Are you sick of hearing the words SEO and spending every waking moment of your day trying to rank highly on Google? Do you hate marketing and just want to get on with the running of your business?
Then perhaps you're considering hiring a small business marketing agency to take over the marketing of your company? Although it can sound like a great solution to your marketing woes, be sure to watch out for these small business marketing agency pitfalls.
1. Rates That are Too Good to be True
Whether it's better to go to a boutique agency or a big company is one of the key questions to ask yourself before hiring a marketing agency.
One of the reasons you might be tempted by a small business marketing agency is that it will be cheaper, mainly due to the fact that they are still growing their agency and are not yet one of the big leading marketing companies.
However, this can backfire. You might find that rather than getting a more intimate smaller business experience you end up paying a lot for almost nothing at all.
If the agency is charging low prices then this might mean it is having to take on a large number of clients to cover their costs. They could end up finding themselves overstretched, overworked and unable to give you the attention you deserve. They could be genuinely trying to work for all of their clients but their business plan isn't working.
But they might have a more sinister agenda. They might be taking on as many clients as they can for cheap prices with no intention of carrying out the work to the required standard. These small business marketing companies are probably working a scam.
How to Protect Yourself
Is their offer too good to be true? This is the question you need to establish. Look at the rates of their competitors and what they are offering for that price.
Ask them what they don't do compared to other larger agencies. If they won't give you a proper answer then this might be a warning sign that doing business with them is simply like giving away money for free.
2. Agencies That Aren't Specific About Costs and Time in the Contract
When you sign a contract with a marketing agency it should be clear in the contract what services they are going to provide and what they are not going to do. If possible, these services should be listed in the contract so you have a broad overview of how much you are paying for SEO, print marketing, website design or copywriting.
Do your market research to ensure you are not being overcharged. Remember SEO can be done on a small budget.
It should also be clear how much communication will take place between them and what members of the team you will deal with. How often will you have a meeting?
If the marketing agency is vague about this then it could be that they are overstretched. Be sure to pin them down before you sign the contract.
3. Bad Reviews
Good marketing agencies want to please their clients so if you have a small business marketing agency that has lots of bad reviews be sure to proceed with caution.
The sites you can check include Facebook, Twitter, and Glassdoor. Put their company name into the Facebook search bar and you will see public posts that mention them.
Someone with a public profile may have publicly commented on their bad practices. The same goes for Twitter.
On Glassdoor, you can see what former employees have said about their place of work. If the staff are generally happy and content then this is a good sign about their business practices.
Steps you can take to protect yourself include:
- Reaching out to people who've previously used their service to find out what problems they have had
- Confronting the marketing agency about your concerns before you hire them
- Singing a small contract in the first instance so that you can cancel if you are not satisfied with their services
Remember that although reviews are a helpful guide, ultimately the final decision about whether to work with a small business marketing agency comes down to you.
4. Bad or No Communication
The biggest red flag is if the small business marketing agency doesn't communicate very well or they cut off all communication. Sometimes the frustration lies in expectation.
The marketing agency assumes since they are smaller than the larger agencies they can get on with doing your marketing for you with minimal contact while you - the client - are expecting regular feedback.
This is why having a detailed and clear contract is so important.
Hiring a Small Business Marketing Agency: Do Your Research
Hiring a small business marketing agency can be great for many businesses. They offer a smaller and more intimate experience. But it is important to do your research first to ensure that you are getting what you paid for and you are not being taken advantage of.
Always read reviews on Glassdoor and Linkedin and also be sure to search social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to see what previous clients and employees think. Make sure the contract you sign is clear and is transparent about what you are paying for and how much contact time the agency will give you each month.
Agencies that don't offer any support and don't return your calls or emails might be overstretched and that means they have taken on too many clients. They may well be taking money from clients and providing minimal services to maximise their profits.
Sometimes, even extensive research can't help you see this coming and so it is important to sign a short contract in the first instance so that you can end it quickly if it's not working out.
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About Murray Dare
A digital marketing consultant and entrepreneur,
Murray runs his marketing agency Murraydare.co.uk and several online startups.
Murray has helped startups and businesses achieve online success through a considered approach to marketing.