should know if and how we are compensated for the services we recommend to them.

For example, many 3rd party tools use variable pricing depending on the size of the account. There are frequently times when we include an amount like $400 in a budget for a 3rd party tool but only end up spending $200. When that happens we let our client know so they can decide where they want to spend it. They can choose to use it to fund additional advertising, or we can donate the savings to a charity that they choose.

So This Is Us

This is who we are and how we operate. We are a business that is growing in revenue, and we want to feel great about every penny that gets credited to our bottom line. We believe that we will be more successful in the long run because of that.

Our success depends on healthy long-term relationships with our clients. Why would we want any incentive other than our clients’ success?

What do you think about this transparency pledge? Does this resonate with your experience with agencies over the years? Do you have stories about agencies that handled these things well (or agencies that didn’t)?

We would like to hear your story so that we can continue to look for new ways to improve our transparency and our client relationships. Contact us, or click here to schedule some of my time for coffee or a discussion.


The Missing Ingredient in Your Marketing Strategy

Missing an.png

Almost every client that we meet with does a really good job describing their products and services. Years of experience with everything from sales presentations to trade shows have helped them hone these descriptions into something useful and effective. These descriptions are a good start, but something is missing.

These companies are missing sales opportunities because their descriptions are missing a critical ingredient and they don’t even know it: their customer’s perspective.

Traditional product and service descriptions may be helpful for some contexts, but they represent your perspective on the solution that you provide, not your clients. Listening to your client can revolutionize everything from your marketing message to your website’s SEO. Let’s take a look at an example.

EM Client Interview Guide.png

Enter Your email address to download Electromagnetic Marketing’s “Client Interview Guide”. Start attracting more clients today!


A Heavy Equipment Example

Developing an organized strategy for gathering and processing client feedback will affect many aspects of your business, but it will revolutionize your marketing communications. Let’s look at an example. ABC Equipment sells heavy construction equipment. They have a new piece of machinery that gets better gas mileage and can haul heavier loads. Let’s look at 2 ways of describing this equipment.

Traditional Description

The new XR123 Hauler is the most reliable hauler in the industry according to JD Power and Associates. This state of the art hauler from ABC Equipment can haul 10 tons, a 20% improvement from the XR122, all while achieving a 15% improvement in fuel efficiency. Test drive one today to see why the XR123 Hauler is revolutionizing the industry.

Client-focused Description

With rising construction costs, many construction managers are struggling to keep projects on time and on budget. The new XR123 Hauler decreases your job fuel cost by almost 1/3 by hauling 20% more than the XR122 while achieving a 15% improvement in fuel efficiency. You can eliminate critical bottlenecks on your construction site, keeping your job on time and on budget.

How are these examples different? Which one do you think is more likely to lead to a sales opportunity?

You probably realize that we would advocate for the client-focused description. The differences are subtle but important. Let’s take a closer look.

3 Reasons Why Client-Focused Descriptions Generate More Leads

#1: Option 2 shows that you understand the challenges that your client faces.

Businesses get so excited about their excellent products and services that it can be hard to stop talking about them. It’s easy to forget that your service is great because it solves a problem. How does the client describe the problem that you solve? What questions do they ask when they are looking for a solution to that problem? What terminology do they use to describe the solution that you provide?

Effective marketing listens to the client to understand the answers to these questions.

#2: The customer is the hero of the story.

In Storybrand, Donald Miller says that everyone is the hero of their own story. In traditional product descriptions, the product is the hero of the story (“The XR123 Hauler is revolutionizing the industry!”) In other scenarios, the hero might be your team of dedicated experts or a process that has been proven effective by years of delighted clients.

But effective marketing describes your customer as the hero. As Donald Miller points out, if your customer gets to be Luke Skywalker, then you get to be Yoda. You are the wise sage that can guide your heroic client on their path to success. That is exactly how you want to be positioned for marketing success.

#3: Features are described in terms of the benefit to the client.

The traditional product description does a good job laying out the benefits of the XR123. Larger capacity and better gas mileage are great benefits that anyone could understand. The customer-focused example covers the same information, but it does it in a way that shows an understanding of the challenges that the client faces and it casts a vision for how their life will be different with the XR123. In this scenario, the client can imagine themselves in the story.


Effective marketing must begin with a deep understanding of your client, the problems that they face, and the way that they understand the solution to their problem. In our experience, even companies that have close relationships with their clients fail to understand the way that their message sounds to potential clients that haven’t engaged with them yet. Since most companies aren’t aware of these missed leads, they don’t have any idea how to start working on a solution.

That is where we can help. We work with our clients every day to help them

  • Gain a deeper understanding of their client

  • Develop a message that resonates

  • Implement a strategy that gets the message to the target audience

  • Generate qualified leads

Contact us to schedule a consultation today, or download our client interview guide.

EM Client Interview Guide.png

Enter Your email address to download Electromagnetic Marketing’s “Client Interview Guide”.


It's Time to Market Electromagnetic Marketing

When Electromagnetic Marketing launched in June of 2017, I had a clear vision for the kind of agency that I wanted to build at the 30,000-foot level, but there were a lot of details that took some time to flesh out. When I look back at the “Meet Electromagnetic” post from last year, it’s basically an accurate description of where we were headed, but there were so many specifics that I couldn’t have anticipated at that time.

We were fortunate to have wonderful clients who helped us get off the ground. The projects we have worked on over the last year helped us grow and better refine our unique voice and fine tune our perspective.

We’ve grown from one person in a co-working space to 4 people working in an office at Innovation Depot in Birmingham, AL. That growth has come from referrals and relationships. If we ever had questions about humanity (and frankly, there has been some cause for concern), those questions have been answered by the profound kindness and goodwill that has been directed at us over the last 17 months. We’ve been especially fortunate that the clients who have come our way were a good fit for us.

While we are grateful, we know that there is one law of marketing that must catch up with us soon. In order to grow with the kinds of clients that would most benefit from our skills and expertise and avoid distractions that take us outside of our expertise, we have to start telling our story.

It’s time to market Electromagnetic Marketing.

That statement will be perceived in a variety of ways. Some of you might feel a little bit queasy when you think about yet another marketing company brazenly promoting themselves. Maybe others will shrug their shoulders and view it as a necessary evil. If you feel that way, would it change your perspective to know that we believe that educating clients is one of the best ways to market ourselves - not promoting? What if our marketing program is designed as an act of service rather than an exercise in seeking value?

Enter your email to download our white paper “4 Marketing essentials for 2019

Screen Shot 2019-01-04 at 12.06.56 PM.png

Our experience has shown over and over again that marketing plans that educate deliver the strongest return on investment. So while we are proud to approach this as an act of service, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is going to be pretty great for us. I’d love to say that I’m altruistic, but unfortunately, Alabama Power doesn’t accept good deeds as a form of payment.

So who are the altruistic but realistic folks who call themselves Electromagnetic Marketing?

  • A Content Marketing Agency- We believe that educating potential clients is more powerful than promoting our services to them. And we LOVE all kinds of content including blogs, white papers, videos, podcasts, infographics. If it helps illustrate, educate, and communicate, we love it.

  • B2B Focused- We love helping B2B businesses grow. We love restaurants too but our expertise in that industry is as patrons, not marketers.

  • Client Advocates- We advocate for the voice of the client - both your clients and ours. We believe that the most enlightening voice in your company is your client and that all marketing should reflect empathy and a deep knowledge of the challenges they face and the problems that they are trying to solve.

  • Committed to Measurable ROI- Abstract benefits are great, but we strive to build measurable goals and tracking into every campaign.

We create content about modern brand development and content marketing. What does that mean? Stay tuned. We’re on a mission to share it with you.

Would you like to gain a better understanding of your business, your message, and your marketing plan? Schedule a Session to Analyze your Message and Your Marketing Today!

Enter Your Email Address to download our white Paper “4 Essential Marketing STrategies for 2019”


Meet Electromagnetic

My name is Jamie Parris, and I am proud to introduce Electromagnetic, a marketing and advertising agency located in Birmingham, AL.

Electromagnetic fills a tremendous need for a content marketing agency that focuses on message development and high quality content. We believe that blogging should be more than just an SEO strategy. Content should be written for humans, not search engines, and business owners should be proud when they see the content that represents them across the web. We are applying these principles across all of our services as we create a different kind of marketing partner for companies facing new kinds of challenges.

We will share a lot more on our website in the coming days, but in the meantime, let’s share a cup of coffee. I would love to learn more about your business, and would be honored to have the opportunity to tell you a little bit about mine.