If you’ve ever walked into a marketing or design agency you’ve seen this scenario. A brightly lit open office, rows of MacBooks and other Apple products lining the tables, and hipsters head-down pouring over analytics and email designs, a utopia of productivity and problem solving. These young minds are hard at work fixing the world’s problems one Facebook post at a time. They use acronyms like KPI, CTR, CPM, and never really explain to you what they are. You shake your head approvingly and write them down to Google later.
Why do they do this? For the same reason anyone does anything in business: to win your business. So let’s shed some light on our own world a little bit by discussing the top 5 misconceptions about marketing agencies.
Misconception 1: We have all the answers
When you list out acronyms and bring up spreadsheets of data, it’s easy to get the impression that because you have a lot of information, you have the answer. No, what you have is a bunch of information, it’s the interpretation that can be the right or wrong answer.
No matter how much we study about your business, we don’t know it as well as you do. Any agency who isn’t in regular contact with you or making sure you’ve checked their content, isn’t doing you any favors. We can take data and make suggestions, but at the end of the day the answer is in the results.
Misconception 2: It’s magic!
Every marketer sells what they do as a secret sauce. Some SEO people will tell you, you don’t need AdWords, social media agencies will say differently. At the end of the day you’re not sure what to believe because everyone passed their work off as a magical answer to your problem. They tell you what they’re going to do, but not how they do it.
Let me say this only once: there is no magical recipe for success. SEO is important, AdWords are important, social, content, email, down and dirty picking up the phone and calling people is important. We all use basically the same tools, work with the same access to knowledge, and attend the same seminars. It’s not magic, it’s not a secret. We just do a really good job of hiding what those secrets are.
Misconception 3: Younger agencies know technology better
If you walk into a conference room at your local marketing agency and you’re surrounded by 20 somethings, you may be thinking to yourself. “wow this young fresh team is going understand this stuff so much better.” If you’re selling craft beer, beard oil, or coffee, this could be an important factor. But if you’re a manufacturer or a financial advisor, what commonality do their ideas have to your target audience?
A 22 year old fresh out of college’s world experience is generally limited. So just because they know how to use social media or even some digital marketing, doesn’t mean they’re going to crack the online DaVinci Code. Remember, colleges aren’t teaching relevant marketing skills, so it’s the experience they get from their work at an agency that will help them, not their youth.
Misconception 4: We can get this done quickly
Since we’re young, all knowing, and have this magical sauce, we obviously can get you ranked in 6 months or less, right? That’s probably a no in a lot of cases. If you have an older domain, links built to it organically, and a fair amount of content, sure we can start producing growth results in a relatively short amount of time. But success in any venture isn’t built overnight. If it was that easy, wouldn’t everyone do it?
No, sadly if anyone says they can produce something in a short period of time, two things are either going to happen. One, they will, because someone will use “black hat” techniques and you’ll be ranking in no time. And then it crumble and you’ll be in worse shape than you are now.
The other option is that the company isn’t looking to keep you around, they just want your money and will move on when you get frustrated. Either way, it’s a churn and burn mentality that doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
Misconception 5: You can’t do this yourself
I’m sure this is going to get me a lot of flak from any agencies that read this. Hell, it’s basically saying you don’t need me, how much of a cannibal can I be? The truth is, in most cases, businesses don’t need us for our knowledge, they could get that on their own. What they need us for is the experience and because they simply don’t have time to do this on their own. But the truth is, you can do this on your own. It’s just not that easy and it takes a lot of training.
Before you say, “well just go hire someone.” Remember how I said 22 year olds aren’t walking out of college knowing how to do this? Yeah, that’s generally why you can’t just go find someone to do this. Agencies snatch up young marketers who are interested in that open office with a Red Bull fridge, and a row of iMacs on the standing tables. To get someone out of there takes more money than most companies are willing to pay for a marketing assistant. So that gap continues to be filled by the agency, and, to be honest for good reason.
The reason it’s good to hire agencies is quite simple, if they aren’t producing there’s another one waiting in the wings to take up the mantle and give it a go. If you hire someone to do this internally, it’s harder to just let them go after 12 months and find another replacement.
No, the reality is any business of any size can do this by themselves. If you have the time, the resources, and the willingness to learn a whole new career, you could become an expert digital marketer. Because we don’t have all the answers to why your sales are slumping. We can’t fix cyclical patterns in shopping behavior, and we sure as hell don’t have a magical formula to change it.
What we have is access to lots of data, and for some of us, years of being in sales and marketing to help us interpret it for optimal results. That, by itself has a tremendous value and why it’s worth looking at the right agency for your business’ needs.