When is a Marketing Job Not a Marketing Job? – At Grand Marketing / Cohesion Inc / [Future Name Here]

I feel an obligation to protect the students that I teach and mentor.  Whenever possible, I try to steer them away from mistakes I’ve made or lend them some of the limited wisdom I’ve acquired in nearly two decades of being a professional.

The latest effort to help students and young professionals out is advising them to stay away from “Cohesion, Inc.” (formerly “Grand Marketing”), “Prestige Enterprises,” and other similar companies, which are essentially door-to-door sales or telemarketing jobs falsely promoted as jobs in marketing, advertising or public relations.

These companies target college students and 20-somethings with promises of jobs in marketing and advertising, when what they really offer is commission-based sales.  They claim to represent companies in the “Sports” and “Fashion” fields because they know these industries are top targets of young professionals.  In reality, students end up selling undesirable products (like health supplements) and work on commission – and often they’re set up as multi-level marketing operations (ie pyramid schemes).

In doing some digging, it appears that many of these companies are all franchises of Cydcor (the Mother Ship). Their entry on PissedOffConsumer spells out many of the same complaints that others have had.  The parent company, be it Cydcor or some other group, provides the franchisees with canned website copy and direction on how to set up their business (which makes them all easy to spot – see below).

Fortunately social media gives former employees and interviewees a way to share information about the deception with others, resulting in this long entry about Grand Marketing / Cohesion at PissedOffConsumer.com.  In fact, social media could be what drove the company to switch names as the negative reviews rank higher than the actual company website in Google search results:

Grand Marketing Google Results

Another company of the same variety in Grand Rapids has come to my attention: Prestige Enterprises Inc.  They appear to be the same type of operation, as the copy from their website shows up on the sites of dozens of other similar “marketing” companies around the country.  I took a unique phrase from the websites of Cohesion and Prestige and googled it – these are the results (so either they’re all plagiarists, or they all are using the same website template):

These companies also share similar Facebook page characteristics (inspirational quote photos – some even use the same ones, group photos, and a “careers” page that links to the Jobcast recruiting app).

Prestige Alpha Comparison

Impulse Adamant Comparison

These companies are starting to get more savvy about how they recruit, as they’re realizing that people are figuring them out.  They’ve even started to infiltrate the job boards at colleges and universities (so you can’t even trust that those have been vetted properly, a fact I was disappointed to find out).  Moreover, Cohesion appears to be trying to get out in front of the negative reviews, and mysteriously a couple of rave reviews have shown up on the company’s Glassdoor.com page (and somehow the same photos from their Facebook page are uploaded to the Glassdoor profile on the same day as one of the reviews):

Cohesion Similar Pics

As many young professionals need to be warned about these deceptive outfits as possible – so if you’ve had a bad experience with a company like this, post a review to Glassdoor.com, RipOffReport.com, or PissedOffConsumer.com, or give us their name here. If you’ve received a job offer from a company you’re suspicious of, please feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to help you do background research on them to see if they’re legitimate or not.  If you want to do your own research, here are some tips:

How to Tell if a Company is Really a Marketing / Advertising / Public Relations Firm

  1. Check their website and social media presences for photos of actual, real people.  Most of these companies rely heavily on stock photography (because real photography of real people is expensive or time-consuming to produce).  If they do have photos of “real” people – they’ll typically be large group photos which make it appear like there are more people working there than actually are.
  2. Do they talk about “Sports Marketing,” “Fashion Marketing,” or other really desirable industries that seem too good to be true? – They probably are.
  3. Search for the company name in your local business publications (for example the Grand Rapids Business Journal, MiBiz or Rapid Growth) – have they made any lists?  Are there any profiles of their executives or employees?  If not – that’s a red flag.
  4. Check your local County Registrar or the Michigan State Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (DLEG) – they will allow you to search for people who have applied for DBA record (“Doing Business As”).  Most, like Kent County, have an online search feature. This can tell you who is behind the company and much more about them – particularly the State of Michigan DLEG directory; it contains the company’s annual report and incorporation documents (watch for companies where the same person holds all of the offices – ie President, Secretary, Treasurer, Director).
  5. Find what appears to be a unique string of text somewhere in their website (usually from the “About” section) and search for it in quotes in Google.  When the results come back, if you see the exact same string of text in multiple other websites – you’ll know they’re not legit.  Note: Google will sometimes omit similar results – so you may need to click the “repeat the search with the omitted results included” link.
  6. Look for a company on Linkedin.  They should have a company page (especially if they’re a marketing, advertising or public relations firm).  If they don’t have one, red flag.  If they DO have one, you can use it to get more intel on the company: if you view a company page and click “Insights,” it will give you a wealth of data.  You can find out who some former employees are (so you can look up their work history or perhaps even contact them to get insight on how it was working there), who some current employees are, what similar companies people also search for, and the most common places their employees came from.
  7. Search for the company on job websites (I recommend Indeed.com, which is right now by far the best job website).  If they have a LOT of positions posted and yet they’re small enough that you’ve never heard of them, that should be a big red flag.  Just look, for example, at how many positions Prestige Enterprises is trying to fill (and the variety of titles).

18 thoughts on “When is a Marketing Job Not a Marketing Job? – At Grand Marketing / Cohesion Inc / [Future Name Here]

  1. Zac Smits says:

    Fantastic advice. I used this to convince my wife not to go for an interview. I work in IT, and the first thing I said after googling the company is “It’s a scam.” She didn’t believe me, so I went through the same steps you did.


  2. Lynn Liberati says:

    I just went to an interview with Prestige Enterprises, Inc and they seemed very legit to me. I actually have a final interview and they want me to be at Sam’s club to help out to see if I would like the position. I never heard anything about door to door sales and even during the interview I asked about that and she said that most of the products they are told to market is coming from corporate. Am I confused? Also, I took your advise and they are not on LinkedIn which I think is interesting and will be a very good question for the final interview. How did you hear all this info about Prestige? Any help would greatly be appreciated. Thanks so much!


  3. Courtney R says:

    I am actually supposed to have an interview with Prestige Enterprises, Inc. tomorrow. This information has now made me confused and worried if I should trust this company. I will be graduating in December and I am being considered for a job as an event coordinator. Can you please give me any advice you might have with your knowledge about this company? I would be relocating for this job, so I want to make sure it would be a good decision. Please let me know! Thank you so much!


  4. Rachel says:

    Courtney R, did you ever interview with Prestige Enterprises? I have an interview with them, too, and I’m considering canceling after reading this! Something must have seemed off to me because I found this to begin with… wouldn’t have looked if I didn’t get the sense that something was off. Too easy, maybe?


  5. Goldstone says:

    I am scheduled for interview on Thursday, September 13, but I cancel it after reading and analyzing deeply the above reasonable reviews. Time is money! our time is precious! Again, my thanks go to Derek DeVries who cares about his students!


  6. Nick says:

    I have been to a few interviews with prestige enterprises this week, and a few things about this company were making me uneasy. While they seem to be a pretty legitimate operation, it is strange that they are so vague about what it is they actually do until the second interview. It is a job demonstrating products in Sam’s Club and Costco, like an infomercial. You are paid something like 15% of your sales or minimum wage. It was a relief to read this blog post and see that I am not the only person feeling this way. If they offer me the job, I won’t take it. Not because I don’t trust them, but because minimum wage is simply not a good enough fallback for me.


  7. Jared says:

    Derek, I feel that you are taking harsh judgement on a few companies that are legitimate. Sure, they show off product in Sam’s or Costco, but thats what their product companies pay them for. Who doesn’t want a hands on with a product before taking it home? I know people who work or have worked for Prestige Enterprises and Cohesion. You are in a store, you get set hours, and you get minimally minimum wage – its an entry level job. If you do your pitches and people buy the product, you get to make more. Its no different than a serving job at a restaurant, $2.65/hr + tips or minimum wage (you are selling food).

    You are also making some poor choices on how you define a “marketing job”. By definition, marketing is the actions a company takes to get goods into consumers hands. Is that not what they do? Marketing is an overloaded term, yes, but to criticize and soil the names a companies you know nothing about it just wrong. There are tons of different jobs that can be classified as marketing, it just depends on what kind of marketing you want to do.

    Your advice on how to be careful in looking at jobs and companies is sound, but calling out companies you don’t know anything about is just poor practice.

    TL;DR – These companies are legitimate, get to know them. Do your research on them. Interview with them. Be smart in your interviews; ask what about responsibilities, pay, opportunities to advance, and schedule are. Only you can make the final call, but don’t be too hasty about online presence.


    1. Derek DeVries says:

      Jared, sales is legitimate work (including direct sales at venues like Costco or Sam’s Club). I have family members who are in sales.

      However, what I take issue with (and what the substance of my post was about) is their recruiting practices. They are falsely advertising sales jobs as jobs in “Public Relations,” “Marketing,” and “Advertising.” In the job field those terms have very specific connotations which are held in higher esteem than “Sales.” That’s why they’re using those terms – it’s an attempt to borrow their credibility.

      I do know what I’m talking about. I’ve worked in Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations for nearly 15 years. I’ve hired and managed people. I get paid to do professional development workshops, and my writing has been featured in national trade publications. I also happen to have bachelor’s and master’s degrees in those fields. I also have many leather-bound books and my office smells of rich mahogany.

      The real consequence of this is people who take those jobs thinking they will be gaining experience that can be applied toward getting a job in PR/Marketing/Advertising will be disappointed because companies, firms and agencies don’t view sales experience as directly applicable (and rightly so – it’s not).

      They know what they are doing is inappropriate which is why their websites, job descriptions, and interview processes are so shrouded in vaguery. It’s why you can’t actually find a person’s name listed as a contact for any of these organizations.


  8. Think before you Speak says:

    Here is the thing with companies like prestige and cohesion. They are not fake companies. People are so quick and harsh to judge these companies because people frown upon the idea of sales and doing business to residential or business to business or even hanging out in Sams club for a job shadow. Its very unnerving that people are so judge mental and have the time to bash companies like they do. The people who work there are highly motivated individuals. Honestly seem to be a lot more motivated then a lot of adults these days.Kids these days want something with opportunity and growth. They don’t want to be sitting behind a desk for the next 30 years and make minimum wage or a little more then that and get a .50 pay raise each year. Spend a day in what they do and then be the one to judge. But dont bash someone for being motivated and having dreams. And like Jared said before there are a ton of different forms of marketing. It could be by bill board, commercial, flyers, telephone, door to door, Sams club any of the above. So people who are uneasy about going in for an interview I wouldn’t look at the reviews so much. If that was the case we would be sitting at home doing nothing all the time. Everything has bad reviews from Apple bees to movies and i guarantee YOU still do both of those. If you look at it on the optimistic side of things you found out that a its a really fun thing and you wouldn’t mind doing it or b you get interview practice. What is wrong with either one of those. So again before you go to judge or write bad reviews on these companies and the character of the people who work there sit and think about it and spend a day in there shoes. Then you might be able to judge.


    1. Derek DeVries says:

      I didn’t say Cohesion or Prestige are “fake” companies (that word doesn’t appear anywhere in my post). Nor did I make any comments about the character of the people running or working at Prestige or Cohesion. As I mentioned to a previous commenter, I have nothing against sales as a profession. Several of my immediate family members own their own businesses or work in sales. People who work in sales and are successful work really, really hard. Moreover, the work they do is really difficult – it requires a certain type of confidence and communication skill that is uncomfortable to use; in fact, that’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed away from it as a vocation. I tried it and didn’t like it.

      Sales is also vital to the success of any company. Just like customer service. Or public affairs. But none of those things are “marketing,” even though they work closely with marketing.

      Yes, there are many of forms of marketing. The ones you listed, however, are better described as examples of “Advertising” – not “Marketing.”

      As I said previously: I have no problem with people who work in sales or who run companies that do direct sales promotions. What I have a problem with is a company LYING OUTRIGHT about what a job is to prospective applicants. That’s what Prestige, Cohesion and the rest are doing: lying. Sales is not marketing. Sales is not advertising. Sales is most definitely not public relations. As long as they continue lying in their hiring practices, I’ll continue calling them out on it.

      [Sidebar: While sales isn’t a form of marketing, Search Engine Optimization is. Your responses to my blog post are actually helping the marketing of my blog by helping to boost its PageRank in Google so that it shows up higher in the list of results when people look for “Cohesion” and “Prestige.”]


  9. Dan says:

    I had, an interview set up for this Monday, however after researching and reading this. I wanted to thank you, I am glad I wont be wasting time and money going to the interview with this company.


  10. helpingout says:

    So, I previously worked for Prestige Enterprises and I’m so glad I got out. I now have a proud-worthy job as a communications specialist. However, I thought I should let you know that Prestige Enterprises is shutting down and changing its name to Xcell Enterprizes Inc. By using this “name changing” strategy and coercing young college grads to work for these businesses, the companies will stick around. Please let more people know.


  11. Mark Henderson says:

    If you go to Ripoff Report and search for DEVILCORP, you will find a plethora of links to news reports, government rulings, lawsuits and video footage showing how these people do business.


  12. setthepaceandringthebell says:

    Smart Circle, Cydcor, DSMAX etc are just tentacles of the global direct sales cult known to some as Devilcorp. If you go to thedevilcorp.wordpress.com you will find a plethora of links to news reports, government rulings, lawsuits and video footage showing how these people do business.


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