Should You Hire a Digital Marketing Agency (Do’s and Dont’s)

Dec 13, 2021

Picking the right digital marketing agency in Malaysia is critical, and probably it could be a deal-breaker for your business.

And you may wonder, when is a good time to hire a digital marketing agency to help in growing and scaling your business?

In this article, we’ll cover the 3 do’s and don’t when it comes to hiring a digital marketing agency – and why you may want to consider looking for a different agency if your current agency ISN’T meeting the mark.

Let’s dive right into the “do’s” of hiring an agency

1. Identify if you can afford an agency

The way to determine if you can afford an agency is to list down your tasks.

As a business owner, you probably have hundreds of them. For example, you may have to set up landing pages or product pages, set up Google Analytics, create SEO content, run ads, etc. – ask yourself how much time you need to complete these tasks.

  • Here’s an example of how you can go about – breakdown:
  • Setting up product pages or landing page RM1,500 (5 hours)
  • Running paid ads RM1,000 (4 hours)
  • Set up Google Analytics RM450 (4 hours)
  • Create SEO content RM1,000 (8 hours)

So, by doing this, you get to visualize your tasks vs time – more important how much it would cost you if you were to hire an agency compared to doing it on your own.

Again, these are all frictional prices but an example for you to understand your time, skill competencies, and effort in completing these tasks.

You’ll get a great idea of how you can go about spending your time vs letting others (hiring an agency) for the tasks – determined by your hourly worth.

As a business owner, you’ll need to know your hour’s worth to decide on a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to different opportunities and also tasks to take on.

2. Agree on a pricing term

This is so important. You’ll find that marketing agencies typically charge a few types of pricing models – from hourly pricing, project rate, retainer pricing, value-based pricing, and some hybrid-based pricing.

Let’s break it down.

Hourly pricing

When an agency charges hourly pricing, they’re charging like a freelancer who probably charges RM50 – RM100 per hour.

Now, this is not an advantage as you may not be able to foresee how much you’ll be spending each month.

Project rate

With a project rate, it’s quite common in Malaysia – for example, you need to build a website, an agency comes along and says “hey, we will build that website for RM30,000 the whole thing.”

So that’s the project rate. And the disadvantage of project rate is more towards the agency side – because along with the project, there’ll be scope creep.

For example, as an agency builds a website, there’ll be additional scope and tasks that need to be done. And because the agency has promised you a rate, they cannot actually increase the price anymore. It’s advantages to you as a business owner, it might not be for the agency.

Retainer pricing

Retainer pricing is when an agency would charge you an X amount of dollars, for example, RM10,000 ringgit dollars in a month, to work on a certain task, every month.

This pricing is great as you can actually look at how much you’ll be spending as you go on and on each month. The downside for retainer pricing is, you always need to have tasks for your agency – and if you don’t have tasks for the month, you’ll still be charged the same amount.

Value-based pricing

This pricing model is a little tricky as the agency will see how much value they’re providing to you and then determine how much to charge you.

For example, you’re an e-commerce business and you’re about to run a Facebook ad campaign, so the agency may ask you: “how much is the potential value that you’re going to be receiving from these ads campaigns?”

And you might say: “We’re potentially going to make a revenue of RM500,000, so based on the revenue amount potential, the agency will look at how much is going to be a fair rate to charge you for that value given to you.

Hybrid-based pricing

This pricing model combines value-based and retainer basis pricing. You want to go for a pricing model where you can foresee how much you’re going to spend monthly and the value you’ll be getting from an agency.

3. Find a winning team chemistry

The truth is when you hire an agency, you’re actually hiring a bunch of talented individuals and you’re working with people. So you have to be able to work with .. well, people.

Agencies are a people’s business – so here are two questions to ask.

  • Do they service many clients?
  • Are they go-givers instead of go-getters?

You won’t want to work with an agency that has too many clients. Their time and focus might be too diverse – hence it’s good to work with agencies that only have selected clients. So they can share more time and attention with you.

Ideally, you want to hire an agency that is go-givers – those who care about your business growth, willingly serve your interest and not just think about revenues they may get from you.

And now, the ‘don’t’ of hiring an agency.

1. Hire “Fix Everything” Agencies

Well, this is something agencies do not want to hear about – but do not hire ‘fix everything’ agencies.

You may ask, what are some warning signs? Well, if you see things like:

  • Full-service agency
  • One-stop solution
  • One-stop shop
  • One size fits all agency
  • All-in-one agency
  • Cross-functional agency

These are some warning signs, but not to say they’re not good – it’s just the truth is there’s no one agency which are experts of everything.

You have so many types of functions in marketing, for example, Google advertising, Facebook ads, SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, etc.

So one agency could not be an expert in all of these skills. So ideally, you want to hire an agency for their expertise, and not because they’re a full-service agency where they can do ‘anything’ and ‘everything’ for you. It doesn’t work that way.

You would rather hire an agency or specialist that does a dedicated service in a specific area.

2. Focus on output but not the outcome

So this is quite common among the more traditional-approach businesses, where output is focused and not the outcome.

  • For example, questions that focus on output:
  • How many blogs have we created this week?
  • How many hours did you work?
  • How many likes did we get?
  • How many engagements did we get?

Understandably, we’re spending money to hire agencies and we want our money’s worth. So we’re always looking at the agency output – what is their work output for us?

But the mistake is we tend to forget the outcome. For example, creating a lot of blogs could be great as an output, but did it drive leads and sales for your business?

So instead of looking at the output, you want to draw your attention to the outcome. And the outcome is the output of everything that the agency has done to help you reach your business goals.

Your business goals could be getting sales, leads, and more. To identify what your real business goals are and focus on them before looking at just the output. Always look at the outcome as well.

3. Discuss service instead of a solution

A lot of times, you will find agencies positioning themselves as maybe Facebook experts, Google experts, SEO experts and they try to solve your problem by pushing in their service.

Here’s an illustration – imagine if your only tool is a hammer, you tend to see every program as a nail. So basically, if they are Facebook experts, they’re trying to solve every single problem with just Facebook ads.

A good agency should always ask questions before they prescribe a solution. Not service, but a solution.

Thinking of hiring an agency is like going to see a doctor – understanding your pain point, your problem first before prescribing solutions for you.

So, if you go to an agency and they start pitching you their services – that’s a warning sign. You’ll have to find an agency that asks you questions to identify the problems and struggles you’re having in your business and come back to you with a solution.

To recap

The 3 do’s are:

  • Know if you can afford an agency
  • Agree on a pricing term – that works for you.
  • Find winning team chemistry.

The 3 don’ts are:

  • Hire a ‘fix everything’ agency.
  • Focus only on output – but not an outcome.
  • Discuss service instead of solutions.

Good luck in hiring the right marketing agency – and if you have questions, leave them down below in the comments section.

Don’t want to hire a marketing agency – pick up practical profitable marketing skills here.

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