Yep, I said it. Most agency award shows are nothing but a cash grab, and in this episode I share my experiences with them, what they are really all about, and more authentic ways to build your reputation. I also include a killer tactic I’m sure you haven’t thought much of a the end of the episode!



Hello, welcome to another episode of anti-agency. Jason Yormark, your host, and agency owner. And I’ve got an awesome episode today. This is like on the fly. I was thinking about it in the middle of the night, because I didn’t sleep that good. And I’m just going to wing it. Not that this show is ever scripted but I’m kind of winging it and I’m recording these things for podcast and YouTube and blogs. So, it’s like I’m trying to multitask everything that I’m doing here. So, bear with me if you’re listening to this and not watching it, maybe there’s a little bit of me doing some YouTube ish things that might feel weird and then vice versa. So, I guess just bear it with me as I try to figure out the art and science of the multitasking media recording journey that I’m going on here.

So, but let’s get to it. I’ve got an incredible tip for you. If you are a business owner or you are a decision maker at a business, and I’ve got a great, great tip for you that is not often talked about. So, stick around. It’s going to be awesome. But so is the stuff up until then.

So, what are we going to talk about today? Today is about agency awards or business awards, but agency cause that’s what I’m most accustomed to and how they are a scam, right? They’re all, they’re not all a scam. Most of them are a scam. There’s some legitimate ones, but not that many and what you should do instead of those. So, I’m hoping to ruffle some feathers here, because I got to figure out some topics and some styles and some talking that gets people interested in what I’m doing here.

So, if you’re listening to this and you own an award show or an award, whatever feel free to disagree. This is my opinion, but I think it’s pretty spot on, especially if you search for these things on Google, you’ll find lots, not lots, but a few other people that have experienced what I have when it comes to this sort of thing. And I’ve actually written a blog post about this A while back, that’s done pretty well, you know, helping others kind of avoid some of the pitfalls that I’ve kind of fallen into. So, let’s just get into it.

So, agency award scams and let me tell you kind of what sparked this recording today. Why am I doing this now? I got this email from some random person at EXELON magazine. I don’t even know how to pronounce it. It’s E-X-E-L-E-O-N magazine. And he says, I’m reaching out to you about an opportunity and our upcoming issue of 10 most dynamic entrepreneurs of the year. Needless to say, you have been an example of excellence. I can’t argue with that. And featuring you among this issue will be highly fitting, below are two package options that you can avail. You can avail. I’m not sure what that means, but there’s a red flag, right? Weird English. And then there’s a table that basically says like profile feature $500 and then all the stuff that you get with it and cover feature $1,500 and all the stuff that you get with that. Upon confirming your interest for any of the above-mentioned package options, we will send forth an interview questionnaire and block your pages. Here’s a link to one of our previously published issues for your understanding and assessment, looking forward to your response in case of any queries or doubts do let us know.

Now I’m a busy guy, but I was intrigued not because I thought it was real, but because I just, I had the eye roll, I checked it out and sure as. It’s so BS, it’s so BS. I’m going to have a blog. So, if you’re listening to this on a podcast, like I’ve got a blog post for this, just go to I have a blog post where you can actually click and look at some of this stuff. Cause it’s kind of funny. It’s not, I mean, it’s ridiculous. It’s like this magazine nobody’s ever heard of. It’s not even a real magazine. I don’t think that they claim they have 50,000 readers and they have all this traffic and then you see all these covers of people on the magazine. I actually looked at one of the magazines. It’s pretty funny.

The entire magazine is actually filled with just story after story of a person. And I’m guessing it’s these people that the cover person paid the $1,500 and everybody in the magazine paid the $500. But’s really what’s even funnier about it is the ads in between the stories look fake. They do not look real whatsoever. This whole thing is like one big cash grab scam and the people that are on it, it’s just, it’s laughable.

Now here’s the thing. I’m not, you know, claiming that the people in these magazines have not accomplished things or whatever, you know, I’m not, I have no idea. I didn’t go to that layer of depth on the legitimacy of these people. You know, I’m not questioning their experience or their accomplishments. What I am questioning is, you know, why they would spend $500 or $1,500 to put themselves in a ridiculously fake magazine that really serves no purpose. Other than from what I can tell it’s a vanity thing or for you to use it as a means to mislead people into thinking that, you know, you got on the cover of a magazine and look, people do this all the time. Like, you know, people do this all the time with all kinds of different things. And I get it.

In fact, when I started my agency, I got swept into it too. I mean, look here we go. I went away from the mic. Here we go. For those of you watching, the communicator awards. Award of distinction, arts, and entertainment, socialistics, the arsonist launch I mean this was legit work, right? I mean, we’re really proud of this work and I kind of got caught up in that whole award thing. Oh, I got to get, I got to get some award so we can call ourselves award-winning agency. I got caught up in that and we did a couple of them, and we’ll talk a little bit about the agency stuff. But I am guilty of falling into the trap. When I, you know, I was in the beginning stages of running my agency. So, I get it.

People are grasping at anything that they can use to legitimize what they do or to be able to market themselves when it comes to what they do, you know, most people aren’t going to vet this stuff out, you know, they’re going to get a copy of the magazine or they’re going to put it on their website and they’re going to promote themselves as being, you know, featured in this magazine where the reality is, anybody can be on it. Anybody you got a few bucks; you can be in the magazine. And I read some of it in there really broken English, not written well at all. It’s kind of silly and which is unfortunate because there are authentic ways to build your reputation. This is not one of them. A lot of people go inauthentic when it comes to this sort of thing. And I’m going to touch on what I believe to be a much better way to go about building yourself up and your companies and your brands up in a way that actually is real and can actually make a measurable difference in your business.

But this magazine one just cracked me up. So, if you’re watching the YouTube video, you’ll see the screenshots of it, but I’ll save some on my blogs. You can kind of take a look at it. This also ties into you know, these award websites and they’re popping up everywhere. I mean, there’s so many of them because it’s easy, right? It’s like, you just create this fake award and people, you know, they’re vain, you know, you send them an email, right. You know, here’s you know, I wrote this blog, I wrote a blog post called the agency award scam and how it works. And I’ve got a couple links on there. And you know, there’s a couple of them like there’s one called the Silicon review. And I have an email here that basically that I got sent in the past, I’ve obviously grayed out people’s contact info, but I get one of these, you know, every, I don’t know, a couple times a year and they’re just like, hey, it’s the same thing you’ve been recognized. You won this thing, here are the benefits and you can be, have this and get that. And you’re so important and you’re so successful pay us $3,000 and you can be in this thing or do this thing or get this award. What? No.

So, if you really want to know whether an award ceremony is legitimate or not, they don’t ask you for anything. And it’s probably, you know, a more recognizable like Forbes or something where, you know, they don’t necessarily not, again, I don’t know, maybe Forbes does this too. I don’t know. I just threw that out there as maybe a legitimate award, but there are legitimate awards out there and typically they don’t involve you know, extracting money from you to be a part of it. You know, I’ve got, you know, this Silicon review is a perfect example and do a search on Google, you know, do a search on Google for the Silicon review and you’ll find some scam links. There’s a really funny one on the first page for Silicon review where a guy kind of plays around with the monkeys with them. It’s great. I love it anytime somebody, you know, is trying to scam people and you kind of waste their time.

But, you know, these are pretty common ones. Another one that I got invited to was at the time it was a conference called Mad Con and I got and look, and here’s another way to like a lot of these kind of conferences or awards, they’re based overseas. Or the people that are sending the emails are based overseas. And then they have kind of like a virtual address. They don’t have a real kind of location. It’s pretty easy to sniff them out. But you know, this Mad Con they they’re one to me was oh, you know, you won same thing, you know? You’ve been prequalified for the top 100 marketing and advertising leaders awards. Here’s a link to the calendar, let’s connect. And I sent a message. Cause at the time this was a while back. I’m like, really well, tell me more about it. And then they dig in and it’s like, oh, you got to pay $1,500 to go to the event. And then you got to pay $500 for your trophy. And it’s like, this isn’t based on anything real, this isn’t based on our work, this isn’t based on anything other than, can you afford to pay us what we’re asking you for? And if so, then you win. How is that legitimate? It’s fake, and there’s so many of them. And like I said, we did one of these. You know, a lot of agencies and business will do this. They just, you know, they pay for these trophies so that they can put them on their websites and say they’re award winning.

And, you know, for a while, you know, we did that too. Now we’ve, you know, we’ve won some things have been recognized for things that are legitimate, you know, real work that we’ve done. So, you know, I’m not, you know, this isn’t a, you know, everybody’s fake thing. There’s certainly legitimate ones out there, but typically they have, they’re not when you have to pay for it, you know, and that’s really the biggest thing, but this is never going to go away. And people are going to continue to do this because, it gives the perception of instant credibility. And look when you’re scrapping and you’re just starting out, you know, can you fault some of those folks, even if that’s you like to kind of get a little bit of momentum, something that you can build off of, I suppose not, you know, I don’t think so, but I think as you mature as a business, I think it’s important that you kind of move away from these sorts of things and start to kind of leverage, you know, things that are a little bit more legitimate.

And I would say that a good start to that. And I’ll use an example in our world is a directory called clutch. Now clutch is not, you know, perfect. They are, they’re all about, you know, making money too. I mean, who isn’t, there’s nothing wrong with, you know, trying to make money. But they make money through, you know, sponsored directory listings and things that are, you know, a little bit more actually worth the money I would say. Now in my world, social media, they have front page, they have front page positioning for what I would say is the most popular term in our business, which is social media agency. They’re on the front page. They actually have two properties on the front page. They have one called clutch and they have another called the manifest.

But if you’re in the agency game, you’ve probably heard of these names. If you’re not, I’m sure there is probably some sort of organizational website or directory that’s related to your world that has some of that front page visibility. And that’s typically because these are big companies that have a lot of money and they’re going to hold onto those top spots. You’re going to have a hard time dethroning them. So, if you can’t beat them, join them. That was kind of my philosophy. I mean, we continue to work hard to kind of move up the ranks, but we’re doing it organically by putting out great content that takes time. And we probably won’t get to the front page of some of these terms. So, I knew that, you know, I had to figure out a way to leverage these directories to basically kind of join the party. And that’s what we’ve done, you know, and we’ve had a tremendous amount of success with using a directory like clutch. And we’ve really just kind of tried to understand how they operate, how it works and leveraging a combination of accumulating, real, authentic reviews from our clients, which is really the most important thing you can do.

If you really want to know the measure of a person or a company, it’s what other people say about them. People that have worked with them, what do they say about them? And the thing that I like about clutch and no directory is Bulletproof. I’m sure you can game anything in life, but they do a pretty good job of kind of disrupting that a bit because a lot of their, their verified reviews are phone, their phone calls. Like you submit your client’s information, and they call them, and they have a conversation. So yes, that can be gamed still. I suppose what’s a little bit harder. You know, the [15:08 inaudible] is a little bit more significant than say leaving a Google review, which anybody can do, which by the way, two weeks ago, some random account left a negative review. Like I’ve never heard of them they clearly are just trying to, you know, put bad reviews out there. So that’s a perfect example though. It’s so easy to do that. Whereas in with clutch it’s a little bit more difficult.

So, we’ve put a priority on getting reviews on clutch and that’s really contributed to helping us build our reputation in that directory. And then it was worth us throwing a few bucks to, to sponsor our listing and kind of move up on, you know, their social media category. And we’ve gotten a lot of leads from that and continue to, and we you know, prioritize, you know, making sure that our, you know, getting our clients to leave reviews for us on clutch regardless of whether they’re perfect reviews or not, you know and that’s been a huge boon for us, you know, in pitches, you know, we always refer to it, you know, Hey, you want to know who we are. You want to know what we’re capable of, go look at all of what our clients past and present have said about us. And that’s a great tool to use.

So, if you’re in the agency game, do two things, number one, or you’re looking to get into the agency game, like find what are your top keywords? Like, what are the top five keywords for your business? Like if the perfect keyword, like for us at social media agency, and then see who’s on that page. Are they directories? Are they blogs, whatever they are find who’s kind of got a grasp on that page and figure out ways to get on those pages, whether it’s, you know, a directory and it’s as simple as setting up a profile and getting your reviews on there, if it’s more of a blog, maybe you can do like a guest post or whatever the case may be. That’s where you want to be. That’s going to go a long way for you is making sure. And so, there’s you know, the agency’s game does clutch manifest up city. There’s a bunch of them. And like I said, if you’re in a different industry, chances are, there’s something similar for you as well.

So now I just want to get into the thing that really sparked this. I was at a trade show a couple weeks ago, and I just had this aha moment. I can’t remember exactly why, but I just remember being at this trade show. It’s the first one that we were at since COVID kind of killed it, you know, it was one of these trade shows that I had signed up for like three years ago and it just getting pushed off and pushed off.

And we finally went, and we are a different company now than we were three years ago. So, at the time, it was a good idea, but by the time we actually could go, because it was already paid for, not exactly the best fit for us. But we went cause it was paid for. And you know, there’s a couple competing agencies there and you know, it’s always interesting to kind of walk around and get a sense for who else is out there and what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.

And there’s another agency there that’ll remain nameless that had quite the significant sponsorship there clearly another one of those events where it’s pay to play, you know, they had, you know, a stage to themselves and they’re doing all this content and you know, this is the type of event they didn’t really care about the quality of your presentation. They care more about how much money you spent with them. And that kind of dictated who got premiums, seeking slots and all those sorts of things. So interesting to see. But it was one of those moments where I was like, you know, the whole idea of perception versus reality. You know, and there’s kind of ties back to how people just live in general, right?

When you think about how people present themselves on social media, you know, obviously people always, they, they create this story or they create this, you know, persona of who they are or how they live. But we all know you pull back the curtains and that’s not reality, right. People, you know, fabricate a lot. So, it’s always frustrating when you are an agency that like us, we live or die on authenticity. It’s one of our core values. We say what we mean. We mean what we say. We don’t try to pretend to be something that we’re not, maybe to a fault. But that’s who we are. That’s who I am. It’s what I wanted to build. And it’s tough to compete when you do things that way. Cause you’re competing with a lot of the places that don’t do that. And they say a lot of things, they take every client that they can, they throw a lot of untruths out there. So, it’s tough when you’re dealing with that sort of thing. And as I was walking around and seeing that and kind of doing some eye rolls because you look at this and like that’s not really who they are or and I can’t remember where I made that connection, but basically what I started thinking about was if you really want to know the true pulse, the true heart, the actual DNA of a company, there is a place that you can go and get that, at least in my opinion, that’s going to give you a little bit to a lot more honesty than anything else on the web. Then here it is Glassdoor.

If you want to know what a company’s all about, look at what the people are saying that have worked there or currently work there.

You would be amazed at what you find when you look at that now again, is it infallible? Of course not, can people lie? Of course, they can. It’s a tool. It’s just like anything else, you know? So, if you’re looking to like hire an agency or hire a company or partner with a company or even work at a company, you want to know what they’re all about. Don’t look at their Google reviews. You know, don’t look at what they say about themselves on their website. And anybody can put anything there, go to their Glassdoor profile and see what people have said about that company, about working there. It’s just like anything else with reviews, right? You look at restaurant reviews, you know, people will leave reviews and they’ll say, oh, this server did this. I’m like, well, was the food good or not? Like, don’t give them a One star just because you happen to have an isolated bad incident. So, you kind of have to kind of use a self-filter when you’re looking at things.

But it’s incredible what you can learn about companies when you go to Glassdoor and look at what people say about them, especially with extremes. You know, if you see a company that you’re thinking about working with that has one- or two-star average, I mean that that’s significant or vice versa. Everybody says raving things about them. It’s such an incredible tool to use. And nobody’s really thinking about that or doing that. But I predict that more and more will. And obviously, you know, I mean, we, one of the things that I love about what we’ve done with our agencies, I generally care deeply about the people that work here treating them well, paying them well building an incredible culture. And so of course I’m beating the chest on the glass door thing. We have an incredible reputation there. That’s not why I’m doing this though or saying this. You know, I don’t think we’ve ever gotten a lead from a podcast episode. So it’s not really about that as much as it’s about if you are an aspiring business owner or you’re building your company or you’re in the early stages of that, take your glass door profile seriously, assuming that you’re treating your people well, get them to leave reviews for you, get them to talk about their experiences with your company in Glassdoor, make that a priority in your operations. Don’t just focus on what your clients or your customers say about you focus a lot on what your own people say about you. And then use that as a strategic tool when you’re pitching business or going after customers.

Look, there’s a lot of competition out there it’s cutthroat. It’s hard. It’s tough. This is a way to give yourself an edge, right? You’re on those. If you’re on a pitch call or you’re presenting throw glass door in there and be like, hey, you know what, by the way, go check out our glass door, see what our own people are saying about us and do the same for the folks that you’re considering for whoever you’re hiring. If you really want to know who you’re going to be working with, it’s a great tool to do that. And assuming that you’ve, you treat your people well, and you’ve been having them leave positive reviews for you. It’s going to be an incredible tool that you can use for marketing yourself. That is my barking dog, if you can hear clearly agrees with. So, Glassdoor people I’m telling you it’s the future. So, check it out, use it. We’ve started to take it very seriously.

And don’t fall into the trap of these scammy awards. You know, if you have to pay for it, it ain’t real. Take that money and that time and those resources and build out your reputation authentically. Do it through getting reviews from your clients and customers on directories that align to what you do and get your people that you’re hopefully treating well to leave reviews on Glassdoor and use those tools to kind of tell a story about who you are and what makes you different and unique. And I promise you it’ll go a long way as it has for us. So that was my big revelation for the day.

So, take it for what you will, if you’re listening to this on apple podcasts or Spotify or any of those fancy places be sure to check out my blog at Like I said, by the time you’re listening to this, we have a blog post. And a lot of what I talked about, there’ll be lots of screenshots and screen shares there in terms of what I talked about today. Check out the show notes or there for links to everything that I talked about today. Thank you for listening. And we will catch you at the next episode of anti-agency stories of doing business differently. See you next time.