Before You Pick Your Next Marketing Vendor, Look for these Red Flags to Avoid
As a small business owner, chances are you’ve got a lot going on. In addition to wearing your business owner hat, you may also be forced to don one for human resources, purchasing, customer service, and even marketing. If you’re lucky enough to have a budget that supports hiring an outside marketing vendor, that certainly lightens the load—but you still must go through the process of finding the right partner. And for a lot of small business owners and leaders, therein lies a huge problem.
There’s no doubting that you’re an expert at what you do, but unless what you do is marketing, you could be putting the viability of your small business in jeopardy if you select the wrong marketing partner. Here are a few red flags for marketing agencies that you’ll want to avoid.
Stores prospect data improperly
While all companies live and die by their ability to land new customers, prospecting is especially important for small businesses. And for a lot of small businesses, online forms that potential customers complete when interested in what the business is offering are nuggets of gold. Be leery of any marketing agency that stores that prospect data improperly. What we mean by that is stockpiling it in a separate repository or website that requires third-party integration for access.
If that integration ever goes down, you won’t be able to retrieve information on those potential customers. Worse, if your relationship with the agency sours, they own that information and may turn off your access.
Only builds custom websites in one specific industry
Experience in the space is a good thing, and we certainly don’t want you to think otherwise. However, if an agency that only works within one specific industry tells you they’re building a website from scratch, it’s more than likely a regurgitation of another client’s site. Imagine comparing your new site with a competitor’s—only to realize they are the same. That’s not a good look for anyone.
Unless your business is completely unique and you must have a custom framework with third-party integrations or functionality, you likely don’t need a custom website. A more strategic (and cost-effective) approach is to partner with a firm that builds sites via themes like Divi, Elementor or Wix. These platforms enable web designers to build beautiful, functional websites that have the flair of a custom build but at a fraction of the price and time. Most are simple enough to use that even a novice can easily update text, images and blog posts once the site is built. No coding knowledge required.
Gets a little too “personal”
We all know social media is an important part of the marketing mix, and good social media vendors are worth their weight in gold. But, you know what good social media vendors don’t do? They don’t set up social media accounts and business listings in Google using a private email account, like their personal Gmail. Not only does this illustrate a lack of professionalism, but it could lead to big problems down the road.
If you were to separate from that agency, your entire social presence could be tied to an email account you no longer control. Before onboarding any social media vendor, it’s in your best interest to create a vanity email address on your own domain and provide the vendor with the password. If things were to ever go south, you maintain access and can change the password and privacy settings accordingly to keep things safe and secure.
Not all marketing partners are created equally, which is why we wanted to provide just a brief warning about some of the top things to look out for during the vendor selection and management process. Of course, we happen to think Heart & Hustle Brands knows a thing or two about being a good marketing partner, and we’d love to discuss what we can do for your brand. Contact us today to talk about your upcoming creative marketing needs.
About the Author
Stacey Harrison is the lead brand strategist and designer at Heart & Hustle Brands and has provided creative direction for healthcare, industrial, and financial services brands for 20 years. She started Harrison Creative Group in 2017 to serve businesses that need a professional brand image on a budget. In 2021, the company rebranded to Heart & Hustle Brands to walk in the shoes of clients that experience a change of name or brand refresh.