5 Pitfalls To Avoid When Selecting A Digital Agency

Smart local businesses are on the lookout for great partners. Whether you’re looking to solve an accounting problem, acquire new customers, understand insurance regulations or recruit key employees, the right partner can be the difference between success and failure.

Marketing and digital partners are just as important. Selecting the right partner to help market your business in the digital space is key to finding and converting new customers.

1.)   Domain Name Ownership:

If you’re commissioning a new website or looking for domain name management, this is critical. In previous ventures, I was adamant with our team that we must make domain name selection friction-free and easy for customers. Many of our current and former clients are local business owners with finite resources, especially time. Throughout my career I’ve noticed that many local business owners simply don’t have the time to research, buy and manage their domain names. If this sounds like you and you have selected a digital partner to buy or manage your domains, make sure that you have an agreement in place to immediately transfer your domain to yourself or another provider of your choosing upon request. This is extremely important. If you find yourself stuck with an unscrupulous provider that stalls or flat out refuses to turn over your domain name then you do have legal options. In fact, if your domain name is related to your business name and you have requested that it be turned over then the company holding your domain name is likely guilty of trademark infringement.

Essentially, the offending company is violating your trademark by withholding your “digital street address” from you. I have learned from experience that making things easy for customers can be problematic. Unfortunately, I’m hearing far too often from former, valued customers that they are having trouble getting their domain names and digital assets returned to them when requested. Remember, just because you buy from “the good guys” doesn’t mean that leadership changes or other disruptions in an organization won’t turn them into unscrupulous cybersquatters.

2.)   Digital Content Ownership:

Whether you’re commissioning a website or social media campaign, make sure that you, the paying customer, owns the content and that you are an admin on or have the login to all of your social media channels. Reputable companies will never hold these pages hostage and will provide access to you or your designated agent immediately. If you ask your current provider for access or to share access and there is any hesitation on their part then run! Only the shadiest and least trustworthy providers ignore or deny these requests. If the only time you hear from your provider is when the bill is due then you have a major issue.

3.)   Honesty:

Always look for a partner who is honest about their capabilities and cares about you and growing your business. What can they do for you? Do they bring truly innovative ideas? Ask them about their team, who they are, where they are located and who they’ve helped. If you run into an operation where the account executive sells print, TV or Radio, and digital is a side business then this means your fulfillment team – the people that actually execute your shared vision – are out of state or even outside the country. This is generally something these organizations try to hide but easily uncovered by asking a few direct questions.

4.)   Watch Out For Bullies:

We see this behavior all too often with traditional media companies that pretend to be digital agencies. The spiel goes something like this: “We’ve been around for over 150 years … so you can trust us with your digital marketing plans!” Let that sink in a second. These are the same people that have watched their former monopolies decimated by Facebook, Google and local startups. Many times there is an implied threat. You don’t want to be on the bad side of the media. This may sound more foreboding if the editor or your local news director requests a meeting with you. How odd for that meeting to revolve around your advertising choices. Frankly, these in-house “media agencies” are built to syphon dollars away from effective, measured campaigns that actually help businesses grow their customer base and into dying media types and prop up business models that simply no longer work.

5.)   “We Can Do That Too”

If this is one of the “selling points” of a digital or agency representative just end the meeting. The conversation usually goes something like this:

“We can do everything that other company can do.”

Customer: “What is that?”

Rep: “Well, what are they doing for you?”

This type of  conversation should concern you. Common characteristics of copycat marketers and digital media sellers indicate that the account executive’s goal is to “get you started” – meaning bill you – and then never optimize or worry about your campaign again. You’re dealing with a cookie cutter sales system being pushed by the home office or the latest “digital initiative”. Run.

Successful marketing partnerships are only possible when your selected vendor of choice and your business goals align. The focus of your conversations should be on strategy, objectives and results. Always understand what you’re buying, why you’re buying it and how it fits into the overall strategy.

Align yourself and your business with partners that enjoy and focus on teaching as well as learning. Learning about your business, new developments in the world of marketing and sharing what they learn for the benefit of their customers. If you’re looking for a new digital agency or marketing partner please don’t hesitate to reach out. One of our knowledgeable account executives would be happy to help you make sense of your current strategy, reporting or campaign performance. We’re always available to answer questions or make recommendations even if you aren’t currently working with us.

For more information or to schedule a no-obligation consultation, please reach out today!


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