7 red flags that should tell you it’s time to change agencies


Marketing agencies have been having a tough time of late. Specifically the traditional agencies who are having to get to grips with new business models and new ways of delivering value to their clients. Digital marketing is arguably the biggest ongoing disruption to the marketing industry since the advent of; well; since the advent of something else that was particularly disrupting.

If your marketing agency ever utters any of the following seven things; it might be time to drop it for one which is riding the digital disruption wave better than Filipe Toledo (arb surfing reference).

‘We don’t use inbound marketing; but we can put a strategy together for you’

We have all heard this one before and we have probably all been guilty of it before (especially if you are a startup agency). The bottom line though is that you need to practice what you preach. There are too many fly-by-night agencies out there who can sell their clients anything but the ability to deliver on their promises is severely lacking. If your agency is not actively participating through blogs, social media, email marketing etc. and cannot demonstrate their succeses — then it should not be selling their expertise.

‘We really need to keep our clients happy because we can’t generate new business’

Erm…hang on…. Is that not why you are employing an agency in the first place; to get you new business!? So if it can’t get new business itself; how is it going to get new business for its clients? This should be the last thing that an agency cannot get right as it cuts to the core of their business.

‘We cannot break down your invoice per service action’

The second your agency cannot tell you exactly what you are paying for is the second that you need to give it notice that you will be changing agencies. The beauty and the curse of online marketing is that it is unquestionably measurable. In other words every effort in front of the equation can be mapped back to an outcome at the end of the equation. If you are getting a blanket invoice that does not give you time spent on each activity; that probably means that the agency is either not sure what is working and what is not. Or worse; it is not actually spending the time you are paying for.

‘We don’t promote the personal brands of our staff’

This is like saying that ministers don’t read the Bible. It’s sacrilegious. Your agency needs to be able to demonstrate the personal brand eminence of their staff. It is all good and well if the CEO has a very active profile; but is the CEO the one who is going to physically be working on your account? I don’t think so. This links back to the first point — practice what you preach.

‘SEO is dead.’

I could write a thesis about how completely wrong that sentence is. But I am merely going to say what a load of horse @$&!$..!! SEO is not dead. SEO will never be dead. SEO is the process of ensuring that your content has a fighting chance of ranking well when combined with all of the other content on the internet. Social media is merely one small little area from which a search engine will determine whether your content is relevant and interesting to readers of not. There should actually be a professional body you can report an agency to if they utter those words….. Somewhere like Tara…

‘We are a creative ageny’

When you listen to that sentence with your noise cancelling headphones on, it translates to; “We have no idea what we are doing; but we can get you likes”. If you are dealing with a creative agency that has no content strategy; search strategy; development or social strategy expertise then you are going to get a whole lot of great looking concepts that are not going to deliver business results. Which is great if you have a “make me look cool” budget of R 1 000 000 a year; but Im guessing in reality that your business needs to make some money by selling its products and services. A Like on Facebook is not going to put money in your bank account.

‘Forget about mobile; let’s focus on desktop’

Mobile penetration is increasing daily — no matter which market you’re talking about. If you are not gearing your marketing content to be available on any device at any time; then you are wasting your time and money.

A Flash site is great – but it cannot display on an Apple device. It’s not responsive so it doesn’t look great on a phone that can display it in any event. It is critical that you position your online presence where your audience is; and from what I’ve seen; your audience is probably going mobile!

If you don’t believe me; go and have at look at your Google Analytics stats and click on devices; or failing that; have a look at the devices that just opened your last email campaign. Chances are mobile devices accounted for at least some of that traffic.

There are of course many agencies who are getting the traditional to digital transition right and to them I say well done! To the rest I say that you had better ensure that you have a really great pension plan as the world of marketing is changing rapidly and it will leave you behind.



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