by Chris Goldman
Not all digital marketing firms work the same. Over the past several years, I’ve listened to and heard from a number of clients who have had bad experiences. They didn’t know what to ask before signing on the dotted line and walked away feeling cheated. Here are FIVE THINGS TO LOOK FOR when hiring a digital marketing firm.
- OWN WHAT YOU PAY FOR
Companies have shared stories about hiring marketers to build a website – for example – and didn’t realize the firm owned the website when it was finished. When they asked to “take the site” and move in a different direction, they found out they didn’t actually own the website, the marketing firm did. This has happened with everything from branded logos to strategic marketing language (slogans and one-liners). When you hire a marketing firm, make sure you own what you pay when everything is said and done. Most quality firms will require a minimum contract of 6-12 months, but 100% of the work product belongs to you if and when you move on.
- A WIDE RANGE OF SKILLS AND EXPERTISE
While some clients prefer to work with a small shop of one marketing expert, be aware it’s unlikely for one person to specialize in all the necessary disciplines: messaging, strategy, design, coding, digital ads, etc. For example, a messaging specialist is rarely a true graphic designer. A strategic marketing coach is unlikely to be a competent coder. Finding a team that provides a wide range of skills is important to ensure quality.
- A SINGLE POINT OF CONTACT…IF THAT IS IMPORTANT
Quality marketing firms with expert team members often pass clients along in the process. This is important because creatives enjoy working directly with the client. However, if you do better with one point of contact, specify that in the beginning. The downside of making this choice is missing out on direct interaction with core creatives on your project. Top firms will typically have two or three team members who interact with you directly while providing one primary point of contact for most communications.
- A PROCESS AND PROJECTED TIMELINE
For any marketing project to be successful your marketing firm should have a process and projected timeline to meet your needs. Under the heading, “You get what you pay for,” the more demanding the timeline is the less time for input and changes. If a marketing firm – for example – says they can build you a five-page website in five days, they’ll be using standard templates and not a customized design (which is fine for some). However, this means you are tied to Square Space, GoDaddy, Kajabi, etc. Rather than a portable, WordPress website, you end up in a subscription service and very little flexibility. In the end, it’s usually better to take the time to get it done right.
- RESPONSE TO REQUESTS
I’ve also talked to business owners who signed a contract and were treated very well…until they weren’t. After a couple of months, the need to make changes on their site was met with unreturned communications. They called and emailed and didn’t get any response. One client we talked to had a December special still being offered three months later on mobile devices. This significantly cut into their profits despite numerous requests and reminders to take it down. A quality marketing firm will have a ticketing system or follow-up protocol so necessary changes are dealt with in a timely manner.
These are five things to avoid I’ve encountered in the last several months. You should get what pay for and own what you’ve invested in. When you need reasonable changes made, it should be dealt with in a reasonable amount of time. Knowing who to call or reach out to is key. And as always, working with a team of experts is almost always better than working with a jack of all trades (and master of none).