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Why Most Marketing Agencies Don't Work

Posted by Will Williamson on 02-Sep-2017 10:35:00
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Marketing agencies have a bit of a bad reputation. Pick an agency at random and you are likely to find them professional, experienced and eager to help. They know how to talk the talk in other words, but why do so many customers walk away disappointed with the results?

The sad fact is that many, if not most, marketing agencies fail to deliver on the expectations they set when taking on new customers. Why is this?

Goal Setting & Great Expectations

Arguably the most important part of a new relationship with a marketing agency is the on boarding process. In this first set of meetings you set expectations that guide how the rest of the campaign is assessed. Two mistakes can be made here. Either unrealistic expectations are set regarding ROI, what results you should see and how long the work should take, OR you focus on the wrong metrics. Listen to what a marketing agency is promising you when setting up your campaign. Are the goals you are to focus on directly linked to financial gains, or are the financial gains contingent on more ephemeral goals, such as your number of Facebook likes?

Short-Term Versus Long-Term Thinking

Because most businesses work on tight budgets they expect to see results quickly, certainly within the first 3 to 6 months of a campaign. Marketing agencies are therefore under intense pressure to demonstrate visible results as quickly as possible. This informs their choice of tactics. A popular hallmark of success, for instance, is a place on the first page of the Google search results. Depending on the keywords you use, this can be fairly easy to achieve in a short time. If a marketing agency nails this for the client, even for a minor keyword, the customer may be satisfied with the results and renew their contract. Thus goes the thinking. This isn’t duplicity on the part of the agency – it is simply that the business logic of the marketing agency model favours quick win solutions.

These aren’t always the best long-term strategies, nor do they always translate into hard cash. A frequent complaint from businesses is that the improved search rankings and other results dissipate after a few months. Within a year they find themselves back to square one with very little to show. Long term strategic thinking, pursuing multiple channels, always brings in more money than a short term approach that chases after the fireworks.

Distribution of Activity

Another reason many marketing agencies fail is their overemphasis on marketing activity at the beginning of the contract. This is linked to the pressure for fast, visible results and has a serious knock-on with results later on in the campaign. A campaign may, for instance, undertake on page SEO, schedule blog posts and manage a Google AdWords campaign, all within the first 6 to 8 weeks of a six-month campaign.

After this point, activity slows down, with the result that the campaign appears to run out of steam, leaving the customer disappointed. There is also the issue of what to do with any leads generated in the first couple of months. For most marketing agencies, this is where their job stops. It is left to the customer to follow up the leads and turn them into sales, something they are not always equipped to do. Invariably it is the marketing agency that gets the blame for this, with some justification, especially if the correct expectations were not set from the beginning.

Good But Not Good Enough

These criticisms aside, the majority of marketing agencies ARE good at what they do. It’s just that they don’t look at the whole picture. So you may pay a marketing agency to put systems in place to bring in new leads, but what happens next? If you approached a marketing agency because you didn’t have the staff resources to carry out marketing in-house, how well-equipped will you be to capitalise on all the new leads?

This is why a marketing agency may get you to the front page of Google, may help boost your web traffic and may bring in more leads – but it isn’t guaranteed to make you any money. For this you need a strategy that focuses on sales growth. Marketing plays a role in this, but is only half the story. At JDR we provide a full suite of business development services that cover the complete sales funnel from A to Z. We offer tailored contracts to suit your budget and growth goals, so get in touch today to find out how a more nuanced approach can bring you a better ROI from your marketing spend.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing (SEO, PPC, Social Media, Video)