11 Things Marketing Agencies Don't Want You to Know


1.Agencies have massive overheads: staff, premises, software, equipment etc, these things cost a lot. These costs are then passed on to the client – so a lot of the cost of engaging a marketing agency is not the creative development but the administrative expenses of actually running the agency. The fancier the offices = the more you are going to pay. 


2. Most agencies use a cookie cutter approach: when they get a new client in they will use the same templates and approach they use for many of their clients. Sounds efficient and economical right? Yes, from the agencies point of view. It means they can get one of the juniors to work on your account. But from your point of view it means you’re not getting a tailored solution created just for your business. Each business is different and needs a different marketing strategy. Always make sure you get a detailed marketing strategy tailored for your business.


3. No such thing as a silver bullet. If anyone tells you they are an “expert”, they have done this before and had these amazing results, and it all seems a little bit too good to be true, it probably is. Marketing like all other processes and implementations takes time, planning and commitment. There is no such thing as a quick fix or silver bullet.There is no such thing as pay me $5,000 today and you’ll be earning a million dollars in three months, be wary if you hear these claims. 


4. Outsourcing: marketing agencies won’t tell you that a lot of their work (or actually your work) is outsourced overseas. So those Facebook ads they create for you, the content they write for your website or the email campaigns they develop – a lot of the time the agency isn’t actually doing it themselves. Someone in India or the Philippines is doing it – paying them $5 an hour to create your marketing campaigns. Don’t be afraid to ask which staff members will be working on your campaigns. 


5. They don’t care as much as you do. They care about money and glamour. If an agency has 100 clients on its books, how can it care and focus on your business as much as you do. Marketing agencies operate in a cycle, in and out, they spend there days moving through clients. They don’t have time to focus on each individual business. Ask the agency how many clients they have and how they manage the demands of each client. 


6. Marketing agencies are really unorganised. Step inside one and you’ll be shocked. It’s often manic, there are people running all over the place, its hard to pin people down, deadlines are missed and you need to constantly chase people up. I’ve seen campaigns thrown together at the last minute. While you might think they are spending time carefully planning out your campaign – most of the time it’s slapped together at the last minute. Always ask for a detailed timeline for your campaign and when it will be delivered. 


7. Mostly it’s the graduates and the juniors who do all the work. The senior account mangers barely touch your campaigns – they are spending their time trying to wine and dine new clients (just like they did with you). Agencies don’t want you to know that on average about 80% of their staff have less then 5 years’ experience.  Always check who is actually going to be managing your account. 


8. They tell you what you want to hear. At the end of the day they are marketing professionals – they are expert at creating engaging stories and selling themselves. They tell you a great story – and make you feel amazing and tell you everything they are going to do for you. But be wary if what they are telling you seems too good to be true. 


9. They are egotistical. By and large agencies are owned and operated by people with big personalities who are charming and engaging, but, at end of the day they are in it for themselves. They care a lot more about their marketing agency and winning big awards then they do your business.


10. Credentials. Unlike other service based industries such as an accounting, lawyers or financial advisers – where you need to have professional accreditation. Anyone can open a marketing agency – you don’t need a special “certificate” – check they are Adword Certified, that they have a marketing qualification, that they have invested in their career. Make sure the people working on your account have the credentials.  A solid marketing professional should have at least 15+ years experience. Always check their experience. 


11. Retainers and contracts. They don’t want to sign you up on a retainer because it’s better for you – it’s better for them. There is never any benefit for the client by locking you into a contract. If they truly believe in their services, they wouldn’t need to lock you in.  Before signing on any retainer – always ask to run a trial campaign. Because once you’re looked into a 12 month contract – its hard to get out. A test campaign gives you a chance to see how you will work with each other. 

Andrea Macdonald