Why you may feel your marketing agency is a waste of money
This is a bit of a touchy topic, really. Everyone wants to do well, but sometimes it’s important to remember that it’s not about casting blame. Communication is so important in any relationship, especially one between a business their hired marketing agency. I’m writing this from the standpoint of both the agency and the business, since I’ve sat on both ends, in perpetual frustration, until I completely stopped to rethink why things aren’t going well.
As a business, do you know what you want? Most times, the answer is “more sales” and they leave it up to the marketing agency to get the job done, within the impossible timelines and the very restricted budget. This is the agency’s fault at not properly guiding the client to a realistic goal. Are the objectives sensible and achievable in the timeline requested and with the provided budget? Marketing is an invisible, non-tangible service but you can measure its success to a degree. Agencies and businesses need to understand the scope of work and the expectations before the handshake.
As a business, are you properly guiding the agency?
Businesses often believe that they hire and agency and the job’s done. It does not matter whether you hire in-house or outsource the work, you cannot under any circumstances just hand over the marketing side of your business unless you personally know and can guarantee the agency supports that. TILT Creative does because we integrate our client work into our daily workflow, and because we have a track record full of small businesses and startups and offer that type of service, we can manage it properly. But many agencies are not set up like this simply because they are more project oriented, and that’s no fault on their part.
As a business it is your job to guide the hired agency towards your objectives, and the agency will perform better once you have more transparent communication happening. As a managing director, you should not just resign yourself to not knowing and unwilling to understand the world unless you’ve hired an in-house marketing strategist who can take on that role internally. Small businesses, I’m looking at you. It’s hard, I know, it’s confusing stuff, I know, but you need to understand some of it, to appreciate the work that is required. Agencies are not magicians.
As an agency, are you communicating with the client effectively?
Oh, agency, you thought you were getting away scot free? Nah mate… you’re just as guilty because a lot of agencies hide under the ambiguity of “secret sauce.” It’s down to you to tell the client what needs to be done and what can be done with the parameters presented. Don’t just take someone’s money and hope for the best, and this is what so many shady agencies do. I’m honest – anyone who has had a meeting with me has experienced that if I don’t believe in something, I’ll say it, even if it costs me the contract. Why do I do this? Because I do not believe in making promises, not delivering and blaming the software, platform or industry. While there is a margin for error, you need to be honest with your client from day one to establish whether they are on the right track.
Does the budget match the timeline?
I don’t think I need to stress this enough. Does your budget match your timeline? Say you want a six month sales boost, so you call up an agency and ask them to develop something for you for six months. Is that budget enough to realistically get that job done? Or are you just living in a fantasy world that if you spend £100 then you’ll reach one million people and 10% of them are going to be guaranteed sales?
Let me break it to you, that does not happen. You see, advertising is about consistency over a long period of time, frequency across a 24 hour timeline, and an audience wide enough to get engagement but targeted enough to generate sales. This does not happen with a £5000 budget spread across six months. You might get lucky and have a couple calls, but if you’re in the B2B world, which you most likely are if you’re reading this, then you need to think a lot bigger, and a lot more long term to get that advertising to hit the right spot. And it must be a part of a much more complex digital marketing strategy that includes social media, blogging, email marketing and website optimisation. (Oh and yes, SEO!)
Are you the right fit?
With any relationship you have to know whether or not you are the right fit. Sometimes an agency might be too large to take on a smaller business or the business might be too large for a smaller agency. There should be a moment when both businesses make that choice of relationship, because in the marketing industry, it’s not a single project, it’s a long term ongoing job and there needs to be the right flow between both parties. This rarely happens, and is mainly found with freelancers, solopreneurs and very small niche agencies. Any agency with a sales team is out for one thing: sales. That team is interested in closing as many sales as possible and will promise a client things that the creative department cannot deliver in order to close a sale. Unfortunately, either the agency gets a bad name, or the creative department is pressured for delivery, and should it not be delivered, that department becomes the scapegoat.
Why is any of this important? Because it’s important to understand what happens behind the scenes so you’ll know what to expect from an agency and how to properly guide them to your objectives. The agency is a weapon, but your business needs to determine the size and type, provide guidance on the ammunition, direct it to the right target and then pull the trigger. Hiring an agency cannot and should not be used like a plaster to make everything magically better.
This editorial will probably not make me very popular, but someone had to say it. It’s important that transparency and clarity prevail, in order to push the industry forward and give smaller businesses a better fighting chance against shady agencies.
Peace out, folks. 🦄 Until next time, stay safe, pat a unicorn, and if you need anything, you know how to reach me!
About TILT Creative Agency
TILT Creative is a UK based creative agency specialising in content creation and managed solutions for blogs, websites, branding and social media. Désiré, the chief writer, artist and strategist behind TILT Creative Agency, has worked with a variety of clients (from startups to luxury brands) across all kinds of industries (such as automotive, beverage, construction, oil and gas, tourism, and health and safety) all over the world, including the United Kingdom, Dubai, Africa and the Caribbean.
TILT Creative’s core philosophy is to change the perspective, or ‘tilt’ it. How can you TILT your business? Could it be a brand refresh, a better experience on your website, or perhaps a stronger blog strategy? Maybe writing a book on your expertise could skyrocket your company’s credibility and revenue?
Désiré’s work quality stems from her ability to infuse your brand’s story with the essence of abstract creativity, and disseminate a unique experience that stimulates the senses to your customers on an individual level, while meeting your business’ objectives. Her comprehensive research process, attention to detail, and pursuit of perfection embellishes every piece of her work: writing and design. The results are always favourable.