5 Marketing Agency Red Flags To Avoid

So you finally decided it was time to hire a marketing agency, congrats! Hiring an agency is a big step for any business. Not only are you investing in the future of your business, but you’re entrusting a group of people whom you’ve never worked with before. It can be daunting. There is always the possibility that you hire the wrong group for your needs. But there is hope. With a lot of research and vetting, you’ll be confident in your decision. Here are a couple of things to look out for when hiring an agency.

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  • 1. Low Client Retention

You can learn a lot about an agency from their past clients. While who they are can be important, how long they stayed is crucial. If a customer is pleased with a service, chances are they’ll come back. Similar to how you probably go to the same hairdresser or barber every time. Agencies with high client retention are ones that were able to perform up to and above expectations. If an agency has low client retention or very little retention at all, that should be your sign to run the other way. Chances are they overpromised and underdelivered.

  • 2. They Cost A Lot (And don’t tell you why)

How much an agency costs is very dependent on who they are, where they are located, the resources they have, and the services they provide. As you window shop through potential partnerships, keep the price in mind. The higher the price does not necessarily mean the better the work. A major warning sign is when an agency runs higher than the industry average in your area but is unable to tell you why. Do they have access to niche resources? Do they offer services that are inherently more expensive? If they aren’t transparent with where the money you pay goes, then they probably won’t be transparent about much else.

  • 3. You’re Not Impressed With Their Own Marketing

This one may seem obvious, but if an agency is bad at marketing themselves, how can they be good at marketing you? When vetting an agency be sure to do a deep dive on all their online platforms. Look through all the pages of their website, not just the landing page. If they have a blog, read through their posts. It could offer insight into how they view marketing as a company. In the age of social media, don’t forget to go through the company’s Linkedin, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. This is especially important if you hope to hire them for your social media needs. If their online presence doesn’t reflect what you would want to see, then maybe they’re not the best fit.

  • 4. They’re Too Idealistic With Results

If you ask any marketer they’ll tell you that marketing is a gamble. While they may come from a well-research and well-analyzed strategy, campaigns realistically have no guarantee. We can make educated guesses on what will and won’t work based on past experience and industry trends. But nothing is certain. If an agency you are vetting promises you specific and lofty goals, don’t get your hopes up. In fact, question why they think they can tell you exactly what will happen before it has even had the chance to perform. A certain amount of optimism and a go-getter attitude is promising. But too much idealism may shroud the potential failures and setbacks. You may find yourself with an agency that is too proud to see its shortcomings.

  • 5. They Throw Out Buzzwords Left and Right

As someone who isn’t in the marketing and advertising space, you may not be familiar with all the jargon. This being said, a good agency should be able to put their efforts and actions into words you can understand. If an agency can explain what’s going on to you in layperson terms, then they probably really know what they’re talking about. Be wary of groups that throw big buzzwords that are vague and loosely related to your needs. Odds are, they’re not entirely sure what to do for you but want the clientele. If you notice a meeting starting to come filled with generic terms that apply to all forms of marketing, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If they can’t answer your concerns in a preliminary meeting, they probably can’t at all.

It’s Okay To Break Up

While extensive research and thorough vetting can help weed out all the bad eggs, there is always the chance that you end up with an agency that isn’t working out. And that’s okay. The best thing you can do for yourself and your business is to break up. Take the loss as a learning experience and go your separate ways. Trying to remedy the situation just for the sake of not having to leave may only make things worse. If an agency can’t provide you with the services you need now, then you’ll need to find somewhere that can.

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Molly Edwards