Posted on July 08, 2015 at 17:15 PM
If you are a business looking to hire an agency to help with your marketing, kudos to you! It means you know when you need help, and you know to trust experts to handle that side of your business. Having said that, it’s a big pond out there, and finding a marketing agency that will treat you right is easier said than done. Mixed in with experienced agencies are wolves in sheep’s clothing, with less than desirable qualities hiding behind a polished presentation. If you’re closing in on selecting an agency to take your brand to the next level, here are five indicators that you might want to re-think your selection.
- They toss out false promises. Any marketing agency that guarantees incredibly detailed numbers or results, such as 1,000 new likes on your Facebook page within a week, are almost always setting themselves up to fail. These results are rarely delivered, and if they are, they are usually acquired and satisfied by less than honorable methods, such as phishing scams or bought lists of followers who aren’t your target audience. Some agencies will use other agencies’ case studies as an example of what you can expect as your results. Um, where are their client case studies? If they can’t show you their own proven successes for services in which you’re interested, chances are they don’t have any.
Another red flag for you as a prospective client is if a marketing agency wants to take on your business without even knowing the ins and out of your company and goals. If they don’t ask for a discovery meeting, or send you a comprehensive questionnaire of some sort, it may mean they simply don’t care what your goals are; they just want your retainer.
So what kind of guarantees can a marketing agency reasonably make in order to put you at ease about spending your valuable marketing dollars? First and foremost, ask about the number of hours your account will get each month, and how those hours will be split among specific tasks or projects. What amount of your budget or retainer will go directly to advertising or deliverables and how much to management fees? What are your industry’s average deliverables for services, such as click-through rates for PPC, open rates for email marketing, or engagement stats on social media? Your marketing agency should be up front and honest about where your money is going and why.
- They have a huge staff with few resources. Truly experienced and established agencies know their niche, and offer services based on what they can realistically offer with optimal results. Likewise, they employ an adequate staff to ensure that your goals are being met each month and enough time is being spent on them. Experienced agencies know when to outsource. Sure, it’s good to offer services in-house whenever appropriate, but keeping overhead down also means keeping your cost down. So if an agency has a few key staff members, but a wide network of outsourced service providers, you’re likely to pay less for just as much (if not more) work on your account than huge agencies who have a lot of people on their payroll. Besides, do you really want an overworked, spread-too-thin account manager who is less than energetic about taking your brand to the next level? We didn’t think so.
- They skirt around reporting and analytics. You are spending valuable money on marketing with the intention of seeing a return in increased business. At some point, you are going to need to see how your efforts are panning out. Your marketing agency should be able to offer detailed, goal-specific reporting and analytics. Not only should an analyst offer this reporting, but they should also give an accurate interpretation of the data, such as why website traffic to a certain page has increased due to a specific promotion and as a result, how that has translated into increased revenue for you. If they can’t offer a paper trail of their efforts in a data reporting format, you may be paying for more ‘creative strategy meetings’ than actual in-the-weeds application of your strategy.
- They say stuff like, “We can improve your SEO on social media!” There’s a big difference between implementing share pins on your website or sharing content from the website to drive traffic (which are ways to improve your website ranking via social media integration) and saying that all of the new fans on your Facebook page are going to increase your ranking. Google doesn’t actually index social media sites and rank according to number of followers. In other words, you can’t rank higher in a search result simply because you have a large number of followers on social media. This article explains it more fully.
Likewise, some marketing agencies will try to sell you on services that don’t actually exist, especially when it comes to SEO. With new changes in how Google indexes websites, marketers now rely on quality content of the site, along with a few best practices for tagging, for optimal results. If they start talking about buying links to increase your ranking, they might have missed the memo. That was so 2007. If you want help with SEO, ask your prospective agency about custom content creation and back end optimization.
- They don’t require a contract or commitment. This may sound like a good thing; you can test them out and if you don’t like what you see, you can drop your marketing agency like a bad habit. Not requiring some sort of commitment is detrimental for a couple of reasons. First, implementing a marketing plan takes time. Most agencies require a minimum of 3 to 6 months commitment. Secondly, a contract protects you as much as the agency. Without a written agreement of outlined responsibilities and expectations, a marketing agency can quickly rack up hours doing superfluous work not specifically agreed upon and then bill you for it. Wait, you didn’t want that over-the-top email template (that was just an idea) designed, prepped and sent over for approval?
Ultimately, most good working relationships begin with nothing more than a positive vibe. Make sure when seeking out a potential agency to work with, you ask lots of questions! Quality agencies will appreciate the thoroughness of your interest, and it will allow them to get a better sense of your company as well. Then you can both get on with the business of making your brand stand out in the crowd.