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Chapter 28: Choose Your Own Profit Engineering Agency
“I’m not saying this is one hundred percent certain, but it sounds like hiring a marketer costs me more time, money and aggravation than bringing an outside agency on board.”
“I won’t argue with you there,” I responded. “Plus, we’re easier to fire and harder to accidentally harass.”
“So, we’re in agreement there, but can you predict my next question?”
“Uh, is it Ryan, what super-expensive restaurant should I take you to so we can celebrate hiring your company?”
“How about Ryan, why should we hire your agency out of all the agencies that claim they do what you do?”
“Almost word for word.”
“I’m not going to answer that. Instead, let me see if you can guess a question.”
“Is it what things should I look for when selecting an inbound marketing agency?”
“You have been paying attention.”
“It’s what I do. So, what’s the answer?”
Every marketing agency is a brilliant collection of modern-thinking, driven and results-oriented professionals operating at the cutting edge of technology and the absolute pinnacle of their craft.
Just ask any marketing agency.
The trouble with choosing a B2C or B2B marketing agency is they’ll all tell you they’re great, and they’re all trained, experienced professionals when it comes to convincing somebody what they say is true. Few are even lying about it. It’s just that a lot of the second-tier marketing agencies have drunk their own Kool-Aid so long and hard they don’t know what’s really going on in marketing anymore.
As a premier Phoenix marketing agency, our team at Nuanced Media has worked with hundreds of clients and heard their horror stories about the people they fired before landing happily with us. Let’s look at the most important red flags that tell you an agency isn’t a good match for you (and sometimes for anybody else).
Things They Say
Read between the lines, analyzing how the agency talks about what they’ll do for you. Beyond the old wives’ advice that starts with “If it’s too good to be true,” watch out for these telltale talking points.
- Claiming to be generalists. Nobody can stay on top of every piece of news and new technology in every corner of modern marketing. In most cases, you’re better off with a specialist who can fix up the part of your marketing that needs the most work.
- Speaking without listening. This tells you about their philosophy of marketing. Old-school marketing was exactly this, but as we’ve discussed, it’s suicide in the social, digital, responsive age. You want an agency that listens to you, to your audience, and to the industry and market as a whole.
- Not offering proof. Can they back up claims they make about how effective their methods are? Can they physically show you successful marketing campaigns and downloadable value-added content? Without proof, there’s no reason to accept their claims at face value.
Things They Do
You’re not going to catch a professional marketing agency making a big gaffe in the middle of a presentation, but watch what they do before and after the meeting. A few key points in those softer spaces can tell you more than they want you to know.
- Write poor content on their own site. Managing and producing value-added content produces some of the best standards for digital marketing. If the agency can’t write great content for you, they’re helping you build a frame for a house but leaving the walls to you.
- Not doing their homework. An agency should show up for your first pitch meeting having done thorough research into your industry, public marketing presence, competitors, and relevant keywords. If they come asking you for that info, they haven’t done their due diligence.
- No proactivity. Whether you’re currently signed or seeking a new agency, how much time goes by without a note from them? Do they actively take notes while meeting? Do they have new ideas? Proactive attitudes when they are meeting with you reflect proactive attitudes toward marketing your business…which is what you want to see.
Things They Lack
“Negative space” is a concept in art referring to the use of empty area: examples are empty sky in a photo, or white canvas in a painting. In this case, the problem with a marketing agency might not be what they are, but what they aren’t. Make sure the prospective agency doesn’t:
- Lack experience in your industry. If you make industrial insulation, an agency that mostly helps authors promote their books won’t be a good match. Neither is the other way around. Confirm that any house you work with has at least worked with clients in similar spaces.
- Ignore their own social media outlets. You can learn a lot about how well an agency understands social media by watching how they take care of their own brand. Lack of connection, comment response and retweeting shows they’re not following the recognized best practices.
- Rank low on organic search. A bit of a no-brainer, this one. If they can’t make themselves rank high on organic search, how can they claim to do so for you?
- Lack testimonials and positive reviews. For the price a professional marketing agency charges, you should be able to expect positive word from past customers. You wouldn’t buy an expensive pair of boots or new sound system without some social proof.
I’m not going to tell anybody that they absolutely need to hire a profit engineering expert. I’m not going to tell anybody that, if they hire a profit engineering expert, they have to hire me.
That sort of thing is a big red flag telling you to run away from a marketing expert of any sort.
if you choose to hire a profit engineering expert…
and you use the advice I just gave you in this chapter…
I’m confident you will come to the conclusion that I’m the best expert you can work with. That, or you’ll find somebody at least as good for your company as I can be.