Agencies are notoriously poor at giving their clients an ROI. Like lawyers, when you deal with an agency, the lawyer always wins.
Ask an agency what growth hacking is and they will have no clue.
Ask them about overhead and they will tell you causes grey hairs and heart attacks.
Google, Twitter, Coca Cola?
They spent nothing on their logo design to get started (ok.. Twitter spent $3).
What are they worth now? Billions.
Digital marketing agencies… Again, terrible.
Most agencies are unenjoyable to work for, severely limits creativity if the ‘project manager’ likes to micro-manage, and often lose good talent for the same reasons.
If you are an established company with millions of dollars in revenues then working with an agency is fine and even justifiable.
I would even go as far as recommend it because at least then you know they have a track record of results to show for and a reputation to uphold.
There is of course the danger of working unscrupulous short and narrow-minded freelancers who are out to scam people for the rest of their lives and be miserable.
For a startup? No way. Stay away from agencies. Startups need traffic and conversions – they need sales.
Without money to advertise, a startup is stuck in the mud and going nowhere.
One tip for startups is to not hire employees e.g. content writers on salary but to offer equity/shares, or potential for a job placement once the company gets funded or has sales.
Always be negotiating and never EVER take the first offer – unless you have good reason to.
Nothing is worse than seeing people get excited over a new product, throwing all their money into their branding, and then having no sales – or future marketing strategy.
Start with your MVP and test the market. You can run test ads for as little as $5 a day (Facebook ads) just to get market feedback on your products.
Starting a startup doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. But you also don’t want to stay a startup for years on end. At some point you need to be able to call it a business.
The most successful startups simply had a great offer that when shown to 10 people in their target market, at least 1 person would buy it and a few would think about it or tell a friend.
When you don’t have this kind of data or pre-launch testing done, you can be wasting your time and money (or investors money – and that is not good for your reputation).
You don’t need lots of capital to get started. Heck, you can pre-launch products and get pre-sales before you even have the product made. Companies do it all the time e.g. on Kickstarter.
There is Kickstarter for those in Canada as well as Fundr, Indiegogo, and other crowdfunding platforms to leverage as well as many free resources that startups can use e.g. growth.supply/free to get their branding, logos, websites, accounting, stock photos, legal docs, and more…
Beware of freelance sites if you do not have a digital marketing background. Nothing is more frustrating to pay for something only to have the worker disappear along with all your passwords and account access or worse – get hacked and deal with customers complaining about you sending them virus spam emails.
When it comes to product development, sometimes a simple prototype will even do. Online marketing coaches do it all the time by selling coaching and then making the coaching program after they have sales.
If you are in a business that involves marketing, one of the main areas of collaboration between the CEO and anyone else in the company should be with the VP of marketing (slowly being replaced by Growth Hackers which are a new breed of marketers that are obsessed with data, analytics, testing, and scaling even with smaller budgets).
Sales and marketing drives the company forward more than anything. A good product with no marketing strategy is a sad sight to see.
A bad product with good marketing is also sad as it just means money down the drain as people are aware of it but there is no demand (just another me-too product).
There is nothing wrong with spending good money on branding – IF you set aside enough money for the rest AND have plans in place and know that your product is wanted and in demand.
If it isn’t something you can sell out of the trunk of your car or at a flea market then try again… However, if you can sell it on the streets to random passersby then you might have a good product…
What are your revenue goals? How much money do you want to make and in what timeframe? Are you aware of the risks involved with pouring money into something and wasting precious time? (Most agencies typically take twice as long as they originally quote their clients to complete the task and also charge extra). This is because employees being micro-managed are usually not the most efficient workers – and also lack business experience. Find a good marketer with a good team that knows what they are doing (full-stack) that could run the company themselves if they had to. That is the type of person you should work with because truth be told – they are also someone that you would not want to have as a competitor.