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  • Moon Mission Media Team

8 Signs Your Marketing Agency is Ripping You Off

How happy are you with your marketing agency? If you are like most clients, you wonder if you hired the right marketing agency and are getting the most bang for your buck. According to a 2020 survey, only 28% of marketing clients are loyal and love their agency while 33% plan to review their marketing agency in the next 3 months. So how do you know if your marketing agency is scamming, churning, or ripping you off?

marketing strategy planning meeting

Marketing is complicated now. You wouldn't fly a plane or take a mission to the moon without the proper training, experience, or a detailed plan. Marketing used to be straightforward and limited. It didn't require a lot of technical expertise, and there was a lot of intrinsic value you really couldn't measure to know if your marketing was working. Now with the rise of Digital Marketing, the scope of work is very complex and time-intensive managing all the components from websites, lead generation, marketing automation, content development, social media, on-line selling, paid search ads, brand awareness, public relations and much more. Many companies are hiring marketing agencies to drive their digital marketing efforts because it is so complicated, technology-driven, and time-intensive. While marketing automation as a function of digital marketing helps to relieve some burdens, digital marketing projects and campaigns don't just run on auto-pilot. Marketing agencies and clients need to work together to develop a solid plan of attack, then constantly monitor, measure, and adjust to ensure marketing effectiveness.

So, how do you know if you are spending your money wisely on a marketing agency or just getting ripped off?

8 Signs Your Marketing Agency is Ripping you Off

  1. Money Up Front – If they charge you money upfront to generate keyword lists or analyze your website, marketing efforts, and digital performance without delivering a comprehensive strategy, then it's probably a scam.

  2. Lack of a Digital Marketing Strategy and Step-by-Step Plan – If the agency doesn't provide you a complete marketing strategy and set expectations, how will you ever know your money is being spent wisely. Who is the customer? How will you reach prospects? What is the budget? What results will be used to measure success? Check out this article on Digital Strategy: What it is and Why it is Important by Brandi Bergeron, co-founder of Moon Mission Media.

  3. Promise Immediate Results - If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Many scammers promise you will be at the top of search results in a month. The reality is it takes time. Google search algorithms are sophisticated and change often. Search result rankings depend on a variety of factors, including your website design, speed, descriptions, content, key search words, and much more. A long-term strategy based on real results takes time, regular reviews, and adjustments.

  4. Issues with Communication – If an agency doesn't want to meet regularly, lacks a review process, avoids education, glosses over client concerns, ignores input, or doesn't return your calls timely, you might have a churner. Sometimes an agency only focuses on a limited scope of the digital marketing components they are comfortable addressing. At the same time, other, less costly options might provide a higher return on investment, like working on organic search vs. paid search.

  5. Lack of Consistent and Timely Reporting – Regular reports help you understand and measure if results are achieving goals. Reporting is also an opportunity for the agency to build trust and help the client understand the results to address adjustments and additional challenges. Also, what if budget adjustments were necessary because of some unforeseen event? The business world and technology is evolving so fast, each week should be an opportunity to learn more about your client and their customers. If you don't get updates in a weekly meeting or, at a minimum, receive a report every month, by the time you are aware of any need for corrective action, you have lost money.

  6. Lack of Transparency – You should have a budget, a clear scope of work defined, receive timely reports, and know where your money is being spent. If you don't get a detailed statement at the end of the month, how will you know if you are getting what you paid for? You should also grant and maintain all access information and passwords to all your accounts. Add the agency on as a user or administrator, but never give away your access, ownership, or passwords to your own accounts. That goes for your websites, hosting, Google Analytics, Google Ads, Linked In, Facebook, Instagram, and other business accounts.

  7. Missing Goals Consistently – If your agency regularly doesn't deliver results on the key goals and objectives as laid out in the marketing plan, there is a problem. If you haven't been getting regular metrics to know goals aren't reached for months, by the time you realize something is wrong, it will be too late to ask for the data points to determine the issue. By reviewing monthly, quarterly, and year-to-date metrics and trends with your agency, you then have a basic understanding and valuable data to continue or adjust strategies together. For example, does the agency understand your industry and customer? Is the data showing different results and markets than the initial strategy?

  8. Using Technical Jargon and Lack of Explanations - If the agency uses a lot of technical industry jargon, buzzwords, and abbreviations, they may be trying to throw you off or overwhelm you. If they can't explain the meaning or show you how it works, they are blowing smoke to justify their compensation. For example, not everyone is familiar with terms like 'SEM' and 'SEO.' However, when referred to as 'paid Google ads' and 'making your website easier to find with search results,' it's easily understandable.

About Moon Mission Media

Moon Mission Media is rethinking marketing. We dissect your marketing efforts to build or turnaround your brand into a long-term success story. Moon Mission Media is a boutique strategic marketing advisory group with a network of specialists who have been guiding brands collectively for over 50 years. With expertise in technology, franchising, fitness, health, and wellness, the principles of Moon Mission Media have advised and managed leading global, national, and regional brands on strategy, marketing, creative, technologies, and communications successfully for years.


For inquiries or interview requests please contact Brandi Bergeron.


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