If you want to pick the right agency for your business, you need to do a lot of homework.

Here’s the thing: hiring a marketing agency for your company is hard work and doesn’t always last very long. It’s unfortunately common for companies to sever ties with agencies they didn’t get along with, who wasted their time and money while producing lacklustre results. Fortunately, unsuitable marketing agencies have noticeable red flags which indicate possible trouble in the future.

Here are 6 red flags you need to look out for when choosing an agency.

 

THEIR OWN MARKETING IS SUB-PAR:

When you’re choosing a potential marketing agency, this should be your make-or-break factor. Think about it: if you aren’t impressed by the way agencies market themselves, how will you be impressed by the marketing they do for you? 

If you came across the agency through a search ad or social media, their visual and textual presentation must appeal to you and spark your interest. Make sure that you go through their social media accounts, website design, content offers, partnership status and company branding, among others, to see if they meet your required standards and required marketing style. You must also make sure that their content is grammatically correct, as errors can indicate laziness and complacency. 

 

POOR COMMUNICATION:

Communication is the key to happiness. From the get-go, your marketing agency should be able to communicate with you clearly and effectively. It should be able to clarify what you can expect from them, their approximate time-frames and your point-of-contact within the organisation.

More importantly, communication between you and the agency should never feel one-sided. If you have a hard time reaching out to them, it’s a red flag. If you have general questions or a specific marketing request, and you have to chase them to get a reply, it’s a red flag. If your point of contact is running late for a meeting and didn’t inform you of the delay, it’s a red flag. 

Poor communication demonstrates that the marketing agency doesn’t prioritise you or value your time. If you notice it early on, you can save a lot of time and money.

 

THEIR PRICING IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE:

Their pricing is too good to be true:

Here’s the cold, hard truth: marketing is expensive. It can seem tempting to hire cheaper marketing agencies to save money, but ultimately, it’s not worth the hassle you will have to endure later.

If a marketing agency is too cheap, it probably means that they’re cutting corners and will not be able or willing to help you to their maximum capacity. For example, they may not dedicate adequate time and effort to each job, or may outsource most of their work. These kinds of practices may produce lacklustre results after your marketing campaign, or may cost you even more money later on in the future.

 

THEY OVERUSE BUZZWORDS:

Marketing agencies using too many confusing and unnecessary buzzwords is an instant red flag. They should be able to communicate their concepts in easy-to-understand terms for their clients; if they can’t do it, it probably means that they don’t know what they’re talking about. 

The most revealing buzzword marketing agencies can use is referencing a “secret formula” to success. Unless agencies are transparent about what their  “formula” is and are willing to support it with statistics and examples, don’t trust them. Some other buzzwords to look out for are: synergy, bespoke, downsize, etc.

Using buzzwords once in a while is reasonable, but everything they say is overstuffed with them, run as far away from the agency as possible.

 

POOR CLIENT RETENTION:

If an agency’s clients return to them again and again, it means that they’ve done a good job. However, if the agency’s client pool has reduced over time, it’s a strikingly indicative red flag.

It can be difficult to measure client retention from a distance, but there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re not falling into a trap. Check their Google reviews and their socials, particularly LinkedIn, to see what kinds of reviews, interactions and endorsements they have from their current or former clients. You can also ask around if anyone in the industry has a specific opinion on the agency, whether it’s good or bad.

 

YOU DON’T GET ALONG:

This may be the simplest red flag of the list, but it’s also very difficult for companies to actually abide by it. Here’s the thing: a marketing agency can be technically flawless and still not be the best fit for you. Just because their unsuitability is because of personal rather than professional reasons doesn’t make it any less important or potentially devastating.

You will be working with the agency for months and possibly years on end, and will be dedicating a significant amount of your time and money to your shared goals. If you don’t get along with them for whatever reason – you may find your point of contact a little off-putting, or think that the agency is too close-minded – you shouldn’t work with them. It may seem manageable at present, but it will probably result in problems further down the line.

 

As you can see, finding the right agency for your business can be hard work. Make sure that you do your research and make your choice wisely, because it can make-or-break your marketing campaign and save you lots of time, effort and money in the future.