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2 Major Red Flags When Hiring a Marketing Agency

2 Major Red Flags When Hiring a Marketing Agency

I get it. In order to keep the 10,000 plates in your business (and life) you need to get some help in the door. Marketing is your least knowledgeable (or least favorite) area of the business to tackle so you start looking for someone else to do it, or a speciality within it, for you.


You start researching companies, maybe ask for referrals and book some meetings. You have a discovery call with each and think you have found a marketing agency that fits the bill.




Before you hire that marketing agency, be sure these red flags aren’t waving in the background.


The following are all-too-common statements marketing agencies can make…right before their (former) client ends up on my calendar with horror stories of the money, time, and energy they invested only to land… where?


On my doorstep, still trying to find a solution to their problem.


So here are the red flags to avoid and the questions to ask instead.

🚩 Red Flag 1: “We’ll handle everything for you. No worries.”

This may sound great at first. After all, you’re trying to offload your marketing to a third-party, but it is a humongous red flag.


There should ALWAYS be something that you are responsible for doing in the process. It could be setting up the email marketing account and providing them access, reviewing the copy, graphics or strategy and providing feedback before it all goes live. Something!


As a handsome white water rafting guide once told me in reference to what we should do if/when someone fell out of the raft:


You must be an active participant in your own rescue.


The same applies to hiring a marketing agency. I know you’re trying to minimize how much work you need to do, but that doesn’t mean you get to completely eliminate it. After all, it’s YOUR business so you literally have skin in the game. Protect it.


Staying abreast of what they are doing AND how it’s being executed will ensure you both get what’s agreed upon in the contract and that it remains on brand.


It’s very easy for creatives to have their creative voice come through when the reality is that everything should be written in your brand’s tone of voice and style and formatted accordingly. (Remember: a brand is more than just a logo. More on that here.)

🚩 Red Flag 2: “Yep! We can definitely do your SEO for you.”

Ok so this is more like a yellow card than a red flag because there are some very reputable experts in SEO out in the world.


However, there are even more marketing agencies that capitalize on the emotional impact (i.e. fear) those letters have to a non-marketer in order to get business.


What ends up happening many times is:


→ a business owner hires an SEO agency after building their website

(Spoiler alert: SEO should be factored into the development of the website to begin with.)

→ the agency spends a month(ish) making website updates



I have logged into the back end of more than one website where someone else is “doing our SEO” only to find out the other agency hasn’t touched the website in months🤦🏻‍♀️ MONTHS!!!


Y’all, there is a certain level of SEO foundation that goes into every website build, but the ongoing work is just that – on-going!


That O stands for optimization and that continues over time. It is not a one-and-done and your focus on improving your search ranking shouldn’t be either.


Like in parenting or training for a marathon, the latter of which I know a little something about, you have to keep showing up.

How to Handle This

There are so many elements that go into search engine optimization that any time an agency mentions “SEO is included” or “We’ll handle SEO for you,” I want you to ask a LOT of questions.


In fact, I wrote an entirely separate article and recorded a video training about all of the things to pay attention to when it comes to hiring an SEO agency.


It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the buzzword and want to just throw money at that problem to get it off your plate. Totally get it!


SEO is an overwhelming task when you hear about #allthethings you “should” be doing and quite frankly, it makes sense. SEO is a full-time position at large companies so there will naturally be a lot of tasks that can be done as part of that.


Even without that time commitment though, there are many things you may be doing as part of your content marketing or larger marketing strategy that are helping SEO more than another agency is handling for you.

Final Thoughts

Educate yourself just enough on the tasks you’re looking to outsource before hiring a marketing agency. You want to be armed with enough knowledge to make an educated decision that benefits your business vs. a stressed decision that could cost you more resources (financial, emotional, and mental) down the line.


And to make your life even easier, that education can be delivered to your inbox once a week 😉


Building a business is hard. Hiring the right people is hard. You CAN do this though and the DCM Krewe is here to help.

Channing Muller is an award winning marketing & public relations consultant and the principal of DCM Communications. She works with event professionals and business owners to grow and scale their businesses with refined marketing strategies developed through one-on-one and group consulting, customized marketing programs and public relations. She has been named a "25 Young Event Pro to Watch" by Special Events magazine and "40 Under 40" by Connect Meetings. Channing is an avid runner, lover of labrador retrievers, good food, delicious drinks, and an advocate for the American Heart Association. Follow her on Instagram @ChanningMuller.

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