Are you thinking about hiring a marketing agency, but having a hard time knowing which agencies are going to be a good investment, rather than a waste of your money? Or perhaps you’ve recently hired an agency, and you’re wondering whether you’ve hired a good or a bad agency. There are so many agencies out there that claim to have the ability to change the marketing game for your company, but many agencies aren’t all that they claim to be. So, how can you tell the difference between good and bad marketing agencies? There are several differences between a good agency and a bad one, and knowing the red flags of a bad agency, as well as the things that should always come from hiring a good agency, will help you make the best decision for your business.
Never deviating from the “norms” or their “comfort zone”
Picture this: you’ve recently hired a marketing agency, and in a strategy meeting you bring up a couple of marketing tactics you have seen or read about that you think may be beneficial to your business. A bad marketing agency will most likely shut down your ideas without a second thought, claiming they stick to tried and true techniques, rather than trying out new tactics. A good agency will listen to your ideas, and work with you to develop them and will attempt to implement a marketing plan with the techniques you suggested, if they believe the techniques will help in marketing your business.
Good agencies recognize that you, the small business owner, should have a voice in marketing decisions for your business. Don’t let any marketing agency make you feel as though you can have no opinions or ideas for the marketing of your business. Bad agencies often shut down new ideas, tactics, techniques, and opinions from business owners because they are afraid to work outside of their comfort zone. While it makes sense for agencies to stick to methods that have proven beneficial and successful in the past, good agencies know that change can be beneficial and can make a bigger difference than keeping old practices around for too long. Even the best marketing tactics and campaigns were brand new ideas at one point!
By having an agency that is willing to work with your ideas and new marketing strategies, you will be able to have a relationship with the agency longer, as they won’t exhaust all of their strategies for your business in a few short months. An agency willing to try new things is a good agency, it shows that they are versatile, open to change, and resilient when it comes to challenges.
Little to no evidence of prior experience
If you are working with an agency who claims to have worked with “tons of businesses” in the past, but is reluctant to share any information, case studies, or references, they may be a bad marketing agency. While there are certain cases which are confidential, it is likely that not all of an agency’s previous experience is confidential. Good, successful agencies are often more than happy to share results, information on previous campaigns and clients, and case studies with potential or new clients!
Using the internet, you can weed the bad agencies out before you even start reaching out to potential agencies for your business. If you are researching different agencies online before contacting a shortlist of agencies to work with, you should always check each agency’s website for a results page, testimonials page, a case study page, or something similar. Most good marketing agencies will include one of these pages on their website. This may be one of the easiest ways to find the good agencies out there, as you can figure it out during the research period, before you start seriously considering an agency!
Knowing relatively little about marketing tactics
Often, bad marketing agencies will list off marketing strategies you’ve most likely already tried yourself. SEO, ad campaigns, social media marketing, basic techniques like those. Sound familiar? You might be in business with a bad marketing agency.
What does a good agency do? Good agencies will offer something newer, something more advanced than the digital marketing techniques you have most likely been using on your own. They should be able to provide you with a list of deliverables, show progress in SEO, Good agencies will propose detailed, specific techniques designed specifically for your business and your goals. Good agencies will also change their campaigns and course of action based on the results they see with different tactics within your company. They listen to your feedback, will make progress daily, and deliver based on performance.
Agencies that run your campaigns or create your website and content from their own accounts
If a marketing agency or freelancer starts doing work for you and you didn’t have to give them access to any of your accounts, it means they are working in THEIR account, not YOUR account. This means that the second things go sideways or you no longer use their services, all the work you paid for goes with them. This is an example of how a bad marketing agency works.
Good marketing agencies will work in your accounts, whether it is your website, Google Ads, Facebook, HubSpot, LinkedIn, your email service provider, Google My Business, Yelp, or any other account. You pay an agency for services. The work you pay for should stay with you forever.
Agencies that require you to abandon your freedom and sign long term contracts to work with them
While you should hire an agency that is willing to build a relationship with your business that lasts long-term, someone you’d want to work with forever, a good agency will have this quality without requiring you to work with them forever. Bad agencies will often try to get clients to sign long term, binding contracts that you can’t escape from if they are underperforming, not listening to your opinions or feedback, or causing your business to be less successful. Good marketing agencies don’t work this way. Good agencies know that they don’t have to lock you into a contract, because their quality of work will keep you as a client, long term.
Those are some of the basics between good and bad marketing agencies. While it can be easy to get bogged down and confused when searching for the perfect agency for you and your business, remember to pay attention to the red flags of bad agencies, and the above and beyond qualities of good agencies. By remembering the difference between good and bad marketing agencies, you’ll be able to make the best choice for your business, and a smart investment in your small business marketing. Hiring the right digital marketing agency can be the key to not only your success, but also the key to thriving.