When it comes to working with a marketing agency, it can be scary, especially if this is your first experience with an agency relationship or if you've been burned in the past.
Anyone that works at an agency is going to sound like they know what they're doing and that they'll do a great job. Let's be real - no one is going to tell you that they're not good at what they do! That means that it's your job to weed out the bad agencies from the good ones.
Let's look at five phrases you NEVER want to hear from a marketing agency. If you hear these phrases, it's time to head for the door!
We all love a good guarantee, but in the marketing industry it's just not a thing. We've had prospective clients say to us, "Well if you're so good at what you do, why won't you guarantee it?" The answer is simple - we don't control every aspect of the process. No agency does. It is just impossible to handle a prospect from the very first touch all the way through closing. There are too many pieces of the marketing and sales funnel that are simply out of our hands including Google algorithm updates and your ability to close leads.
Any time you hear a guarantee, it's time to evaluate whether or not that agency is really just trying to get you to sign up with them and setting you up for a let down later on.
We don't make guarantees. While we have complete faith in our processes, our team, and our strategies, we just can't do that. We much prefer to under promise and over deliver than to make guarantees up front just to have upset clients later down the line. That doesn't make for a very good relationship.
"Don't worry about XYZ..."
We've heard this nightmare answer from clients over and over with other agencies. Any time an agency tries to discount your question or tells you not to worry about something, you should absolutely worry about it. Nothing should be a secret.
Let's be honest - we aren't recreating the wheel here. We aren't inventing something completely unique. We understand that. The things that we do, others do as well. There is no 'secret sauce'. So nothing should be a secret. Transparency is important in a client-agency relationship and when an agency tells you not to worry about this or that, they're likely hiding something.
"Our team in India..."
Like we talked about in 7 Reasons Not to Outsource Your Inbound Marketing Services Overseas, this kind of relationship rarely ends up working out the way you'd like. Sure, the price is right when working with a team in India or another overseas country, but sooner or later the quality of the content, strategy, ethics, and language barrier are bound to show up.
Any agency that says that they have a "team in [enter overseas location here]", really is likely just outsourcing their work for pennies on the dollar to people in that country instead of doing the work themselves.
If you're focused on clients in the US, stick to American workers. While it may cost a little more, it'll help you avoid a lot of headaches down the road.
"We're the best..."
I'm a firm believer that if you're the best at something, you don't need to tell people you're the best. They should already know. Others will say it for you. Your reviews will say it for you. Your work will say it for you.
If you believed every agency that claimed that they were the best at what they do, then we'd have a million best marketing agencies in the world.
Being confident in your expertise and services is one thing, but to tell clients or prospective clients that you are the absolute best agency is ridiculous. Sure, I think that we, at HIVE, are experts in inbound marketing, but we're not going to tell you that we're the best inbound marketing agency (we'll let you decide that for yourself).
"We're experts in your industry"
So many agencies use their niche focus as a differentiator. "We're experts in XYZ industry and therefore we're the best agency for you." Sure this can be a thing. There are some agencies that only work in a single vertical and are extremely successful, but for the most part, what we hear is:
1. We want you to think that what we do is different than any other agency even though we do exactly the same thing, we just do it in your industry.
2. We reuse the same content for all of our clients because they're all in the same industry.
Those are two major issues with this model. If someone tells you that they're an expert in your industry, it may not be time to run, but it's definitely time to dig a little deeper.
Bonus: Vague answers or avoiding tough questions altogether
Avoiding questions or giving you very vague answers is a good indication that an agency really doesn't know what they're doing and they're likely to over promise and under deliver. Probe a little extra in this case. If they can't give you good answers, find the exit.
Deciding to take the plunge and work with a marketing agency is a big step for any business. We hear all the time about clients that have been burned in the past by bad agencies. They're out there. The key is taking the time to really understand if an agency is a good fit for you or if they're just talking a good game. Don't feel rushed to make a decision. Take your time and ask as many questions as you can think of. That'll help you weed out the bad agencies and help you choose one that you love.
Another way to decide who to work with is to test the relationship with a project before jumping into a retainer. We do this all the time with our GrowthPlan. Let us develop a full and executable digital and inbound marketing strategy for your business, then you can decide if we're the right fit to work with your company on a monthly basis.