As a marketing agency in Kansas City, we know exactly what scams and lies marketing agencies try to sell you on; The quick turnarounds, promised first page rankings and claims of broad expertise should be red flags for any business owner or marketing department. While it’s true that digital marketing and web development can do wonders for your traffic and conversions, you have to expect that there will be some rocky patches along the way. Predicting consumer behavior is a delicate task, and it takes fine-tuning before a client will be able to see the results. In this post, we’ll go over eight things to watch out for with Kansas City marketing firms and how you can spot a shady salesperson from the get-go.
1. Uncomfortable contracts
With most agency agreements, a contract will be drawn up to ensure neither party is cheated. If you’re not okay with the 6-month contract an agency is trying to coerce you into, get out of there. If they’re giving you valid reasons why your project would take a certain amount of time or budget but you still don’t feel okay with it, reach out to other business owners (through Facebook groups like this one) to get their perspective. A formal contract is necessary before any deals are made, and price/time frame/tasks should be laid out clearly within the contract.
Contracts will normally outline contract length, cancellation process and indemnification for future lawsuits. There may be some big words, so read through the contract carefully before signing anything. Avoid Kansas City marketing firms that quote a fixed monthly cost without providing specific details about the services they’ll be providing. You can ask specific questions like ‘how often will you be adding content to my website?’ or ‘what will our reports look like?’ to get a better understanding of what you’re paying for.
Try to avoid restrictive contracts or ones that last longer than you would prefer. You don’t want the agency to under-deliver just because they’ve got you locked in a contract. Make sure you include your own stipulations to ensure both parties are treated fairly. You’ll know a bad agency when your numbers lag but then suddenly pick up near the end of the contract—they’re trying to snag a renewal.
2. Difficult employees
If your agency contact doesn’t respond quickly to emails, take your opinion into consideration, or keep you updated on the progress of your account, it may not be worth it to stick with that agency. Working with unpleasant or inefficient team members should be avoided when possible, so meet your account manager and team before signing a contract. You might even reach out to other clients they’ve worked with for feedback on their performance. You snoop on your exes—why not snoop on the people you’re paying thousands of dollars?
With daily communication often necessary, you want to be sure personalities and work styles mesh. You can ask the agency to complete a cultural fit interview questionnaire if it’s a major concern for you. Hiring an agency is like hiring an employee—you should be just as thorough with the interview process.
3. The oversell
We all hate that used car salesman persona, and it’s even more unflattering on an agency that’s supposed to help you get the biggest bang for your buck. Kansas City marketing firms that try to sell you on the ‘biggest and baddest’ package they offer aren’t always the most trustworthy. If you come into the initial meeting with a set budget and they keep trying to push you on a larger package without offering valid reasons, you’ve come across a shady salesman. Check with multiple agencies to get an opinion on cost and marketing necessities.
One of the most cost-effective strategies in marketing is retargeting, a tactic which allows you to drive past visitors back to your site. This is typically accomplished through paid advertising and has high conversion rates. If an agency mentions this tactic, you know you have a keeper. Ideally, you want to invest in tactics that bring high-intent customers to your site—not just visitors. If an agency boasts about their ability to triple traffic but gets quiet when ROI is brought up, run away!
Take a moment to ask yourself whether the services they’re trying to sell you on could actually benefit your business. If you’re a B2C brand that sells soap, for example, advertising on LinkedIn is going to be a waste of your resources. If you already have in-house bloggers, ask if an agency can edit your posts for SEO rather than take on all of SEO. If the agency seems resistant to collaboration, seek out one of the Kansas City marketing firms that plays nice.
If you’re interested in website development and design, check out our blog post on Hiring a Website Development Agency: 9 Questions You Should Ask First. It outlines the signs that you need a new website and questions to help you gauge trustworthiness. If you’re not experiencing these signs but an agency is pushing for a new site that isn’t in your budget, tell them where they can put their new website!
4. The over-promise
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you encounter an agency that has prices far below the average of Kansas City marketing firms, they’re either outsourcing their projects to less-qualified individuals or using black hat tactics to achieve quick results. For SEO and internet marketing, you should be wary of any agency that’s charging less than $100/hour (freelancers obviously come at a cheaper price).
Agencies that promise quick SEO results, a huge ROI or first-page rankings are selling you a package of lies. Many factors are outside of our control, such as Google algorithm updates, website crashes or new competitors. We can prepare for mishaps, but we can’t always prevent them. Any agency that guarantees very specific results should be a tip off. Performance is dependent on what you sell, the market, seasonality, etc. The best agencies are willing to tell you ‘no’, because they don’t want your expectations to rise beyond the realm of possibility. Aside from selling you on their strengths, a good agency is open and honest about their weaknesses.
5. Ugly website
If the agency you’re looking at doesn’t showcase their expertise with their own brand material, you have reason to be wary. Websites with cobwebs, low organic search positions and poorly maintained social media accounts indicate an agency that’s let itself go. Seek out the Kansas City marketing firms with the best user experience, best social media and best rankings. That way, you can be sure that they know their stuff and keep up with the latest practices.
A well-maintained site and frequently-updated social media accounts also indicate that the business isn’t swamped with clients. If they have time to take care of themselves, they have time to tackle your project. Plus, it shows that their in-house designer and social marketing expert know their stuff.
6. Lack of experience
Agencies full of fresh-faced employees straight out of college aren’t always the best Kansas City marketing firms to go with. You want your account manager to have plenty of experience under their belt, but expect some junior associates to be on your team. Be wary of agencies that claim to be experts in several fields but don’t have the staff to back up their claim. To verify the legitimacy of this expertise, check out their company LinkedIn account. You’ll be able to see the employees that work there and their previous work experience.
7. Constantly changing fees
If the agency is constantly switching things up on you, you have reason for concern. Make sure you know what management fees you’re getting into from the get-go, and ask what you’ll be charged for additional services. Some agencies raise their price for specialized tasks or if a client has been with them for over a set period of time. An efficient agency will be able to give an accurate estimate of the time frame and budget needed, so avoid Kansas City marketing firms that want to complete the work and ‘figure out price later’. If they take the time to ask you details about your business (ie: number of products, category, conversion rate, etc.), you can be sure that they’re estimate is going to be pretty spot on.
Before signing anything, you should make sure you’re getting a good price. Though there may be some room for fluctuation depending on the agency’s level of expertise and reputation, there’s no reason that you should be paying double compared to another, equally as prestigious agency. Keep in mind that those fees pay not only the employees, but also the tools they utilize to get the job done.
If you’re scouting out Kansas City marketing firms, watch out for these red flags. Our 10+ years of experience, diverse client portfolio and structured reporting ensure you you’ll get what you pay for. Contact us to set up a meeting today!