The holiday season is all but upon us, and this means one thing, and one thing alone—painfully long shopping excursions. If you’re lucky, you’ve got experience with this sort of thing, and can hold your own against any coupon-cutting soccer mom.
The rest of us, though?
We’re left lugging ourselves up and down the walkways of nearby shopping malls. Making matters worse, when we’re not at a loss for what to buy or how much money to spend, we’re doing battle with an inept shopper’s worst nightmare …
Dead Sea bath salts, and the people who sell them.
Armed with little more than a cruddy kiosk and some free samples, these guys know every shady sales trick in the book, and they’re not afraid to use them.
Seriously, if you’re not prepared to deal with them, you’ll soon find yourself walking back to your car with enough skin salt to keep your exterior soft and supple for the next decade or two.
Anyway, ready for the crazy, seemingly irrelevant topic transition? Here it comes—believe it or not, looking to partner with a digital marketing agency isn’t much different.
Skilled salespeople with more phony promises than actual marketing talent are plentiful out on the World Wide Web. As such, how can you separate the good from the bad? What can your up-and-coming business do to protect itself from salesmen in sheep’s clothing?
No worries—we’ve got you covered. Keep your eyes peeled for each of the seven red flags below, and confidently steer clear of an awful marketing partnership:
1) It’s All Marketing Jargon
The digital marketing industry is loaded with subtle nuances and terribly vague buzzwords.
Yes, you expect your agency of choice to have the inside scoop on things like “nofollow links,” “impressions” and “geo-targeting,” but this doesn’t mean you should, too.
When meeting with a candidate agency for the first time, pay attention to the kinds of words they’re using. Are you able to understand what they’re talking about?
If they’re unable (or unwilling) to explain complex concepts clearly and concisely, they’re unlikely to do so after a contact has been signed, as well.
It’s your money that’s being spent. You should get what’s being done with it.
2) Transparency? Forget About It!
Remember those buzzwords of which were previously made mention? In recent months, one of them has gained some real momentum: “secret sauce.”
Most digital marketing agencies claim to have access to some sort of secret, magical formula (think pixie dust) for getting your brand more business online. The only problem, though? The vast majority of them won’t care to share their formula with you.
Don’t be fooled—if you’re paying for digital marketing services, you always have a right to know what’s being done with your money.
If overly complicated or generalized answers are provided when you press for more information, know that it’s time to take your business elsewhere.
3) They Don’t Have an Active Blog
You weren’t expecting this one, were you? Here’s the deal—as a marketing tool, blogging is much different now than it was back in 2005.
That said, with content being a cornerstone of the inbound marketing world, if an agency doesn’t have an active blog that directly responds to your company’s concerns, sirens should immediately go off in your head.
And one more thing—copy-and-paste press releases, news articles and awards?
This doesn’t count as blog content. If you stumble upon an agency that’s trying to pass this stuff off for blog posts, they have no earthly idea what they’re doing.
4) Weak Project Management
Whether it be over a phone call, via Skype or during an in-person office visit, ask specifically to speak with the person who will be managing your account. We won’t beat around the bush with this one—size them up a bit.
That’s right—contrary to what your mother might’ve taught you, pass judgement.
Working with a digital marketing agency isn’t a “Set It & Forget It!” kind of process—it’s an active one. Does your agency’s project manager seem like the kind of person you’d hire to work directly for you? If not, save yourself from a major headache, passing on the agency in question.
On the flip side of things, if he or she does look the part, ask a few questions to determine whether or not your soon-to-be point of contact knows anything about digital marketing.
Trust us on this one—working with an agency isn’t cheap. Because of this, don’t pay for a glorified secretary who does nothing more than distribute information. You deserve to work with a team of tried-and-true, results-driven marketers—nothing less will suffice.
5) Premature Pay Structures
When you ask about price, is your inquiry met with a memorized list of packages and corresponding prices? Sure, the simplicity of it all is refreshing, but tread lightly—you’re likely dealing with a deadbeat agency.
Why? Take it from us—no two digital marketing clients are the same. Your distinct marketing needs can’t be compartmentalized into some sort of pre-packaged pay structure.
The way things should work is pretty simple, actually:
- You talk about what you need.
- A plan is devised to help out.
- A customized quote is generated to make it happen.
Permission to toot our own horn for a quick second?
Here at DigiMar, we’re a team of serial entrepreneurs. More than most, we understand how precious capital is, choosing to spend yours only as if it were our own.
After all, you shouldn’t have to pay more for results if it’s not necessary. Rest assured, we’ll get you the most marketing bang for your hard-earned buck.
6) No Quantitative Accountability
Though you might’ve been petrified of numbers back in high school or college, as a business owner, both you and your marketing agency shouldn’t be.
So, when you sit down with a prospective group of marketers, if they sidestep quantitative accountability, preferring to talk about “branding” and “awareness,” cut ties with them as soon as humanly possible.
And when numbers are brought up, make sure they’re the hard-hitting ones that actually make a difference. Yes, “website visits” and “Twitter followers” are sexy, but all you care about is making money.
Right from the get-go, find out what’s being tracked, why it matters and how frequently you’ll receive a report on what’s taking place with your account.
7) Little to No Work Portfolio
There’s a reason this is the last item on our list—hands down, it’s the most important.
Don’t get us wrong—each of the above is key for success in the digital realm, but instead of having an agency tell you what they can do, have them shut up and show you what they can do for a change.
Once again, look for numbers when work portfolios are opened. If an agency has produced real, quantifiable results for others, they can do it for you, too.
* Note: Client confidentiality is important, so names are likely to be withheld.
Dead Sea Bath Salts, Snake Oil, Magazine Subscriptions, etc.
Dead Sea bath salts salesmen are the worst, but the burden of the sketchy sales world doesn’t rest entirely on their shoulders. Especially during Christmastime, snake oil, magazine, used car and believe it or not, digital marketing sales reps are doing their part, as well.
Your business is set on growth. To bring it about in an environment as noisy as the Internet, you’ll need the help of a reputable digital marketing agency.
Clinging closely to each of the above red flags, you’re one step closer to creating the kind of marketing partnership that leads to big bucks—you have our word.
Needless to say, until the right connection is made, best of luck with the search!