How to avoid hiring an unreliable marketing partner or prevent your current one going rogue!

4 Minutes

Poor management expertise and poor management systems are usually the culprits of unethical behaviour that leads marketers to overpromise and underdeliver.

I’ll go on record to say that

a) the marketing sector has a massive problem with ethical behaviour and reliability, and
b) most marketers are, or at least try to be the “good guys”

Unfortunately companies without proper management and systems don’t have the company-wide oversight needed to make informed and successful critical decisions, like when it makes sense to decline new work – something marketers are notoriously bad at.

Taking on too much work forces marketer(s) to choose which clients to upset and which to keep happy.

Most freelancers and agencies are hyper focused on sales and growth. It’s why freelancers don’t invest into management and agency management teams are filled with “Creative Directors” and “Lead Developers” who lack company-wide oversight.

Hiring a marketer who only focuses on service delivery will inevitably lead to upset.

One of our policies, “We only suffer a problem once”, means that if something goes wrong we pause, analyse, solve and then prevent that problem from happening again without disrupting projects. This is time intensive and many agencies lack the management capacity to do this.

Looking to hire a new agency? Ask these questions:

❓ What systems do you use to stop you becoming too busy?
❓ How do you manage situations where you become too busy?
❓ When and why did you last disappoint a client and how did you make it up to them?
❓ Do you have a lot of work right now or are things pretty quiet?

Don’t focus just on what they say or confuse nervousness for incompetence, these are hard questions to answer on the spot). You want to poke and prod mainly to gauge how comfortable they are talking about this stuff. Clamming up or wanting to change the subject are definite red flags.

Asking how busy they are can be effective as most freelancers/agencies train themselves to always present a facade of perfection. Try to cut through the BS and see if they’ll be real with you.

Look for honesty and transparency first and then steer towards those who can explain management processes well.

Worried you’re stuck with a no-good marketer?

All you can do at this stage is make sure you’re protected and replace them with a better agency quickly.

If it’s your first time working with them and your contract/agreement doesn’t include a detailed breakdown of logical KPIs, deliverables and dates, your only option is to create your own plan and have them agree to it mid-project (get this in writing via email).

Many fall into the trap of not having any real agreements to hold their marketing partner to account with. It’s much easier to defend your position if they haven’t hit any pre-defined KPIs.

Protect yourself while hoping for the best outcome.

Sean Lee-Aimes
Founder, Square One Digital