Working with a marketing agency should be inspiring, enlightening, and productive. Unfortunately, though, things don’t always turn out that way. There are plenty of pretenders out there.
Some make absurd promises and employ questionable tactics, while others float under the radar doing little more than cashing your check each month. What they all have in common is that they leave much to be desired.
It’s not easy to determine whether or not your marketing firm is truly delivering, and putting them under the microscope can be a delicate task. Luckily, there are a few blatant red flags to look out for—they’re extremely common and account for the majority of failed retainers. Here are four signs it’s time to fire your current firm and hire a new one:
1. You’re Not Seeing a Monthly Report
Monthly reporting is absolutely essential to any marketing initiative, whether it’s SEO, blogging, email marketing, social media, or PPC. Yet many marketers and firms alike ignore results altogether.
It’s bad business for you to pour money into an ambiguous, open-ended investment. Your marketing firm should be not only anxious to send you a monthly report, but also excited to share the highlights. If you’re seeing no report whatsoever, they’re either not measuring their efforts or sweeping poor performance under the rug, neither of which you want any part of. If you are paying for monthly marketing services, you need to be getting reports to assess the effectiveness of your campaigns!
2. You’re Relying on a Marketer not a Team
The rise of digital marketing has opened the door for thousands of independent consultants around the world to position themselves as “thought leaders.” A select few are phenomenal, but they’re indeed few and far between, and their rates are equivalent to those of a fully staffed agency.
There’s a huge difference between a marketer and a marketing firm. A marketer only has so many hours in the day to attend to current clients’ needs; much of their time revolves around prospecting and onboarding new clients. And, just like anyone else, their skill set ends at a certain point. Sure, there are marketers who can dabble in and out of design, SEO, copywriting, web development, and other facets. But the old mantra, “A jack of all trades and master of none,” has never rung truer than in marketing.
A marketing firm, on the other hand, might employ 10 people. One will specialize in design, another in copywriting, and so on. Most importantly, they have dedicated resources to measuring the results of their efforts. Many of our SEO clients come to us with the common theme of paying an “SEO expert” thousands of dollars per month and seeing zero results, which brings us to our next point.
3. They’re Not Proactive
We once heard a story from a client who didn’t hear from their marketing firm for five whole months—and it gets worse—after the client had hired a new CEO. Even as the client was in the midst of a major transition that could potentially affect the firm’s account, the firm had failed to schedule a meeting or even inquire about new standards, projects, etc. That’s called autopilot, and it doesn’t work in business.
Funneling down from extreme oblivion, you’ll also come across firms that don’t take the creative lead. Sure, your relationship should be collaborative. But for the most part, you pay your firm to ideate and create on your behalf. If you’re delivering the majority of ideas and insights, your firm might be lacking the level of attention you need in order to take your business to the next level.
4. You’ve Been Sold a Set Framework
Marketing is in no way a “one size fits all” service. If you’re working with a firm on the basis of a pre-determined package advertised on their website or presented in their introductory call, you’ve been sold a cookie cutter approach that doesn’t cater to your needs. No two clients are alike. In fact, we don’t even offer standard packages because there’s no way we could ever achieve your goals, in your market, in your niche, without first spending some time evaluating your needs.
More so than executing tasks, your marketing firm should have an eye toward building your brand and positioning your business for long-term growth. Think it might be time for a new partner? We’d love to hear from you—check out some ofour work, and drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.