Deep Dive

5 Red Flags to Look Out For When Hiring a Marketing Agency

Hiring a marketing agency can skyrocket your growth, but beware of pitfalls. Watch out for agencies that insist on owning your accounts, overpromise results, present misleading case studies, suggest more budget as a cure-all, or have adversarial fee structures. Spot these red flags to find a partner truly invested in your success!

Hiring a marketing agency can be a game-changer for driving growth. But you have to choose carefully - there are a lot of mediocre or even shady agencies out there. Here are 5 red flags to watch out for as you evaluate potential agency partners:

Account Ownership

A massive red flag is when an agency insists on owning or controlling the ad accounts they'll be managing for you. Your agency is working for you, so you should own all data and intellectual property they produce. If they resist account transfers or access, it's a power play to lock you in as a client. This lack of transparency ensures they control the narrative (and your budget).

Overpromising Results

We all love a good deal - but be wary of agencies promising massive results they can't deliver. No agency can guarantee outcomes; there are too many variables. Look for realistic projections backed by data from existing clients with similar business models. An agency should set expectations accurately, not tell you what you want to hear. Savvy marketers know quick fixes and guarantees rarely exist.

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Misleading Case Studies

Case studies can paint a skewed picture. Watch for vague details, short time frames, and cherry-picked examples that are the exception, not the norm. Quality case studies include the full context - how long it took to achieve results, month to month performance, and sample sizes big enough to determine the strategy's true effectiveness. Anything less may obscure lackluster or unsustainable results.

Recommending More Budget as the Solution

While sometimes valid, recommending more ad spend as the blanket solution to improving results is a cop-out. Your agency should have the expertise to optimize performance regardless of budget size. Throwing money at a problem is the marketing equivalent of scribbling out a math mistake rather than correcting the error. Demand nuanced, tailored solutions beyond "spend more."

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Adversarial Fee Structures

Pay-for-performance or other "risk-free" agency fee structures seem enticing. But they can breed friction over attribution and financial accountability. This adversarial dynamic distracts from collaborating to grow your business. Opt for fee structures that incentivize shared success, like retention-based fees.

By avoiding agencies exhibiting these 5 red flags, you’re more likely to find an authentic partner truly invested in your success. Do your due diligence and don't settle for anything less.

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