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8 Red Flags to Look for When Working With a Small Business Marketing Company

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What if a single hiring decision completely doomed your small business?

Most businesses rely on a small business marketing company to help them build customers and grow over time. However, hiring the wrong marketing company can ruin your chances from the very start.

Fortunately, you can avoid hiring the wrong marketing company if you know about the warning signs. Here are some of the biggest red flags that mean you should stay as far away from that marketing company as possible!

1. They Don’t Offer Local Exclusivity

The most important thing to consider before hiring a small business marketing company is to make sure they offer local exclusivity. What does that mean? It means that they won’t be working with your competitors while they’re working with you.

This is important for many reasons. You and your competitor will be trying to rank for the same search terms, which means one of you has to rank #2 at best. That means you will end up getting your competitors scraps, and you are working with the same company!

Don’t get caught working with a company that doesn’t have your best interest in mind. Make sure if you’re working with an agency that you ask about their local exclusivity policy!

2. Murky Contract Details

In any business relationship, the devil is in the details. And that’s why you need to pay special attention to the contract.

During negotiations, they should be able to specify details, such as how many qualified sales leads it will take to break even on their retainer cost and related fees. This “break-even” amount will let you determine if you truly need their services at this time.

Also, be wary of the terms of service vs. the actual services offered. If it looks like they are more interested in snagging your money each month than offering unique marketing solutions, then you should find another marketing company.

3. Bad Communication Skills

This next bit of advice is an extension of contract negotiations: never trust a marketing company with poor communication skills.

It may sound harsh to judge an entire company after one or two interactions. However, these are the people you’re hiring to make your company sound great. If they cannot communicate well on their own behalf, how do you think they’ll make your company look?

Also, pay attention to how quickly they respond to you and whether they ask relevant questions during calls and meetings. You ultimately want a company that is highly-responsive and highly-engaged with your business.

4. Non-Responsive Design

Earlier, we mentioned checking out the marketing company’s website. Here’s an important question: did you check out their site on your desktop or on a mobile device?

It’s vital that you ensure this company has responsive design skills. As you likely know, responsive design is what makes sure a site looks good on a cell phone or tablet and not just on a desktop monitor.

Long story short: if their site looks terrible on your smartphone, then you should move on to the next potential marketing company.

5. No References or Testimonials

Any small business marketing company is going to try to make themselves look good so you will hire them. The better question to ask is what actual customers think of their service.

A reliable company will typically offer customer testimonials on their website. Alternatively, they may offer you customer references so you can see how real customers felt about the experience.

If the company cannot provide either testimonials or multiple references, this is a bad sign. To double check, you can always go online and review their reputation.

It’s not hard to scour social media, Google Reviews, Yelp, and other places to see what people think about the marketing company. If most of the chatter is bad, take this as a major red flag.

6. They Don’t Ask Questions

Want to hear the four scariest words to describe a bad marketing company? “One size fits all.”

More companies than we’d care to admit do not truly offer unique solutions to unique problems. Instead, they have a prepackaged series of services they offer to everyone who comes their way.

One way to tell if a marketing company is assessing your unique situation is if they are asking questions. Are they asking about your existing analytics and KPIs? Are they curious about the 5-year plan for your company?

Such questions indicate that they are considering your unique situation and determining which solutions are best. Of course, communication is a 2-way street: don’t be afraid to ask them how they plan to tackle your major problems!

7. Poor Design Skills

When searching for small business marketing companies, their websites will most likely be the first thing you see. Simply visiting that website may help you make up your mind.

Within seconds, you’ll know if you like the design or are turned off by it. If you’re turned off, you likely don’t want them handling your own site and other aspects of digital media!

Look for poor or outdated design. Basically, you don’t want a website where people take one look and ask what year it was made in.

On top of the overall design, you want to make sure their site is responsible (more details on this below).

8. Buzzword City

There is one final red flag that you may find in their website, online communications, and in-person interactions: buzzwords as far as the eye can see.

Buzzwords are actually a warning sign on a few different levels. If the buzzwords are tired and overused, it indicates sloppy communications and marketing because they couldn’t come up with something new.

If the buzzwords seem unfamiliar and vague, that’s another issue. It means they are likely trying to bamboozle you with fancy words instead of articulating their exact services and skills.

At the end of the day, you should avoid any business that sounds like a desperate salesman instead of a professional company.

Small Business Marketing Company: Make the Right Choice

Now you know how to avoid a bad small business marketing company. But do you know how to hire the very best?

Here at Phase Marketing, we specialize in exceeding your company’s goals. To see how we can help your business evolve, contact us today!

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