9 Red Flags to Watch For When Hiring a Marketing Agency

Red flag
May 24, 2022

If you are a small business, hiring an in-house marketing team can be costly. That’s where marketing agencies can help. A quality marketing agency can build an effective growth marketing strategy for less than the cost of hiring an internal team.

When you’re spending your hard-earned money, you want to make sure you pick the best agency for your business. Plus, it can take a long time to find the perfect partner. So how do you find the right one?

You should meet with several prospective marketing partners to get an idea of their services and prices while making sure they mesh well with your business. On these calls, keep in mind these marketing agency red flags so you don’t end up counting the days until your contract ends.

1. They Guarantee Fast Results

One of the biggest red flags to watch for when hiring a marketing agency is any company that guarantees fast success. They might promise a certain number of leads, immediate results, or a #1 search position. This may result in bad marketing practices like buying lead lists and bad backlinks, which can hurt your performance in the long term. No marketing agency should guarantee results, because there is no way to know the outcome until it happens. For example, search engine optimization campaigns can take several months before showing meaningful results, and there’s no guarantee you’ll earn the top spot in a short period of time.

2. Their Pricing is Too Good to be True

This marketing agency red flag often goes hand-in-hand with agencies that guarantee fast success. If the company’s pricing seems too good to be true, it probably is. Cheaper agencies may use the bad marketing practices listed above, ultimately costing you even more money to fix it. Or, they just might not deliver the results you are looking for.

You also want to work with a company that is transparent with where your money is going. You should always know exactly what you are spending your money on when paying your invoice.

3. Their Own Marketing Isn’t Impressive

Your marketing agency should be practicing what they preach. If you aren’t impressed by their marketing, how will you like the marketing they do for you? When researching potential agencies, take a look at their social media, content offers, blog posts, and website design. Are they high quality? Do they match the company branding? Are there any grammatical errors? It doesn’t have to be your style, but you should still be impressed by the work they do.

4. They Don’t Focus on Research

Research is an important part of the marketing process. A marketing agency will need to know your company, target audience, competitors, and more to build your strategy. Without doing the research, they won’t be able to put together an effective strategy to meet your goals. Ask them if they create customer personas, have discovery calls, or conduct subject matter expert interviews.

5. They Don’t Focus on the Data

Similarly, it’s a red flag if a marketing agency doesn’t focus on data. The data will tell you how well your marketing strategy is working and meeting your business goals. Your agency should be giving you monthly and quarterly reports and make themselves available to answer any questions you might have about the data.

You’ll also want to watch out for vanity metrics like follower count. Vanity metrics look good on the outside, but they don’t tell you anything about your return on investment. It’s not wrong to track this data, but you’ll also want data that tells you more about how marketing is meeting your goals, such as the number of leads and conversions.

6. They Don’t Give You Asset Ownership

You should always have ownership of your marketing materials, even if you stop working with the agency. Agencies that hold your assets hostage make it difficult for you to leave because all your marketing materials stay with them. When talking to potential agencies, ask them about their policies and make sure you will always have access to the marketing assets they produce for you.

7. They Over-Use Buzzwords

Secret formula. Creating synergy. Bespoke campaigns. The list goes on! Marketing agencies should know how to communicate concepts in simple and easy-to-understand terms. Buzzwords don’t really add any value and often make services seem better than they really are. Every once in a while is fine, but if everything they say is filled with fluffy buzzwords, you might want to steer away.

8. They Communicate Poorly

Excellent communication is extremely important when working with a marketing agency. You should have an idea about how well they communicate early on. If you have a hard time reaching them, run far away. When you have questions or have a marketing request, you shouldn’t have to chase them down to get a reply. You should expect to hear back from them in a reasonable amount of time.

9. You Don’t Get Along

This red flag is pretty simple. If you don’t like the marketing agency for any reason, you shouldn’t work with them. You don’t need to be BBFs, but you should get along, or else you may be counting down the days until your contract ends.

Hire the Right Marketing Agency for You

Choosing the right marketing partner isn’t easy. As you talk with prospective marketing agencies, keep these red flags in mind. You want to find a company that you can trust to provide quality social media strategies for small business, so you can focus on what you do best.

And if you’re looking for a marketing agency that works with clients in the construction, manufacturing, engineering, and professional service industries? Schedule time to talk to us and learn how we can help you grow your business with inbound marketing.

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